Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Taking a Look At High-End Programmer Salaries

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the today-let's-take-the-gold-robot dept.

Programming 133

msmoriarty writes "Our reporter decided to try to document the high end of programmer salaries (at least in the US). It seems that $300,000 to $400,000 and up is not unheard of in the financial industry, but the highest salary we could document was apx. $1.2 million, earned by Sergey Aleynikov, who was later convicted of stealing proprietary source code from a previous employer, Goldman Sachs."

cancel ×

133 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Ah, but (5, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306860)

But programming was a minor part of Aleynikov's job.

His primary duty was keeping his mouth shut.

Re:Ah, but (5, Insightful)

chord.wav (599850) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306924)

Same as any well-payed job.

"Every organization rests upon a mountain of secrets" - Julian Assange

Re:Ah, but (2, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306968)

"Every organization rests upon a mountain of secrets" - Julian Assange

Including Wikileaks, and Assange.

Re:Ah, but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307022)

That was incredibly redundant. Try looking up "every" in a dictionary.

Re:Ah, but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307984)

That was incredibly redundant. Try looking up "every" in a dictionary.

If irony were a big chunk of ferrous metal, it'd bounce right off your thick skull.

Re:Ah, but (4, Interesting)

dintech (998802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306932)

Yes and No. Non-disclosure is considered a given in any job and would have been in his contract. You'd have to be out of your mind to try to steal code from a bank since there's a lot of monitoring in place to watch for it. (Disclaimer: I work for one).

The reason he is paid so much is not because he's a programmer who keeps his mouth shut. It's because he's a programmer with experience and understanding of how high-frequency trading systems work.

An individual's first job in banking is likely to be better paid than any other IT job. However, you have to build up a lot of domain experience before you can get paid those kind of salaries. Some developers even make the jump over to the business side to unlock bigger bonuses, but a maths PhD is usually required. For others the top money is in contracting. £500 - £1000 per day, more in short contracts. But again, you need domain experience.

Re:Ah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36306984)

Non-disclosure is considered a given in any job and would have been in his contract.

You know perfectly well that he isn't talking about that.

Re:Ah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307018)

Whether he keeps his mouth shut about how the algos work or other dodgy goings-on is irrelevant. Non-disclosure is non-disclosure.

Re:Ah, but (5, Insightful)

NNKK (218503) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307124)

Whether he keeps his mouth shut about how the algos work or other dodgy goings-on is irrelevant. Non-disclosure is non-disclosure.

Not in the US. You cannot contractually forbid someone from reporting illegal activity.

Re:Ah, but (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309428)

"Dodgy" is not the same thing as illegal. And even if it's something actually illegal, he'd probably be quite motivated to shut up about it whether there's an NDA or not, but this is where his personal ethics come in.

Re:Ah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307146)

You really think that if some one reports a business for fraud then an employment contract would be a defence? Srsly?

Then maybe that's how Madoff got away with it for so long.

The first rule is... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308552)

You mean I'm not talking about not talking about that?

Re:Ah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308780)

Bachelor's double major Math & Comp Sci. here. Never got a chance to finish my PhD (Comp Sci). Was sucked from trading system development to spreadsheet work to prop trading to hedge fund management. Retired at 45. No regrets. (-:

Re:Ah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307712)

This is not even remotely true. I work in the same industry, and your job is to perform and innovate, and ultimately, drive revenue. Your day to day is the same as any other programming job, banging out code and turning it over to production.

There is no cloak and dagger stuff going on. The only actually sexy part of this job is that generally you sit on a trading floor- which as a programmer is a horrific work environment.

Re:Ah, but (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309450)

Speak for yourself. I'm involved in market data analysis, order/execution analytics and development of quant back-testing tools. It's pretty interesting work and is not like "any other programming job". I pretty much have free reign to come up with the best solution. We use highly specialised time-series databases, esoteric languages and no fear of FPGAs, GPUs, grid computing or anything else which is suitable.

I'm paid well because I understand this stuff and how it fits together, not just for "banging out code and turning it over to production". Sorry your job sucks, you should look around.

Just like at Enron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309728)

There is no cloak and dagger stuff going on.

Yeah. But then you would say that, wouldn't you? You are one. Of *them*.

Re:Ah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308272)

Being probably the only person who knew the guy that will post on this article, he wasn't a particular shining star or anything. Just another smart guy. But, it's hard to find smart guys, to be honest.

It's an incestuous industry and there is always a war for talent.

Financial Industry (5, Insightful)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306886)

From my understanding, programmers making 300 - 400 thousand in the financial industry are typically quantitative analysts or financial engineers with masters degrees or Phds in these fields. Their primary duties are things like modeling complicated financial scenarios or finding statistical anomalies to exploit in high frequency trading. Yes they code their strategies but I don't know if I'd put them in the same category as your typical programmer.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36306912)

Recruiters quite often send me 6 month - 1 year contract roles that offer rates around £800-1000/day, which works out at about $500,000 a year. Granted thats contract rates so its not quite the same...but these are primarily developer positions. I'm sort of tempted to actually go to an interview, but I don't think I'd survive in those environments!

Re:Financial Industry (0, Troll)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307722)

Recruiters quite often send me 6 month - 1 year contract roles that offer rates around £800-1000/day, which works out at about $500,000 a year.

The recruiters obviously aren't filtering well enough. Those jobs they are sending you emails about require some basic math skills.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

dummy_variable (35218) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307952)

Exchange Rates! How do they work?!

Re:Financial Industry (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308010)

£1 ~= $1.643

£1000/day ~= $1643/day

$1620/day ~= $8215/week (5day work week) or ~= $9858 (6day work week, not uncommon for contract workers)
$8215/week ~= $427180/year(52 * 5day work weeks, no vacation) or $512616/year (52 * 6 day work weeks, no vacation)

So yes. close to a half million a year isn't that far off for a back of the napkin estimate.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

elh_inny (557966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308132)

Not true in UK. An average is to charge between 200-240 days per year due to weekends and public holidays (heard of Bank Holiday in UK?) and ilness etc - that's why the rate is higher than equivalent salary - where you're paid even when on vacation.
Finally you still have to pay the tax which at this levels is not insignificant and with the most efficient methods (your own Ltd + dividends) is probably 60% take home. So really we are talking ca £150 000 in your personal account and most of that you'll be spending just to cover the rent and food anywhere near London city.

Re:Financial Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308158)

Recruiters quite often send me 6 month - 1 year contract roles that offer rates around £800-1000/day, which works out at about $500,000 a year.

The recruiters obviously aren't filtering well enough. Those jobs they are sending you emails about require some basic math skills.

Perhaps their math is fine and they have no idea of the current exchange rate!

Re:Financial Industry (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306944)

I periodically get contacted by recruiters for banks, because my CV mentions Haskell, and there's a massive shortage of Haskell programmers. They're offering silly salaries to people with no experience in the financial sector. Still not quite enough to convince me that I want to move to London and work on tedious soul-destroying stuff though, they'd need to add another zero onto the end for that. If I could telecommute, I'd be quite tempted - I'd pay off my mortgage in about six months.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

Kinthelt (96845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307174)

I periodically get contacted by recruiters for banks, because my CV mentions Haskell, and there's a massive shortage of Haskell programmers. They're offering silly salaries to people with no experience in the financial sector. Still not quite enough to convince me that I want to move to London and work on tedious soul-destroying stuff though, they'd need to add another zero onto the end for that. If I could telecommute, I'd be quite tempted - I'd pay off my mortgage in about six months.

Please pardon my ignorance, but the financial industry uses Haskell??? I thought that was just an academic language.

Re:Financial Industry (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307278)

They wanted people with any functional programming experience. A lot of these companies use their own in-house languages[1], but functional programming is popular because it's easy to verify functional programs, and because languages like Haskell facilitate rapid development. Cincom does good business selling Smalltalk to trading houses for a similar reason. Typically, a small improvement in a trading algorithm gives you an advantage for a day - maybe less. Being able to go from idea to deployment in under an hour is something that Smalltalk and Haskell give you, and that's something that the financial industry values highly.

[1] In an industry where having a 5ms advantage over your competitors translates to millions in profits, there are lots of in-house languages, frameworks, and so on.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307396)

Being able to go from idea to deployment in under an hour is something that Smalltalk and Haskell give you, and that's something that the financial industry values highly.

I am afraid to ask, but... what about testing?

This would really explain a lot of things.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307730)

At that level, you don't need testing. You are right. You only need to test when you aren't sure if you are right or not. It's like asking a network engineer to implement an IP address change in the dev lab first.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307776)

I think that was the point - 'functional programming is popular because it's easy to verify functional programs'. Writing in one of these languages means that you can prove the correctness of the code, presumably automatically, so presumably very quickly.

Re:Financial Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309076)

Err, no, you can't prove the `correctness' of the code in any language. That is to say, you can never prove that the code executes the intentions of the developer.

Testing? (4, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309772)

If your bosses know the right people you don't need testing.

They just cancel the transactions if you screw up:
http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/07/markets/explaining_wall_street_turmoil/ [cnn.com]

Or prosecute the humans who beat your algo:
http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/security/3244186/norwegian-traders-convicted-for-outsmarting-us-stock-broker-algorithm/ [computerworlduk.com]

Technical know-who trumps technical know-how.

why testing is obsolete in HFT (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | more than 3 years ago | (#36310002)

The code works by natural selection. If it executes a buy&sell sequence that amounts to a profit, it is allowed to continue it's rule execution on additional trades. A code monitor manage the rules that are in play. If something is performing poorly (losing money on repetitive trades or stuck holding an asset for an extended amount of time), its assets are dumped back to the market and it's pulled out of the mix.

In high frequency trading, you can also run your code in a simulator mode that will track 'what-if' purchase and sales, but you won't know for certain how the market (i.e. other high-frequency trading entities) will respond until you run your code live.

Seth

Re:Financial Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307580)

well not only that but haskell is pretty much as close as you're going to get to electronically applied mathematics without useing coq or something even more esoteric.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307316)

the financial industry uses Haskell?

You'd be surprised what the advanced technology groups of major banks are into. They're always looking for ways to increase programmer productivity and cut development time.

-jcr

Re:Financial Industry (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307866)

Advanced technology like OS/2, Windows NT, mainframes with UltraWide SCSI disks and 56k modems. You'd be surprised how much ancient stuff banks rely on simply because it's "safe because nobody else uses it" or "it has worked fine for the last decade" or "phone lines are safer (even safer than SSL)".

Re:Financial Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309828)

It's used to audit other algorithms and programs. Not CS 101 stuff.

Re:Financial Industry (2)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307376)

Back in my NeXTSTEP road-warrior days, most of the customers were financial firms, and I also found that there were pockets of Smalltalkers and Lispers doing modeling and trading systems. The work I was doing then wasn't very exciting, but they paid well. The downside is that the body shops would often drag their feet on paying me, and on several occasions I had to get the customers to threaten them to make them pay up.

-jcr

Re:Financial Industry (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308042)

*googles haskell helloworld*
FORTUNE HERE I COME

Re:Financial Industry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309146)

FORTUNE HERE I COME

That looks more like FORTRAN or something...

Re:Financial Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308312)

I periodically get contacted by recruiters for banks, because my CV mentions Haskell, and there's a massive shortage of Haskell programmers. They're offering silly salaries to people with no experience in the financial sector. Still not quite enough to convince me that I want to move to London and work on tedious soul-destroying stuff though, they'd need to add another zero onto the end for that. If I could telecommute, I'd be quite tempted - I'd pay off my mortgage in about six months.

Take the job, rent for six months until you have your mortgage taken care of, then quit and move back?

Re:Financial Industry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307118)

From my understanding, programmers making 300 - 400 thousand in the financial industry are typically quantitative analysts or financial engineers with masters degrees or Phds in these fields. Their primary duties are things like modeling complicated financial scenarios or finding statistical anomalies to exploit in high frequency trading. Yes they code their strategies but I don't know if I'd put them in the same category as your typical programmer.

This is accurate. The best-paid developers in finance are writing their own requirements, not coding to someone else's, and are usually not labelled programmers but quants, algo traders, strategists, or trading technology.

Re:Financial Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309366)

The egg or the chicken first ?
Mathematicians: makes the egg
"Typical programmer": makes the chicken
Conceptually if you don't have either one of those, you're definitely laking something. So I agree they are not "typical programmer" but neither are they "typical" quants, traders, strategists or whatever. Only mathematicians to some degree that can code their maths.

Re:Financial Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307172)

I knew a guy who did this work (at a low end firm in Baltimore and still they made money hand over fist).

He would generate a model for a stock performance. They suits would review it. If they didn't like the performance of the stock, my buddy was told to change the model.

Once they had a model they liked, they used it to convince people to buy that stock.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

cshark (673578) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307208)

The only programmers I know that make that much own consulting companies, and I would like to be one of them.

Re:Financial Industry (4, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307282)

I owned a consulting company. There's a reason why you make so much. You work that much harder, and you put your entire financial future on the line every time you sign a big contract or fire an employee.

I now work for a public utility. Regular hours, no worries, and a regular paycheck. Yes it's half of what I used to make, but I have half the hours and a quarter of the stress.

Re:Financial Industry (2)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307762)

No shit. People have no fucking clue how much it costs in raw dollars to employ someone. It's basically double.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

Sectoid_Dev (232963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307994)

Thank you for reaffirming my decision to write boring business logic programs for a large corporation. I now have a personal life again and time on the side to program personal projects, which was always my first love in programming.

Re:Financial Industry (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309988)

In some jobs you earn twice as much, but end up looking twice as old and feeling twice as old...

And it's not just the hours of work that you should count. It's the hours of free time.

Assuming each day you have 8 hours sleep (laugh, but studies have shown that most people's health suffer if they get less than 7-8 hours), 1 hour for showers etc, work 8 hours, have 1 hour for lunch and 1 hour for dinner, that leaves 5 hours for other stuff.

But if you work 12 hours a day, that leaves only 1 hour for other stuff. So that's 5x less free time on work days (of course you might be one of those who enjoys your work more than your nonwork stuff, but most people don't seem that fortunate/crazy/sad - depends on your POV and work right? ;) )

It can make sense if you're in some poor country and you're unlucky to need to do that just to survive. But if you're in a rich, civilized, developed country you better be earning a lot more to be killing yourself off faster ;).

Re:Financial Industry (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307564)

Yes, primarily these people are mathematicians, programming is only a secondary skill that helps them in their role.

Re:Financial Industry (2)

EatAtJoes (102729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308792)

It's not hard to get to 300-400k in the financial industry as "just a programmer" (ie not a quant), you just have to become a manager and work up the ranks a little.

The good news there is being in management doesn't mean you stop coding. Depending on the project, tech work can consume upwards of 70% with the rest dealing with PHBs.

The bad news is ... it's the financial industry, which means you're surrounded by workaholics with no sense of how much money they're making. There's a lot of stress surrounding productivity that isn't necessary from a profit-making point of view. Still, it's not as bad as partner-track litigation, and the strategic need for tech makes programming much more rewarding than in many other industries.

So no, you don't need PhDs. In fact if you're good you don't even need a tech degree. You just need to build solid systems.

Gotta be careful when. (4, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306902)

I know a few guys who a decade ago were in the million a year range, and are now in the 250-300k.

If you're working with people databases, financials, or just on a product that happens to do crazy awesome (minecraft) you can make a pile of money. But expect 100-200k range if you're really good these days it seems like.

That's not to say you can't make money in direct offshoots of programming, for example becoming a producer on a project, where you may touch some programming still but are now more managerial, or design.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36306946)

This is a good point. A solution architect for instance likely has a coding background but is more in the design or producer field. Consultants also can have varied skillsets, usually specialized in an industry other than just comp sci or coding. Logistics is good, or reporting tools like sap or crystal.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307546)

But why cant programmers earn as much as producers and managers? Its no longer unskilled labour we are providing, programming is a highly skilled profession and it takes just as much brainpower and time as management. I for one am hoping to stay a programmer for life (because i love doing it) but it seems very unfair that i cant get paid as much as a manager/producer for contributing to an important part of the project.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307908)

In theory, managers make more than leaf nodes because they have more responsibility in a financial sense. It is true that in most cases, they are not personally liable for the budget they manage, but it's still stressful. Say you have a team of 5-6 working for you.. that's an annual burn of a couple million or so. Someone else is always asking you "can we make that 1.8 instead of 2" or "can we add these 7 new features, but keep the cost the same". Then, there's the hassles of finding work for your team. Relatively few managers actually just sit as a service provider with work flowing through the door. No, you have to make sure others know what you can do for them, get them to commit to projects, manage the project and the people, all while hoping that you have enough (interesting) work to keep your team together but not so much that they burn out.

Now multiply that til you've got a organization of 100-150 working for you. You've got 2 or 3 levels below you. You've got a couple dozen "customers" on the business side who are consuming the product of your hopefully talented group. But nobody can find 100 talented people all in the same place, so you've got some stinkers in the mix. You work with your direct reports to find a "safe place" for them where they can at least not be net-negative and hopefully actually do something positive. Just fire them you say? Sure, but HR wants to know what specific job competencies that they fail to meet, and what is the status of the performance improvement plan that you put them on. And then, in our "do more with less" corporate culture, you might wind up firing the worthless excuse for a human, but not be able to backfill the opening because "we're in a hiring hold, right now". and after 6 months, some other management team decides, hey, you were able to work with 99 instead of your allocated 100, so I guess you really don't need that extra headcount, do you.

Then, throw in regulatory oversight. Congress or the Legislature makes some rule about financial services, and right now, within 30 days, we have to figure out how to change our process to accommodate the change, while still processing however many thousands of transactions a day; the work load for which was already fully occupying your team.

Good thing that headsets for cellphones only take up one ear, so you can dial into two telecons at the same time. Not because you're expected to actually make a contribution in them, but because all 40 people in each conference are "stakeholders" in someway, and gods forbid that you should be in the next teleconference that day, and find out that you missed an action item assigned to you, for COB today.

Oh, you get unlimited vacation time? Not really an issue, because you never get to take vacation anyway. Want to tour Europe on vacation? That works fairly well, , because you can do all your tourist stuff during the day, and dial into the telecon at 10-11PM, just as the afternoon gets rolling on the West Coast, and you can find out what you missed in the morning that was hinted at in the emails you see flying across your Blackberry.

Yes, those managers earn their $200-300k/yr pay, at least in the middle tiers.

You could say, "I'm just going to chuck it all and go back to being an 90k/yr coder in a cubicle", but you know, that drop of more than 50% in income is a pretty big pain. And since you're currently a manager hiring those 90k/yr coders, you can also see that a) YOU might have trouble getting the job (I'm sorry, you're used to a higher pay and we're afraid that if you get a better offer you'll bolt) (I'm sorry, you don't have recent coding experience) and b) Those jobs are susceptible to being off-shored as the factory coder line keeps moving up.

Let's not forget the "up or out" aspect too. You spend those hours, you're conscientious, your team (mostly) likes you, you deliver (pretty much) on schedule, and (pretty much) on budget, and your reward is a promotion to do this with 500 people under you, or a different division which "you did so well over there and we think you have the talent to take on this problem child". Sure, that's an ego boost (and a pay boost), but it's also a time sucking boost. Better hope you don't have kids, because you're not going to see them, or your spouse. But hey, you'll rack up those frequent flyer miles. business class *is* nicer, and if you're lucky, they don't have inflight wi-fi so you can sleep.

So it's not that the programmer isn't contributing something important. They are. They are literally the bricks upon which the structure is built. But the reality is that people who control money make more of it, but they also work incredibly hard in most cases.

(yes, there are spectacular anomalies, and jerks, in every field)

Re:Gotta be careful when. (2)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309098)

Just to add a touch to this.
I have an awesome manager. Been with my company for 20 years (I've been here a little over 11.5).
My previous manager was new to managing here and had only been with the company for about 5 years...
What a difference.
My current manager earns every cent he is paid. I don't know how much he makes (I'm ball park guessing about $150K/yr) but he's worth more. The team under him (about 30) runs very well, he spends most of his time making sure we get what we need (correct docs, support from other teams, etc.) and keeping most of the political BS out of our way. It makes my job easy. While the problems I have to solve are difficult and sometimes well above my capabilities, I know that I can focus on one thing (coding this ever evolving in-house app) and not have to worry about my back, because he's got it.

A genuinely good manager is worth more than a programmer, because while I may be instrumental in making my two facets of this in-house app always work to the ever changing and evolving requirements*, without a good manager I would be spending vastly more of my time on other BS.
-nB

*this is normal. The app is used to test a product suite, so as the product suite grows, the in-house test app has to evolve.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307920)

Because the manager produces more by virtue of his skills. (Note: in a mostly efficient workplace) His skills are more leveraged. If the worker fucks up, his salary is wasted. If a manager fucks up, his salary and the salaries of all his workers are wasted. And good managers are rarer in the marketplace than equally good workers. Neither is more important than the other, but a good manager can create more value/profit to a company than a good worker.

Car analogy: the manager is the engine controller. The cylinders do all the work, but without the overhead of the engine controller directing their work, the engine won't run at all, or run inefficiently. Yes, it may add some overhead, but it more than makes up for it when you measure the final product.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308260)

I would agree with that. But I would like to qualify it by saying firstly, not every manager is good or productive. Most tend to just be mediocre narcissists who want an elevated position. Secondly, not every endeavor needs a great manager, many can get by with someone just to keep notes and makes sure that everyone knows what is happening, rather than requiring an outstanding visionary. I've always wished I was a better manager, but in general, it just means I need to hire more experienced guys who I can work out a game plan with and just do it, rather than transforming an unruly mob into an army. But because I am so hands off and because I spent about 50% of my time programming, good guys are willing to work with me without getting their egos stepped on and are actually willing to listen to what I have to say, so that works out fine.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (2)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308390)

If the worker fucks up, his salary is wasted. If a manager fucks up, his salary and the salaries of all his workers are wasted. And good managers are rarer in the marketplace than equally good workers.

If any of that was true you would expect managerial salaries to vary with competency, which they don't. They vary with industry and with company based on overall management culture and productivity, but within companies they vary based on political connections.

The reality is: a good worker can make up for the incompetence of a bad manager, and the manager will take the credit. But when a bad manager screws up, the worker takes the blame.

So while economic rationality would dictate that what you are saying is correct, no one who has been paying any attention to actual facts in the past couple of decades believes that economic rationality is only--or even the primary--driver of human behaviour in the marketplace.

It is irrational to believe that economic rationality is the primary driver of human behaviour in the marketplace.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

ckhorne (940312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308398)

You must be a manager... ;)

While I agree that the manager and developer may have equal importance, they don't always have equal value. In some cases, the manager makes the group work as a cohesive team. In other cases, the manager is there to make sure the developers have what they need - feed the machine and keep the shit (political tape, etc) out of the way.

Everyone is only as valuable as the cost of their own replacement. Let's say that I'm a developer who works on medical imaging protocols (which I am). There are only a handful of people in the US that do this. Sure - I can be replaced, and sure, others can learn this skillset - I just happen to have 7+ years of direct experience. Any manager could serve as the liaison between the business and me, but it would take 6 months to a year for another developer to get up to speed, and causing my employer substantial loss in the meanwhile. Loss of my manager would be a speedbump.

Obviously, my situation isn't unique - there are plenty of other developers with industry or niche skills; finding a new developer isn't nearly as easy as finding a new manager. And for this reason, despite their importance in the overall picture of the company, developers should be paid according to the value they bring, not based on some hierarchical org chart. If you're not, find another place to work.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

Sectoid_Dev (232963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308014)

Managers will always make more than the people they manage. It defines the power relationship between them. Any other situation is just plain crazy talk.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308854)

Some companies offer a technical track in parallel with the management track so senior employees who wish to advance and remain technical can do so. And even someone who is a "manager" can still keep their hands dirty in some organizations ... my manager just celebrated his 30th anniversary with our company (which wasn't his first programming gig), and he still writes code almost every day. Good code for the most part.

A lot depends on the company you work for and perhaps also the specific area.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309502)

Yup, I'm one of those Technical Track senior people, has two juniors working for me and make the equivalent of about US $500,000. Not bad.

Re:Gotta be careful when. (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309378)

Because one is an evolution of the other, and the producers and designers ultimately decide the direction of products. You can do your job absolutely perfectly as a programmer, and still have the project be a complete disaster.

In many cases (in fact virtually all programming places I've been) managers - as in the guys with business degrees and nothing else, are paid less than programmers with equivalent experience. I have a good friend who is an office manager for a team of doctors, and I assure you is paid no where near what they are. Some managers are good and move up. Most are terrible and serve in a support role where they may organize who gets what office and that sort of thing, and make sure you're actually doing your job, but you get paid more.

But technical directors, producers, lead design people are all evolutions of other jobs into management. A good technical director might have started as a programmer - and knows how to task out programming jobs to 100 other programmers that can actually be done. Being good at that, and not wasting 50% of the labour under your supervision is a big deal, and you're paying for people who don't suck.

I suppose one could distinguish between management and leadership. Leaders are paid well because it's hard to find good ones. Management is a support role (just as IT is a support role), but it is the logical path to leadership, and directly shares a lot of skill overlap. But there are lots of routes to leadership that aren't getting a business degree and then shrinking everyone's cube's but 5% so you can squeeze 4% more employees on the same floor.

Goldman Sachs? Been there, man (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36306982)

Their coffee suchs.

Stealing (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307024)

He only stole the source code because he wasn't being paid enough.

Re:Stealing (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309984)

and i only killed her because she was cheating on me. and i only robbed that bank because i was poor. and i only hit that lady with my car because i was drunk.

Better salaries (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307040)

Banks always pay better salaries since they can afford to while they screw their clients. Unfortunately, these geniuses at the banks aren't doing the perp walk like they should for bringing down our whole economy.

Quantitative Math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36307082)

I have actually been thinking about pursuing a career in quantitative math. I have been looking at a MSc program from a local university. I have been a Software Engineer for the past 15 years and I just don't see myself make much progress when it comes to salary. If I want to make big bucks it looks like Quantitative Math is the way to go. Does anyone in the community have any advice? Have you done such a move yourself?

unheard of (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307300)

It seems that $300,000 to $400,000 and up is not unheard of in the financial industry

I've "heard of" people completing a couple week certification course getting a $75000/yr job in IT because they now have an A+ cert and there are huge shortages of personnel. Of course I "heard of" that exclusively in TV and radio commercials by for-profit schools charging outrageous fees. The reality of it is the typical BS degree holder can hope for and possibly even get a $8/hr helpdesk job; The cream of the crop will do better, but then again, they always do. Such is to be expected toward the end of the educational-industrial complex bubble. How reliable are the reports of $400K/yr cobol coders and $75K/yr A+ cert password resetters and what kind of numbers are we talking about? I can totally see a CEO's son getting a really special deal, but thats just an anecdote compared to the other 300 million citizens and non-citizens here.

Re:unheard of (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307356)

the typical BS degree holder can hope for and possibly even get a $8/hr helpdesk job

Getting a new job and retaining a pre-bust job are two different things.

Re:unheard of (3, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307426)

I'm not quite the Director's son, but I am his nephew :p My dad actually used to be the IT Manager here until he died, and I ended up with the job a few years later. I'm not even making $75K a year, but then again the whole company is pretty laid back and a nice place to work. I do a mix of in-house web app development, maintaining a downhole drilling simulation app for clients, and typical sysadmin/IT support stuff. I know I could be making more if I got a bunch of certifications, or worked on a lot of projects with loads of different languages and frameworks to help buff up my CV and look for another coding job, but I don't really have the motivation for it. I'm making more than enough to get by, and I'm still enjoying helping people out here. I do wonder from time to time if I should be making "more" of myself, like developing mobile games or utilities, but I prefer to have free time for other things right now.

Andrew Carnegie and the accountant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309380)

It reminds me of a story I once heard about Andrew Carnegie... One nice Sunday afternoon, he went for a walk in Central Park. He met one of his accountants who he knew well. They talked for a while and then the accountant said.

"You know, Mr. Carnegie, I am richer than you are."

Mr Carnegie replied "That's preposterous! You make a few thousand and I make millions."

The accountant replied. "Yes, that's true, but I have enough!"

Re:unheard of (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307966)

It all works out eventually. In the long run, people only get paid to the extent their work is valuable.

Note: A+ ain't worth $75k. If you have a BS and can't pass the A+, you deserve $8/hr.

Re:unheard of (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308234)

How do you explain CEO pay?

Re:unheard of (1)

Mycroft-X (11435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308828)

When every decision you and your management team make has profit implications of $100,000 or more, you get paid a lot if people think you'll make the right decisions.

Re:unheard of (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309166)

...and it's really hard work to convince the right people that you are going to make the right decisions.

Re:unheard of (2)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309494)

The CEOs get paid a lot even when they clearly made the wrong decision.

Re:unheard of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309266)

Cronyism.

Re:unheard of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309290)

How do you explain CEO pay?

The investors pay you a lot of money, so that one day when just for example, your oil rig catches fire and causes a massive Public Relations disaster, they can stick you in front of a camera to say things like "I'd like to have my life back". I believe the term used by stage magicians is "Mis-Direction".
Then, after you've been swiftly terminated in a highly public fashion, along with a good portion of the executive board, the Investors can sit back and look Outraged at how you've abused their trust... while quickly funneling their assets around. In the end, they'll get some tax kickbacks for desset and hopefully you'll be able to live out the rest of your days in relative obscurity, existing only in people's minds as a sad sort of failed joke. Or you might just get lynched.

That sum it up well enough for you?

BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309430)

If you have a BS you have no business getting an A+.

Re:unheard of (1)

JMZero (449047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307978)

There's quite a few people making $300k - both in the financial industry, and on the upper shelf at any big software company (MS, Google, Apple, Valve, etc..). I don't have statistics, but I've run into quite a few online or at events - certainly not nepotism types or "legacy knowledge ransom holders", just very strong programmers that have accomplished things and proven their value over time.

At my company, there's people making $75k with no significant formal education. A+ doesn't seem to have any penetration here, but we have a lot of people taking 1-2 year certificate type programs and that could certainly expect $75k after a few successful years. In fact, we quite often interview people who won't accept that little despite not having huge amounts of education or experience (and, sadly often, failing the programming exercise).

Re:unheard of (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309572)

How reliable are the reports of $400K/yr cobol coders and $75K/yr A+ cert password resetters and what kind of numbers are we talking about? I can totally see a CEO's son getting a really special deal, but thats just an anecdote compared to the other 300 million citizens and non-citizens here.

I can tell you that there is a company here where I live that does Cobol programming for banks. I know someone who works there and they will start a Cobol programmer at around $200k with no financial experience.

bonuses and stock options (3, Insightful)

OutputLogic (1566511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36307354)

The article doesn't differentiate between base salary and "extras", such as bonuses, stock options, and other forms of compensations. Stock option grants can easily amount to a yearly base compensation in large Silicon Valley shops. And bonuses at Goldman Sachs [csmonitor.com] is even more.

Finances gigs high paying, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308048)

Yes, finance gigs pay higher but there are LOTS of buts.

First, there is so much legacy code and systems that your skill set might end-up lagging behind the market by 10 years. So if you ever want to escape the frigid NYC winters and move to California then you'll find your skill set obsolete. And realistically you need to work in NYC to make money in finance.

Second, the big money only occasionally sweeps by your star. The trends in the market come and go. So the $400k Russian coder at GS might only make that for a few years. Then he's back to $100k year. This was probably part of the reason he moved to a new venture.

Third, for the long term gigs require specialized knowledge of finance or markets which can be mind numbingly dull for top engineers. It is soulless work only for the black-hearted. Lucky if you get to work on interesting algorithms. Most work is in excruciatingly painful market data or regulatory related work.

Fourth, some the personality types which are considered splendid in tech are unwanted in finance (think Richard Stallman, James Gosling or other folks you might meet at a science fiction convention). They don't appreciate the odd ball creative genius or the pedantic sorts.

Did I mentioned that the winters in NYC are freaking FREEZING!? If you have the choice, take the $100k you can make in SF or LA. California has a much better quality of life than the NYC rat race.

Unsupported Conclusion (1)

lwriemen (763666) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308070)

So there you have it. There are big corporations out there making millions of dollars on the backs of computer algorithms, and some of them are willing to pay at least $1.2 million per year to programmers who can code them better than anyone else.

There is no evidence in the article to support this conclusion. It would be just as easy to conclude, "... to programmers who can sell themselves better than anyone else." Of course, the data to support the conclusion probably doesn't exist, because according to Capers Jones in the 3rd edition of Applied Software Measurement, "a majority of software organizations have few measurements of any kind." The majority in this case is ~80%.

Not a surprise. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308290)

I believe it. I've got friends working as programmers for financial companies. Their salaries aren't in the $300k - $400k range but they're all earning $150k and above. But they easily earn double what someone would earn doing roughly the same thing in any industry. And the nature of the work isn't anything particularly sophisticated. But then that's the nature of the financial industry. Even secretaries earn fairly outrageous salaries. Those companies earn so much money that they can afford to be generous. And from what I've seen, with the occasional exception of course, job security is generally quite good.

Anyone who lives in a region with a lot of finance, and doing work that they might need, would be a fool not to seek employment at one of these companies. At least if your motivation is to earn a healthy income and have some job security.

a title is required (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308338)

Sergey Aleynikov, who was later convicted of stealing proprietary source code from a previous employer, Goldman Sachs

Ah, the software that a GS lawyer claimed could be used by others to manipulate the market? But isn't the GS's job?

European programmers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308684)

Here, in Italy, the medium salary for a senior developer is about 20.000€/y, or about 28KUS$/y (net amount on payroll), that's very sad.

not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36308744)

i work in silicon valley and remember back in the early 90's when looking at gigs working in IT or programming for wall street firms.... computer operators where getting 60K, sys admins 100K... I'm talking 1993 here. I met a financial programmer out here that had left at 260K a year gig. just to give an idea of how much more that was than silicon valley at the same time, a mid-level engineer was making 60K. there was a premium being paid not just for specialized talent, but for very high pressure gigs, and not to mention cost of living. the numbers talked about 300K-400k should not be surprising to anyone. people at the top of their game and especially when very high in demand, short supply are paid very well.

$300-$400K (1)

defaria (741527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308820)

Damn I'm underpaid! ;-)

Don't expect to work 40 hours a week. (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36308932)

I won't discuss my pay but I will state that having a willingness to put in more than forty hours a week has significantly boosted my bottom line. When the time of reviews/pay/etc come up I am usually up there on the minds of those higher up simply because I am involved across the board and always "seem" to be available. Yeah, I get an odd week that can break sixty hours but I generally set my schedule and do what needs to be done. No one I know in my networking group (you know, friends who do similar work and such) can report similar situations. Yeah there are places where it might not be rewarded, but I have to ask, why are you still there?

Re:Don't expect to work 40 hours a week. (1)

euroq (1818100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309706)

I work 30-35 hours/week and make 107K + ~15% bonus. The trick is that I'm better at what I do than everyone else around me, and I can do it in half the time.

Misleading article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309056)

It is a programming job with creation of money making algorithmic strategy that are the main role he had at Goldman. Can not be compared to other programming roles.

http://www.QuantRec.com

Yes, there are programmers that earn $400k. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309194)

But you're not one of them. And you probably won't ever be. Especially in an environment where ads say "No unemployed applicants will be considered."

Not strictly programming but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36309230)

I'm a programmer-turned-entrepreneur. I don't get a salary per se but the "little side project" I started as CS major in college turned into a "small business" netting around a million/year for me.

quarter to third of MIT grads go into finance (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309388)

Its the most popular field for people not attending grad school. The attractions are high salary, technical work and staying in the northeast.

Salary per hour is more important. (3, Informative)

Per Wigren (5315) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309390)

Personally I think that $/h is more important than $/y. I earn around $75k per year working 40 hours per week. If I could make $112.5k per year working 60 hours per week (same hourly wage) I wouldn't take it. I enjoy work but I value my free time more.

Wow (1)

tom229 (1640685) | more than 3 years ago | (#36309800)

Thanks for showing me how underpaid I am.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?