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Do You Make $60/hr for Programming?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the getting-the-numbers-straight dept.

Businesses 181

azzkicker asks: "I was reading some AP articles on offshoring. It talks about the struggles of out-of-work programmers and the shifting of jobs overseas [in the US]. Part way through one article it says: 'The average programmer commands $60 an hour in the United States, six times the rate in India.' I don't disagree with the Indian rate (USD $80/day, $400/week, $20,800/year gross), but what is with the US rate (USD $480/day, $2400/week, $124,000/year gross)? I know that programmers are billed out at high rates, but most of my programmer friends in Midwest, USA (years of experience and CS degrees) don't even see $50K/year. What is the actual rate most programmers see? Do you see $60/hr? Is the US rate misleading corporations into outsourcing?" Does offshoring really save corporations that much money?

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181 comments

$54k (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107159)

I make $54k a year, plus full benefits (All medical expenses paid for my family, vision, dental, vacation, and company paid pension). This is a good job, but a far cry from $60/hour.

Re:$54k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107202)

I forgot to add, this is for a programming job. I do a lot of coding and database work. I also do a little bit of networking, but not too much.

This is for a non-profit corporation owned by the city. I'm the only programmer, and I do most all of the program design, in addition to coding, testing, deploying and maintaining the software, and training the users.

$60k in NYC is not much money! (3, Interesting)

bluethundr (562578) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107353)

I make $54k a year, plus full benefits (All medical expenses paid for my family, vision, dental, vacation, and company paid pension). This is a good job, but a far cry from $60/hour.

Pretty amazing. I work in tech support, which is a MUCH lower competency line of work than programming and I make just a bit over $60 a year, $72 with full dental/medical. Of course that is in New York City, where $60k a year is *NOT* considered a wad of cash!

My girlfriend makes $150k a year as corporate trainer, and (since she owns her own company) only works on average 2-3 days per week. And she has friends in her line of work who actually have the temerity to ask her "How can you work for so little income?". So, naturally, she thinks my paycheck is peanuts. I actually had a therapist tell me one time "Of course you have trouble making ends meet! You hardly make any money!" (naturally, I fired her not long after that conversation!)

I program for enjoyment and because I like to learn. But even though it seems like a far more intellectually stimulating line of work, I don't think I'll ever persue it as a career. ESPECIALLY if it would mean having to take a cut in salary!

Re:$60k in NYC is not much money! (5, Funny)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107485)

Corporate trainer eh?

Does she throw them treats when they properly use buzzwords, and sniff the ass of their superiors?

Re:$60k in NYC is not much money! (1)

madcow_ucsb (222054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108282)

Hmmm I make $60 as a firmware engineer in Silicon Valley. Never feels like enough after my rent checks, but not bad for a first job out of college....

Re:$60k in NYC is not much money! (1)

n-baxley (103975) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108338)

I actually had a therapist tell me one time "Of course you have trouble making ends meet! You hardly make any money!"

What she should have said was. "Of course you have trouble making ends meet! You employ a therapist!"

Re:$60k in NYC is not much money! (1)

SewersOfRivendell (646620) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109220)

Keep in mind that In the midwest, $54k is a lot of money. Their cost of living is much, much lower, so it goes farther. On either coast, you'll make serious bucks (and you'll spend most of it on a decent home!). Keep in mind also that $60k is a decent just-out-of-college salary on either coast.

Re:$60k in NYC is not much money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8109490)

I make just a bit over $60 .. My girlfriend makes $150k a year as corporate trainer, and (since she owns her own company) only works on average 2-3 days per week.

I am insanely jealous. I'm a programmer who was - until I got laid off yesterday - making $54k a year in a job that I thought I loved. And then my girlfriend walked out (gee, thanks).

Can I be you please? Although truthfully you probably wouldn't want to - life is kind of shit right now. But I'll take any suggestions that you might have.

Re:$54k (1)

Dick Faze (711885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108107)

You're not an hourly contractor, you're a W2 employee. When hourly figures are quoted, you have to take all of those factors into consideration - your total compensation is closer to $90,000 once you do. This is still on the low side, so I'm going to assume you live in the south, which is the only place I've seen rates this low. In the northeast, there aren't really any programming contracts below $40/hr and most are between $40/hr and $60/hr. The numbers are contracts I've seen listed through agencies, so the clients are really paying $80-$120 an hour, and what YOU get is after their cut. Independents make more like $70-$100 an hour, at least in DE, PA, NJ, NY. In the end, I think it evens out. It seems like salaries for 'real programming jobs' are around $60k-$80 a year. After you pay all of your own benefits, spend 800 hours doing sales calls (most of which result in nothing) and then do the tons of paperwork (and pay for your Tums for the dry periods) you end up with 900-1000 billable hours. So even at $100 and hour, you're not really any better off than working for Shitco. But if you need to be your own boss or really like picking your projects, its worth it.

Re:$54k (1)

SkewlD00d (314017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109421)

Also, you have to pay DOUBLE social-security (which is about 14%), FICA and SDI on a 1099, in addition to submitting quarterlies and paying state and fed. Also, the non-inflation-indexed AMT is going to sneak up and tax the fuck out of the middle class. That's why the budget projections are so rosy, that there wont be a budget deficit. Of course, none of the candidates for prez talk about the AMT nor do they talk about closing the tax loopholes for the rich and tax traps for the working poor. Damn, I better charge more than $40/hr gross and suboutsource my job to India. =)

Re:$54k (1)

x00101010x (631764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108582)

I make about 35k USD, have dental (180USD value), medical (dunno how much, but probably double dental), 1 week vacation, 1 week sick days, accrued monthly, and that's it. No 401k (though one is avail. but w/o contribution matching due to "hard" times and I can't really afford it right now anywho).

I work an average of 60 hours per week, minimum 30, sometimes 80, but 80% of the time it's between 55 and 60. We get "comp" time, no monetary compensation for overtime, but I've never seen half as much comp time as I've put in overtime, let alone time and a half (and that's based on 50hr being the overtime mark).
And in my 3.5 years with the company I've only had about 8 to 12 weeks where I wasn't turning a great profit for the company or at least making them double what it took to pay me. And I'm still using a PIII 800Mhz Dell workstation, second hand from an artist and refurbished to begin with, so it's not like they're paying much to equip me.

I also live in one of the more expensive northern suburbs of LosAngeles. My condo (which I sort'a wish I hadn't bought now) was about 180k USD and is only a 2bdr/1.75bth.

Re:$54k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8109432)

sounds like you need a new job or need to learn how to negotiate a better salary--or is the geek market really that bad in Cal-i-for-ni-a.

On the other hand, your not getting a raise if you only earn/save your company twice what you get paid.

Re:$54k (1)

x00101010x (631764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109527)

that's minimum, i pull down about 3100/mo (est. a bit of the medical and dental in there), they charge 10,000/mo to 15,000/mo to the customer and we underbid the going market value.

i asked for a small raise and got turned down, and the CFO made clear it's not because i'm not worth at least that, but that there's just "not enough money" right now. there's a lot of dead weight around here though, a lot of people pulling down double what i get and putting in 1/3 the hours. oh well.

I used to make just over $100K salary (2, Informative)

rthille (8526) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107164)

until I got laid off 40 days ago. Still, add in the insurance, vacation, etc and I can easily see $60/hour.

Re:I used to make just over $100K salary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108459)

I make $50K a year and honestly they don't pay me enough for all this shit I do. I do almost everything they throw at me...database stuff, analysis, and coding. It seems like they give me the hard tasks.

Next week is my annual review and I want to ask for a raise to $65K (average salary of level II engineer in my area). The company is in good shape now than it was 6 months ago so why not ask for a raise? It is a big jump from $50K...is it too big of a jump? Anyone have any tips on how to ask for a raise.

p.s. My company bills at $85 to $185 an hour for contract work and I only see $24.

Seems low (2, Informative)

whoda (569082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107170)

My company bills me out at ~$160/hr.

Of course, I only see ~1/5 of that as my hourly wage, they get the rest of it for overhead/insurance/profit/etc.

Re:Seems low (1)

Inominate (412637) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107216)

So why don't companies hire thier own programmers, rather than pay so much to use someone elses?

Re:Seems low (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107479)

they do, the programmers they hire live in India.

see how this works now?

Re:Seems low (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107513)

My guess would be, less overhead.

When you have an employee, there's all sors of costs above and beyond his wage. You'll be paying insurance, possibly benefits, taxes, unemployment, ect. Plus you'll probably need a physical place for him to work, which means office space (rent is typically by the square foot) and equipment (outlay costs, maintenance, etc).

When you outsource, all you get is a bill. The company you get your labor from probably operates cheaper overall (India?) and so the net cost to you is probably lower in the end.

I'm not an employer though, so that's just a guess based on other examples in industry.
=Smidge=

Re:Seems low (2, Interesting)

bay43270 (267213) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107827)

On top of the issues you mention, companies also like contractors because they fit in a different column in the balance sheet. Full time employees are liabilities. Contractors (even if employed for years) are temporary costs that can be attributed to specific projects.

Re:Seems low (1)

clearcache (103054) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108488)

Also, companies pay for specialized work in areas that they don't have a prayer of doing themselves. Sure, maybe they could pay a 1/3 hourly rate to program something in-house, but without the area-specific knowledge, they may spend more than 3 times the amount of time to create a product...and not even get it right when they're done.

Re:Seems low (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108493)

well many of those costs are hidden on the bill the client gets. One that's not hidden, is the IRS(at least for american companies outsourcing to India). Since outsourcing is usually company to company, it's a company expense. Canada also has per-employee training minima and other fees that start ramping up the more you grow a business in terms of people. And finally, let's not forget that the outsourcing company has a LOT more leverage against its employees. i.e. You called in sick yesterday, and because of that, we lost the client, you're fired cuz you lost us 123000$ and we can't afford you anymore! wouldn't sink as an argument the same was as: You missed one day, you're fired.
In terms of employment rights anyway.

Re:Seems low (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108568)

If you only need someone for a while, for a project, there's no point in making them a permanent employee. It's expensive to get rid of people.

Re:Seems low (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8109429)

My company bills me out at ~$160/hr.

Until very recently, my company billed me out at $3000/day. On a "bad day" (ten hours), that's $300/hr. Suffice it to say, I didn't get nearly that much in my pocket.

Spent a lot of time on the airplane, though...

$10 / hour (2, Funny)

flikx (191915) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107191)

I have a BSME. I might get a raise to $15. What a great economy.

Re:$10 / hour (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107393)

Right there with ya. Except I don't really don't do anything much related to engineering. Give it another nine months. Like USA Today said, America(esp. the economy) loves an election year.

Re:$10 / hour (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108805)

Consider yourself lucky. I have one too and I make $8.50/hr in NYC.

rule of thumb (5, Interesting)

voisine (153062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107197)

general rule of thumb up to $100k a year or so, double the salary and that's what the employee costs the company. Payroll tax, benefits, unemployment insurance, workmans comp, increased hr resources, etc... $60/hr sounds about right.

MOD PARENT UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107212)

mmmhm.

Re:rule of thumb (1)

whoda (569082) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107217)

wait til OSHA gets to India, then their cost/hr will start to rise too.

Re:rule of thumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107572)

Wait till W gets to OSHA, then cost/hr will go down here. India is coming to the US, not the other way around.

Re:rule of thumb (3, Insightful)

Ummagumma (137757) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107928)

That 100% is not really true actually. The total an employee costs a company is their 'burdened rate' - generally the HR industry adds 30% of their salary to their base pay to determine this. It varies greatly by state, though, based on insurance rates, etc, and also by the benefits a company provies. More vacation = higher burdened rate, for instance.

so, $60/hr + 30% = ~$78/hr cost to the company.

Re:rule of thumb (3, Informative)

MikeDawg (721537) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108260)

Yup, from my president, who will talk "shoot from the hip" and hosestly with me about things, we were talking about employees, and he says that all the companies he has worked with, that HR usually estimates around wages + 25-30%. He usually estimates the cost of employees as wages + 30-35%. I think these are realistic numbers for a professional company.

Re:rule of thumb (1)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108951)

I think the point was that the hourly salary would be less becasue of the burdened rate

60/hr * 0.7 = 42/hr

Just my 2 cents. (4, Interesting)

Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107209)

I know the best programmer I have ever had the chance to work with made 112k a year. Keep in mind these are "New York City" rates, where he was paying 2200 a month in rent. 1600 a year for car insurance, and 10.50 for a mixed drink at your downtown bar. Lets not get into the fact that he was working 75+ hours a week on average either.

Down here in Florida senior programmers are lucky to see 1/2 that at best.

Big numbers make for big headlines. No one ever puts 2 and 2 together.

My friend, could program a circle around 10 of the best offshore programmers you could throw at him. The problem is, they(management) only sees dollar signs, not quality, not the fact you are here on the spot, and not the kind of job your doing....so what if 6 programmers offshore can't do his job, they like the way the numbers work and are not bright enough to understand that they are actually hurting the company.

Again, what do I know. I am just your average government worker now, but I can zap you from space!

---typed for speed, did not check spelling or grammer. In fact I did not even read over it.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (4, Insightful)

jmt9581 (554192) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107334)

While there are managers who definitely don't know how to objectively judge quality of software vs. quantity of software, there are counter-examples to your superprogramming friend. I'm sure that while many people on Slashdot know talented supergeeks with amazing technical skills, everyone knows at least one or two dweebs with no skill at all who just got into IT because it sounded like a good career decision in the late 90's.

In my opinion, the CS/IT world is going through a much-needed purging of some talentless dweebs from the workforce. Competition with overseas workers is simply part of that. I'm not saying that outsourcing programming jobs to India is always a good thing, just that it's not always a bad thing.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107383)

This is so true.
Our CIO related a story about how one of the firm's owners asked him if they could switch to Windows Server 2003 and 'save millions' like the ad says.
So he asked him, "How much are you fucking spending a month on IT?" (The answer being next to nothing)
He then said, "That's how much I can save you."
That was the last time Win2K3 was brought up.
There's just no connection between software and costs.
It's an object lesson in billing for services is what it is.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107681)

I'm currently attending to a course on software engineering(basic being part of a software project course basically, writing of imaginary requirements document & stuff like that) and I can't help but wonder that wouldn't outsourcing the coding be a quite stupid thing to do in the long run when living in the real world, when looking at the usual reasons why software projects might fail(fucked up specs&requirements, unrealistic schedules, bad communication.. ) and when looking at why the schedules don't hold up(or are longer than what they would be with a different team with more direct link to the client who the program is being done for). and being that failing software projects being the usual reason to lose a customer or profits for a software company.. then what's the point. you still can't usually just dump the specs into some indian code companys inbox and except them to provide a working solution for your company(that you're selling on then, and if they did what was your company doing in the first place? couldn't the client just outsource the whole process themselfs as the next step)

sure it's a different matter if you move everything(effectively move the company somewhere else) and start providing your services to somewhere else but what's the point then, why wouldn't you just create a branch there.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (2, Interesting)

stevew (4845) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108167)

Well - you can come mighty close to this - and you miss some significant details. If it takes your company 5 engineers to do the job, and Indian based solution can apply 15-25 engineers for a lower cost! Then there is the work ethic these people have -it's significant! I'm not bashing the American work ethic - just commenting that the Indian work ethic is also substantial.

Oh - did I mention that I'm running an India based project? It seems to be going quite well. The real issues are a matter of finding experienced people in India that can manage the local talent. Then there are issues with in-experienced teams needing everything explicitly stated for them. 5 years from now this won't likely be a problem.

So - be afraid. Be very afraid. This trend isn't going to reverse itself.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (2, Interesting)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108374)


5 years from now this won't likely be a problem.

5 years from now, your employer may not need a domestic "outsourcing manager" either. You might try being afraid for yourself.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108495)

why would you use 15-20 people if it's sensible to do it with 5 people near the client who is actually the one buying the product? what would that extra manpower help, when it could just needlessly complicate the projects planning? could they use some of those extra guys to enhance the communication between programmers, and to the client who has the real requirements(in their imagination) and to have better overview of the state of the project so that you can know better beforehand what will fail and when the product will be ready and if the feature goals are reachable?

I'm not american anyways, and if nothing else I'll eventually find a job working as somebody doing those requirements docs, or teaching old people how to use computers.. you can't outsource everything(well, you can, but then the economy of your country just got fucked and the money will escape the country and.. oh yeah, budget deficit as the gov tries to fix things back to normal ineffectively. well maybe if you outsource living as well it would work). I still got few years of school to go(University), with addition of the fact that there's going to be lots of jobs freed pretty soon as the big after ww2 age groups retire I'm pretty confident that I'll get by.

Besides, if you can be very easily replaced by a guy working on the other side of the globe then you're not worth much(besides, migrating to here where I live is _very_easy_ so it's not like 'importing' workers is that hard either, with cheap education to boot for them). I pretty much can understand that the guy on the other side of the globe could code the subsystem for controlling some robotic arm in some machine just as well as the guy sitting here, what I seriously doubt is his ability to communicate with the client in meetings held because there needs to be some drastic changes because it becomes apparent that something in the system needs to be changed for the system to work at all. Anyways, hopefully Indias rising economy will have their own use for their coders as well(ever wondered why there's surplus of coders there, in relatively fast growing economy that should have use for them as well? maybe the western projects pay better though, I wonder if this is causing any problems for their local industrys development).

Re:Just my 2 cents. (1)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109470)

Ah, a project "manager" who says it "seems" to be going well. Isn't it your job to know if it is or is not? You'll be outsourced next, I'd say. Or just plain fired, since you don't "seem" to have a very good handle on the state of your project.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (1)

sporty (27564) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108894)


I know the best programmer I have ever had the chance to work with made 112k a year. Keep in mind these are "New York City" rates, where he was paying 2200 a month in rent. 1600 a year for car insurance, and 10.50 for a mixed drink at your downtown bar. Lets not get into the fact that he was working 75+ hours a week on average either.


Try $1000 a month, easy. Mixed drinks, easily not more than $5 if you go to real pubs. It's also common for a programmer to work between 40 and 60 hours a week depending on what he's working on. On a slow week, I can do 35 standing on my head. In the middle of a big project, I've done something like 70 'cause I was doing things "right".

If you choose to live in Battery Park City or Brooklyn Heights, yeah, $2200 is about right. And go to bars in those areas, or around union square, where things are "hip". You deserve to get ripped on a drink.

NY may be a little pricey, but at least check your figures.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (1)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109100)

so what if 6 programmers offshore can't do his job

He's perfect for my new business plan. I call it "double offshoring".

You get a half-dozen kick-ass developers in the US. Then you hire one guy in Bangalore, a "project manager," and put him in an office with a web server and a VOIP PBX. You have him pretend to be running a team of 60 developers in Bangalore.

Then you have one of your US developers pretend to be the US liason to your Indian development team. But instead, he just relays all the client requests to the developers sitting around him. They are happy and motivated, as they are collecting the salary of 10 indian programmers, or $100 per hour, gross. You can even let them talk to the clients occasionally via that Banglore VOIP link; they just have to practice their Apu.

How could this work? Keep in mind that much of the outsourcing work is coming from Fortune 1000 companies. Their standards are already woefully low, or they'd notice that having your developers on the other side of the planet substantially hinders things. So whether they compare you with internal efforts or with outsourcing to India, there is a lot of slack to mine:
  • Developers at large companies are, on average, pretty average. In fact, from what I've seen, generally below average. (Why? I think this is partly because top people don't like to put up with large-company bullshit, and partly because large companies tend to pay salaries that don't reflect how productive top people are. Also, large companies are much more reluctant to fire people than small ones, so they tend to keep idiots around.)
  • Studies show that the productivity ratio between top developers and low-grade ones is at least 10:1 [tmtm.com]. And my experience leads me to think it is greater: I've certainly seen projects where the low-end developers, because of how many mistakes they made, were negatively productive.
  • Large companies also have huge managment overheads. I've seen places where the developers spent at least half their time complying with big-company bullshit, including meetings, reports, superfluous documentation, political nonsense, and process rituals.
  • Just like the Internet boom sucked a lot of inexperienced and/or untalented workers into the US developer market, so to is the outsourcing boom doing in India. Although there are surely good outfits there, I've heard many horror stories about work outsourced to India.
  • There's value to understanding the culture. A person who has lived in the US for several years will have picked up a lot of subtle information about the way we do business and live our lives. We in the US have a hard time writing software for non-western countries, and the reverse certainly applies.
  • Large teams spend a lot of time on communication. Six developers can stay in sync just by being in the same room; with 60 you need all sorts of formal mechanisms to even come close to the same level of coordination.
Put this all together, and a small team of experts will kick so much ass that they'll be more productive than an entire floor of Fortune 1000 mediocre clock-punchers. That leaves plenty of financial room to give big enough discounts that people will think you must be sending the work off to India.
As an aside, a friend who works for a large company tells me that their outsourcing efforts are actually only 50% of the cost of in-house development, not 20%. That's because you still pay for US personnel (like product managers). You also make their lives much more difficult by putting the developers on the other side of the planet. And the communication barriers mean more mistakes discovered later, which means expensive rework.

Re:Just my 2 cents. (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109509)

...My friend, could program a circle around 10 of the best offshore programmers you could throw at him...

This sounds a bit like contempt, maybe not prejudice, but contempt. Theres some serious skillset out there in that 5.8 billions, and Ive seen too many smart unemployer russian programmers here in Toronto defeated only by their lack of papers and good english.

Now offshoring development will hurt business for other reasons, cultural differences which cannot be reconciled despite the number of MBAs on both sides, thats different. Its not because programmers outside the USA are not too bright.

Billing rate (4, Insightful)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107233)

Larger companies and government agencies pay IBM or Accenture or whomever $120+/hr for even basic IT staffers.

The programmers may be making $20-45/hr, depending on the city, but the customer still pays $$$.

The Indians bill low and pay their people low.

Re:Billing rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107542)

I dont know anybody from Accenture who is billed at 120, try closer to 200+ per hour. Pre Sep 11th crash I billed 4,000 per day, now I'm working through a sleazy company who's taking more than half and still making 51 per hour plus full benefits.

Re:Billing rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8109115)

In college, I interned at a big tech company that hired H1-B's. They were paid hourly. One highly qualified H1-B asked me how much I got paid per hour, and I was astonished to find out he was making only $1 more per hour than me.

This H1-B guy was all brains. The company clearly got a very _nice_ bargain.

Tricky Question (1)

jmt9581 (554192) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107243)

Some people are naturally going to say that this a low number because their employer bills them out at such-and-such price. Others are going to say that this is high because they sure as hell don't make six figures as a programmer. In college as a grad student I would make anywhere from $50-$100 an hour, but consulting work is always billed at a higher rate than a salaried worker.

$60/hr salary or bill rate? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107256)

I bet bill rate. If you can estimate an employee's pay at 2,000hrs * hourly = 120k of the author's estimate, you can deduct the first 25% for the cost of health insurance. There's $120k.

I know staffing agencies look to pay people 60% of their wage, estimate 20% for benefits and the meager 40% left to pay their sales staff, office staff, directors, and take a profit.

I would say that is the average bill rate of people that work for my staffing agency and have college degrees. I know of some that make 120k+ with and without degrees. But, they are usually project managers, not coders.

Re:$60/hr salary or bill rate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108151)

Has running a staffing agency been any more rewarding than being a techie?

Loaded rates (3, Insightful)

barries (15577) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107261)

Don't forget that it costs a significant amount of money to seek, hire, train, and provide benefits (medical!) for people. Usually a $60 or $80/hr rate is a loaded rate that covers the full cost of an employee. In some cases this also pays for offsite space, utilities, equipement.

It can also reflect the quality of talent--a well run consultancy may also try to identify and retain people with higher levels talent so you'll get higher bang for your buck as opposed to a warm bodies in chairs type permatemp agency.

- Barrie

Benefits? (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107275)

I believe that $60/hr is including the cost of benefits, 401k matching, Soc. Sec., etc. Not just the salary.

Data Sources (2, Interesting)

zonx lebaam (688779) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107347)

Its important to keep an eye on recent salary figures for any profession, but many /.ers probably have extra interest in programmer salaries Every 6 months or so, I search the internet for tech salary estimates, but have never been overwhelmed by how much [good] data is out there. Some of the surveys ask you to fill out your own data before they send numbers (which is fair enough). Many don't seem to have the numbers broken out into useful categories. A lot of the IT salary information that *is* out there is for web design, sysadmins, project management etc., but still don't focus on actual coding subcategories.

Does anyone out there have URLs of really good tech salary data? That focuses on actual programming? (don't just say "search google ...")

Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions (1)

npsimons (32752) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107355)

Q: Do You Make $60/hr for Programming?


A: No. Next question.


Seriously, though, I don't make anywhere near $60/hour (and never have). Of course, I've only been out of school three years and I currently work for the government. But my last job with a startup didn't pay much more than my current one.

Re:Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions (1)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108419)

Q: Do You Make $60/hr for Programming?

A: Yes. Next question?

Ok, this job is special - my previous job paid $80K, but I also got a $15K signing bonus and a $15K Christmas bonus.

But then again, I'm 45 years old and I've been doing this longer than most Slashdot readers have been alive.

Upper Midwest salary here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107358)

Posting AC because I'd like to *keep* it.

AS degree only, 15 years experience, Unix/Windows, App & OS development experience currently working in financial software. Gross of $112,000/year. Granted, I'm the lead programmer (and *far* from an average programmer IMNSHO) but still in a Programmer/Analyst-type position.

That works out to 52 * 40 = 2080 hours/year, 112K/2080 = $53.84/hour. And this is my gross, not counting benefits (410k match, health, etc..) which would jack the cost to my company much higher.

YOU'RE FIRED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108572)

You fucking slacker. That'll teach you to post while your supposed to be working.

-- Donald Trump

Overhead (2, Insightful)

Mr. Darl McBride (704524) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107361)

The average programmer salary is a bit less than that, but the overhead of keeping an employee is usually about 1.5x their salary.

Consider the amount of hardware, office space, insurance, matching social security, etc and you start to see the programmer's cost rise.

Where does everyone get this 1.5 times salary? (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108431)

Do you run your own business or are you just guessing.

I pay 100% benefits for my employees and SS matching, and workman's comp (not to mention my companies liability, etc insurance). It doesn't run anywhere near 50%. It is around 10% per employee.

half that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107408)

My day job (application developer, er... job title just got changed today to software engineer) is $50K and I got two contract jobs coming up at $30 an hour.
Ugh.

Billing rate != Pay rate (1)

Hungus (585181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107459)

When I taught IT I was regularly billed out at $300 an hour, but only made $20 dollars an hour. As a consultant these days (when I can find contracts) I get billed out between $75 - $150 an hour, making usually 1/3 to 1/4th of that. None of that includes taxes such as self employment tax. Overall I typically net 45-55% of my pay. Maybe I should move to India ... While it is possible to apply for a visa [indianconsulate.com] I have never found an IT professional who was successful in getting one, though I know many who have tried.

billing rates, not salaries (1)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107489)

im pretty damn sure these are billing rates. My company did some outsourcing and I happened to see their rates, and they were about $15/hr. I as an intern, at this same company was billed out for about $50/hr (note: at .com boom height). When I later joined on as a full timer, my position was billed around $75/hr (I personally was on a contract project so hours didnt really apply). I read somewhere this week that the average programmer in india makes about $8/hr. The company I am at now, which pays close to top dollar for talent, in the most expensive place to live on the east coast, has an average salary of ~100k . So no, this is not unreasonable. And yeah, my "multiples" were quite high. $12/hr (no benefits as an intern and ~40 as a full timer.
Of course, the real comparison should be "in-house" vs. offshoring, which is the most common model. Offshore companies are not really competing directly w/ big american firms, and are right now content w/ being hired by other big firms.
But also, you have to realize that your company pays all kinds of taxes on you also. Your "costs" dont end with your salary. And not with your benefits either. People pay you (payroll department), those people cost money. You most likely have some type of secretarial access, direct or not, and they cost money too. Computers, email accounts, vpn access, cubicles, these are all costs associated with you. They add up. Outsourced and offshored people are a much more nicely packaged cost. But adding up these costs could very easily bring these figures to the 120k/year cost.

Jebus, $400 a week is AWESOME (1)

eggstasy (458692) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107495)

I was earning less than $400 a month back in 2001...
You people should start outsourcing to Portugal. Looks like we're even cheaper than the Indians!

Re:Jebus, $400 a week is AWESOME (1)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109375)

Move to Ireland, my Portugese friend, or the UK -- you will make much more and it's cheap to commute to Portugal each weekend.

It depends. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107553)

At Sun, I know guys who are the actual lead developers writing the code for the largest of the Sun projects and they are easily making about $120k/yr - which comes to nearly $60/hr. However, in the same company I also know other people who are programmers, but they are not the lead programmers on the biggest projects. They may even just be the guys who write patches and do debugging and they make more like $48/hr (tops) or $100k/yr.

Then there are the guys who don't actually do much coding at all. They just reverse engineer the stuff and provide technical support and analyze the code to decipher where bugs are happening and provide minor suggestions for fixing the code. Those guys make more like $35/hr or somewhere around $70,000/yr.

I work for $30-$100/hr, avg around $40 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107571)

I'm a freelance Unix consultant, I used to consider my rates low, not any more though.

I wouldn't have a problem charging $60/hr for certain jobs depending on how quickly it needs to get done.

I've cleaned up after many an offshore programmer (but some are pretty damn good).

Contractors do... (2, Informative)

Arkham (10779) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107585)

I've been going through resumes this week and all the programmers are billing at $66-$70/hour. The rule of thumb is you have to pay $7/hour or 10% (whichever is more) to your contracting company (MDI, Matrix, etc) for paperwork and such.

So, yes, contract programmers are making that much. Permanent employees are not.

$60/hr is cheap as shit (1)

msuzio (3104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107818)

Back when I did the consulting thing, we billed out at $100-$125/hour easily. Our most junior programmer would have been $75/hour, and I don't think we even went that low... and this was 3+ years ago, in a small firm, working mostly word-of-mouth contracts (there were 10 of us total).

Now, how much of that did *I* see? A lot less than $100 an hour, that's for sure :-). But I do think that our consultants were well worth the money -- we typically got things done in less overall time and with much higher quality and reusability than the in-house work I saw from our clients who had both in-house and consultant-developed applications. So I hardly think we were scamming them.

This same firm out-sourced their Y2K work to India at around that same time. Last I checked, the work was not done on time, and was not of a high quality. :-)

Sounds right, for a senior level position (2, Interesting)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107822)

I make about US$40/hr direct pay - add vacation time, 401K contributions, medical, and I "see" about US$60/hr. Then I wave bye-bye to about $20/hr at least as Uncle Sugar takes his cut.

Given that I live in the relatively cheap Midwest rather than on the coasts, I do pretty well.

However - I have been doing this for over 16 years. I've been with my current company 13 years. I am one of the lead software architects here. I do everything from signal processing to OS design to systems to UI to test, and I do it damn well.

Sure, if you are fresh out of school, fuggetaboutit. Pay your dues, know your stuff, and be somebody your company can count upon to get the job done and you MAY be able to rise to my level.

Well damn. (2, Insightful)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107845)

When I had a full time job I made 28k a year. Now that I have some part time work, I get around 8 bucks an hour. So I call bullshit on this article.

I make that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8107869)

I get $110K/year, plus stock options and maybe a special bonus. That's based on a M.S. in C.S. and five years of experience. (This is in a major US city for a huge technology company.)

Why do I get that much?

Because I do highly-technical low-level embeded coding.

There are tons of programmers out there who are competing for jobs, but there are far fewer that are looking to deal with really complex systems. A C and Assembly programmer will find a much better job than a Java or even C++ programmer. A Perl programmer will be unemployed with all the web designers wondering where the next bubble will form.

Do I deserve my paycheck? Probably not. The sallaries are still heavily influenced by what it took to get people to work back when we were hired. Why don't they fire me and hire someone new? Not only can't they find enough good people for my group, but they can't afford the months that it would take a new person to get up to speed on our code.

What is the real point? (1)

iamjim (313916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8107960)

Is the move off-shore to decrease development spending? Where will the "money that is saved" go? Will this saved money offset the cost of some of the outrageuosly priced software packages out there? Or will it go to the 'powers that be'? Has anyone been involved in a situation like this?

no I don't (1, Insightful)

slothman32 (629113) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108094)

Right now I don't have a job so no I don't get $60 an hour. When I did it was closer to $15. If I got a job it would be entry level and much less than $60. The few programmers, relatively, might get that much but that many out of jobs don't.

Very interesting (1)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108202)

This may seem like offtopic but this article is a very interesting read. Please read the link to NY Times article that's in the first para as well. Well here's the article (read it in full if you will)

Who really benefits from outsourcing [mises.org]

Another thing which most of us miss out when looking at cheaper cost of programmers in foreign lands is the currency exchange rate. Those programmers are actually very very expensive compared to other labor (look at their national per capita income) in their locale. It is their currency exchange rate that makes them look cheap when we look in dollar terms. Now if you were to become president and say hey, 1 US dollar is equal to 1 Indian rupee from now on, there will be zero outsourcing. Okay, the last sentence was hypothetical but China does have artificially pegged currency exchange rate...

Re:Very interesting (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108521)

Okay, that doesn't make any sense. Exchange rates are irrelevant for this. If you did peg the rupee to the dollar, there'd be a sudden and highly disruptive shift in wages in India, and proportional wages would still remain the same -- a programmer would earn a lot, and a maid a little. And the dollar value would be about the same.

Re:Very interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108677)

If you did peg the rupee to the dollar, there'd be a sudden and highly disruptive shift in wages in India, and proportional wages would still remain the same -- a programmer would earn a lot, and a maid a little.

Actually, this would mean that most workers in US and India would still be making the same (in the locales) but all US-India trade that is built on the basis of huge differential in exchange rate would end (to the benefit of US). They will still have to buy Boeing Jets (because they don't make any and we will still get the same dollar price for the Boeings or Intel chips but they will have to produce something of value that we want). Of course people in those industries will be affected that are mainly making money from exchange rate differential...

But this is all against free trade and free currency rates and I am sure won't work because if it did, someone would have already done something....

$60 an hour (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108205)

Yeah, that's what I bill for regular programming, on contract, 1099. Assuming 2000 hr/year that $120K gross; figure that you pay about 30 percent of that for benefits and 8 percent for the employer's share of FICA, and we get something like $72K. Makes sense.

During consulting (1)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108245)

When I was an IT consultant, my rate was $65 an hour. But that was 2 years ago..... Now I don't do consulting anymore. Got sick of travel....

Midwest right here... (1)

alan_dershowitz (586542) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108368)

and I don't make no 60 dollars an hour. I don't even make 50K...I'm assuming that the article meant 60 dollars on paper, not the total cost, or they would have been more specific.

Interestingly, we have a whole bunch of contractors, they are all foreign nationals and they are making way more than I do. If they want cheap labor, maybe my company should hire more people in house and try to exercise some restraint in taking on new projects we aren't staffed for.

I think cost is not the whole issue really, as much as it is to exercise greater control over their staffing. if you compare overpriced contracting to offshore outsourcing, outsourcing probably does come up cheaper every time. it probably wouldn't be so big if companies didn't rely on contract workers, but I suspect that contracting is here to stay. If I'm right, I'm a little annoyed that they are lumping comtract labor costs with my lower wages as an excuse to outsource more jobs overseas. why don't they fire the contractors?

This is all postulation.

Yes, I do, thank you. (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108473)

When I'm on contract, I'll take 75-85/hr, but
for a long-term gig on W-2, I settle for
45-60. I live in rural Minnesota and I've
never sat in a cubicle. Cubicles are fatal
to your AGI.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108519)

$35/hour. I've got 20 years experience and am one of the best developers working here. Oh, and I'm a consult -- that's what I get paid, not what the company pays for my time.

good rule of thumb (1)

tobes (302057) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108533)

Multiply the hourly rate by 1000 and you'll have ~your salary. $60 an hour would only equate to around $60,000 per year. Remember, you only run between 45-60% utilization.

My numbers (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108626)

For 2002 (only using that because the calculation was easy), I made $27/hour gross. My employer bills my time at $68/hour, so the estimates of "you cost the company twice your salary" are low in my case. But, I'm salaried, and the $27/hour is based on the gross pay divided by the number of hours I logged.

This as one of those buzzword-compliant web developers for a medium-size company. At the same time, the company was going to other firms for the design work and some applications because they didn't believe in their own employees (whom had never been given an opportunity to prove themselves)and got (IMO) crappy products, at $120-$200 per hour.

$110 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108641)

is what my company bills for my time... i'm an intern too

Benefits in India (2, Informative)

rueger (210566) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108817)

A number of people have pointed to the cost of non-salary benefits like health insurance. For comparison, here is what Cognizant [cognizant.com], an off-shore IT outsourcing company lists as benefits packages for American [cognizant.com] and Indian [cognizant.com] employees. There is a notable difference.

Here's what GE Global Research [ge.com] offers in benefit packages to American [ge.com] , Indian [ge.com] and Chinese [ge.com] employees. Again, you can see that there are significant savings in benefit costs.

Salaries. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108903)

Lead developer, DBA, network admin, system analyst, "figure it out guy": $75k
2nd senior programmer: $47k
3rd senior programmer: $60k
4th senior programmer: $50k
Senior Network Admin: $55k
2nd Junior Admin: $45k
3rd Junior Admin: $42k
4th Junior Admin: $38k

Contrast:
Common Data Entry: $28k
Data Verifier: $35k
Office Manager: $75k
Regional Manager: $100k
Executive: $115k to $140k (they GET bonuses, sometimes in the way of $250k a quarter)

That's gross salary, not net. We have a decent 401k that averages to a 7% match. Health benefits blow and for a wife and kid it'll cost you nearly $7,000.00 a year, not to mention the $3,000.00 deductible if you actually USE it. Bonuses were supposed to be "regular" and "forthcoming" but that was bullshit as well. Other than that we don't have benefits and we're severely understaffed.

If you want to bitch about me posting anonymously get real. Any topic discussing salary should have every post made anonymously.

Here's a great article on 2003 billing rates (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 10 years ago | (#8108913)


http://www.talenteconomymag.com/include/article2.p hp?articleID=132 [talenteconomymag.com]

Read the article for context but here's the quick quote.

"The worst-paid jobs are Webmaster, tech writer and support engineer, whose billing rates ranged in the low $30s per hour. That's not surprising, given the increasingly simple tools available to design and maintain Websites, and the weak demand for writers and general engineering support.

The best-paid jobs were database developers and administrators. Depending on experience they could command hourly rates from $50 at entry level to $93 for upper managers, which equates to an annual salary of anywhere from $105,000 to $195,000."

$65 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8108939)

$65/hour here. Company bills me out at $150/hour.

$55/hour (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109072)

The highest hourly rate I've had for a steady job was $55/hour. I've made much more for a short-term consulting gig, and I'm making much less now, but trading for flexibility, telecommuting, and lower stress.

That was for a W2 contract position (that means I'm an hourly employee of Company X, but as a practical matter I work for Company Y, which sends a lot of money to Company X, which sends a much smaller amount of money to me), for a pretty good C/C++/Unix geek with a Master's degree and over a decade's experience [infamous.net], in the relatively well-paying Baltimore/DC area. During the boom I could probably have gotten $60/hour or more if I wanted to spend a lot of time commuting from Baltimore to Northern Virginia.

As an average, though? Not unless they're talking about the cost to the employer rather than the actual salary of the programmer.

Faulty Comparisons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8109215)

For statistical purposes, I will confess to a salary of $60k per year, plus benefits.

That's somewhat misleading though. As other people have pointed out, where you work is almost as crucial as how much you're taking home.

I grew up in Los Angeles. The average three bedroom house goes for about $500,000 now. Car insurance, fire insurance, property taxes, general quality of life issues, are also comparatively high. I barely can afford to live there.

In contrast, I recently moved to Las Vegas. Prices are going up rapidly so consider this dated information, but the same house costs about $185,000, and other amenities are similarly cheap. Admittingly, gas, clothes, food, mass produced commercial goods are about the same as in Los Angeles, but still, an extra $600 a month is nothing to sneeze at.

Think about it - with an extra $1,200 every two months, you can afford to buy a really nice desktop computer on top of everything else you normally buy. As is, the average household salary in Las Vegas - both parents working, mind you - is only about $22k a year.

I don't mean to rub it in, but it is really important to point out it's possible to make $35k a year in some parts of the country and struggle, and $35k a year in other parts of the country and be... well, not rich but certainly comfortable.

So "average salary" figures are essentially meaningless. The real problem is that companies have a tendency to take use that nationwide trend when determining what your salary should be, not what would make you comfortable in your area. So some people get screwed.

I suppose you really can't blame them though - after all, keeping your finger on the cost of living in your city probably costs the HR department a lot more than using the average salary as a measuring stick.

bah? $60. bah! bah! (1)

Valar (167606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8109370)

$9.50 an hour and all of the ice I can eat.

Of course, as an indentured servant for the University of Texas, so it is to be expected...

$94k/year in St. Louis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8109422)

Or ~$45/hour for a 2080 hour workyear. Was making $115k/year three years ago... but I am certainly not complaining. In fact, I am delighted to have a job. This is for tech./app. architect role, 50% coding, rest design, requirements gathering, meetings, schmoozing, etc.
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