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Reasonable Salary for Entry Level Programmers?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the is-this-job-offering-me-enough dept.

The Almighty Buck 1525

An anonymous reader asks: "I will be graduating from college in May with a degree in computer science. I have begun the job search and gone on a few interviews. So far I have gotten two job offers which I am thankful for, but the salary seems low. I am not saying that I am too good to pay my dues and work my way up, but I could make more waiting tables. It is somewhat distressing that I have spent 4 years of college and years before that developing my programming skills. I am not trying to get rich, but I was hoping that the high level of skill required would account for something(no offense intended to waiters). Can anyone give me any insight about what a reasonable starting salary would be, for an entry level software engineer?"

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GNAA Ported to XBOX (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923656)

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Re:GNAA Ported to XBOX (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923796)

Gay Niggers still make about $5.00 per blowjob.

I don't know a good rate... (5, Funny)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923657)

...but it'll probably be paid in rupees.

Re:I don't know a good rate... (1, Flamebait)

EggplantMan (549708) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923778)

Considering the current market conditions, I think your salary should probably be about .. 1/12 of a dime.

As long as you don't get paid in rupees... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923659)

... I wouldn't complain too loudly.

ask for a lot (1, Insightful)

JimmytheGeek (180805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923662)

you have to make all your money before the job is outsourced.

HS Graduate (1)

z0ink (572154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923663)

I'm starting an entry level programming job at a local Uni for a little above minimum wage. Is a BS in CS going to give me > 20hr?

No. Switch majors ASAP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923679)

Re:HS Graduate (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923687)

That's what I started at.

$1.8 million/hour (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923664)

Plus expenses.

oh if u dont want that job.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923665)

oh if u dont want that job i will take it... worse it might get outsourced.......... LOL

shut up (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923666)

you gay

Likewise (5, Informative)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923668)

Ill be graduating in May as well and the range Ive seen is 45k to 55k

Re:Likewise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923696)

My understanding is that people skilled in the use of apostrophes can earn even more.

More likely your pants are on fire. (-1, Troll)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923723)

Liar, liar...

Re:Likewise (5, Insightful)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923726)

I came out of school in 2000 (I heard the .com bubble go "pop" as I got my diploma), for 'bout 50k. Depends on your skillset and attitude.

Be aware that you'll do better (bosses who like you and your work give better raises) if, in addition to tech skills, you show critical thinking and responsibility.

Re:Likewise (4, Insightful)

inKubus (199753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923729)

Yeah, that's about right. If you are a shitty programmer you'll end up making less. I don't think getting a job right out of college for a "demeaning" $25k is something anyone can complain about (give or take for metro area).

Once you get out there and network, another job will come your way. I have a friend who graduated with honors from a big name electrical engineering college (Rice) and he's 10 months out of school and working for $30K and happy.

It's tough out there. The solice of course is that if you're making 55k a year you're going to be doing $55k a year worth of work. Do you really want to jump headlong into 80 hours a week, on call, etc?

It's not 1994 anymore, you have to work for your money, even in the computing business...

Re:Likewise (3, Insightful)

Will2k_is_here (675262) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923806)

If you are a shitty programmer you'll end up making less

What kind of sense is that? More like, if you're a shitty programmer, you'll end up without a job.

Re:Likewise (2, Informative)

epiphani (254981) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923737)

In Canada, you're looking at around 30-35k. If you're lucky. That is assuming you havent done any open source projects and dont have much in the way of experience.

Low Salary? (1)

sameerdesai (654894) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923669)

I guess you should be thankful you are getting a job. With a masters I feel my salary is low too but I have settled for it now and will search for a better job. At least will have something to pay up my dues.

Hold on?! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923670)

You found a programming job in America?

Welcome to the real world there son (3, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923671)

This is how the real world works.. you arent worth a damned thing until you can prove yourself. That takes time and persistance.

And no, '4 years of college' doesnt prove you are worth anything. It proves you can learn, but not much more.

Re:Welcome to the real world there son (5, Funny)

thryllkill (52874) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923703)

"...It proves you can learn,"

I know a lot of college grads that prove you wrong Sir.

Re:Welcome to the real world there son (2, Interesting)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923735)

Ironically, less that 30% of our IT staff (as of the last survey) had "advanced degrees"... whatever that means. The wording suggested that our IT staff are largely direct from HS (like I am).

Of course, the mean time in the field for the people here is 10 years. So I guess 10 years of experience is worth more than a degree? I personally want to finish my degree, but it won't be in order to work in IT.


wrong (1)

ebunga (95613) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923798)

It proves you can make it through college. All you have is a piece of paper and quite possibly a load of debt you will never be able to repay.

ok pops (0, Flamebait)

drunkasian (734665) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923811)


Here We Go... (-1, Troll)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923672)

Flamefest re: offshore outsourcing and chicken-feed wages to begin in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

Good...but (1)

fildo (683072) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923673)

$40-50k... before you get outsourced to Bangalore or Manila

The starting rate... (4, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923674)

Approximately 3 outsourced India worker salaries per year.

um.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923677)

In Spain (1)

Vicentin (751949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923678)

The salary is so low, we will programe java or something like that for food. I'm an engineer and I can say that the firms f*k us so much.

Average range (2, Interesting)

compupc1 (138208) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923680)

I go a school in the University of Wisconsin system. The average range for CS graduates who get jobs in the area is probably $40,000 - $55,000, but our program is EXTREMELY intense, so I would guess that many places are a bit $0.02.

Re:Average range (1)

caffeineHacker (689198) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923773)

Umm..most decent schools are like that. I'm currently going to Purdue, we originally had 300 undergrad CS majors, it was down to 100 by the end of the first semester and more drop each semester. Some project sizes are insane(A complete compiler, read/write i/o in sparc assembly in less than a week). A assume all middle and top-tier CS schools are rough.

Pay Rates (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923681)

It's about your value in the long term not the short term. In the short term, everyone will have to train you and teach you real life things, as an advance on what you learnt in college. If you want to be fussy, at least be fussy about the industry you want to work in, not the money you want to earn (to start with anyway).

Tough to say... but it aint what it used to be (3, Insightful)

jrj102 (87650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923682)

It's tough to say. My first programming gig was more than a decade ago working on the campus while I was going to school... I made just over minimum wage (which, at the time, was around 4.25/hr.) However, within my first year as a professional developer I was earning well into the 60K/year range. During the dot-com boom, wages went insane--I was no longer a junior programmer by that time, but I hired and managed several. There were guys (and a couple women) on my teams fresh out of college--some hadn't even finished their degrees--that were making in excess of 100K per year. (I should note that I live in Seattle, which is a fairly high-dollar market.)

Things have toned down quite a bit--mostly as a result of the dot-crash and Indian outsourcing. I've been able to hire smart junior developers with a year or two of post-college experience for $20/hr or around 40K a year. And at that rate I am considered to be paying pretty well. Many of them left jobs where they were making as little as 35K a year. I should also mention that many hiring managers (myself included) are trepidatious about hiring people streight out of college with zero real world experience... this may limit the numbers on your first gig.

The middle of the market is pretty low right now as well--it used to be that a solid software engineer with 5-10 years of good experience made 150-200K a year, but that's no longer the case, with these folks settling in the 80K/year range.

The top of the market, however, hasn't been impacted as much. The sky is still the limit for a really good developer. The reason, of course is that smart managers know that one EXCELLENT developer can produce more per week than ten GOOD developers. (yes, really.) It's fairly easy for someone who views crafting a good algorithm in much the same way as a poet turning a phrase--who understands the nuances of data structures and algorithms AS WELL AS how to put that knowledge to work in the real world, and can work effectively on a team as the architect of a midsize-to-large project (say 150-250 thousand lines of code, not that LOC is a good measure) to make a quarter to a half million a year in total compensation. However, for every one of these there is 1000 that will never get to this level.

I suggest taking a real mental inventory of your skills and your drive--if you think you can be one of the best this is still a great industry. Otherwise it's fun and you can earn a good living, but you won't make money hand-over-fist like you did in the late 90's. My experience is that the vast majority of developers in their first 5 years or so of their career vastly over-estimate their abilities. It takes time to hone this particular craft... be patient. One way to accelerate the process is to read everything you can get your hands on, and not just language books. At the very least, pick up the Pragmatic Programmer [] , and you should also read Writing Solid Code [] , Rapid Development [] , Code Complete [] , and other great books. Reaching the top of the market in terms of salary is about more than writing code--it's about understanding the software development lifecycle, how to run a project, and how to work with people. Also, learning to understand requirements gathering will give you a leg up.

--- JRJ

Re:Tough to say... but it aint what it used to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923807)

You mention some famous books there, but I was very unhappy with Code Complete. I didn't find it nearly as useful as reading Design Patterns, Joe on Software, and being involved in code projects. As an employer do you force your team to read these books? Are they really that valuable?

it goes up (2, Insightful)

Gyorg_Lavode (520114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923684)

the difference between waiting tables and going to college is that when you go to college, your pay goes up. I started w/ the government at 38k in DC. In a year it'll be closer to 50 likely, and I'll cap out around 115-150 if I stay through my career.

2 options (1)

scosol (127202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923688)

Lie like hell on your resume-

Or start waiting tables :)

Location? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923689)

If you had bothered to state your location, we might actually be helpful. There are a few minor differences between places tasks are outsourced from, and to.

I've been programming for 3 years (2, Interesting)

adamshelley (441935) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923690)

and I still make no more than what someone doing 3 years of shipping and receiving would make.

Your salary is dependant on the company. Some companies don't care about emloyees and love to turn them over.

Also, if you are just starting, I wouldn't be worried. After a year they will probably bump you up to something more reasonable. You also can ask for a raise. If you ask for something you think you should be making and get rejected, look for a new position somewhere else.

Here comes one helluva flamewar... (2, Insightful)

hendridm (302246) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923691)

First you need to go to and look up your desired position in your area - then subtract about 30%. Then, if you don't already, you need to realize that since the market is saturated, it's not really a high level skill (obviously, since apparently a lot of people can do it). The job market, especially in IT, is terrible. You just have to take Joe jobs until you find a decent one, hoping you can work at something relevant and in your field along the way.

Yes, it's depressing. It's depressing for all of us, but as long as an Indian will do it for chicken scratch, you're SOL unless you're a phenomenal salesman or work your ASS off like the rest of us trying to be really good at something (or grow some tits).

/bitter rant

Re:Here comes one helluva flamewar... (2, Interesting)

wayne606 (211893) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923810)

Chicken scratch to you is a great salary to them... Also it's not just that they are cheap (given the exchange rate) - there are lots of really good engineers in India. They used to all move to the US for the good jobs but as you can imagine, that's unattractive for a lot of people with families, etc. Now they say at home and do the same job.

However the big problem with outsourcing, or any kind of distributed development, is the difficulty of managing via multiple time zones. Any project where you have to coordinate closely with other groups and work with customers in the US is not going to succeed when the developers are 5000 miles away. Routine cookie-cutter projects are another matter but those are boring anyway.

Still, in 5 years the good Indian programmers will make $50K -> $100K a year and we'll be back to normal (I hope)... At least until the Chinese outsourcing industry picks up.

Re:Here comes one helluva flamewar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923815)

You know, I have no problems with most of your post, and I agree with a lot of it, but... What the HELL is this?!

(or grow some tits)

I mean, I know this is /. and the majority of us are male, but there are plenty of excellent engineers and programmers out there, and they deserve a bit more respect than assuming they got to where they're at because of T&A.

Get over your sexist attitude.

3 minutes on google gives us... (4, Informative)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923692)

Salary Wizard. []

Which part of the country will you be living in? (2, Insightful)

boomgopher (627124) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923694)

It makes big difference... I started a few years ago at 55K, and thought it was a ton of money until I started looking for a place to live. Paying half your take home pay only to live 50yards from the railroad tracks really sucks.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (5, Informative)

Squeamish Ossifrage (3451) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923695)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps this sort of data, though possibly with some significant lag time.

Try looking at: [] .

depends on the school... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923697)

if you're coming from one of the top 3, stanford, mit or cmu, shouldn't have to take anything less than 60k/yr.

for all others, i don't know, 45-60k seems about right.

You already know the answer (4, Funny)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923698)

(Average Indian Wage) + (25% outsourcing overhead) + (25% less-likely-to-die-from-unstable-political-climate premium) + (25% understands lame jokes from upper mgmt premium)

Anything. (4, Interesting)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923699)

Seriously...anything you can get is enough. It's an employer's market right now, and they know it. What you need to look for is the experience. A year or two down the road when a better job comes along, who's going to get hired? The kid who coded for peanuts but got two years of experience, or the kid who waited tables and got zero relevant professional experience?

Only take the table-waiting job if you can accomplish more worthwhile projects on your own time, and have excellent documentation skills to prove what you did.

Re:Anything. (1)

Highrollr (625006) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923799)

The parent has it right. I just started my first programming job a couple months ago. I had a starting wage that was pretty low because I was completely unfamiliar with all the technologies I was using, and I just got moved up to $18/hr, which is where I'll be staying for a good bit. When I was "discussing" the size of the raise with my boss, he stated indirectly that I was lucky to have a job at all, and he was right. I wouldn't have gotten it at all without networking. So I think the bottom line is get any job you can, then work your ass off learning as much as possible so when you look for another job you've moved yourself up on the totem pole.

4 years + Master's Degree (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923700)

I have a bachelors and just got a master's degree. I have no real work experience other than teaching and helping with open source software. I just took a job

$55,000 US + Benefits on the East Coast

Not your exact case, hope it helps.

CAS (1)

reformist (773086) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923701)

I know CAS (Computer Application Specialists) gives their entry level developers $50K a year, +- slightly. Other companies like IBM and Microsoft give significantly higher salaries.

In US dollars... (1)

theNetImp (190602) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923702)

I would think $45000 to $50000 depending on the type of work you are going to be doing is reasonable.

Sorry pal (4, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923704)

Gone are the days when having a computer science degree was a license to riches. People in the service sector, eg. waiting tables can make more money than a grad. So what!

I've been programming etc for over 20 years and I could probably make more money by driving a truck; various trades such as plumbing, electrician, ...

This Makes an 'Ask Slashdot'?? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923711)

How about you just check or any dozen sites you can look up on google to find out.

Next on slashdot: How do use wipe your ass?

Re:This Makes an 'Ask Slashdot'?? (1)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923785)

these sites are vastly overinflated, imho. They are still reporting salaries at least partly based in the .com days.

sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923713)

sorry to break the news to you but its no longer 1997, programming jobs these days dont pay nearly aswell as they should because of all the off shoring going on now, its sad, i struggle to find work these days too, even people with lots of experience 10+ years are having trouble finding jobs,

You seem to be a bit confused... (4, Insightful)

.@. (21735) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923715)

I was hoping that the high level of skill required would account for something

A college degree does not confer skill. Skill must be demonstrated before it can be rewarded.

That's what it pays (0, Flamebait)

BluedemonX (198949) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923716)

Welcome to the outsourcing world of the George W. Bush economy.

Be lucky you can do the job at all. There are Indians who can and will do it cheaper.

Re:That's what it pays (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923780)

thanks, Joe Left wing. I guess the whole outsourcing concept was invented after the year 2000...

depends on location (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923717)

CA $s are different than MI $s, I know that. I guess what I am saying is that this question can't really be answered, except maybe by some software professionals in your area. Most people try to get a few things under their belt on their resume out of college, that is the perception I always had. Some real-world experience was worth more than money and would pay off later.

Starts around $45K here in Southen California (2, Informative)

phatsharpie (674132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923720)

Salary ranges varies greatly depending on the location of your search. Here in Southern California, entry positions seems to start around $45K. This is for web application development - the field I am most familiar with. It's probably different for other kinds of development jobs. Salaries have gone down quite a bit in the past two years.

Congratulations on graduating, and good luck!


60k in NH in 2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923721)

...but I'm sure that's out of date by now, and I'm not sure whether it would be higher (and harder to find) or lower (and harder to find) now.

In any case, my company (one of the big PC manufacturers that also has a UNIX or two...I'll let you figure it out) certainly isn't hiring any new people [here] any time soon.

Depends (3, Interesting)

feelyoda (622366) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923724)

out of undergrad in CS from NYU I was offered 62K in a NYC job (Bloomberg LP). I thought this was pretty high.

After finishing my masters in robotics from CMU, I hope to be making 75-85K. We'll see, but I expect this to be about right.

Clearly spending 2 years more in school will boost my salary more than experience would have. (maybe)

Want to make more? Learn specialized skills, get a higher degree, or spend more time looking.

Depends upon the university (2, Informative)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923731)

A lot of guys I know who recently(past 2 years) graduated with degrees in CS don't do programming work, if they even have jobs.

Anyway, if you're in the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics [] has pretty much every little labor detail you could want.

Here [] are their stats on computer programmers. Remember, entry level means you start out at the low end, so depending upon which state and which company, figure $40,000 a year.

Try Consulting (1)

sampowers (54424) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923732)

If you're not part of the solution, there's good money in prolonging the problem. []

State government in WA (2, Informative)

Cyberherbalist (731257) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923733)

Salaries vary very regionally, and also by industry sector. I can't comment on other sectors/regions, but the State government in Washington state pays entry-level programmers with bachelor degrees $2645 per month ($31,740 annually or $15.20 per hour) to start. That's for what is called ITAS 1 ("Information Technology Applications Specialist 1"). Here's the link to the page describing the position/job and salary information: 8109rp.htm [] . Most state programming jobs in Washington are in the Olympia area, which is a pretty nice part of the state (IMHO). Don't know what current openings there are at the moment, however.

I truly don't know what waiters make (including tips), but I doubt that the pay goes up to $70K+ after several years of experience, like it can in programming. In Washington state employment, the top programming job classification is ITAS 6 [] , which is paid $5813 per month, or $69,756 per year.

If you get into more specialized areas, such as a programmer working with things like PeopleSoft and SAP, the pay gets quite extravagant, I'm told.

Factoring in the trend in offshoring, however, and the picture may become bleaker for programming in general, although the government sector may be somewhat immune to that. At least I hope so. :-)

Is It (0)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923734)

an "Evil" College?

Muha...MUha haaa haaa haaaaaa...Muuuuhaaaaaa haaa..

You could get...."One, Milllllllionnnnnnn Dollars" < pinky to mouth >

First Rule of Job offers (2, Interesting)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923738)

The first rule of job offers is that you never accept the first offer a company gives you. That amount is what they hope they can get away with paying you. If you think that they are serious about hiring you, then ask for a bit more.

Re:First Rule of Job offers (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923766)

Why would they be serious about a grad (ie. no experience). There is nothing "gotta have" about a grad.

Ignore the dumb ass slashdot readers (1)

gnuLNX (410742) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923741)

First of all you are worth more than minumim wage. If that is all that is turning up by all means take it for now. Then my advice is to join an open source project and make some serious contributions. Show that you have the skills both from an employment gig and an open source environment....just my two cents

my salary (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923742)

I started at $38k/year while I was still in college. I'm now up a little past $42k after a year. This is what my company (a Fortune 500 company) would pay for an entry level programming position right out of college.

skip reading the comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923743)

it'll just be a load of crap outsourcing jokes.


Waiting tables... (2, Insightful)

AdamTrace (255409) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923744)

... is *hard* work.

The point is, take a job that will be more enjoyable to you, either in terms of work hours or exciting projects. That will make more difference, I think, in the long run, than salary.

Good luck.


too many variables (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923745)

Where are you applying?
What are your limitations for relocation?
What school gave you this degree?
What specialization is your degree in?
What job posting are you replying to?
What does your resume look like?
How are your interviewing skiils?

* NOTE : none of these have anything to do with "entry level programmer" generalizations. Methinks your issue is not the topic but the delivery.

Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923751)

If you are not happy with the current offers, use your skill to create your own business, and make yourself rich and not someone else.

Bad news (5, Interesting)

betelgeuse68 (230611) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923753)

If you're starting out, I have bad news - given the decreases in salaries for people who've had 10 years experience, I hate to say this but the timing of your graduation is QUITE BAD. Offshoring fueling the latter along with the economic downturn and I don't expect things to improve much.

I have over 10+ years in tech, worked at a major software company and left for the dot bomb craze. I gave up lots of salary for equity and while the company was profitable and public, the market tanked a mere few weeks before my first vesting period. Even if it hadn't the AMT tax would have probably screwed me over anyway.

Since then I've worked some side stuff, waited tables, had the stupidity to try to sell cars and only in the last few months have things returned to what I call "normal."

Never mind that I worked on shrink wrapped products, developed a source level debugger, have had lots of experience on both Windows and UNIX. It all didn't matter to anyone.

I have to say, despite returning to a salary level that bests my previous best. I'm a changed person. Save, save, save.

IT blows. That's my 2 cents. HR people simply care about the last six months and are clueless if you are well ahead of your peers. They don't have the capacity to make this judgement.

You could tell them you architected (as an example) SSH and Kerberos have encryption patents and they might ask some stupid arse question like "Do you know JavaScript?"

Anyone starting school today... my advice is forget tech. If you feel it in your soul (like you should do it), fine, go to a tech school like DeVry, start making money and save it. Going to traditional 4 year programs for CS is an utter waste of time. Way too much change and like I said it's always about what you did in the last six months.

I would say (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923755)

$175K-$200K per year with a high school diploma and %10 more for each year of education after that. Don't take anything less than $150K a year to start.

Re:I would say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923771)

what are you smoking?

You're worried? (3, Insightful)

grahamlee (522375) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923758)

You've been offered a job and you're worried about the pay? It's better to be worried about finding a job, which is the bit you've already achieved. America (and indeed Britain) is in that all-too-familiar position where the number of CS graduates outguns the number of CS vacancies, so you can't expect to be paid too much until your name is equated with redhotness. Worse still for CS grads (at least this is how it works in the UK) is that many employers in the IT sector don't want CS grads to fill their computing positions, they want mathematics, science or even classics grads who they see as having more problem solving skills. As one employer said to me when I was starting at University (physics, before you ask) it's easier to teach a thinker to program a computer than it is to teach a computer programmer to think.

So you start at the low end of the pay scale. That's not so bad. In a few years the waiter will still be earning the same salary when you're on a bit more.

Who needs a salary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923759)

Why not work in exchange for one of the following benefits instead?

- Stock options. The more they offer, the stronger the company must be.

- Linux boxen that have teh rox0r! l33t

- Losing your virginity to a member of the cleaning crew before the age of 25.

Anyway, by not accepting a salary you'll help to keep more jobs in the U.S.

Depends upon the area of the country you live in. (1)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923763)

Take a look at [] .


You can search through the results of their ongoing salary surveys based on area of the country. The information you get there will surely be better than single anecdotes from Slashdotters.

All in all, things aren't looking too good for entry level programmers compared to just a few years ago. You're probably a leg up on most of your competition just by having two offers.

You have a development job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923764) insensitive clod!

It's not what you learn, but how you can apply it. (1)

MurrayTodd (92102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923768)

My first job out of school paid peanuts, but within three months they saw that I could work harder and smarter (with little supervision) than anyone else.

I'd say, don't worry about your first wage being low if gives you a quick chance to prove yourself and build a resume. I would suggest focusing on jobs that gave you exposure to the most technologies, opportunities, etc. Don't look for the "life career" straight away.

Why should they? (5, Insightful)

SillySnake (727102) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923769)

How many people graduated with you? How many other schools graduated as many, or more people at the same time? How many programming jobs do you think exist? Granted, this number is growing, but still. As an electrical engineering major, I can tell that at least half the people that graduate aren't worth having in a company. They just don't retain knowledge and apply it well. Why should a company assume you're worth more money? You're going to have to prove yourself to them. For all they know, you're the guy like my lab partner, who did no design on a major project, built none of it, and wrote 4 of a final report when I asked him to write six. Of his four pages, I totally rewrote one, made him rewrite one, and had to correct all his others. One of the mechanical engineers that I work with has a resume that would impress people at NASA and JPL, but in reality, he knows very little. Considering the number of graduates who know very little these days, I think you should be happy for a job. Besides, you ought to take one based on what you'll be doing, not so much how much money you'll make. With a CS degree, those dreams of high salaries you had going into college faded while you were there. Work your way, and be happy with it.

Sorry to say this, but... (1)

boola-boola (586978) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923774)

...others aren't making much as well. I can't say for other people/colleges, but all of my friends that graduated from UT [] & UTD [] from computer science (doesn't matter BA or BS) and MIS are making ~$40K. Some are even under. Eep.

On an interesting note, all of my friends that graduated from EE are making ~$50K. (funny thing is half of them are doing coding jobs and I've seen the quality of their code... it ain't a pretty picture :-X )

It seems like to me IMHO that most companies are getting MIS and Computer Science majors confused...

High level of skill? (0, Flamebait)

Backov (138944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923775)

You have a bachelor in CS. You don't have a high level of skill. I would hire a community college graduate before I hired you, and I have.

Sorry to bust your bubble.

Architecture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923779)

Work your way toward becoming a software architect. That role is not outsourced as much (at least not in my company, >140,000 employees). I make $91,520 as a software architect, after 8 years in the business in Texas (Austin and Dallas). I've also written a few books and I have a patent, so that stuff helps. I started at $9.35 an hour in 1996 in tech support.

Don't expect too much (2, Informative)

skurk (78980) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923781)

..if you're a "newbie" in the business. Ofcourse, it all depends on where you decide to work.

Now, I'm from Norway, and I can only tell you what it's like over here. And keep in mind that I don't have any education except high school.

I've been hired at various places so to speak constantly since '96, but all employers seems to offer about the same amount in salary.

In my first job, back in 1998, I earned 200,000 NOK (about $29,000) which is very low. I'm currently making 320,000 (about $46,000) which is reasonably better, but about $15,000 lower than my colleagues with an education.

As I understand it: Over here, a "freshman" may expect 300,000 (~$43,000) NOK at first, then gradually crawling up towards 400,000 (~$58,000) NOK. If you're long enough in the right business, you may even expect 500,000 NOK ++.

Hey, boss, you reading this?

Try a reality TV show (1)

kyoko21 (198413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923791)

There is always the option of going on Survivor, or try to be the next Apprentice. :-/

Depends on the market (2, Informative)

t1nman33 (248342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923792)

Check a recruiting/job search site and run one of their salary calculators. That will give you a rough estimate of the going rate in your area.

In NYC, 70K will get you about as far as 30K in some rural areas. So, salaries will tend to fluctuate depending on the local cost of living...groceries, gas, rent and insurance can be wildly more expensive in urban areas than in the sticks.

Also depends on the amount of locally available talent. Try as I might, I couldn't break into the very tough Boston IT market back in 2000. I suspect all those MIT folks might have had something to do with that. I had to settle* for the DC area, which has some fine universities, none of which are famous for their IT programs.

It also depends on whether you, like me, have a degree in some unrelated major and are trying to h4xx0r your way into a cush programming job. And it depends on exactly what "software engineer" entails...are you going to be coding missle-control microchips in assembly language, or writing HTML-based web applications?

My salaries have fallen in the 60-70k range over my brief (4-year) career. Some jobs have had more vacation, some have had better 401k plans, some have had more attractive locations, some have had nicer people, and some have had more demanding schedules.

I would say that anything over 50K is probably a reasonable starting salary, from my perspective, and assuming that you are probably going to be working someplace in a major metropolitan area and for a company of significant size and influence.

I had an offer for 32k when I graduated; I was insulted and I didn't take the job. Luckily I found a much better offer elsewhere. Don't sell yourself too short. If you have talent, tenacity, some social skills (you don't come off like a neanderthal cave-coder in interviews), and a lot of luck, you will do just fine.

Also, if you find that you are getting shut down on a lot of offers, take some time and brush up on your skills. $150 of O'Reilly books saved my career a few years ago.

Good luck!

*At the time, I thought of it as "settling." Now, I love it here.

It's impossible to answer this (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923793)

It's impossible to answer this without taking into account what part of the country (and which country) you're in, what kind of metro area the company is in, what industry you're going to be working for (aerospace, education, health care, textiles, etc.) My salaries have been so far below the low end of what national surveys report, that I used to laugh/cry whenever I looked at one. I actually made more per hour delivering newspapers (an easy route in my neighborhood) than I did in my day job as a network administrator. But that's because I've been working in academia and non-profits in inexpensive parts of the Midwest. Your mileage will vary.

Well, it depends on a few things (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923795)

1) Where are the offers, and more specifically what is the cost of living there? I would expect a job to pay around 1.5-2x as much in the Bay Area as in Tucson for the simle reason you'll need the extra money to have the same quality of life. Consider what it costs to get a house, go out to eat, etc where the job is. If it's cheap, don't expect to make as much. I mean in Tucson, you can get a 2000 square foot house for under $150k which works out to payments of under $1000/month. It's hard to impossible to get even a studio apartment in some cities for that price.

2) What will the workload be like? If this is a company that believes in supporting it's employee, a 40 hour work week, and low stress, that is a factor. Don't sell yourself short on quality of life, but realise that less work makes you less valuable and thus will pay less.

3) Benefits. Look at what the company offers you in other benefits, those all factor in too. If they pay your health insurance for you, that's something to factor in, it's not cheap. Same with other kinds of insurance. Make sure you are comparing the total amount you are compansated (as in how much they pay you and how much you'd have to pay for the benefits if they didn't) not just the amount you take home.

4) Vacation. What's their policy on that? If the company offers good amounts of off time, that's something that's nice. Also generally reduces your pay though.

5) Public or private? If you work a government job, it'll generally pay less than the private sector. The compensation is that most tend to have excellent benefits, plenty of vacation time, and little to no overtime.

So look at the area you'd be living in, what kind of buying power you'd have with your paycheck, and what they offer in additonal benefits that you'd need to purchase yourself if they didn't. Then decide if what they are offering you is reasonable.

Also consider what kind of learning experience it will be, what kind of industry connections it will give you, and what kind of advancement oppertunities you'll have. If a job pays less, but puts you in the position to advance quickly and to a high level, while learning valuable skills, it's probably worth it.

So don't sell yourself short, but don't get caught up in the dollar amount you take home.

Midwest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923800)

Very selective company in central Indiana, we start programmers in the neighborhood of $50K.

depends on cost of living (1)

jbplou (732414) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923802)

it really depends on cost of living in your area. if you live in central pa I'd say between 30 and 45 thousand. I would imagine it is higher in high cost areas like San Jose and NYC.

Well it depends on your location. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923803)

Ordinary Starting for a CS Degree depends on your location. If it is in NYC area then you can get paid 50-70k starting. Up here in Albany average starting is 30k-35k Which is about 1/2 the price of a hundred miles away. The best way I found out the good wage for the area is look for a nice not lavish but nice 1 Bedroom and a Den or a 2 bedroom apartment in the area. Take the rent of that apartment multiply it by 52 then you got your good salary you will probably get. Jobs in Computer Science are no longer the glamor jobs of the 90's they are now the average jobs which the pay is about on par with a full time math teacher (maybe a little less)

40's ? (1, Flamebait)

MajorDick (735308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923805)

I dont know, I started i programming in 95 at 45k a year with no school or previous experience (in a work enviroment) Heck I was a plumber and pipefitter before I decided to be a programmer, actually I had little choice (sons health issues and bringing home hae A C B or CMV home made the doctors very nervous)

I have never hired anyone at under 40 to start if they were good and knew their stuff AND their limitations. I made it a point to never hire anyone with a degree, I feel that 9 times out of 10 even working with them is a problem. Back in 98 or so I was lead developer of about 20 guys at the time, the HR gal hired this dipshit with a degree, I told him to do a task and do it this way. four hours later I stopped and asked wherre it was , it was 20 minutes of code at most. He said It cannot be done that way it will not work , frustrated I said here and leaned over him coded it ran it and tried to show him at which point he turned his head from the screen and stated, it does not work, it cannot work I was taguht in school it would not work if it was done that way therefore it does not work. All the while it was running on his screen. I was purple with anger and fired him a week later. After that I made it a point to hire guys who had REALLY fought their way up through the trenches like I had, I fin them better problem solvers and MUCH more open to alternative ways of doing things. College is for people who cant lear on their own (Doctors being an exception)

So with a degree I would pay would pay low 30's which would take into account you would need a significant amount of retraining, if you didn have a degree 40's . UNLESS you were a worse typist than I am them maybe even 50's , as we all know poor typing skills show a gited programmer

Why not use google? (1)

Arch_dude (666557) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923808)

I just did a google for programmer salary. A 25th percentile proigrammer in the US makes 42K/yr. Ther appear to be thousands of worthwhile resources on the web to answer this question. Why ask Slashdot?

Always hard after college (1)

blizzard854 (726159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8923813)

I'm only a college freshman and im already fearing the job market I will be going into... Although I go to a well-known school (NYU) (not majoring in CS though)... I'm still afraid of the every growing competition... Since I haven't done research on any past generations... but it seems as if Generation Y is flooded with over-achieving students... When applying for a job an average joe with a BA or even MA will only get enough necessary to live (and that's if you're lucky)... I fear for my generation... and myself...

Depends where you live... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8923814)

Entry-level salaries are highly dependent on geography...check out the distributions in a few relevant locations (courtesy of

[IT-Application, Software: Engineer I]

Engineer I 25th Median 75th

Sunnyvale, CA: $55,983 $61,751 $70,028
Austin, TX: $46,450 $51,236 $58,103
New York, NY: $56,178 $61,966 $70,272
Seattle, WA: $51,751 $57,084 $64,735
Chicago, IL: $52,870 $58,318 $66,134

But, salaries will naturally be lower in non-urban areas where the cost of living is not as bad as in the cities above.

And don't forget...99% of all software engineers at any level consider themselves underpaid. Quit bitching and work on your rep.
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