Have you ever wondered?
How much money can you make as a software developer?
Software Developer Skills
Software engineers get good pay and rightly so, as their job is quite demanding. A software developer is expected to have the following skills:
- Programming skills - Computer languages, database, integrating and building over existing code, debugging and unit testing, knowledge of mobile app development, browser testing, basic knowledge of operating systems. You may want to begin with learning C and C++.
- Certifications – Most companies train freshers in the technology that they hire for, however basic computer knowledge or an equivalent degree is required. Certifications and courses add an important touch to the resume.
- Soft skills – Companies do train people from time to time on soft skills to keep their employees motivated. Qualities like interpersonal skills, good written and oral communication, clarity of thought and patience, keenness to learn, helping and training other team members are some key skills that a software developer should have.
- Problem solving, curiosity and logical thinking – a software developer should be flexible enough to unlearn traditional approaches and learn new ways to approach a problem. If a part of the code doesn’t work, it should be dealt with a whole new approach.
- Business mindset – This enables the developer to think from a bigger perspective and develop code that can be reused and extended later without too many changes.
That said, many companies provide time to time training as a software developer grows within the company, and depending on various factors, the salary can range from anywhere between $45k to $130k.
Factors that Decide Software Developer Salary
Factors that influence the salary of a software developer
- Level of relevant experience
- Type of company
- Size of company
- Work location
A combination of all the above factors determines your pay. For example, you could be in the US, but a service-based company cannot give you as much as a product company can. Same way, if you are working on web technologies, you will have the edge over others who might be working on something not that popular.
For freshers, companies come to college campuses to recruit, and other than computer science students, they also pick electronics, communication, and electrical students, who have a basic knowledge of C, C++ (sometimes Java) and can write simple programs. However, since they would not know much about other aspects of computing, some companies pay them less than they would pay to recruit a student from a CS background.
Some of the highest paying locations for software developers are shown in the below graph:
The number is in dollars and as we can see the US and Switzerland are among the top payers for software developers. India is still coping up in this direction and though there are lots of opportunities for developers, they don’t fetch a very great package. However, the opportunities give a lot of exposure and relevant experience for you to apply abroad and get a better job. The work is definitely a good learning curve.
Level of experience
The above graph, based on location, is not for entry-level software developers. It is the average salary of those who have above 5 years of experience in the field of development, project management and possibly client interaction. As a fresher in India, you can get up to $50k starting package. Major companies like Microsoft, Google pay anywhere between $65k to a fresher. Here is the average salary paid in the US for different levels of experience -
|Experience (in years)||Salary|
|20 years and above||$115k-$130k|
Some companies absorb testers into development based on individual performance. However, the salary hike is a little less compared to the developers for a few years until they are fully on-board with the roles and responsibilities. In some companies, even if you have prior experience of say 5 years in the IT industry in roles other than a software developer, you might be considered as a fresher and given the package only a little higher than a software developer with 2 years’ experience.
Type of company
Product companies generally pay more than service companies. Service companies rely on clients to set the amount for the entire projects and release the payments according to the funds available. In a product-based company that is not the case. Generally, US-based product companies rollout the best salaries to their counterparts in India. Also, you would be working closer to your core skills in a product company whereas, in a service company, you will have a chance to explore multiple skills. If you are a freelancer or a consultant, you will be paid more than an employee, but again the pay will vary from project to project. Some projects can fetch more money than others.
Same way, you will have more learning opportunities and good projects in a start-up firm, however, the salary will be quite less.
That said, Indian counterparts of some companies like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook provide good salaries for both products as well as service-based roles. Hardware and networking companies pay about 9-10lakhs to freshers. Working as a software developer in the finance industry, for example, banks like JP Morgan also pays off well. Companies like TCS, Infosys, Accenture are purely client-based, and hence pay around 4.5 lakhs to 4.72 lakhs approximately. These companies absorb the cream of the lot and offer them good pay in the US.
Some of the top-paying companies in the US are –
|In Google, the median salary is around $125k. If you are working in Google India, you would be paid around 9-10 lakhs as a fresher, and about 14 lakhs if you have at least 2 years’ experience. The salary of a senior software engineer can range anywhere from $86k-101k per annum.|
|Microsoft||One of the best employers, Microsoft pays about $105k-$125k for a senior software developer. It is about $86k-$96k per annum to freshers.|
|Amazon||Amazon pays around $89k to a fresher, which goes to $100k for an experience of 2 years and the minimum salary for SSE (senior software engineer) is $110k. The average base salary can go as high as $122k.|
|HP||In the US, HP pays anywhere between $84k to $120k to mid-level developers and leads. HP gives good growth to its employees in terms of salary as well as work. You can easily earn more than a million by working hard for 5-6 years in the company.|
|IBM||IBM gives work flexibility and works from home options. However, job security is less compared to companies like Infosys, which offers considerably lesser salary. As you go up the ladder, you will be able to earn more. IBM, US offers about $84k salary to senior developers.|
|SAP Labs||One of the highest paying companies, SAP labs has an average pay-out of $97k for freshers. With some experience and skill set, the salary can go more than $126k.|
|Goldman Sachs||GS offers a good amount of $65k to software developers and about $95k to senior developers. The workload is quite high in the company, though and you will be busy as ever. An average employee in the US can get upto $370000, which is among the highest in the industry.|
|Adobe||A tough one to get into, Adobe provides the best career growth in the industry. As a fresher, you will get around $93k, which can go up to 1.5 times in about 5-6 years. Senior developers can easily make more than $100k per year and individual growth is quite high in Adobe. As per PayScale, one can get $117k on average in the US with about 7-10 years of experience.|
|Huawei||For a fresher, Huawei pays anywhere between $54k. There are loads of opportunities for learning and Huawei tries to give a lot of additional responsibilities to a fresher, rather than just being an individual team member. As per PayScale numbers, a senior software developer gets an average of $92k-$169k.|
|Uber||The starting package is more than $85k per annum and within 2-3 years you can easily earn $100k per annum. Uber is one of the top payers and offers about $100k-$126k per annum to highly experienced software developers.|
Size of the company
In the previous section, we discussed that product companies pay more than service-based companies. Even within the service companies, a well-established company with more industry experience will pay you less than a start-up or a company that is just setting its foot in the market. Eventually, as the company size grows and stability increases, most companies recruit more developers which means the allocated amount gets distributed accordingly.
A tier-1 company, i.e. a company of the size of Infosys, TCS, Wipro, who also do bulk recruitments, generally pay about $52k per annum for a fresher. As these are big names, they give a good kick-start to your career.
A tier-2 company, or companies that have less than 5000 employees and are predominantly service-based, pay around $65k to freshers.
Tier-3 companies, with 500-1000 employees and about 10 years of industry experience pay around $80k to freshers. These companies hire skilled resources and provide good exposure to varied types of work.
A tier-4 service-based company, with 100 employees has the best of work but will pay lesser than all the above – somewhere between $42k-54k per annum. Their focus is to get more clients and get the best work done with less cost and time.
For example, you might have learned C in your graduation, however, a person with Java or Python knowledge will be given preference over you because the demand for these technologies is more in the market.
For example, a full stack developer in India can easily earn about 12-14 lakhs per annum, whereas an only front-end or back-end developer might be able to get only 8-10 lakhs per annum. Most product companies like Microsoft, PayPal, Netflix, Walmart, etc… prefer a full-stack (mean stack), developer.
If you already have some experience working with any programming language, you can ask for a good package in a product company. To gain good programming experience, you should first look for service companies where you will get a chance to work on different technologies. This will be a good way to get technically strong and practically see how things work. You could also learn the technologies used by product companies through different courses and certifications, work on a few projects and then go ahead and apply for the role.
If you create a good skill set and choose the right company, you can earn about 30 lakhs per annum or ($80k - $95k) just with 2-3 years of experience.
College/Institution of study
Have you heard the news?
“An IIT graduate got placed on Google with a starting package of $100k per annum!”
Companies come and conduct on-campus interviews to hire freshers right out of high school. If you are studying in some of the premier institutes, chances are that the top companies will pay you a fat package. Many companies come to top institutions and pick the cream of students by conducting on-campus and off-campus interviews.
Does that mean you have fewer chances if you are from a not-so-popular college?
This differentiation, however, is only for freshers and once you get placed, it is only your skills and how you take charge of your career that determines your salary. As your experience level grows, your institution name and graduation marks lose much of their importance.
Last, but not least, work location is an important factor that affects the salary of a software developer. As we have seen in the location graph, currently, the highest paying location for a software developer (including fresher) is the United States. Companies like Qualcomm, Walmart, Ericsson, etc… are among the top payers in the US who pay around $105,000 to $129,000 base salary. Within the US, San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, and Oakland are the best locations for software developers. Check this link to know more details on the best location for software developers to earn more.
Within India, the highest paying jobs are in Gurgaon, followed by Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, and Ahmedabad in that same order. A software developer in Gurgaon earns 24% more salary than anywhere else in India.
Software developers are paid quite well everywhere – be it in India or abroad. If you are planning to build your career as a software developer, plan ahead and make sure you are following the right path. Choose the right industry, the right set of skills, be more flexible and open to learning new technologies, and make sure you keep yourself updated with the latest industry trends. These pointers will help you double your salary within 2-3 years of experience. It is not a big deal for a software developer to earn as much as $137k-$200k package within a short span of time, provided he has the right tools and techniques to achieve the same.
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