2.5% increase in software engineering salaries in one year: Seed corn looking more attractive

October 23, 2012 at 9:02 am 5 comments

Holy cow!  Most CS faculty that I know haven’t seen raises since the Great Recession hit.  A 2.5% increase in a single year for software engineers is a pretty dramatic rise in comparison.  How can we possibly keep people teaching when their knowledge is worth so much more in the marketplace?

In line with Economics 101, that increased demand for software engineers means increasing salaries. The national average for a software engineer’s base salary is currently $92,648, according to Glassdoor, marking an increase of 2.5 percent compared to 2011. But depending on where you work — both in terms of your employer and your geographical location — you could be take home more than $100,000 per year. Then again, even if you work for one of the major tech companies, your base salary may fall below the national average.

Where are the plum jobs these days for software engineers? According to recent data from Glassdoor, Google currently offers the highest average salary among 15 major tech companies at $128,336 per year. Ranked second is Facebook, which pays its software engineers an average of $123,626 per year. (Glassdoor came up with these figures based on at least 20 salary reports per company from October 2011 through October of this year.)

via Demand for software engineers keeps climbing — and so do the salaries | It jobs – InfoWorld.

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Microsoft proposes a Race to the Future to improve CS Education Introducing TryComputing.org: Resources for students and teachers about computing

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson  |  October 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Teaching is very much a life style decision for people with CS knowledge. I know several very talented teachers who are living their dream jobs regardless of the money they could be making in industry. Of course for many people it is a hard decision with children to raise and put through college in their future. We do see peoples (though in small numbers) moving from industry to education. The answer may be part-time oppertunities though. The TEALS program (http://tealsk12.org/) trains and supports professional developers who want to teach one class a semester/year. This is a model that is scalable and taps a class of people who are very well trained and motivated to teach as a way of giving back rather than as a way to make a living.

  • 2. nickfalkner  |  October 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks for this, Mark. It’s a reminder of how important it is to clearly identify why students would want to go into various jobs, giving them reasons rather than leaving them to make a $$$ decision.

    However, in Australia, it’s important for us to remember how much harder many CS faculty have it across the world. My uni is yet to go through any serious redundancy rounds and we are still getting pay rises. (And have been, throughout. We will probably see something like 3-5% a year for the next few years unless there is a serious change in the process) At a time when many of our colleagues are going through freezes or reductions, we have it relatively easy.

    Despite this, we still aren’t attracting that many people into research and academia because of a perception of lower opportunities and return on investment of time in higher qualifications. Very, very complex problem.

    • 3. Mark Guzdial  |  October 23, 2012 at 7:04 pm

      Yes, you’re right — I was US-centric in my remarks. Most US-based CS faculty I know haven’t had raises in years.

      I’m on the advisory board for a local two-year, technical college. They were on my mind when I wrote this post. They haven’t had a raise since 2007. Now, they’re getting essentials cut. They teach hands-on networking for technicians. They have seven racks of switches that students train on. They have a solid plan for updating everything on a five year cycle. They requested $37K for this year’s maintenance update. They received $1,000.

  • 4. rdm  |  October 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    “How can we possibly keep people teaching when their knowledge is worth so much more in the marketplace?”

    One way would be to make arrangements so people can do both. This can include talking with their employers and making arrangements, dealing with scheduling issues in any of a variety of ways, bringing in other people to help them manage time issues, makework issues, or whatever else, and so on.

    And, yes, done wrong this could easily create problems, but it is a viable possibility. And, yes, this increases costs.

    Another approach is informal education, where people in industry are helpful on an as-needed basis (stack overflow, topic specific mailing lists, and so on). This decreases costs and is already happening, but also raises the bar for educational facilities.

    Another approach might be to create more seed corn: Have your staff be learning about technology (and perhaps followups where they try to find ways of making it relevant to their interests). This is a long term, complex project, since it can take considerable time to master a technical subject, and everyone has their own interests which may or may not intersect in varying ways with any particular region of technology.

  • 5. Bonnie  |  October 25, 2012 at 7:30 am

    One issue with involving industry people is that the standard route for doing that is through adjunct positions. When I was working in industry, I looked into teaching at the college level in the evening – and discovered that adjunct pay was so low, it would not have even covered my babysitter once I counted in prep time. Also, adjuncts are often not treated well on campus – no access to the library or the computer systems, no place to meet with students. It isn’t very welcoming.


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