Career advice for software developer?
April 7, 2010 7:53 AM Subscribe
How much should I be making as a software developer, 3-4 years out of college in a place like St. Louis?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm working for a company whose focus is not in IT, I'm firmly in operations. I think agile shops would refer to my position as "product lead," however I have no one above or beneath me. Nominally, the network admins and help desk are below me, but are rather autonomous. A lot of what I do is business analyst type things, where the CFO will come to me and say that any vendor with revenue over a certain amount needs further approval before they can be added to the system. That's a very simple example, but it is the sort of thing I do.
I was hired out of college and six months later the industry I'm in was hit hard by the recession, my pay was scaled back about 10%. Things have improved a bit and I'm now at around $54,000 with benefits.
I've had a couple of concerns about this job holding back my career, but since I don't have any friends who are software engineers, I don't know how valid the concerns are.
I should also note, when I was hired they were unsatisfied with what off the shelf applications were doing for them and the limits of their internal staff, who did not have a computer science background. Since I've been here, I've rewrote and at times, wrote from scratch, significant portions of their accounting and supply chain management software.
1. Is my current salary at market rates? I've been responding to job ads in user groups I follow, and the few companies that are hiring here are in the $65-75k range. This feels right, though I'm sure everyone feels as if they should be making $10k more. My plan is to apply and if I get an offer, see if my current company can match it. This seems rather aggressive, but as I don't see any path of internal advancement other than cost of living raises, I don't know how to broach the issue.
2. As mentioned previously, a lot of their line of business applications are things that I wrote. What initially brought a lot of this to my attention occurred when I went seeking quotes from consulting companies to develop a plan on happens if I get hit by a bus. The quotes were really high, $150-200k a year. I realize consulting companies are going to be about 2x more than doing it internally, but that's still 25% more than I'm currently making. Anyway I can leverage these numbers and not play hardball as mentioned above?
3. How much is lacking team experience hurting me? That alone might be worth making a lateral transfer. If the company I'm with grows (as they say they will), the question might be moot, but I keep getting a nagging feeling that 4-5 years down the road not having any significant team experience could really kill me. I write unit tests and keep design docs, but I know that's probably not the same as actually working on a team.
A bonus question: I've been thinking about contributing more seriously to some open source projects I use. While I think this is a good thing to do anyway, does this raise my profile and my desirability? I've always imagined that this might lead to consulting work with companies that use the software or at the very least, a nice bullet point for a resume, but I don't know if that is a pipe dream or not.