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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Programming Salaries

I was recently wondering what the average salary per specific programming language or API is. Here are 18 very popular programming languages, 4 popular operating systems, and 7 popular APIs and their average salary in the United States (I think that's the country where Indeed was getting the info from). Valid as of the date of this post.  Source

Programming Languages
Haskell $198,000 (added 10 June 2008)
Erlang $99,000 (added 8 June 2008)
Objective-C $82,000
Pascal $81,000
C++ $80,000
SmallTalk $80,000
TCL $80,000
C# $79,000
Java $79,000
Python $78,000
Perl $77,000
Ruby $74,000
COBOL $73,000 (added due to demand)
JavaScript $72,000
ColdFusion $64,000 (8 June 2008)
Delphi $64,000
PHP $64,000
Visual Basic $64,000
C $60,000

Operating Systems
GNU/Linux $86,000 (maybe because of so many web servers?)

Solaris $80,000 (added 8 June 2008)

Microsoft Windows $55,000

Mac OS X $51,000

Win32 $86,000
Tcl/Tk $81,000
Qt $76,000
GTK+ $75,000
.NET $71,000 ($75,000 for "Visual Studio")
Cocoa $43,000 ($60,000 for "Mac Programming")

(organized by higher-paying salary, then alphabetically)


bassglider said...

Wow, i can't believe objc is that high up there. Is there that much demand ?

Anonymous said...

Most Cocoa programming is done in objective C, so there has to be something wrong with your post.

The Unix Geek said...


Note the "Source" link at the bottom. I know it doesn't make much sense that Objective-C is up at the top and Cocoa is at the bottom, but that's how employers are apparently finding employees; there's nothing wrong with it - in fact, there were only about 5 job postings so I think it's just an outlier sort of thing - in my opinion it's more of a hint: if you know Cocoa, put on your resumé that you know Objective-C more importantly and then mention that you have experience with the Cocoa API.

T. Michael Pridham said...


Of course years of experience play a great deal into pay as well.

Some more realistic scenarios (from the Tampa market):

1. Java Enterprise, 7+ years, Spring, Hibernate, Linux, and some business savy -> around 90K.

2. JavaScript, some GWT, HTML, no solid experience with the back-end languages, maybe 55k with a good attitude and interview skills.

3. Linux is a sweet piece of resume cannon fodder if you can back that up with knowledge of several of the major Java Enterprise app servers. I'd say the industry as a whole, no matter the region, is in bad need of TRUE application server administrators - willing to learn - and minus the horrific attitude.

Of course these are just my observations of the moment...but with the world economy changing each time an energy commodity broker passes gas (pun intended), these numbers can swing wildly.

Best of Luck & Kind Regards,
Tom Pridham

Lars D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cristian said...

I love the fact that VB programmers are better paid than C ones :-)

Ankur said...

prospects look good for me. I code in c++/QT/Unix. Sadly I am in India.

Isaac said...

The average isn't as interesting as the range.

The range in coding ability from good programmers to mediocre ones is somewhere between 1:5 and 1:30, depending on who's measuring it. I'm willing to bet that the top 2% of Objective C developers aren't making $400k a year, which is probably about what they're worth.

Those numbers from Tampa are depressingly low. But I'll bet the rent down there is cheaper than in Silicon Valley.

It's too bad Javascript and CSS aren't on the list. Expert front-end web developers are in very high demand.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Objective C: the only big-time Objective C employer i know is Apple (right?) so that's probably approximately the salary for Apple heavy duty engineers.

Philoxenist said...

I program the Win32 API, using ObjC, on GUN/Linux. Ladies.. I'm good looking and obviously loaded and my phone number is ###-####...

damian said...

Your "numbers" are extremely misleading and out of touch with reality.

There aren't any programming jobs that pay over $30/Hr.

I've worked with some of the largest companies listed here: http://www.washingtontechnology.com/top-100/2007/

Most require you to buy your own PC/laptop and IDE, and none pay more than about $60K/yr. None.

Kane said...

damian, you're either bitter than you can't get a decent programming job, or just full of it. My current job is well over 60k, and I've never worked for a company that didn't supply me with equipment and software as part of the deal.

I agree that a more interesting graph would have been to show the salary graph. Just because one ObjC guy out there is making tons or one C guy is making crap, isn't really indicative of the true state of the industry.

In fact, I would say years of experience is going to be a larger factor than language for most people.

Glen said...

Damian, your list was of federal contractors. Most of the better-paying programming jobs are in the private sector and in a few specific parts of the country. Programmers near Silicon Valley (or New York or Boston) often make more than 100k annually but the national average is brought down by lower-paying jobs in other areas with a lower cost of living. Perhaps where you live is one such area.

Adam Fabian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey Engel said...

To the person who mentioned that it's wrong that there's no CSS in the list, I have to agree as a front-end developer.

I am working on a project where we have, as others have explained, one or two of those top-notch Java developers who aren't making as much money as they should, they're in that 1:30 category and they solve 80% of the problems and come up with great solutions.

However, none of those great solutions are enough to make the application actually usable. You can solve all of the cross-field validations and business rule validations you want, you can create custom-code that makes up for poorly designed components in frameworks the client forced you to use, you can create amazing stuff, you programmers are amazing... but you'll still have a crappy application with horrible usability and user experience without someone with user interface and usability experience.

Put it in context, if you're working for one of the big outfits, your company's BAs and TAs will gather all the requirements and determine technology and the PM will come up with a number usually in the millions of dollars. This is before any user interface person is called in to even contribute to requirements. Then, all the development will be done, they'll bring in developers of all stripes. Then, at the very end, they'll realize they might need someone who knows CSS to "clean it up" or "tweak the CSS" or, my favorite, "we really need to jazz it up a bit to make it look good".

This is just begging for failure. Not failure on the part of the company you work for. But failure when the client's users start using the application.

And of course, the changes they ask for will be considered "out of scope", even though they are simple, basic usability requirements for any application that is considered "good".

CSS / interface designers are always the last to be hired, and the first to be let go. It's considered unnecessary 90% of the time. And that's because nobody really thinks about creating a product BETTER than what the client has. They just think about doing their job and what's asked of them. And that's failure if you ask me.

Bring in a good usability guy and your client will be so happy and will want you to design more apps for them.

Chris Smith said...

Hmm. All the talk about CSS is a little bizarre. CSS jobs may well be (over/under/just right)-paid, but this was an article on programming languages. Why would CSS be in the list?

Andy said...

Great list!

I love how everyone's crawling out of everywhere with comments like "hay, you forgot me!"

Or "What about DOS batch files?"

Speaking of which, wheres Erlang?

The Unix Geek said...

@chris smith

your wishes have been fulfilled ;)

Rick said...

Where's ColdFusion on that list? I know there are way more CF developers than a few of the languages on that list.

Kate said...

Anecdotally Perl programmers in our market (Seattle) seem to expect a lot more than that. Our company is primarily a Java shop, but the Perl programmers we've got make at least $10-20K over the Java programmers. This may be a skew factor in terms of the experience we're looking for, but there's probably such a skew in the original data as well. I'm wondering if the more experienced Perl folks mainly get jobs from Perl community sites (jobs.perl.org and such), word of mouth and the local Perl Mongers mailing lists. No-one I know uses Dice, Monster and such.

Full disclosure - I'm a Perl/database programmer with 11 years of experience and I'm making $40K over the supposed average for my market, so I'm probably biased against this data's relevancy.

xs_cock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
damian said...


Sure you make that much money, in second life.

You come across as an internet tough guy. All take, no action. Back it up, or shut up.

T. Michael Pridham said...

"Those numbers from Tampa are depressingly low. But I'll bet the rent down there is cheaper than in Silicon Valley."

The cost of living in the Tampa area is not expensive. There are some outlaying areas (My wife & I live in Land O Lakes a.k.a. "New Tampa") where the cost of living is really great! We bought a brand new home 3br/2bath/2car 10 years ago for about 106k.

Now the commute is one of the worse in the U.S. I have friends here that say that they would rather be navigating the traffic in Manhattan than downtown Tampa. I am blessed by the fact that I only commute 2 days a week, but that 24 mile commute can take from 30 minutes to well over an hour.

Regards & God Bless,

Onefifth said...

It's hard to believe that's accurate in any way, just based on the fact that the results are generated though a keyword based search.

According to the indeed.com search, a "slave" makes considerably more than a "teacher" (who by chance has the same salary as the average "druid").

When all those results are given to me in "High Confidence (more than 250 sources)" I have a hard time buying it.
(Who knew God only makes 139k? I thought it would be more.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
phil swenson said...

In california most of the coders I know make well over 100K. One guy makes about 135K salary + bonus as a Java coder.

Where I live in Denver I hear of salaries for Java coders of 80K-130K. Depends on your experience, luck, how long you've been in the position, how good of a negotiator you are...

damian said...

@phil swenson

In Washington DC there's an excess of cleared developers, and companies who blatantly fluff salaries. Finding an honest recruiter/company is near impossible. The ads plague Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Craigslist and the list goes on.

You can get a cleared developer in this area for about $30/hr, yet the "experts" regularly claim this is among the highest paid area.

So forgive me in thinking reality trumps your delusions of mediocrity.

Don Stewart said...

Due to the existence of the city of haskell, you won't get accurate results for the (rather niche) Haskell jobs market. Try instead with the phrase: haskell programmers.

(Most Haskell jobs are in investment banks). You would expect them to be around the same as for Erlang, intuitively, but weighted away from web programming.

lee.m.brown said...

Counter example: VB/C# + .Net + Win32 + 24 years experience = $300K/yr.

The Unix Geek said...

This post brought me 16,199 readers - thanks, everyone!

Anonymous said...

sweet header graphic did u make that anti-anti-aliased 45 degree rotation in teh gimpzor ???

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in seeing a comparison by region... and a comparison of languages on one platform versus another.

Daniel said...

I have experience in computer/network support and I want to begin programming. Any opinions of what is the best language to start with? Thanks

Anonymous said...

@Daniel: Python is most sane and enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

you didn't consider sample size, and this might really skew the results.

the site you used (indeed.com) lists 7 jobs for haskell programmer (4 of them original), and 7 jobs for erlang programmer (5 of them original). obviously a VERY small pool to choose from.

and this is compared to c++ programmer (3,914 jobs) and java programmer (6,390 jobs).

i note also that smalltalk programmer yields only 33 jobs.

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The Christian Man said...

Wow, I didn't realize the salary ranges for programming jobs were so disparate. It does help me focus on what I want to specialize in, at least.

BABBAN said...

oooohh it's very heart broken that C Programmers are paid so little amount

vishnuprasath said...

It's useful information
View salary information for thousands of different companies.
Search for salaries by company, city or profession.

Vincent said...

Shouldn't a C programmer and a Unix/Linux programmer be around the same, considering Unix/Linux is written is C....

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smplcv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.