Salaries for software developers are on the rise, driven by the proliferation of mobile startups. Will the trend continue?
For the last four years, Dr. Dobb's and InformationWeek have run one of the largest independent salary surveys of U.S. developers and their managers. As shown in the following slides, the overall message from this year's survey is that salaries are on the rise again after being stuck in park for the last two years. This advance is doubtlessly attributable to an improving economy. In fact, in some areas (such as Silicon Valley), the economy's recovery and the proliferation of mobile startups has created an acute shortage of developers, with many companies actively competing for talent already employed at competitors. Whether this forward momentum can be sustained or whether the Silicon Valley experience is part of a bubble is hard to tell, but next year's results will surely be indicative.
Meanwhile, the jump in salaries over the last two years is evident. This year, compensation increased faster than inflation for the first time in three years for both testers and developers. Software engineers have enjoyed steady increases during the past four years, which continued but did not accelerate this year as much as the lower-paid positions did.
Salaries varied widely by region. The numbers for the Pacific region are pushed up by salaries in the Bay Area, which includes Silicon Valley and San Francisco. The figure for the Mountain Region probably does not signal a decline in salaries in the area. Rather, the unusually large leap in last year's salaries, whose exact cause was hard to identify, is likely a misleading number. Online cost-of-living calculators can help translate, in rough terms, what the variations in salary mean in terms of purchasing power for cities in each region.