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Google, Microsoft Pay Top Dollar In India

Thinking of a career in IT? Then don't waste your time on lowly tech services companies. The big bucks are in software development, working for industry giants like Google and Microsoft. In India, that is.
Thinking of a career in IT? Then don't waste your time on lowly tech services companies. The big bucks are in software development, working for industry giants like Google and Microsoft. In India, that is.As a result of all this competition for talent, wages are rapidly increasing for Indian tech grads with state-of-the-art skills. Annual salaries for some are approaching $30,000 U.S., according to The Times of India. "When it comes to the high end product scenario, the salary difference between India and the U.S. is fast shrinking," says Yahoo India's research chief, Bhuvan Naik, in an interview with the Times.

Indeed, an ad placed last week by America Online on an Indian job board offers programmers "best in the industry" wages. Translation: Tell us what Wipro is paying you, and we'll top it.

What's the upshot of all this for U.S. programmers? Two things: In the short term, some may want to think about uprooting and heading for India. True, most graduates of, say, RPI probably never thought they'd be cranking out code in Chennai. But 30K still goes a long way in India. Think villas with servants. Down the road, wage inflation in India will inevitably lead to increased hiring in the U.S. as some tech firms decide the cost advantage of outsourcing isn't sufficient payback for the management hassles created by an overseas workforce. Ultimately, tech wages in the U.S. and India will "equalize." That is, Indian salaries will continue to rise until real salaries, plus whatever value companies place on the hassle factor, equal average U.S. salaries.

We're not quite there yet--but that day is coming. At which point skill, and not geographic location, will determine a programmer's true worth in the marketplace. There'll be winners and losers on both sides, but it will be a level playing field. Right?