2017 Software Compensation Survey Results
In early 2017, Code & Supply conducted a survey of its Pittsburgh membership base that focused on the compensation that participants receive for software work. In addition to asking about salary, options, and other compensation, the survey asked about other issues that impact workplace satisfaction including commute, family life considerations, paid time off, and more. This article is a detailed breakdown across different measurements. Be sure to check out our other article based on this survey “Where C&S Lives, Works, and Gets Paid.”
Structure and delivery
There were 266 total responses during this month-long survey. Assuming a membership total of 2,966, based on the Meetup.com membership total as of April 4, 2017, this represents 11.15% of our total community. We believe this gives us enough information to accurately determine compensation statistics of our members. Being the preeminent community for software professionals in Pittsburgh, we feel these results may also be reflective of the larger population of software professionals in Pittsburgh as well. However, since participation in our community may impact a participant’s compensation, we cannot guarantee the accuracy for that larger group.
Reasonable anonymity of participants was important to us as survey administrators. Any report containing fewer than three records was eliminated from the final report to protect any participants from being identified. The raw survey results are not available for public analysis but the bulk of the survey analysis code is. Let us know if there’s a question you would like to see answered from the data we collected. Lastly, all currency amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar.
Salary, all respondents
This report considers only the salary figure provided in response to the question “What is your expected yearly pre-tax salary at your current job?” 258 responses were usable for this report. Eight responses were removed because the amount indicated less than full time employment.
The mean is $96,822 with a median of $92,700. The highest was $270,000 while the lowest was $22,000. The standard deviation is $35,621. Of particular interest are the quartiles: first quartile at $75,000 and third quartile at $116,000.
Extended to the entire Pittsburgh software community, we believe that entry-level professionals should expect to make $75,000 or greater when entering the profession in Pittsburgh.
Together, Code & Supply members who responded are paid $25,018,842. All but six survey participants live in Pennsylvania. If all lived in PA, then respondents alone generate $768,078 in state income tax revenue at 3.07%. This suggests that C&S members are paid a combined salary of $227,444,018/year. If all C&S members lived in Pennsylvania, they’d generate nearly $7M in tax revenue for the state each year!
Salary, by gender
C&S is working hard to encourage women to participate in its programs. While we certainly still have work to do, we are ourselves encouraged by our demonstrable success by exceeding industry norms as reported by StackOverflow.
264 respondents provided their age. The mean was 33.89 years of age. Participants were as young as 19 and as old as 67. Our survey found that 50% of respondents are between 28 and 38, with the most common age being 31.
When broken into age ranges, we found large increases between the first four brackets, $18k for the first two and $15k between the second two. After the large salary increases early on, the increases slow significantly only going up $8k going into the 40–49 age bracket and actually decreasing going into the 50–59 age bracket.
See the full generated report for the salary data for each age range.
As can be expected, the majority of respondents have a Bachelors degree. Approximately half as many have an advanced degree.
See the full generated report for the salary data for each degree.
Source of skills
The previous report showed that not everyone in C&S learned their programming skills in college. We explicitly asked, “Where did you learn the skills you use?” and left it up to respondents to interpret which skills we were asking about.
260 respondents reported their experience range. The mean was 9.95 years and the median was 8.5 years. The mode was 10 years and the range was 41.75 years, reflecting respondents as new to the industry as three months up to veterans of 42 years. Most respondents have between approximately 4 and 14 years of experience.
We asked, “Do you feel fairly compensated for your role?” 192 respondents said Yes, 74 said No.
There is another dimension to this question: gender.
A significantly lesser percentage of women respondents than men feel they are fairly compensated.
Respondents reported a wide variety of job titles. We collated as many as we could that seemed similar — 128 responses were grouped. 92 responses were sufficiently different, generally nuanced as “mobile developer”, that we could not generate a sufficiently large group for the data to be meaningful.
One thing difficult about analyzing job title data is that it is difficult to get enough data to support claims for a title alone. So, while we present this graph showing the mean salary of these titles, understand that these displayed are titles for which we believe that we have enough data to indicate meaningful numbers.
We asked, “What is your role?” and provided a number of options from which users could choose that are common aspects of the technical side of the software business. 12 roles had enough responses to meaningfully convey salary information for the role.
This data reflects that respondents doing visual, front-end, and mobile development, as well as sales engineering, are likely to be under the mean salary. Conversely, folks doing non-visual work, data science, recruitment, and management are more likely to exceed the mean salary.
Number of employers
We asked, “How many different software employers have you had?” The largest number of respondents reported three employers but most had between two and five.
Years per Employer
There is common knowledge and anecdotal evidence in the tech industry that people move around a lot. Oftentimes it’s to get a raise or additional responsibility. We had a hunch that C&S members move around a lot, too. A median of three years per employer and a mean of 3.14 years per employer beat our estimate of two years.
100 respondents indicated that they are subject to on-call duty. 165 are not.
Remote work is very fashionable these days. The results for “What type of location do you work from?” surprised us.
This question allowed multiple answers, so counts will exceed total number of responses. The goal here is to show how many of respondents reported activity in the given work location. However, 48% of respondents work remotely at least enough to say that they do.
With 253 responses, the average commute time of a C&S member is approximately 19 minutes. The farthest responder has a commute of 100 minutes! The highest number of responders have 0 minute commute: they work from home! Two-thirds of respondents are between 2 and 37 minutes for their commute.
One fascinating fact for us was the sharp decline in salary as the commute gets longer. This was not surprising for our reviewers who have lived in large cities and actually makes sense: employees with a lower salary typically need to live farther away. We figured the 30–45 minute category would be higher than the others except the 0 minute because of the number of people who live in Pittsburgh’s suburban boroughs.
Another thing this data shows is that a 5 minute commute is pretty rare. Expect at least a 10 minute commute in Pittsburgh, but you can probably find somewhere within 30 minutes.
We asked respondents to specify any equity they may have in their employer. The percent ranges are in terms of options or stock or both.
We asked, “How many days of Paid Time Off do you have, including major holidays?”
With 198 non-unlimited, interpretable responses, the mean PTO count of a C&S member is approximately 23 days. The most reported was 54 days. The highest number of responders have 20 days. Two-thirds of respondents are between 15 and 30 days.
42 respondents reported unlimited vacation. This is significantly higher than our estimates but reflects a major change taking place across the industry.
One note: a lot of responses had to be interpreted to convert to a number. In this, we realized that this question should have been split into three: vacation, sick leave, and holidays. Six respondents explicitly stated that they have unlimited sick leave, but others who reported a number may also have unlimited sick leave.
Applied to the entire membership, we can safely say that C&S members should expect to have three to six weeks of paid time off and should be pressing for four weeks.
This survey was C&S’s first. We learned a lot about survey construction and response analysis. We learned how we could improve questions for easier analysis.
Notably absent from this write-up is the location analysis. That report is forthcoming in the next few days. We will continue to analyze the data and report when we find something interesting!
The average C&S member is approximately 34 years of age, has a Bachelors degree, and is paid $96,822 with three employers within their 10 years of experience. They have a 20 minute commute or they work from home.
Hopefully this series empowers you to negotiate better deals with employers or understand how you can move up the ladder. If you are helped by this at all, see the Thank Us section below.
What constitutes membership of C&S is nebulous, as there are many avenues through which participation in the C&S community is possible: Meetups, Slack, conferences, social events, and more.
This survey was targeted only to C&S members, but it is possible that non-members may have responded. If someone completed this survey, they most likely participate in one of the aforementioned activities and are thus a member: C&S’ Twitter was the only public method used to announce the survey.
The survey was not conducted under the auspices of a formal review body. C&S did hold a review workshop in early April to review the results, to seek feedback to improve future surveys, and to vet the results as a community in order to ensure that we did not seriously screw up somewhere.
We chose not to ask about race or citizenship for this survey because we felt that there would be insufficient responses to guarantee anonymity to minority respondents. We will ask these questions in the major survey scheduled for later this year. This notable omission should sufficiently convey the room for growth and improvement that the Pittsburgh tech community still has. C&S is doing its part, for example by starting in 2016 the C&S Scholarship Fund after the success of the Abstractions 2016 Scholarship Program and by doing intentional marketing to underrepresented groups.
Not all responses are usable for every report. Some responses deemed to be typographical errors were corrected. Some questions required numerical answers to be analyzed, so some answers were manually interpreted or removed when reporting on that particular question.
Thank you, dear reader, for getting this far. We know there was a lot of information to digest. That means there is a lot of insight that this survey has brought to you and us alike.
We owe a lot to Kelauni Cook, Zack Zlotnik, Seamus Johnston, Matthew Beatty, and a few others for their assistance in suggesting topics for this survey and the larger one coming later this year.
We must especially thank Anna Filippova for her assistance every step of the way. Without her, this survey would still be on our every-growing TODO list.
Thank you to Jon Daniel, Jean Lange, Brigette Lefever, Kelauni Cook, and others for proofreading this report.
Update: Thanks to Nate Good for spotting an errant copypaste in a graph moments after we published this.
We also thank the more than 30 people who attended the results preview workshop. That event greatly helped our understanding of and confidence in the results and yielded a lot of solid suggestions for improvements.
We want your feedback on the results and the survey. Let us know directly via email@example.com or in #survey on C&S Slack.
If you use this report to improve your career, our goal is met. C&S wants to be the best community for software professionals. We want to teach not only new technology skills but also career, professional, and life skills.
If you found it useful and want to thank us, please consider the following:
- Join at codeandsupply.co and become a contributing, sustaining, or sponsor member. Your membership helps fund our operations, including future surveys such as this one.
- Come work with us at the C&S Workspace, our new coworking space for software professionals in Pittsburgh. It shares a space with our Community Center in East Liberty above the famed Sharp Edge Beer Emporium.
- Donate to the C&S Scholarship Fund, our charity which aims to award scholarships to a wide array of underrepresented groups in the tech community. Donations are tax-deductible.
- Tell us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a tweet at @codeandsupply.
- Join us at our conferences, such as Uptime, a DevOps conference in Pittsburgh in August 2017; Heartifacts, a tech-focused mental health, workplace, and community building conference in April 2018; and Abstractions II, the sequel to our breakout multidisciplinary conference Abstractions, in August 2018.
The survey was conducted using Google Forms. The data was exported from it and analyzed by an open sourced, bespoke analytics program to generate a long-form report. The graphs were generated using Apple Numbers.
Privacy is important to us. As such, the raw data for this survey will not be publicized. If there is an analysis you would like to see performed with the data we have, please contribute to the analytics program or ask us directly.
Code & Supply Co. is Pittsburgh’s largest group of software professionals. It was founded in 2014 to break down barriers between language- and stack- specific events and build a community that unites these small groups. It has grown into an nationally-recognized organization that hosts small evening meetings as well as major internationally-attended software conferences such as Abstractions and Uptime. C&S is headquartered at the C&S Workspace and Community Center in East Liberty.