A look at tech salaries and how they could change as more employees go remote
Each year, the hiring platform Hired produces a look at tech salaries based on the data it says it gleans from hundreds of thousands of interview requests and job offers. This year, as in past years, it looked at salaries around the globe for software engineers, product managers, DevOps engineers, designers, and data scientists.
Of course, this year is a very funky year, one that, owing to the pandemic, looks to see an accelerated shift toward more remote work. So this year, Hired split its findings its two parts — pre COVID-19 and post. It published data about who was being paid what in 2019, but also how those numbers might change going forward, particularly if more companies adopt localized compensation as Facebook has said it will do with its own employees.
First, a look at the world before the coronavirus swept through and upended so much.
From San Francisco to London, everyone working in tech was seeing steady gains leading into 2020, according to Hired. San Francisco salaries jumped 7% last year, with the average tech worker pulling down $155,000 annually, followed closely by New York, where the average tech worker’s salary was $143,000 (up 8% from 2018); Seattle, where pay hit $142,000 (up 3%); and L.A. and Austin, where workers averaged $137,000. (In L.A, that represented an 8% bump from 2018; in Austin, it was 10%.)
In the U.S., project managers were paid the most, averaging $154,000. Software engineers were meanwhile paid on average $146,000; data scientists were paid $139,000; and designers were paid $134,000.
A question being asked increasingly in 2020 is how those numbers change if these same workers leave behind pricey cities like San Francisco and head to more affordable spots. Hired has answer that question specific to the Bay Area, and the unsurprising news that local workers’ wages — assuming they go unchanged — go a lot further elsewhere.
For example, making $155,000 in the Bay Area is akin to making $224,000 in Austin, thanks to its lower cost of living. In Denver, it would be like making $202,000.
Still, the calculations won’t be so easy for companies wanting to hang onto top talent. Based on a survey of 2,300 tech workers, Hired says that nearly one-third of respondents said they’d be willing to accept a reduced salary if their employer made work from home permanent (while more than half said they would not); 53% said permanent work from home would make them “likely” or “very likely” to move to a city with a lower cost of living; and half said they’d want to return to their office “at least once a week” post-COVID.
It’s headache inducing. The only crystal clear finding is that almost no one wants to land back at the office Monday through Friday. Specifically, just 7% of respondents said they wanted to head into work every day.
Of course, how flexible tech workers really are about whether they live and what they are paid depends very much on their job stability or how they perceive it. Perhaps in a sign of the times, there is little consensus on this front, too, shows Hired’s survey.
Of the thousands of tech workers surveyed, 42% said they were concerned about being laid off in the next six months, and 39% said they agreed with the statement: “I want to leave my current job but am afraid to do so because I’m worried about finding another job.”
In both cases, more respondents said that they aren’t concerned about being laid off or their ability to find another role elsewhere.
Going forward, Hired CEO Mehul Patel tells us the company will be tracking closely how the rise of remote work impacts those expectations, including around salary.
For now, he says he hopes that just publishing metrics around how localized salaries are computed will help put job seekers — and job holders — at ease during turbulent times. “It’s a big part of the reason we do this research and publish these kinds of reports,” he says.