Have You Seen Stack Overflow's Salary Calculator?

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A major challenge facing employers and employees is coming to terms with the actual amount every employee is worth. It has remained a source of controversy and bitterness. The famous developer community, Stack Overflow - where many go for questions and answers on codes - has come up with a distinct wage calculator that allows developers (PHP developers and others) to know their exact worth.

The salary calculator considers the role of the developer, their location, experience, level of education, and area of expertise to decide what their wage should be. The tool allows developers to see what other developers in their area are making.

The underlying data behind the new salary calculator for developers is modelled on the information pooled from the Stack Overflow developer community, as well as the annual developer survey which has a section for questions on salary. The survey carried out in the early part of the year had about sixty-five thousand participants (a good number of which were PHP developers), who responded to a range of questions.

A statement from Stack Overflow says, “The spectacular thing about regression is that, all things being equal, it allows us to control how much the use of certain technologies can increase our salaries. How much can a year (or more) of experience spike up your salary? That is the main power of approaching the problem through numbers that we have employed here”.

“We designed this for PHP developers and other developers because we understand how dire it is to be empowered with more information regards to job searches, salaries, and careers. In fact, we understand that developers want information about how to earn more to help them make better career choices.”

Research has shown that whenever a job listing is accompanied with salary information, it gets seventy-five percent more clicks than those that do not provide this information. Ads showing salaries which are below average still get as high as sixty percent more clicks when you place them side by side with ads without salary information.

The biggest deciding factor of a developer’s salary is related to their location, says Stack Overflow. For example, the median PHP developer salary in the United States is reasonably more than those in Germany, Canada, France or the United Kingdom.

From the data available on Stack Overflow, a PHP developer with at least five years’ experience can earn as much as $34,000 - on average - more in the U.S. than they will in Canada, the U.K, or Germany.

Beyond the country salary differences, a major contrast also exists between PHP developers in the same country, but in different cities. For example, a backend Java developer with a year of experience - but without a Bachelor degree - can earn between sixty-six to ninety-four thousand dollars in New York. If the same developer travels to San Francisco, they can earn between seventy-four to one hundred and five thousand dollars.

There are lots of reasons why salaries are higher in big cities. One of them is that employers try to account for the cost of living. So, in the end, even though your paycheck has a larger figure written on it, you are not far from another developer in a city with a less expensive cost of living and slightly lower pay.

In addition to the location and skill of a PHP developer, their salary is also affected by the role they play in the system. According to the result of the survey, the peak median salary is raked in by the developers in the DevOps sector. This is closely followed by the data scientist, quality assurance engineers, embedded devices or applications developers, mobile developers, web developers, systems administrators, desktop applications developers, graphics programming, database administrators, and graphic designers.

Another interesting fact that emerged from the statistics pooled by Stack Overflow, is how the choice of programming language also plays out on salaries. Developers that stick professionally with Amazon Web Services (AWB) or React.js tend to earn more.

This is the pioneer version of the salary calculator, and as expected of any first, there are always glitches to deal with. Stack Overflow is asking for developers to make the system better by sharing their salary with the tool directly.

Stack Overflow’s data scientist, Julia Silge, wrote in a blog post, “We are dedicated to refining the accuracy of this calculator. Help us make it more accurate by privately inputting your salary in the calculator. The information on salary is what we use in modeling. Bear in mind that any information on the salary you share is one hundred percent confidential as we will not share it on your profile or with our employers.”

Silge explains further, “We sincerely believe that improved transparency and information will be beneficial to both sides. It is our desire that developers - irrespective of their location - use the calculator to survey their potential salary range while clients or companies will have a better understanding of what is OK for them to pay their employees. It is our intention for this to be a two-way tool”.

One of the reasons there is much emphasis from Stack Overflow on transparency is because information regarding salary is not always available - and when it is, there is an issue authenticity. Where it is readily available, it often raises the uncomfortable question of salary inequalities. For example, three women recently sued Google for systemic gender-based pay discrimination.

The secrecy of salary also gives employers the advantage when they sit with their employees to negotiate pay packages. Since potential employees have no clue to their salary potential, the odds always favor the employers.

The tech industry is one field with an erratic pay structure, made worse by the ill-defined nature of their work. Companies usually pay a reasonable sum to top technical talents, but keep other employees at the low ebb to mitigate the cost of the keeping the top technicians. This slyness has increased the value of salary data.

As of now, the service is still limited to developers in a few countries including Canada, the U.S., France, the U.K, and Germany. The major cities that will enjoy the services include Toronto, New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Seattle, and San Francisco. There is a rigorous plan by the company to expand the calculator to India and more countries soon.

Larger cities with a large pool of developers will have more features that let you dig beyond the country level (considering that location is the real deal in terms of a PHP developer‘s earnings).

Once the tool has a glimpse of your developer profile, it will be able to give you a rough idea of the salary you should expect. Stack Overflow also uses this tool to suggest potential jobs that fit the background of the user.

Salary tools are great because they can give you useful insight into expected salary range, depending on your location and job title. But they do not present the entire picture, which is still a major shortfall. They do not take into account each individual’s unique circumstances. Wages are ultimately dependent on the company's pay structure, and your experience.

For example, when you hire a PHP developer through a marketplace like freelancer.com, the wage will likely depend on your budget for the project, but it still does not limit professionals with many years of experience from applying - and they are likely the ones you will pick for the job.

The Stack Overflow salary calculator is a great tool that can help you get better offers, but you should not neglect the negotiation strategies that will assist you to earn more. These skills are vital for anyone looking for a job.

Seeing the promises presented by the Stack Overflow salary calculator, will you as a developer pick it over developing negotiation skills? We would like to hear your opinion in the comment box.

Publié 18 novembre, 2017


Software Developer

Lucy is the Development & Programming Correspondent for Freelancer.com. She is currently based in Sydney.

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