A study that came out this week suggests that Australian developers are the highest-paid in the world. However, before you start planning that expensive holiday, take note: information on developer salaries is generally consistent only in its inconsistency.
Couple picture from Shutterstock
The chart below (from social recruiting site splinter.me via Business Insider) compares salaries for three roles: web developer, senior web developer and software developer. In all three categories, Australia comes out on top when compared to seven other countries.
While this seems pleasing for developers, there are several issues with this data:
- BI points out the first problem: “Figures are in US dollars, so last year’s high Australian dollar could have pushed local figures up. The AUD has fallen 11% since April.” That would remove a fair chunk of the difference.
- The data is based on a large number of 2012 sources, but the largely unreadable footnotes on the original infographic don’t make it clear how many different data sources have been bought together for each number. Comparing numbers from different sources is rife with problems. We don’t know, for instance, if the Australian figures include compulsory superannuation payments. Those are great to have, but don’t mean more cash in hand.
- The job titles are vague. What distinguishes a senior web developer from a junior one?
Other data sources give rather different stories and lower numbers. MySalaryPortal (which relies on self-reported data and which you looked at earlier this week when examining job perks) quotes the following numbers in Australian dollars:
- Software developer: $79,500
- Web/multimedia developer: $62,000
- Software analyst/programmer: $87,400
While the titles don’t match exactly, the overall trend of lower figures is clear.
The other data source for salaries we regularly use is the surveys from Peoplebank. Those figures are likely to overestimate (given that recruited roles will typically attract a premium), and what we see is a much wider range of numbers. In Sydney, a web developer might earn anywhere between $55,000 and $120,000. In Adelaide, the range is narrower: $55,000 to $90,000. An average of $US120,000 seems a bit of a stretch by comparison.
The lesson? A skilled developer should be able to find work, but it’s not an easy path to riches and salaries vary a lot. Be flexible, grow your skills base, and enjoy your job.