Aussie Developers: Don't Believe The Hype About Gigantic Salaries

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 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.


    I would say the MySallaryPortal numbers are far more accurate. I hear stories all the time of web devs making 100k a year but most of it is bluster. People will nearly always claim to make more than they do.

    I would say 80k is pretty average, anything higher and you're looking at working as a consultant, and all the overhead that entails.

      Yeah, lead and senior devs may be making $100k, but $70-85k is more likely for a mid range developer.

      I fall in to that mid-range category, but then I also freelance, which bolsters my annual earning a fair bit.

    I moved out to Australia 2 years ago and started on $90k as a Senior Dev. Within 2 years that was bumped up to $100k, then $110k and finally $116k. I've just secured a new position at $140k. I've found the general quality of developers to be somewhat mediocre since arriving so if you are any good you quickly float to the top.

      Interesting... Good to know. We have been thinking about moving to Australia. Reading this article might just push me over the edge.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now