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The Almighty Buck Programming IT Technology

Reasonable Salary for Entry Level Programmers? 1525

Posted by Cliff
from the is-this-job-offering-me-enough dept.
An anonymous reader asks: "I will be graduating from college in May with a degree in computer science. I have begun the job search and gone on a few interviews. So far I have gotten two job offers which I am thankful for, but the salary seems low. I am not saying that I am too good to pay my dues and work my way up, but I could make more waiting tables. It is somewhat distressing that I have spent 4 years of college and years before that developing my programming skills. I am not trying to get rich, but I was hoping that the high level of skill required would account for something(no offense intended to waiters). Can anyone give me any insight about what a reasonable starting salary would be, for an entry level software engineer?"
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Reasonable Salary for Entry Level Programmers?

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  • Likewise (Score:5, Informative)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:00PM (#8923668) Homepage
    Ill be graduating in May as well and the range Ive seen is 45k to 55k
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:00PM (#8923671) Homepage Journal
    This is how the real world works.. you arent worth a damned thing until you can prove yourself. That takes time and persistance.

    And no, '4 years of college' doesnt prove you are worth anything. It proves you can learn, but not much more.
  • Location? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:01PM (#8923689)
    If you had bothered to state your location, we might actually be helpful. There are a few minor differences between places tasks are outsourced from, and to.
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:02PM (#8923692)
    Salary Wizard. [salary.com]

  • by Squeamish Ossifrage (3451) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:02PM (#8923695) Homepage Journal
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps this sort of data, though possibly with some significant lag time.

    Try looking at: http://www.bls.gov/bls/blswage.htm [bls.gov].
  • by phatsharpie (674132) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:04PM (#8923720)
    Salary ranges varies greatly depending on the location of your search. Here in Southern California, entry positions seems to start around $45K. This is for web application development - the field I am most familiar with. It's probably different for other kinds of development jobs. Salaries have gone down quite a bit in the past two years.

    Congratulations on graduating, and good luck!

    -B
  • by buffer-overflowed (588867) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:04PM (#8923731) Journal
    A lot of guys I know who recently(past 2 years) graduated with degrees in CS don't do programming work, if they even have jobs.

    Anyway, if you're in the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics [bls.gov] has pretty much every little labor detail you could want.

    Here [bls.gov] are their stats on computer programmers. Remember, entry level means you start out at the low end, so depending upon which state and which company, figure $40,000 a year.
  • by Cyberherbalist (731257) * on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:04PM (#8923733) Homepage

    Salaries vary very regionally, and also by industry sector. I can't comment on other sectors/regions, but the State government in Washington state pays entry-level programmers with bachelor degrees $2645 per month ($31,740 annually or $15.20 per hour) to start. That's for what is called ITAS 1 ("Information Technology Applications Specialist 1"). Here's the link to the page describing the position/job and salary information: http://hr.dop.wa.gov/statejobs/bulletins/CURRENT/3 8109rp.htm [wa.gov]. Most state programming jobs in Washington are in the Olympia area, which is a pretty nice part of the state (IMHO). Don't know what current openings there are at the moment, however.

    I truly don't know what waiters make (including tips), but I doubt that the pay goes up to $70K+ after several years of experience, like it can in programming. In Washington state employment, the top programming job classification is ITAS 6 [wa.gov], which is paid $5813 per month, or $69,756 per year.

    If you get into more specialized areas, such as a programmer working with things like PeopleSoft and SAP, the pay gets quite extravagant, I'm told.

    Factoring in the trend in offshoring, however, and the picture may become bleaker for programming in general, although the government sector may be somewhat immune to that. At least I hope so. :-)

  • Re:Likewise (Score:3, Informative)

    by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@da[ ]et ['l.n' in gap]> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:05PM (#8923737)
    In Canada, you're looking at around 30-35k. If you're lucky. That is assuming you havent done any open source projects and dont have much in the way of experience.
  • my salary (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:05PM (#8923742)
    I started at $38k/year while I was still in college. I'm now up a little past $42k after a year. This is what my company (a Fortune 500 company) would pay for an entry level programming position right out of college.
  • by skurk (78980) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:09PM (#8923781) Homepage Journal
    ..if you're a "newbie" in the business. Ofcourse, it all depends on where you decide to work.

    Now, I'm from Norway, and I can only tell you what it's like over here. And keep in mind that I don't have any education except high school.

    I've been hired at various places so to speak constantly since '96, but all employers seems to offer about the same amount in salary.

    In my first job, back in 1998, I earned 200,000 NOK (about $29,000) which is very low. I'm currently making 320,000 (about $46,000) which is reasonably better, but about $15,000 lower than my colleagues with an education.

    As I understand it: Over here, a "freshman" may expect 300,000 (~$43,000) NOK at first, then gradually crawling up towards 400,000 (~$58,000) NOK. If you're long enough in the right business, you may even expect 500,000 NOK ++.

    Hey, boss, you reading this?
  • by t1nman33 (248342) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:10PM (#8923792) Homepage
    Check a recruiting/job search site and run one of their salary calculators. That will give you a rough estimate of the going rate in your area.

    In NYC, 70K will get you about as far as 30K in some rural areas. So, salaries will tend to fluctuate depending on the local cost of living...groceries, gas, rent and insurance can be wildly more expensive in urban areas than in the sticks.

    Also depends on the amount of locally available talent. Try as I might, I couldn't break into the very tough Boston IT market back in 2000. I suspect all those MIT folks might have had something to do with that. I had to settle* for the DC area, which has some fine universities, none of which are famous for their IT programs.

    It also depends on whether you, like me, have a degree in some unrelated major and are trying to h4xx0r your way into a cush programming job. And it depends on exactly what "software engineer" entails...are you going to be coding missle-control microchips in assembly language, or writing HTML-based web applications?

    My salaries have fallen in the 60-70k range over my brief (4-year) career. Some jobs have had more vacation, some have had better 401k plans, some have had more attractive locations, some have had nicer people, and some have had more demanding schedules.

    I would say that anything over 50K is probably a reasonable starting salary, from my perspective, and assuming that you are probably going to be working someplace in a major metropolitan area and for a company of significant size and influence.

    I had an offer for 32k when I graduated; I was insulted and I didn't take the job. Luckily I found a much better offer elsewhere. Don't sell yourself too short. If you have talent, tenacity, some social skills (you don't come off like a neanderthal cave-coder in interviews), and a lot of luck, you will do just fine.

    Also, if you find that you are getting shut down on a lot of offers, take some time and brush up on your skills. $150 of O'Reilly books saved my career a few years ago.

    Good luck!

    *At the time, I thought of it as "settling." Now, I love it here.
  • Waiting tables... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Supp0rtLinux (594509) <Supp0rtLinux@yahoo.com> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:12PM (#8923827)
    While you could make more waiting tables, as you say, you won't be gathering experince in the process. I'm a sysadmin... have been for 10+ years. It was around year 2 or 3 of experience that I was able to make a salary jump... actually, right after year 3 of experience, my salary doubled. Before being a sysadmin, I drove two trucks. Driving tow trucks paid better. But had I kept driving tow trucks and not moved to computers, I'd be making roughly 25% more now than when I started. And therw wouldn't have been a "3 year, double my salary" opportunity. Sometimes the temporary sacrafice has the long term payoff.

    BTW and FYI: you're in a very competitive market right now. Many development jobs are going overseas and there are a lot of developers with a lot more experience than you have that are looking for work right now. Many have been out of work so long, they'd gladly take the meager offers you're getting. Consider yourself lucky and take an offer. If a better one comes along within 3 months, take it.
  • by Bubblehead (35003) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:14PM (#8923846) Homepage Journal
    SD Magazine [sdmagazine.com] has an excellent 2003 Survey [sdmagazine.com] that slices and dices salaries by age, experience, region, etc. - US only. Free registration required.

  • Re:Likewise (Score:5, Informative)

    by ncc74656 (45571) * <scott@alfter.us> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:16PM (#8923859) Homepage Journal
    I'll be graduating in May as well and the range Ive seen is 45k to 55k

    I started at $40k in January 2002, so the lower end of your range sounds reasonable for today. (It quickly went up from there, to where I was making about 50% more after two years.) As long as your expectations are reasonable (hint: $100k+ for slapping together crappy webpages in FrontPage is not reasonable), you should do OK in today's job market.

  • by No_Censorship (667118) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:16PM (#8923860) Homepage
    $20 an hour is what I've seen. It's enough to live on and actually support a family.
  • by benspikey (658022) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:17PM (#8923876)
    After graduating with a B.S. in computer science and a minor in math the search for work began. I soon found a small company who needed help with their servers and offered a step ladder approach to salary.

    I would start off making around 16 dollars for the first 6 months after which I would be moved to 32 dollars and hour. And within two years promised that I would be up to 45 as lead programmer and network administrator. This seemed to be reasonable as the company wanted to prove my skills. After setting up their small business servers, which has been hacked by a former employee. Correcting multiple problems with routing and storage organization, I was asked to do a network assessment. I pointed out the weakness in their network design, security, and general optimazations that could be made. My employer had me implement these ideas.

    Two weeks before my pay raise to 32 an hour I was asked to do another report on the electronic service. At which time I submitted the report about the improved network security and optimizations that had been made. I was fired the next day. Another employee called me later that night and told me that the business had done this multiple times now.

    My advice for college graduates is be careful what you wish for. Sometimes less pay is better than being screwed by someone. or working for an asshole.

    I have since gone on to complete my masters degree in computer science, opened my own business and to say the least am doing very well.

    If your that talented go do it yourself. If not take the 10 an hour and shut up.
  • Re:Likewise (Score:5, Informative)

    by riptide_dot (759229) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:20PM (#8923894)
    It's hard to quote an average starting salary for anyone, because salaries vary so greatly across regions.

    A salary is based on several factors:
    1) The value of the position to the company (you can't really judge this one, but it matters to your potential employer - keep in mind that not all jobs are "required" for a company to survive and that if an employer decides they can't hire a qualified individual for the money they have allocated, then they might ditch the idea altogether.)
    2) The funds in the company that are available for the headcount.
    3) Your experience in the field of work.
    4) Your education level.
    5) The value of the position in the local market. (e.g. what it cost them to employ the person prior to you, or what it will cost them to hire the next person, or what it will cost them to outsource your job to another country)

    Those are in no particular order, but I would think that the most important from your potential employer's perspective is the amount of money they have available for the position.

    Your value to a potential employer doesn't necessarily pay off right away if you have no experience, since they will have to train you on how their specific environment works. People with real-life experience in a specific environment can command greater salaries because the cost their employer less overall because they require less training and are usually ready to "hit the ground running".

    My advice to you is to consider the whole package, not just the salary when you are scoping out a job. Does the employer offer good benefits? Can they offer you a signing bonus in leiu of a higher salary (it usually comes out of a different budget than the one the salary is paid from)? Is the workplace conducive to you learning a lot so you can become more marketable to your next employer? Will it be a high-stress job? Are the hours flexible? Is it close to your residence?

    While the salary is the most important part of an employment package, there's a lot more to a good job that just it's salary.

    Next time you're eating out, ask your waiter what kind of dental plan, medical plan, or 401k matching plan he has and how much it costs...

    P.S. - I've been a waiter before and most employers don't offer benefits unless you're full time (40+ hours a week), which is rare in a foodservice environment.
  • Labor Board Pubs (Score:3, Informative)

    by PotatoMan (130809) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:22PM (#8923912)
    Every state has a Labor Relations board, or something similar. One of the things they do is gather statistics on salaries. Which they then publish.


    These are usually by state and/or county, but you can sometimes get these reports for the larger metro areas as well. The reports are normally free, or you just pay for postage.


    This is your first stop in salary negotiations.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:24PM (#8923929) Homepage Journal
    if you are in the US.

    Go to your local employment dept.

    They should have many programs to help you, like resume writing, interviewing techniques, how to negotiate, anf they are free.

    You can also get a list of average salaries for your area, as well as have networking opportunities.

    Also, decide what is important to you:

    What your are programming
    or
    the company you work for.

    Now, lets say what you want is a large company, where you will work a pretty regular scedule, 40-50 hours a week.
    Call the HR dept. for the appropriet company, and ask for an Informational interview' with a manager in the appropriet dept., or with an HR person who deals with the IT staff.

    When you get one, show up.
    you are not interviewing for a job..directly.

    Ask questions like, what skills are they loking for. what would a Jr. programmer expect to make, there turnover rate, etc.

    Then send them a thank you card.

    Follow up a month later.

    If this doesn't get you an interview, it will at least give you information you can use to direct your career.
  • by dioscaido (541037) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:25PM (#8923939)
    My offers have been 70-80k/y for software development. I would hope a college student would get at least 50-60k.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:29PM (#8923969)
    As a recent class of '03 graduate, I can say that smart companies still pay reasonable money for good programmers.

    I work for a large (>10k employees) tech company in the SF Bay area. I was offered $78k, with a $3k signing bonus plus a few thousand stock options and standard relocation benefits. My roommate (same school, same year), who works for a much smaller (but still just as selective) company makes about $76k (plus usual up-front benefits).

    The point here is not to toot my own horn, or to say I'm fabulously rich, but to instill some hope that there are still employers willing to pay for good engineers. Even in grim economic times, smart companies will realize that excellent engineers are crucial to future development, and that good engineers want to work for good money. It's not quite the heyday of a few years ago (fellow employees from the same school started at >$90k two years before me), but it still exists.

    One key with larger companies is to find groups within the company that are the most important and require the most technical skill. My salary is certainly not average for an entry engineer at my company, but it is completely average (if not low) for entry engineers in my group.

  • Re:Likewise (Score:2, Informative)

    by linuxhansl (764171) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:30PM (#8923977)
    I agree. I came to San Francisco in 1999 before the .com bubble burst, making around $70k. That hardly was enough to pay for my one-bedroom appartment.

    Now I make about twice that, but in SF would not be considered well off in any way. It's enough for a nice appartment and a nice car, but nothing more.

    A small three bedroom house with no backyard, *outside* of SF goes for $500k-$700k.

    These are all just examples to illustrate the point. $140k in Bay Area is probably worth less than $40k in the Midwest.
  • by batura (651273) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:41PM (#8924072)
    I've had this problem in my recent recruiting adventures. What I found to be the most correct assumption is that if you are looking for a simple programming job, it won't pay much.

    If you search for a job as a software engineer (which you should be prepared for given a 4 year cs degree), the starting salary should be much higher.

    I've recently interviewed for two positions at the same company. The software engineering position paid signifigantly better than the programmer and one of the recruiters and I joked about the likelyhood that the programmer would eventually get outsourced.

    This seems to be a pretty common thread in American companies. Programmers, in the view of corporate America, add lines of code. Software engineers add value, and are much harder to repalce and ofter make much more. Who are you going to replace? Someone who writes codes ``head-down'' all day, or someone who designs the product, meets with customers, documents and eventually programmes?
  • Re:You're worried? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:49PM (#8924121)
    You are talking about the IT monkeys, not real CS. IT monkeys are IT monkeys... and are process driven and trained to connect to a database, fetch data, wrap in html and publish. CS is much more than that, and involves real problem solving skills, critical thinking, abstract though, etc and a sense of doing something "artistic" as well... solving a problem can be done in many ways, some more elegant than others.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:51PM (#8924138)
    I make $45K in LA, and let me tell you, supporting a family on that in SoCal is hard. We pay almost $1000 for a one bedroom apartment in a safe (but not luxurious) neighborhood, where my wife and I live with our toddler and our infant. Things are tight out here; I had to move from San Diego to get this job, and one of my co-workers moved from Silicon Valley. The salary range actually topped out at $40K but the wanted the skillset I was bringing to the table badly enough to come up the extra five. Asking for forty to fifty when the salary range topped out at forty was maybe risky, but I believe they would either go for it or at the worst hire me for forty. They went for it, and that extra five thousand really helps.

    Now, if a person lives in, say, Iowa, or Utah, or, really, a lot of places other than California, then $45K is not bad at all. But around here, it's not easy.
  • Re:ask for a lot (Score:3, Informative)

    by sheetsda (230887) <doug.sheets@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:52PM (#8924142)
    ask for a lot you have to make all your money before the job is outsourced.

    On the other hand asking for a lot will likely speed up the process. (Not that you can even hope to compete)

    -From someone else who's graduating in 2 weeks without a job (yet).
  • by spoco2 (322835) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:56PM (#8924167)
    Exactly, it's not like they are THAT hard to find...

    For instance, in Australia:

    Here's an EXCELLENT resource at... gee... the most popular job search site in Australia, took me all of 5 minutes to track down:

    http://careerone.com.au/resources/index/0,8526,dol larssense,00.html [careerone.com.au]

    If you can't be bothered to look up these things, then I don't think you deserve to know... or get paid much.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:57PM (#8924174)
    $20/hour can mean a lot of different things. If it is a unionized government job with benefits in a low cost of living area-it wouldn't be too bad. I can easily see how that wouldn't go far in New York City or Silicon Valley-even for a single guy.
  • Re:Likewise (Score:3, Informative)

    by bbambrey (582419) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @08:58PM (#8924186)
    I am a recent college grad (may 2003) and I will list some of the details of my graduating class.

    School: A Top school in Texas
    Major: MIS

    Most of our class did get jobs.(mostly in Texas).

    The range seemed to be from 35k-40k and 44k-55k. The lower range were in smaller towns at smaller companies while the larger ones were at larger companies in larger towns.

    The workload/benefits varied tremedously and not because of the size of the business. Some people work 45 hours a week and don't have to travel while some work 60 hours and travel as part of the job.

    I won't lie when I say it was hard for us all to find jobs...... and every single person that has a job spent a long time and many hours looking for one. We worked together on resumes and made friends with our career advisors.... we joined organization etc...

    I will leave with one interesting note. The highest GPA in our class did not get a job.... They had zero work experience of any kind and nobody wanted them.

    I think in the end you have to look at all the options and pick the one that's right for you. I make 45k work 40 hours a week and have room for advancement at a large company in a major TX city I love my job. Good luck!!
  • by bettlebrox (264668) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:11PM (#8924275) Homepage Journal
    I believe they already do pay more for college.

    I went to a State College in Mass, and the foreign students paid 3 - 4 times what domestic students paid. Plus out of state students paid double what Mass students.

  • rate (Score:2, Informative)

    by sewagemaster (466124) <sewagemaster&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:14PM (#8924290) Homepage
    pretty much the same as an entry level EE
    in the US, 50k USD
    in canada, 50k canadian $ with half of your money gone to government as taxes.

    yes, i'm in canada.
  • Cost of Living Index (Score:5, Informative)

    by tiltowait (306189) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:34PM (#8924439) Homepage Journal
    Yahoo's Neighborhood Profiles [yahoo.com] section, searchable by zip code, has lots of nice data if you're pricing a job.
  • by pompousjerk (210156) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:42PM (#8924501)
    http://www.amazon.com/.../jrjcriticaldo-20...

    Grrr.

    Without the Amazon-referer whoring:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:46PM (#8924528)
    Motorola starts off at 45-55k for Chicago-area degreed (CS, CE, EE) candidates. Benefits are pretty good, if they want you bad enough they'll relocate you. 40 hour work week is normal; you'll work more for product releases, but can get away with less during dead time to make up for it.

    I got hired in with 400 shares of stock option as well... of course, those were at the $8 per share price, not the current $16-20 range. So they're worth a bit.

    I work for their automotive electronics group as a EE, and make the high end of that range, but from talking to other people hired in at the same time as I am, the 45-55k number is pretty accurate.
  • In Chicago area (Score:3, Informative)

    by jrexilius (520067) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:46PM (#8924532) Homepage
    $40k is a median for coprorate IT entry level. Maybe $50k if it is heavy tech oriented company and you have good skills. That is a bit above the norm for worthless business and other liberal arts degrees and very easy to live off (but no Mercedes yet).

    In DC, New York, and SF you should add on maybe $10k.

  • by apok04 (630953) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:52PM (#8924592)
    Your number for Accenture seems low. I just got an offer from them for $3200/mo, which works out to almost $40k per year, and I'm only an intern. just FYI.

  • by SquierStrat (42516) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:53PM (#8924598) Homepage
    I have some fairly wealthy friends (meaning a net worth over over 1,000,000), and all of them got that way by starting out at the bottom of the rung, and then getting a second part time job doing things like, waiting tables, or this one guy even mowed lawns and cleaned gutters! The pattern went like this with almost all of them: sorry entry level job with horrible pay + a second part time job - eventually ditch the part time job inf avor of better pay and more hours at the first job, this sometimes occurred after job change on the main job - through hard work and sacrifice they moved up the ladder in their respective fields some were promoted through the chain, some went off and started their own businesses.

    Lesson? If you can't find something better, be thankful for what you CAN get. If the money is not enough and it is the field you want to be in, then get a job waiting tables to supplement it (BTW, how low is this pay that waiting tables will pay more?! Geez that's sad cause I've waited tables and I made more money fixing computers and setting up networks in my spare time.) If it is what you want to do, then you do what you have to do to do what you want and make ends meet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @09:53PM (#8924600)
    Our human resources throws away the resumes that mention open source projects. We had the issue of the guy dedicating too much time to his pet project instead of doing 40 hours of coding a week.

    There's also the issue of code reuse, since what if you develop an open source text editor, for example, and then your company gets into text editor business (lame example, I know) and we become liable because of you having seen the GPL code?

    Slashdotters tend to ridicule Steve Ballmer for calling open source cancer, but this is business, and the purpose is to make money. We explicitly ask about open source projects at the interviews, and request the candidates give up any coding outside of company premises.
  • by metlin (258108) * on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:06PM (#8924708) Journal
    I do not know the position that you are seeking to apply, but if you are looking for any engineering position with a 4 year bachelor's degree in something like engineering or the sciences, you would get about $55,000 at HP (starting salary).

    I've heard that Intel pays a little more, but maybe not more than $60k.

    It would really depend on how much experience you have, what is it that you are looking for, the area you seek to work in and your degree.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:10PM (#8924753)
    Does anyone know what the starting salary is at Cisco?

    Ha! Right now, you'd be lucky just to get an interview. The managers are happy just to be allowed to hire someone. Notice what link is missing from their main web page?

    On the other hand, when's the last time you've heard of Cisco doing mass layoffs? Just the one time back in 2001. Compare with Sun, who get 2 billion from Microsoft, just in time for a new round of layoffs.

  • Salary.com (Score:3, Informative)

    by the_rev_matt (239420) <slashbot@NosPAm.revmatt.com> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:13PM (#8924776) Homepage
    Check Salary.com [salary.com] to get a pretty good idea based on your skillset. It doesn't hurt to check with monster/dice/computerjobs/etc but the ranges listed there are often meaningless. Salary.com is generic enough that there will be some flux in rates, but it's a good general guide. For example, in my city Programmer I (entry level programmer, fresh out of college for example) is going to make between $42K and $55K/yr. Frankly, that sounds high for someone right out of college, but in some markets that's the going rate. To put it in perspective, the median US *household* income (meaning this includes dual income families) is $42K/yr so right out of the gate you're doing better than most people.
  • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:15PM (#8924785) Homepage
    My starting salary at a (non-union) govt. job with great benefits in NYC was about 45k (little over $20 an hour). It was hard to live on that much but with 2 incomes it was doable.
  • Re:Likewise (Score:3, Informative)

    by aastanna (689180) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:29PM (#8924880)
    I'm in Canada and 50k is the typical rate I'm seeing for myself and my class mates. Computer engineering, with co-op experience.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:38PM (#8924936)
    My starting salary at a (non-union) govt. job with great benefits in NYC was about 45k (little over $20 an hour). It was hard to live on that much but with 2 incomes it was doable.

    It also depends on your standard of living and your debt load. I'm making just under 40K/yr and living in NYC. You can't live in the nice part of Manhattan with that kind of salary unless you share a place, or pay off a car loan or big student loans, and you won't be saving much, but it is possible to live on that income even in Manhattan (I am). I'd rather make 40K/yr and live in Madison, WI (aside from the worst part of Winter, it's actually very nice there), but oh well. :)
  • by Courageous (228506) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:42PM (#8924967)

    I must have conducted a hundred interviews, and help hire two dozen programmers. Before the "dot bomb," it was not that unusual to see $55K right out of college. To my knowledge (which is a bit thin, I haven't hired _lately_), it still is in this neighborhood, if you have a C.S. or C.E. degree from a major institution with good grades.

    One word of notice, though. You didn't mention _WHERE_. That's a very important missing piece, because the wages vary dramatically across the U.S. My area is San Diego. If you're willing to move, send me a resume at joekraska@san.rr.com and I will look at it.

    The work is defense related, and will require a clearance. Things are very good at my company, however things in San Diego aren't so hot that the company is paying relo very often. But one never knows. We're adding staff left and right...

    C//
  • by the morgawr (670303) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:49PM (#8925001) Homepage Journal
    One thing I forgot: if you have loans, morgages, or credit card dept that carry intest, you want to pay that off ASAP before investing. (Obviously if you can get 7% per year investing and the intrest on your credit card is 15% it makes sense to pay it off first; but some people don't see this....)
  • From my experience (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:51PM (#8925020)
    (posted anonymously to protect innocent and guilty alike)

    Let me start by saying that I live in a mid size city in north carolina where the standard of living is about 1.2, meaning that on average you'll pay 120% here compared to the American mean for stuff.

    I've known quite a few programmers that have switched jobs or been laid off recently. I'm also a business technology consultant with a good feeling of my client's business needs in a market threatened by IT ventures still acting like dot-commers (Some of our biggest competition in the local market are small shops doing entirely out of the box open source integration to give you an idea)

    As a result of all this I have a pretty good idea what people in this area are making; when I hear what our competitor is charging for their hourly rate, I can figure out what their hourly wage is likely to be given their overhead, etc.

    Right now it appears that the going rate for a wet behind the ears programmer maxes out at about $35K a year. Experience is worth a lot; 5 years will get you to about $50K.

    FYI, the best Indian outsourcers are charging $25-$30 an hour. Let's say a hypothetical IT worker is making $100K a year, then in this industry you would have to charge from $135 to $175 an hour to turn a profit, if that gives a good comparison for what the Indian IT outsourcers are likely paying their people... open source shops with relatively unexperienced workers are pulling from $50 to $85 an hour.
  • by bigbadbob0 (726480) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @10:52PM (#8925021)
    I just graduated a few weeks ago with a CS degree from the UC system. 3.93 GPA. Been working in-industry for some 7 years holding down a few good internships. I've never worked retail or waited tables.

    I had two offers straight out of school; I only interviewed at one company. The first offer came from my intern employer. 55k + 3 weeks vacation + benefits. The second offer came after an interview. Let's just say it was -well- worth leaving my internship. Both offers were with great companies that had great talent on their team. But as has been said here already, money talks. I'm in the SF bay area.

    Experience is everything. I had built up my network of people resources over the past 7 years and when it came time to find a real job I tapped into just one person in the network. Employers will pay good money for talented engineers. Proving your talent isn't always easy.
  • by infinite9 (319274) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @11:05PM (#8925089)
    PhD

    When you reach the top of that mountain, thousands of indians already there will greet you. :-)

    does having OSS development on your resumé improve your chances?

    I doubt it. There is cool factor that may help you in an interview, but landing the interview is the hard part. Maybe it matters if the job requires linux development experience.

    Do employers look at it as 'real experience' like as if I had been been employed?

    Employers will look for any reason they can to exclude experience from your resume because it weakens your negotiating position. I've been coding real-world since I was 19. I can't count the number of times I've been asked how much post-graduation experience I've had, as if I magically became qualified that day.

    Really what is it all worth? For anyone hiring what are you looking for?

    For a contract, show me the money. For a direct position: Are you stable? Are you assholes? That's about it.

    Would say that a Philosophy degree brings a little something more to the table

    No. Maybe if the interviewer also has a philosophy degree, you could use that as common ground for building a relationship. It may help you get your foot in the door. But I really doubt it.

    How about non-CS job experience?

    No. Not unless there's a lot of management experience or business specific experience. For example, working on the floor of an exchange may help you get an IT job at an exchange. This could be a big factor. If it's unrelated though, it will probably be ignored.

    brian (a jaded IT consultant with 14 years of experience considering a career change to auto repair)
  • Re:ask for a lot (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @11:37PM (#8925282)
    Yes, but it took longer to become independent. And now, in Australia, we can't even carry guns. Free? Less and less every day.
  • by ChiChiCuervo (2445) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @11:48PM (#8925340) Homepage
    Another good reason not to get into credit card debt in college...

    bad credit = no clearances.

    If i could get a clearance, you wouldn't be able to STOP me from relocating to San Diego.
  • by jokerghost (467848) on Tuesday April 20, 2004 @11:54PM (#8925368)
    As an Intelligence geek for the AF, I feel I should throw my two cents in here.

    If you do want to be an intel geek, go officer. They have a pretty awesome responsibility, and plus- you're an officer! (Better pay, more of an opportunity to actually use your critical thinking and analysis skills) The AF Specialty Code (AFSC) for that is 14N (that'll come in handy when talking to a recruiter)

    If you want to be enlisted (perish the thought with a college degree!!), here's a brief description of the fields:

    1N0 - Briefers. These guys have to know a ton, and do some fairly cool planning stuff.
    1N1 - Imagery (what's that blob mean??)
    1N2 - Morse-Code... I don't reccommend this job, as it's being phased out, and just lost it's entire signing bonus
    1N3 - Linguist - learn to speak Arabic, Chineese, or a plethora of other ("enemy") languages
    1N4 - Intel Analyist... I'm not really sure what these guys do, but I'm told it's important!
    1N5 - "Electronic Signals Explotation Operative"... This is what I do- basically the study/explotation of RADAR systems :)
    1N6 - "Systems Security".... like reading peoples' email and then ratting them out for violating security proceedures?? That's what these people do!

    In short, About.com [about.com] is a great resource to use when thinking about joining the military... There's a lot of "minor" things recruiters leave out, so be sure to do your homework first!

    Furthermore, when you're waiting for a clearance, expect to wait a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG time. Especially if it's a Top Secret one. Some bases will let you work with an Interim (temporary) clearance, and some won't... If the base you end up at is in the latter category, expect to be waiting over a year, doing nothing related to your job.

    -Jokerghost
  • by Malc (1751) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @12:01AM (#8925409)
    I thought the US was supposed to have low taxes! You're talking of an average tax rate of 33%. I'm earning a lot more than that but living in Canada... my average tax rate is 26%, although the marginal rate has topped out at 43%. I felt like I was getting a better deal when I moved here from the States, now you've confirmed it! To think my taxes actually include something useful like decent health care.
  • by Courageous (228506) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @12:06AM (#8925440)
    Hrm. Have you tried? My credit wasn't spectacular when I first got my clearance. Just having a bunch of debt doesn't mean "bad credit," although a shotgun of of recent and repeated 60-90 days might. If you haven't tried, and are worried that don't you might be rejected, you might try contacting the closest branch "Defense Investigative Services" and simply level with them. You might pull your own credit report, get the score, and just tell them that you are interested in a clearance and wondered if it would impact you. Or... you can have the same conversation with a Security Officer at a defense company. They exist to help people out, and they _want_ you to have a clearance.

    One bit of advice: in getting a clearance, it is _always_ better to tell the truth than lie-and-get-caught.

    C//

  • by Anonymous Coed (8203) <planders@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @12:22AM (#8925557)
    Pay off credit cards before investing, yes. Pay off mortgages, no, not really. In general the tax advantages of mortgages outweigh the benefits of paying off early. Basically, when your mortgage is paid off, your equity (ownership) is tied up in your house. Which you can't really access unless you SELL your house. Have a reasonable mortgage you can afford and then invest the rest in stocks or funds. Hell, if your house is already paid off, get another mortgage and invest the cash in stocks! You can generally get a mortgage for about 7%, and if you're halfway awake you can get at least 10% from stocks.
  • salary.com (Score:3, Informative)

    by Servo (9177) <dstringf@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @12:33AM (#8925615) Journal
    I actually had the old HR guy at my current employer tell me to check out Salary.com when I was transferring to a new area. It was very helpful in figuring out what I should be making with my position.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @12:40AM (#8925662)
    The easiest (and most accurate) way to determine a salary is to use the IEEE USA Salary Calculator. It's free to IEEE USA members who answer the survey themselves.
  • by solarrhino (581267) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @12:54AM (#8925723) Homepage Journal
    The people estimating 33% are just guessing, and are probably wrong. According to page of 11 of this year's special report [taxfoundation.org] from taxfoundation.org [taxfoundation.org], the average Californian's tax burden as a percentage of income in 2004 is about 28.4%, and that includes everything. The rate for a family of 3 with 45k usd is probably lower than that.

    I don't know your situation (obviously) but page 13 of that same report mentions that Canada's "Tax Freedom day" - the day that the average Canadian has earned enough to pay all of the taxes for that year - in 2003 fell in the 178th day of the year, June 27th. That's even worse than Britain's "TFD", which will be on the 163th day of the year, June 11th. Contrast that with the US "TFD", which was on April 11th. So the US tax rates are lower than Canada's after al - lower by a couple of months!

    Of course, they are all still way too high. Even God Almighty only asks for a tithe.

  • by fishdan (569872) * on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:03AM (#8925784) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I'll bite. I agree high level of skill is a relative term -- but I think he was implying that his skill level is high relative to the general populance, not the rest of the developers out there. I've found more idiots applying for programming jobs without CS degrees, than with though I agree there are idiots a plenty in both categories

    Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. -- Rich Cook.

    All I really know, is that the people who show up with a degree in English, and want to code, rarely work out.

    If you don't mind the advice, I think the problem may lie in how you interview. It's hard to do a good interview for a programing job, especially for those of us who still consider ourselves coders, but the preperations will pay off.

    I ask the usual character questions -- do you like Star Trek? Could Superman beat up Darth Vader? Do you think it's ok to put mustard on a Roast Beef sandwich? And so on. (kidding of course).

    I also do a whiteboard test of language neutral tasks. Using an OO language the interviewee and I make up on the spot (syntax only of course) we build a program that can, given a list of all the flights in the US, tell you the fastest way to get from point A to point B, at any given time. If they actualy understand the math [hawaii.edu], that's even better, but I'll settle for us making progress towards a solution, and seeing their designs. I also do a Meta-language example, where we, on the whiteboard , build a Turing machine (though I don't call it that during the interview, we just talk about rules for our machine) that will be able to recognize certain things. I also will frequently run Robocode [ibm.com] and then looking at the API with the interviewee, ask about the robot they would make.

    I agree that this sort of stuff does give the CS grad an advantage -- they've probably had discrete math, and ougta understand nodes, edges and the pumping lemma. But I think that these concepts are generic enough that a person with no "formal" training can still arrive at good answers. I also think though that this reveals the CS students who can parrot what they heard but didn't "understand." I find these sort of thngs very valuable in revealing CS majors who can talk the talk, but can't code their way out of a wet paper bag. I'm not saying I've never hired a dud, but I can say (knok on wood) so far I've avoided the "negative work" employee, who is so bad it takes another developer to fix everything this 1st guy broke. As for the entry level positions, and salary, I wrote some thoughts [slashdot.org] about essential skills. If you have the skills I describe, you should take the job, and start working -- you'll get promoted quickly. And none of that has to do with a degree -- it's attitude.

    in fact, like backov, I'm wary of too much education --if you have a BS and an MS in CS I'm wary of you. I'll want to know why you didn't go work right away with a BS. If you have a BS in CS, I'm gonna want to know what programs you made for yourself, for pleasure, and not for school. You should have a simple website somewhere too. PLEASE have a web site somewhere. If you don't have your resume available from your home page, along with a few other docs, you won't do well in this field. And if you're just out of college, you should have a student web page right? Finally, you probably know if you're a star or not. If you are indeed a star, take the job if it's cool, and don't worry about the money. Learn from the greybeards around, and realize that you're gonna fly the coop soon enough anyway. Most developers get their best raises by constantly switching jobs. If you're not a star, friggin RECOGNIZE that, and embrace your roll as a "behind th

  • by cubicledrone (681598) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:12AM (#8925834)
    You're talking of an average tax rate of 33%.

    YEP!! and that's just payroll. Then we get to the fun taxes like sales, property, gas, electricity, telephone, natural gas, cable, capital gains, interest, inventory, self-employment, county, city, vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, etc.
  • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:28AM (#8925916)
    The national average for all "white-collar/technical" professions is $27.15/hour ($56k). However, in most metro areas, it is around $30 ($62k). Out of college, you should expect about 15% less than average or between $48k and $52k with some prior experience--although many, many people will be more than happy to offer you $26.5k. The point is, you should be able to hit the mean within three years. Don't let ANYONE tell you otherwise. If you are offered less than 15% below the aggregate mean (that is, everyone, not just IT) for your area, laugh hysterically as they watch your ass walk out the door. In most metro areas, that's about $45k, so 15% less is about $19/hour. Really, it's quite therapeutic and they deserve it. Another nice rule-of-thumb is if the salary is less than you paid for tuition, move on. If you went to a school like Georgetown that routinely offers jobs requiring master's degrees for $27k, which is less than a single year of undergrad tuition, you know what I'm talking about.

    Look here to get detailed information on actual wages in your area:

    http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ocs/home.htm
  • by stmfreak (230369) <stmfreak AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:31AM (#8925923) Journal
    Parent is great summary, but missed:

    No interview or degree can filter out the good from the bad worker.


    I'm not talking about "can they do it" but "will they." There are many highly qualified, techinically skilled individuals who just ... fall apart after college. For people without references vouching for their dedication, work ethic, ability to pitch-in until the job is done, low pay is a way for companies to cut their losses.

    After 1-3 years, employers can tell whether you are a superstar or a waste of their time and the salary potential rapidly increases. This is why you have to shop carefully for opportunity, technology, funding and such. Choose your company wisely because if you get laid off in six to twelve months, you'll be starting over to some degree.

    But don't sweat the low pay, think of it as getting paid for your continuing education. You will be learning for the next few years (hopefully more) or else you won't be seeing six figure salaries any time soon.
  • wrong (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:50AM (#8926017) Homepage Journal
    Pay off your house. If it's allowed in your state, homestead it.

    You forget that once the house is paid off, you'll have more to invest. Plus, when tough times hit(they will) you won't have to worry about loosing your house. If neccessary, you can get a night job to pay taxes. Double your payment, we're talking about 7 years.

    So instead of getting 3% total for thirty years(10% gain,minus the 7% spent on mortgage) you get 10% starting 7 years from now. Much better 30 years down the road.

    Now some people will suggest you can write off the interest, for those people I remind them:
    1) the percentage only comes off your gross, you do not get all the interest back.
    2) You will save more throughout the year without a house payment, then you will by getting a larger return at the end of the year.

    Also, buy the most expensive house you can afford, buy the cheapest car you can get away with.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:54AM (#8926035) Homepage Journal
    again salary does not automatically exempt you from overtime.
    Most state have some very specific requirements for not getting overtime, regardless of how you are paid.

    Look them up at your stateboard.

    however, if you work in IT, and make over around 28 bucks an hour, there is a federal law that states you don't have to be paid time and a half.

    Another reason why we need a union. So we have representation in congress.
  • by Mad Marlin (96929) <cgore@cgore.com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @01:59AM (#8926056) Homepage
    This seems like insanity.

    Yeah, planning for the future, what a crackpot.

    Anything could happen in 40 years, including your death ...

    The average lifespan in the US is in the mid-70's. I assume he intends to at least make average (I personally intend to live forever: so far, so good).

    ... make anyone else want to slit their wrists?

    At least then you wouldn't need to be fiscally responsible.

    And besides, $100 a month is not small change ...

    No kidding dude, thats, like, 20 lattes.

    ... hitting yourself in the head ... increase your value to an employer.

    Seriously though.
    $100.00 per month.
    40 years.
    5% return.
    You will have $152,602.02 at the end.
    Really. Don't you just love compound interest?

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Informative)

    by cubicledrone (681598) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:12AM (#8926115)
    Did you also add up all of your deductions that the recent college graduate doesn't have?

    My taxes were right at 35% payroll only at my last W-4 job. Why? I had no deductions, credits or write-offs.

    The government publishes the tax tables every year. Fact.
  • by IthnkImParanoid (410494) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:33AM (#8926185)
    My starting salary at a non-union state university job was 43K, but I live in a small town with a rent under $300 a month. Yet another reason I could never live in NY....
  • In Chengdu, China... (Score:3, Informative)

    by davevr (29843) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:27AM (#8926420) Homepage
    ...the going rate for a programmer with a Master's Degree and two years of working experience (typically in some game start-up) is around US$2,400 per year.

    Of course, in Chengdu you can get a pretty good box lunch for $0.50, and some companies will provide housing (dorm-style)

    I have a friend there who is hiring. If you are interested, I will pass your resume on to him. But I should warn you that there is a lot of competition. ;-)

    Moving ahead, your most important decision could be "Do I prefer Indian food or Chinese food?"

  • by Blackjax (98754) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @04:07AM (#8926545)
    The poster said NYC not Manhattan. Keep in mind that there are 4 boros other than manhattan and some are cheaper than others.
  • by spotter (5662) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @05:34AM (#8926802)
    actually less, in the $1300, but I have the significantly bigger bedroom so I pay a bigger percentage (and my rent is actually $690)

    one doesn't have to live on the upper east/west sides or midtown (where rents are crazy). There are plenty of decent/safe neighborhoods within manhattan that have decent rents.
  • HR point of view (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @06:35AM (#8926997)
    As a HR professional (HR consultant, specialized in pay/reward systems) I might be able to give you a funded answer. However my data is limited to the Dutch labour market 2003/4.

    First, a person 'fresh' from college might be very promising for an employer. However, the employer cannot be sure. In the typical Dutch situation you will be offered a short-term labour contract (3 months, up to 1 year) with a yearly salary of roughly 25000 to 30000 euro's mainly depending on how profitable the business is (Your CV, experience, personalilty do matter for finding a job, base salary is often more depending on the success of the business)

    This salary is before taxes, etc. You will probably get 1200-1500 euro's a month and a yearly holiday benefit of roughly a little less than your monthly payment.

    The thing with graduated employees is, if you fit into the business and your performance is reasonably well, you will get a more secure labour contract and your salary will grow 10% a year (average) for about 4 years. After that your salary is more depending on career-motivation, employee-employer-fit, business success, etc.

    My first thing of advice would be: Ask yourself who you are and ask yourself in wich environement you fit best. Look for people, not salary. Even the type of work is not easy to select on. Keep an open mind for different work. After a year you can tell for sure if you like your work (mostly).

    I hope my comment is helpful.

    Daïm
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @06:44AM (#8927023) Homepage
    $20.00 an hour is a GOOD salary for a fresh programmer out of college in the midwest. It's below starting in the vally.

    I.E. the amount you mentioned is a worthless number... it depends on the area you live.

    $20.00 an hour in the upper midwest a single guy can live pretty rich, yet you will qualify for foodstamps and not afford anything in the valley.

    I suggest that the person asking do some real research and find the real rates... many temp agencies or staffing companies have salary sheets for the US that shows the metro areas and what they make.

    I would make another $10.00 an hour if I moved 200 miles east to detriot. and an additional $15.00 if I moved west to chicago..

    but then my cost of living will increase by the same amount. my $90,000.00 home will cost $160,000.00 in a detroit suburb and $240,000.00 in a good chicago suburb.

    I make less than $20.00 an hour and can afford 2 homes (one on a lake) and new cars (sane new cars) every 4 years plus I can buy crap whenever I want.

    in chicago, I could barely afford the house payment alone.

    the amount of money you make is much less important than the area you live in. $100.00 for groceries for a family of 3 for two weeks and gasoline at $1.71 a gallon while everyone else is closer to the $2.00 mark and nice homes realistically priced compared to overinflated prices near "popular" metro areas.

    I'd rather make my $19.50 an hour here than making $40.00 an hour in California... I have more fun here.
  • You're crazy! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @08:45AM (#8927610)
    You've got TWO offers and you haven't accepted one yet?? Unless the offers were for $10/h or less, I can see no reason for grabbing them. Maybe you don't understand the situation in this country well enough.

    I graduated last May, and after interning for almost a year, working 8 hour days and then coming home and working for 5 more hours sending out resumes and practicing programming (cause I wasn't doing much of that during the day) I was really lucky to find an awesome job that pays 50K (I'm in NYC), but that's an exception. I know plenty of good, smart people that graduated from better colleges with better GPA's that were not able to find ANY job doing programming. In fact, out of everybody I know my graduating class, only one other person is also doing programming - and she gets 30/year on a government job, and couldn't be happier.

    The market is THAT BAD. You must've noticed the whole 'outsourcing' thing going on, and the fact that many SENIOR programmers here in American who've been jobless for months and even years, would be happy to go for the same 40K jobs that we want.

    Take the best offer you got, work your ass off, sharpen your skills, become GOOD at what you do, and you'll see money in the future, one way or the other.
  • by Tozog (599414) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @08:59AM (#8927727)
    The tax "advantage" of a mortgage does not outweigh the benefits. You only can deduct your interest payments. Assuming you fall in the 28% tax bracket, you are basically paying $1 in interest to save 30 cents.

    Shamelessly ripped from Suze Orman (crazy crack fiend that she is, she has good advice).

    "If you can manage just one extra mortgage payment a year you can cut a 30-year mortgage at 6 percent down to about 25 years and a 15 year mortgage will be paid off in 13 years. That translates into huge savings on the interest payments. And I mean huge: you'll avoid paying more than $35,000 in interest on the 30-year."
    http://biz.yahoo.com/pfg/e02credit/art042.html [yahoo.com]

    If you were to pay that $35,000 in interest for the extra 5 years, you would "save" 9,800 over the 5 years in taxes (at 28%, slightly higher for higher tax brackets, 16,800 at 48%). Which sounds better, $35,000 in savings or $9,800 ?

    Granted, if you have to decide between paying down your credit cards or your mortgage, do the credit cards. Always pay the highest interest first.
  • I started at: (Score:3, Informative)

    by Morologous (201459) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @09:05AM (#8927784)
    43.5k a year (as a programmer with a political science degree) and my friend (a computer science degree holder) started at 47.9k. We both had internships with different companies during the last two years of college, and were hired by those companies after graduation. Keep in mind, this was in summer 2000.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tiroth (95112) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @09:07AM (#8927797) Homepage
    You are forgetting about the 7.65% you pay directly out of your payroll, plus numerous other smaller taxes that aren't "EIT" but have the same effect, such as state unemployment insurance etc.
  • My Job (Score:3, Informative)

    by Paulrothrock (685079) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @09:11AM (#8927824) Homepage Journal
    I just started a job with a state agency doing web dev (Java and Coldfusion) $43K + benefits + job security. Oh, and a general pay increase in July.

    Government jobs rule.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @09:39AM (#8928106)
    As I Canadian I would just like to point out that although our taxes are fairly high, and probably a bit higher than those in the US, they are certainly not as high as suggested here - they are not half of our income. The information in the quoted link points out that the "Tax Freedom Day" in different countries is computed by different methods by different groups, and should not be compared country to country. Also, the "Fraser Institute", which computes the Canadian "Tax Freedom Day", is not an impartial study organization, but rather a well-known Canadian right-wing group which (IMO) exaggerates problems with issues like taxes in order to further its political cause.
  • by minton (644094) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @09:51AM (#8928220)
    There's one thing you can buy at 20 that you can't buy later......time. The compounded interest on your money is one of the best investments you can make.

    Also, if your employer has a 401k, enroll in it as soon as possible. At a minimum, try to put in the same amount your employer will match, if any. This alone doubles your savings. Then every time you get a raise, put a good percentage of that raise into your 401k. Before you know it, you'll have your contribution rate maxed out and be well on your way to a decent retirement fund. For example, if you get a 2% raise, up your 401k contribution by 1% or 2%.

    Someone gave me this advice when I graduated 15 years ago and I'm very thankful to them and that I listened.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @10:04AM (#8928362)
    Assume you make $50k in California. At 28.4%, that means you would pay a little over $14k in taxes. According to IRS 1040, with taxable income of $50k, the tax burden is $9k. That means you'd need to pay $5k in state taxes. Of course, in real life, a person with $50k gross income probably wouldn't have taxable income of $50k. Even the standard deduction is about 7k, which reduces your tax by 2k. So now you're paying 7k Federal, and 7k state. I doubt it. If you're married filing jointly, or have kids, the tax burden is even less. Using an average tax burden is very misleading, and the Tax Foundation's calculations are even more misleading. A median would be a much better indicator, but you'll never see that used by the Tax Foundation!
  • Re:wrong (Score:4, Informative)

    by Karl Cocknozzle (514413) <kcocknozzle@hotma i l . com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @10:10AM (#8928421) Homepage
    You forget that once the house is paid off, you'll have more to invest. Plus, when tough times hit(they will) you won't have to worry about loosing your house.

    The biggest advantage you have of owning a place free and clear is that banks will bend over backwards to loan you money against that property. With a house you own outright, you can invest in other properties with the flexibility of buying those properties for cash. (Remember, you're using cash from a mortgage on your first house.)

    This is a best of both worlds scenario, because now you're carrying one loan, but own two houses. AND since the investment property isn't carrying the loan (its against your residence) you don't get screwed for the "investor's premium" of 1.5-2% that lenders normally charge for mortgages on "investment property." Plus you're in a better position to negotiate when buying, since your offer contains no financing contingencies and consists of 100% cash.
  • by Chelloveck (14643) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @10:19AM (#8928526) Homepage
    Your calculation should include a lot of insurance money to get to the same level a canadian gets from just his taxes.

    Right. Looking at my pay for 2003, 19% went to taxes (federal and state) and 13% went to my co-payment of medical benefits. Added together that's a 32% hit taken out of my gross pay.

    So US taxes may be lower than Canadian but net take-home pay is roughly the same percentage.

  • Negotiation (Score:3, Informative)

    by cafebabe (151509) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @10:25AM (#8928606)
    Negotiate your ass off to get as high in the range as possible. Many grads don't want to be rude so they don't press companies on their offers. A common attitude of students is "Oh well, I might be coming in at 45K instead of 50K but after I start working, the company will see how valuable I am and bump me up to where I belong."

    A word of advice: They won't.

    What I've seen is that everyone gets the same raise +/- a couple of percentage points so the spread between the people who were hired low and the people who were hired high just keeps growing. The difference between developer A hired in at $45000 and developer B hired in at $55000 might be $10000 at the start but, assuming they each get a 5% raise each year, that gap grows to $13000 by year 5. The lower your starting salary, the larger the amount you will be underpaid the whole time you work for that company.
  • by AnswerIs42 (622520) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @10:38AM (#8928735) Homepage
    Really? "No Standard Contracts"? *looks at his CP1 standard contractor contract* Hmm, this 80 page contract must be a figment of my imagination.

    Anyway, the base rate formula is listed in it as well. It is Degree(s) + Number of years working = pay grade

    So for example, a Masters in Engineering + 1 year (for a graduate) = ~ $19/hour

    In my case, Associate of Science + 9 years = ~ $26/hour. If I were to finish my Bachelors I would add about $4/hour more to my rate. And for each year I work I am adding $1 to my rate.

  • by danila (69889) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @05:10PM (#8933541) Homepage
    FYI, in Soviet Russia there were about 16 or so levels that are still used today in government and state-owned organisations. The system is called "Unified Tariff Scale". It might not be the most efficient system, but it works.

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