Matt Kander

Dev, Motion Designer, YouTuber

How Much Money Do 'Normal' Software Engineers Make?

It seems all the rage for FAANG employees share their $300k, total comp salary packages, but what about the regular Joe/Joann's living outside of the Silicon Valley bubble? How do they compare?
It’s a different story for us, so here’s a transparent look at salary progression from a software developer who’s dabbled in the New Zealand and European markets.
After seeing that Buffer has a completely transparent salary policy publicly listing every employee salary I wanted to contribute. The more open we are with money, the better we can understand our value and negotiate from an informed position. For those looking for jobs in NZ or Europe, I hope this provides some valuable data points.
For a bit of context as to how my background may effect an offer - I graduated from a New Zealand University with two degrees. The first in Business - double major in Marketing and Information Systems, the other in Science - major in Computer Science, minor in Psychology.
When looking at these salaries, keep in mind location, company size and my experience level at the time. The highest salaries obviously come from large companies in major cities and all salaries are calculated yearly.

The Student Job - 35k NZD / 22k USD

Webvine
Part time web developer - HTML / CSS / JS
35k NZD / 22k USD
This was my first foray into web, a part time job whilst I was studying - converting design assets into pixel perfect representations. ‍
The Internship - 55k NZD / 35,306 USD
Healthlink - Software for medical professionals
Java, HTML, CSS, JS, Angular
My first internship at a proper software development company. The only other interns in my cohort that were paid more were those in companies like Dell, Mozilla, Atlasssian and Rocketwerkz. The ones at Mozilla got a top spec MacBook Pro or XPS 15 to keep. We got a pretty snazzy t-shirt.

The Graduate Offers - 70k NZD / 45k USD

I received three job offers after I graduated, all for front end positions:
Healthlink - 65k NZD / 41,726 USD
Xero (accountancy software) 65k NZD / 41,726 USD + stock options
Spark (telecommunication provider) 70k NZD / 45k USD
I went with Spark in the end, primarily because at Xero I would have been sitting in the marketing team as opposed to a dev team. At the time I valued mentorship and exposure to agile environments.
After a year and a bit, it was time to spread my wings overseas. At this time I had one year of React experience in a highly performant agile team, so I was coming at interviews with a bit more confidence and gusto.

The European Offers - 55k Euro / 50k USD

I interviewed with CCP games in Norway, Massive Entertainment in Malmo, Epidemic Sound in Stockholm and Blue Byte studios in Cologne to name a few. If anyone’s looking for work, I thoroughly enjoyed the interview processes at Epidemic, Ubisoft and Blue Byte. The developers I met with were extremely talented and considerate during the interview process, 10/10 would interview again.
In terms of offers this is what I ended up with, all roles are React unless otherwise specified.
Futurice in Stockholm
420,000 SEK / 43k USD
Futurice also come highly recommended - they’re a fantastic, flexible agency with offices all over Europe.
Open Publishing in Munich
55k Euro / 60k USD
Agency in Amsterdam
45k Euro / 50k USD
48.6 Euro / 53.5 k USD  (including holiday allowance)
Dutch companies offer a yearly 8% holiday allowance from your base salary
WeTransfer in Amsterdam
42k Euro / 46,000 USD
Ad Designer - mixture of front end and motion design
These are fairly standard rates for averaged sized tech companies in Europe. From my experience networking with other developers, companies such as Booking.com / Funda (Netherland’s largest housing and rental site) / WeTransfer all offer higher salaries around the 55/60k mark for an intermediate developer.
If you’re looking for money in Europe, London is a fantastic place to go. A friend of mine (bootcamp graduate, no CS degree) landed a developer position paying 50k pounds /  65k USD per year after one and a half years experience. Things get even more lucrative when entering the contracting space, rates for intermediate and senior devs vary between 450-650 pounds per day.
If you’re a US resident, you may be balking at these numbers. ‘How are these so low? Keep your healthcare and croissants, I’m staying put’. Keep in mind that most companies offer 25-30 days annual leave minimum, with countries such as Germany adding an extra 16 days in national holidays. 46 days of leave per year with a good work/life balance and liberal sick days. Not too shabby.
If you’ve got any comments, or would like to share your own experience, please hit me up on twitter @mattkander or leave a comment down on the YouTube video with any info you feel comfortable sharing!
Loreal has the right idea when it comes to salary, fight for what you’re worth, ‘because you’re worth it’.
‍I'm currently collecting salary info on an anonymous google form here.
There will be a follow up video in a few weeks time where I'll share the results. If you're interested in checking out the results of that, join my mailing list below or sub to the YouTube channel!

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