Jeff Bailey
Written by Jeff Bailey

Learning resources, opinions, and facts about technology.

Salary Negotiation for Programmers

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Salary negotiation for programmers isn’t much different than any other job.

I ran into this question on Quora, so I started answering it there; this is an extension of that post specifically for programmers.

If an interviewer asks me what I am expecting as my salary, what should I answer?


Ask for what you feel you need and fits a reasonable market rate for your prospective position.

Ask yourself these questions.

  • How much money do I need to save for retirement and pay the bills? ( Requirements )
  • What do other people in my profession get paid? ( Market Rate )
  • How much do I think I am worth? ( Value )

A little introspection goes a long way. Research is essential to understand what you are worth.

These websites will help you understand what your services are worth.

Dice has been around since 1990 and is the granddaddy of job search websites. It also has a nifty salary calculator.


Glassdoor provides insight into the salary of your peers.

Use this information to set your price.


LinkedIn is the defacto site for professionals. If you’re not on LinkedIn, I recommend joining immediately. It will help boost your salary by giving you new opportunities and connections. It has a salary calculator along with the other websites.

Set Your Price

Once you have your price, set your price a little higher, but use your best judgment. Ideally, the job listing will have provided you a salary range. Otherwise, employ your soft skills and use a gut feeling to guess what a prospective employer will be willing to pay. If you’re changing roles and are looking to move up, accepting a lower price isn’t the worst idea.

Hold Your Cards

If you can avoid telling a prospective employer what your desired salary is, then do it. Knowing the salary a company is willing to pay gives you leverage, and it helps you save time if the salary is too low for you. Your current salary is your business; keep it that way.

Be Honest

Be honest with yourself and set your price with confidence. If you feel like you’re not worth the salary you’ve defined, ask yourself why. Dig deep and seek to understand where you feel deficient. It’s not easy to keep the imposter monster at bay. If we’re honest with ourselves, we all fake it until we make it.

For Programmers

Programmers are fortunate that their profession is in high demand. Know your skills, boost your skills, keep learning as much as you can. Be a sponge, commit to continuous improvement, and learn what you love.

Find your sweet spot where you deliver the unique value you’re passionate about. You’ll earn more as a programmer with a focus on growth opportunities, promotion opportunities, and appropriate compensation. I’ve always factored work-life balance into my overall compensation so don’t forget must-have attributes like that!

Don’t forget your soft skills or technical skills! Find the right balance between being a great human being and a great software development professional.

Further Reading