If you’re considering pursuing a career in tech, you probably have questions. And at least a few of them might be about money. How much can I make as a junior engineer? What is the average salary of a software developer? How quickly can I recoup my education costs? Understanding salary expectations in a new career field can feel daunting, but we’re here to help you make sense of it all.
First things first — there are a lot of factors that can impact web developer salaries, including experience level, location, industry, company size, and candidate skills (like which coding languages you know). The difference between an entry-level software developer salary in Chicago and a senior full-stack web developer salary in Sacramento can be sizable, so be sure to take into account all of the factors that could apply to a given role.
This salary guide will set baseline expectations for what you can earn as a developer — and can even help you avoid undercutting yourself in salary negotiations. So, let’s get started.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for web developers was $73,760, as of May 2019. The average salary of a software developer in the same year was $107,510. That may seem like a significant gap, but there’s plenty of variance and overlap between the two roles.
“Web developer” and “software developer” are often bucketed together within salary and employment data, though the roles do have a few subtle, yet important, differences. Web developers are primarily focused on building software and applications that function on a website or web page. Alternatively, software development can refer to a broader role in building applications and systems for a variety of platforms. This could be anything from coding a dating app to creating software to empower medical professionals.
Ultimately, both rely on writing code as the fundamental function of the role — and both can be exceptionally lucrative jobs. The graph below, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demonstrates that no matter how we categorize a software or web developer salary, the median annual wages for these categories of roles are more than double the average for all occupations nationwide.
From entry-level software developer jobs to mid-career and senior roles, tons of opportunities exist for would-be developers. With the right engineering skills, you might build an app that delivers donuts on-demand, or you can power a website that shares and analyzes insurance data worldwide.
No matter your interest area, tech salaries vary based on your experience and skill set, as well as the specific role you perform. If you haven’t yet decided on a career path in tech, you might use this data to help guide your choices — though we always recommend pursuing the path that will be most exciting and fulfilling for you!
Full-Stack Developer - According to Glassdoor salary data, the average full-stack web developer salary is $105,813. These jack-of-all-trades engineers build and maintain both the front-end and back-end of a website, requiring a broad skill set and adaptive nature.
Front-End Developer - Front-end developers, who focus on the visual, consumer-facing side of a website, earn an average of $76,929 per year, according to Glassdoor.
Back-End Developer - Back-end developers take on foundational tasks like database maintenance, algorithms, and website infrastructure. Based on self-reported data, Glassdoor estimates that the average annual salary for back-end developers is $101,619.
Software Developer - As we mentioned, the role of a software developer encompasses a broad range of tasks, including many of those listed above. The average junior software developer salary starts at $64,058, with senior roles reaching $100,000 or more, depending on the industry and location.
Depending on where you live — or where you’re willing to live — you’ll likely have access to different job opportunities and salary ranges. It goes without saying that the highest salaries are generally found in bigger cities, but state-by-state average wages might surprise you. The following states are the top-paying locations (by annual mean salary) for web developer and digital interface designers:
Washington – $134,310
California – $90,230
Georgia – $87,800
Virginia – $87,710
Massachusetts – $87,040
This data is strongly driven by the major metro areas within each state — among the most lucrative cities for web developers are Seattle, WA; New Haven, CT; Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco Bay Area.
According to the 2020 StackOverflow Developer Survey, the coding languages associated with the highest salaries globally are Perl, Scala, and Go. When looking at the U.S. only, Scala developers tend to have the highest salaries, with a median salary of $150,000.
Of course, the salaries tied to each language don’t necessarily reflect their popularity or usefulness. Despite being mid-tier in the compensation rankings, Python is in the top three most-loved and used languages among developers. The StackOverflow survey creators surmise that the top-paying coding languages may be so because developers dread working in them, fueling low supply but high demand for those skills — but we’ll let you be the judge.
When we look at the most popular coding languages among developers, the average salaries are as follows, based on StackOverflow data:
Python – $120,000
Java – $120,000
HTML – $110,000
SQL – $110,00
Each of these languages are valuable, whether you’re just starting your tech career or hoping to expand your skill set, and having a well-rounded mix of skills will offer you even broader opportunities.
The more experience you get under your belt, the higher salary you’ll be able to command within the industry. Your starting junior software developer salary will undoubtedly grow over time, but it’s not the only thing to consider.
Keep in mind that your total compensation will likely include a variety of benefits and perks — not just your base salary. Taking the full benefits package into account can also help you in salary negotiations if you have multiple job offers on the table. Popular benefits at tech jobs include company equity, 401k matching, vacation time, paid health insurance, relocation assistance, and cash bonuses. Depending on the size and stage of the company, your compensation package might rely more heavily on benefits like equity and health coverage, particularly at early-stage startups that have less flexibility in their salaries. Remember that it’s all negotiable, so be sure to leverage every aspect of your compensation when considering your next opportunity.
If you’re ready to make the change to a fulfilling, high-paying job as a web or software developer, Lambda School can help you get there. Our graduates have been hired by hundreds of employers across every industry, including healthcare, technology, retail, and financial services. They’re also meeting or exceeding salary expectations, even in entry-level positions. The median average salary of H1 2019 graduates was $70,000, with 20% reporting a salary of more than $100,000. In less than a year, you could be among our alumni, contributing to these impressive statistics.
To get started, check out the Lambda School Full-Stack Web Development course and see if our immersive online program is right for you.