Tech Workers: Want A Bigger Salary? Relocate…or Not

Tech Workers: Want A Bigger Salary? Relocate…or Not

2010-06-17 14:25:33

While many tech workers hop from company to company to increase their earning potential, they may not consider that, as their experience grows, a hop from location to location also has a favorable impact on salary – and no this isn’t just about making a move to tech hot spots like the Silicon Valley.  We’ve analyzed Glassdoor salary reports and the data shows how tech industry workers average base salary is impacted not only by years of experience but also by location¹.

The Glassdoor tech report identifies that between 0-6 years of experience, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and New York offer the highest average base salary for tech jobs. But, Seattle may just be a starting point for many workers in the tech field, as Washington DC takes over the third spot for people with 7-10+ years of experience.

Chicago offers the most growth opportunity between entry-level tech workers (0 to 1 years experience) and those with more experience (10+ years) for people who don’t want to move. Employees in the technology field report a 140% difference in average base salary between these two career levels. San Francisco may offer the highest average base salary across the years of experience, however employees are reporting a slower growth in salary as years increase – San Francisco Bay Area tech workers notice a 92% increase in average base salary between these two career levels.

It’s important to keep in mind that the San Francisco Bay Area has the highest cost of living² among these locations – 66% above the national average, whereas Chicago has the lowest cost of living among these regions, just 14% above the national average.

As the economy picks up and companies start to add to their roster, this salary report shows just how important it can be that job seekers have their finger on the pulse of what is fair pay in today’s market – and how that might vary by  location, company and years of experience.

If you are considering a move to take a new job, Glassdoor’s career expert Rusty Rueff has some advice:

  • Tell everyone where you want to be. You probably get at least one chance a year to sit with your boss and/or your HR person and express your career objectives.  This is the time to let them know where it is that you want/need to live.  If the west coast is where you want to be then say it and say it again.  Companies will move you where they need you.  There is nothing wrong with that, but you have to continue be in charge of your own career.  I fear that a lot of the people who are stuck somewhere now are there because they didn’t have a clear plan and were not able to communicate effectively their desires.
  • Be prepared to move yourself. Relocation budgets are being axed as “unnecessary spending”.  When the unemployment level is high and talent is more abundant, it may be true. This means that if you want to move to another city for a new job, you may have to pay for it yourself.  If you can figure out the costs of this and start building it into your savings now that would be wise.  With enough planning ahead you will be able to make the offer to move yourself and pay your own freight.  It could be that this extra offer is the one that makes you the new hire versus the other people also applying.
  • Make the most of anywhere. While you are looking for opportunities that would relocate you somewhere else, do the most you can for the community you are in now.  You may find that doing the opposite of what is expected when you dislike living someplace (for example getting more involved in the community), could push you to discover you like it more than you thought.

Bottom line: Knowing what your earning potential is based on years of experience and area of specialty can help you feel more confident in knowing you made the right decision for you and your career. So before making a move, think about what you want to achieve professionally and where it is that you will be satisfied not only working but living, whether it’s in the short or long-term.

¹ Based on locations with at least 200 salary reports per years of experience bracket.

² Cost of Living data provided by Yahoo! Real Estate; 100= National Average 110 = 10% more expensive

Categories: Salaries Watercooler