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job salary question, seeking advice

Mark Waldrop
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 04, 2004
Posts: 9
Hello All,

I have been working at my software development company for almost 6 years in the Southeastern US. We are what would be considered a medium-sized company based in Europe. I joined this company as an intern while attending college and then was converted into a full-time employee 2 months later. I do both C++, Java, and software design work with this company.

All of my reviews have either stated that completed all that was expected of me, or I did very well for that year. Also, I provide good work, and put in as many extra hours as is needed to get projects done on time, and have produced very few bugs.

My concerns / frustrations:
Near the beginning of this year I started feeling really underpaid. I am currently making in the mid-60s. My first reason of feeling this way was due to the law requirement of posting H1-B visa renewals for all to see. I noticed one having been posted for my same position level, with similar job requirements, but listed at a base salary of $75K. I approached my manager, and after reviewing and talking to human resources, he unofficially acknowledged that my salary seemed low, but HR said it was within range and that there was nothing he could do currently. Since then I have friends outside of work with similar experience, of which I have discovered that they are making more than that $75K. Also, head hunters have called around trying to recruit us for some of our customers, and contracting with benefits would provide $90+K (but would require relocating).
Recently, my company is experiencing an above normal amount of people leaving for larger companies in the area (which I have found are paying them more $$$) and am noticing signs that management may be getting somewhat concerned.

So here are my questions (sorry for the long background story):
1. Does people here agree that this is being underpaid?
2. If so, what is considered the average for a 6 years work experience developer, whose always had positive reviews from management? Is requesting to be re-adjusted to $80K asking too much?
3. I was disappointed to not get promoted to Senior Software Engineer this year, as a co-worker who started at the same time as me, and of which I feel I provide as good quality work, experience, and skills. Is there a typical way that this is approached with your manager?
4. Is there such a thing as requesting my pay based on skills/resume be re-evaluated?
5. Anybody else gone through a similar experience?
6. I also acquired a MS (for IT) and a Grad Certificate in IT Management during my time at this company, yet I never saw a real pay boost based on those merits, but HR is aware that I have them. Do most businesses adjust salary for advanced degrees?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Sincerely,
Mark
Jason Cox
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 21, 2004
Posts: 287
Originally posted by Mark Waldrop:
So here are my questions (sorry for the long background story):

Actually the background info was pretty helpful to understanding the situation


1. Does people here agree that this is being underpaid?


Yes, although what is fair might be determined by region. Though 60K for 6 years experience does seem low, it might also be considered reasonable by HR standards as well. This is a battle I've been fighting since I got into IT. Most HR departments have a salary range based on title. Even if you're getting the lower end of the scale they have little reason to adjust so long as you fall into that scale.


2. If so, what is considered the average for a 6 years work experience developer, whose always had positive reviews from management? Is requesting to be re-adjusted to $80K asking too much?


I have heard of people getting that much with similar experience. Frankly it seems a little high as I know experienced architects who don't make much more than 80K. Again, this may depend entirely by region. I think 80K may be pushing it a bit, though it would depend on your specific body of experience.


3. I was disappointed to not get promoted to Senior Software Engineer this year, as a co-worker who started at the same time as me, and of which I feel I provide as good quality work, experience, and skills. Is there a typical way that this is approached with your manager?


Maybe Senior Software Engineer means something different in your company, but that is a pretty serious title in some companies and given to 10 year veterans or better. What I've typically seen is developer, senior developer, engineer, senior engineer, architect. Your mileage may vary. I've also seen companies refer to what I've typically thought of as developers by the title of "engineer".

If by "senior engineer" you mean the equivalent of senior developer, that is certainly plausible though still quite a feat only six years in. If you're talking about a higher level job then that is some serious title inflation in just 6 years time.

Not that there is anything wrong with ambition as I always encourage people to aim high in their jobs. At the same time I would not base my career on the achievements of others. That is the road to job dissatisfaction right there.


4. Is there such a thing as requesting my pay based on skills/resume be re-evaluated?


Really, really depends on the company. If management is aware of the situation they may be pursuing something or their hands could be tied. I have seen management at my company bend over backwards to do everything they can for valued employees without the employees having to ask.


5. Anybody else gone through a similar experience?


Oh quite. I felt I was severely underpaid at a previous employer and my feelings of resentment and lack of motivation eventually led to me losing that position. Later I experienced this feeling again at a different employer, but found that leaving the company for higher pay was going to have a negative impact on my long-term career goals.


6. I also acquired a MS (for IT) and a Grad Certificate in IT Management during my time at this company, yet I never saw a real pay boost based on those merits, but HR is aware that I have them. Do most businesses adjust salary for advanced degrees?


I don't think there is a hard and fast rule about salary adjustments for advanced degrees. Usually I see people with advanced degrees use them to leverage themselves into better positions.

My advice is that you need to ask yourself how much you like working for that company and what your options are. Right now I could switch jobs and increase my pay by $10K easy. I have seen potential job opportunities out there for as much as $20K more. The problem is that I like the company I work for and have not found anyone who comes close. My boss is aware of the situation and I think he does everything he can for me when he is able.

At the same time they continue to find new challenges for me and I have a lot of advocates in the company. I've worked hard and developed a strong reputation. The reality is that if I jump ship to earn $10K more I might well be short-circuiting my career and I will only ever earn about $10K more than I do right now.

As an IT professional I earn well above the average income in the US, I get to do a job I love, I work for a company that cares about my career, and I currently work for the best management team I have ever reported to. If I start worrying about my salary, all of the things I like will end up going away just like they did before.

If you're unhappy with your job you need to start looking. If money makes you happy, then you need to start looking. If you have career advancement opportunities and you like the company, start focusing on what you need to do to keep moving ahead, the money will likely catch up in time.

Be forewarned though, while many companies have IT departments, very few companies have any career advancements opportunities for IT professionals. Being an IT professional in many companies is the highest paid dead-end job there is. Something to consider before jumping ship.
 
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