Eight Graphs That Explain Software Engineering Salaries in 2023

Tech professionals’ pay by programming skills, job functions, regions, and more

2 min read

towers of purples, pinks and blues

Every year, online job search firms collect data about the salaries, skills, and overall job market for tech professionals, generally focusing on software engineers.

The numbers from job search firms Dice and Hired have been released. These 2022 numbers have been eagerly anticipated, given the turmoil generated by a spate of tech layoffs in the latter part of the year, which Dice estimates at more than 140,000. The data they collect doesn’t allow for apples-to-apples comparisons, but I’ve read through both reports, pulled out data from past years to give the numbers some perspective when possible, and summarized it in eight charts. Dice’s numbers come from a survey administered to its registered job seekers and site visitors between 16 August 2022 and 17 October 2022, for a total of 7,098 completed surveys. Hired’s analysis included data from 68,500 job candidates and 494,000 interview requests collected from the site between January 2021 through December 2022, supplemented by a survey of 1,300 software engineers.

Tech salaries jump, but don’t keep up with inflation

According to Dice’s numbers, tech salaries grew 2.3 percent in 2022 compared with 2021, reflecting a steady upward trend since 2017 (with 2020 omitted due to the pandemic disruption). However, it’s clear that the 2022 news isn’t so good when considering inflation. These numbers have been adjusted from those previously reported by IEEE Spectrum; Dice recently tightened its survey to focus on tech professionals in more tech-specific job functions.

 What’s the best-paying job in tech?

If you want the highest pay, it’s a no-brainer: Get yourself into the C-suite. That is not, of course, a particularly useful takeaway from Dice’s data. Perhaps of more interest is that scrum masters are commanding higher pay than data scientists, and that cloud and cybersecurity engineers continue to hold solid spots in the top ranks.

What software engineering skills do employers want you to have?

Specific skills often command a big pay boost, but exactly what skills are in demand is a moving target. Because the data from Dice and Hired—and the way they crunch it—varies widely, we present two charts. Dice, looking at average salaries, puts MapReduce at the top of its charts; Hired, looking at interview requests, puts Ruby on Rails and Ruby on top.

What skills should software engineers learn right now?

If you’re a software engineer and you don’t know Python, you’d better start studying. That’s the opinion of the 1,300 software engineers surveyed by Hired. If you don’t know C, however, don’t worry too much about that.

Should your next tech career move be out of Silicon Valley?

You probably don’t want to leave Silicon Valley if you’re looking for the highest pay. The San Francisco Bay Area hasn’t lost its dominant position at the top of the tech salary charts, discounting, however, the local cost-of-living differences. But some tech hubs are reducing the gap, with Tampa, Fla. salaries up 19 percent and Charlotte, N.C., salaries up 11 percent. Charlotte, in fact, edged out Austin for number nine in Dice’s rankings, and every cost-of-living calculator I checked considers Charlotte a significantly cheaper place to live. Hired, which considered a shorter list, puts Austin at number five.

Looking for a new job? These fields are a tech professional’s best bet

That artificial intelligence tops the list of booming businesses this year is no surprise, given the attention brought to AI by the public release of Dall-E 2 and Chat GPT last year, alongside GPT-4 this month. Hired asked more than 1,300 software engineers their opinions on the hottest industries to watch out for in 2023, and AI and machine learning came out on top. Not so hot? E-commerce, media, and transportation.

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