5 Ways To Improve Your Software Developer Salary

Software development is a popular career choice for those in the IT industry. If you’re a software developer, learn a few ways on how you can improve your salary in this article.

This article is a part of my salary improvement series, which has covered a few roles already.

What Is The Average Software Developer Salary?

So, let’s start with the figures.

The average software developer salary in the US is $139,576.


Let’s have a look at how this compares to related roles:

.NET Software Developer64,000
IT Consultant73,000
Junior Software Engineer52,000
Senior Software Engineer102,000
Java Software Developer67,000

As you can see, there is quite a large range of salaries for these roles.

  • .Net Software Developer/Java Software Developer. These developers focus on a specific technology (Java or .Net) and have similar salaries to each other, as well as the generic software developer salary.
  • Junior Software Engineer. A software engineer with minimal experience earns about $78,889. This is a little less than the software developer salary, but as you’ll see in the salary report on software engineers, it can increase quickly.
  • Senior Software Engineer. This role has more experience and is a software engineer rather than a developer, and has an increased salary to go with it
  • IT Consultant. Alternatively, some choose to go with an IT Consulting role rather than a software developer, which has a slightly higher average salary.

So there’s the salary data. How can we use this to improve our own software developer salary?

1. Learn More Skills

If you earn more skills related to software development, there’s a good chance it will improve your salary. This is for several reasons:

  • You can do more tasks you weren’t able to do before
  • You can save the employer time and money as they may not need to hire or train someone else to do some work
  • You can add more value to the employer

According to our research, software developers who have Oracle database skills earn a 8% higher salary. Knowing UNIX will increase your salary by 6%, Linux by 4% and PL/SQL by 3%.

The best part is, with the increase in online education, you don’t even need to go to college to learn these. You can take an online course and learn in your own time.

2. Start Consulting

As shown in the table above, an IT Consultant has an average salary which is about $8k more than a Software Developer. In another article, I’ve explained what a software consultant is. Basically they are hired by one company to provide services to another company, rather than work for the company directly.

So, for example, you work for a consulting company as an IT consultant. Let’s use Accenture as an example. Accenture would have an agreement to provide software development services to other companies. Accenture would send you out to work at one of these companies. You’d be doing work for the other company but get paid by Accenture. Accenture gets paid by the other company. Everybody wins!

To get started as an IT consultant, you can look for a job in a consulting company. It’s pretty similar to finding a regular job, but the jobs would mention that it’s a consulting role, so if you’re looking for one of these, you can filter on those.

3. Get Certified

I’ve mentioned in most of my salary improvement posts that certificaiton is a great way to improve your salary, and I’ll mention it here again as well.

Getting a certification is a great way to improve your software developer salary. Certifications are offered by many vendors for a lot of technologies. If you’re interested in getting certified, have a look at what certifications are available to you.

If you’re a Java developer, Oracle offers a few certifications for Java. Microsoft has several certifications for .Net developers. There are many others to choose from, depending on the language you’re proficient in.

4. Move Companies

Another common way to improve your software developer salary is to move companies. This is a riskier choice, as you may not end up with a better role and could be out of a job for a while. It also involves a bit of work and some planning.

You could start looking for roles while you’re currently employed, and try to find one that pays better. However, getting paid more isn’t the only thing you should consider when moving companies. You should look at the kind of role that it is, what you’ll be doing, where the role is based, and any other benefits you may get.

If you’re not happy in your current role, then I suggest speaking to your manager or someone in HR to resolve it first. If you don’t get anywhere with that, then moving companies is a way to both improve your happiness and your salary.

5. Get More Experience

Experience is often mentioned in salary surveys as it is a good indicator of someone’s knowledge in the industry. Getting more experience as a software developer is a great way to improve your career. However, just letting time pass and hoping your salary goes up is not a very actionable tip, is it? And I’d like to give you something actionable, something you can do, rather than just wait a few years.

Getting more experience also involves working on different projects or in different teams. You can learn different ways of doing things, get involved in different systems, and work with people you’ve never worked with before. This kind of experience will make you more valuable to the company, and in turn, hopefully improve your salary.

You can get more of this kind of experience by asking for a transfer, or asking to be put on to different kinds of projects. Depending on what your company and team does, this could give you a wide range of different projects to work on.

Once you have more experience, you can use it as a positive point when it comes to your annual review, and ask for an increase in salary.

Well, there’s five ways you can improve your software developer salary. If you have any questions on being a software developer, share them in the section below.

Career Action Tip

Choose one of the methods above for improving your salary, and decide on the next step. For example, choose a certification that you can take to improve your career.