How Much Money Do You Make Programming?

Posted 3 years ago

I'll get right to the point.

About $100,000 a year. That's the answer if you have been programming for 4+ years and work in a major tech hub like the Bay area or NYC. Of course your mileage WILL vary. Your salary is dependent on your skill level, your experience and your negotiating power.

  • Most programmers will make between $40,000 and $120,000.  
  • Junior prgrammers, or people starting out in smaller cities can expect to make around $30,000-$50,000.
  • Most average programmers are bringing in around $60,000-$85,000 a year.
  • Senior programmers will typically reach $100,000.
  • And highly valued senior programmers can easily make $120,000-$150,000+.

Some programmers are even granted stock options or stock units in the company they work for. The first engineering hire for a startup can get up to 5% of the company, and if the startup does well that can turn into millions.

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Programming can make you some solid dough, that is for sure. But not every programmer is making six figures, and I don't personally know any programmers who have made millions. In small towns even good programmers might not make six figures. The salaries can vary wildly depending on what city you are in. But I have worked in Austin, TX, New York City and the Bay area, and I can tell you salaries in those three places are very similar. And from what you can see on websites like Glassdoor, most mid-level programmers are netting between 60k-100k.

Of course it's not just about how well you code, it's about what language you are using. To maintain market salary, it is important to stay up to date with programming languages. Languages change fast, and in our industry you will go through 5-10 languages in your career. If you do not keep up with it, someone new will come in to fill your shoes.

Story time. In high school I had a computer science teacher named Mr. Evans, and he would always tell us stories about 'being in the industry'. Mr. Evans said that they will hire you for Fortran, keep you around till you are 40, then fire you. He said Fortran was the greatest language invented and everything that came after it sucked. But when we'd get home from school we would play with C++ and Visual Basic, two of the most popular languages at that time. If Mr. Evans would have learned C++ or VB, he probably could have gotten a better job, but instead he was stuck teaching high school kids. Poor Mr. Evans was definitely not making 100k.

So you see, there is good money you can make programming. It can be challenging to learn how to program, but once you do it is very rewarding. You won't get paid like a doctor, lawyer or banker, but you (usually) won't be expected to work insane hours, defend murderers or swindle people for money. And sometimes there is even free lunch!

Check out my #1 post: Which Programming Language Should You Learn To Make Money?

About the author

Dev/Code/Hack is a technology and business blog by me, Par Trivedi. I'm a software engineer and I've been writing code and managing teams for over a decade. This blog serves as a way to share thoughts and ideas about the tech/startup community, and also to educate newcomers to software development.

105 Comments

  • Hi I am a 7 year old who programs with 4chan. I am earning $69 per hour as well working for CNN to hack the accounts of the public who do not like them. I really want to buy my own Minecraft PC and a gaming setup so I can become a professional Minecraft player, but my mom is allergic to computers so I also need a new house. Teh arrrtickle halpe me awt a lawt, thx a lot for halpibng

    Anonymouse 1 week ago   Reply

    • I forgot to add that I am also very good at coding. i use the scratch and i can sell my projekts for around $1000Yen each. They are all about my favorite game, mincecraft. I really likem the game and am considering suing microsoft for buying the game. However, to do that I need money. I got this from hackin this cite. Thx!

      An0n 1 week ago   Reply

      • I am soooooo srry guys. I meant south korean won, not yen

        4chan Cancer 1 week ago   Reply

  • I am 11 and I already stated programming at home

    2 weeks ago   Reply

  • Amazing blog! I'm definitely going to follow :D

    Burgos 2 weeks ago   Reply

  • gcccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccgggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

    3 months ago   Reply

  • Well it depends on the kind of project which language you choose to go for programming and many other criterias for that. Thanks for the share.

    mrunal 3 months ago   Reply

  • Hi Par, I live in London UK, and was doing some research into getting into IT field and more specifically programming, your insights are amazing and I have learn't so much from your blog. Thanks

    George Ohlden 3 months ago   Reply

  • Nice read! We prepared a special report with data for 2017. You can compare your salary depend on a language of programming: https://challengerocket.com/blog/top-10-of-programming-languages-with-the-highest-salaries-in-2017.html

    ChallengeRocket 4 months ago   Reply

  • Im 14 and im working on Getting into programming. I've done small things, on scratch and on code.org, however i want to step up my game. I want this for my career. Where should i start?

    4 months ago   Reply

  • I'm 10 and I didn't start programming yet

    Meiling 5 months ago   Reply

  • im 14 years old and i make 35000 working at the weekends programming in C++

    jackson 7 months ago   Reply

    • I'm 12 and I make 45000 working weekends programming in Java, C++, PHP, C++, FORTRAN, LISP, COBOL, C#, and ASSEMBLY all simultaneously.

      mark 6 months ago   Reply

      • Are you kidding me? I am in my mother's womb, and I make 115,000 by slamming my keyboard against the wall until a pretty picture appears on the screen.

        Weldin 6 months ago   Reply

        • Hahaha, nice one

          Omair Shafiq 5 months ago   Reply

  • Man y'all don't even know Programemrs

    Jqwan 7 months ago   Reply

  • i think its just less. because many big youtubers earn 100,000+ easily

    Susman 7 months ago   Reply

  • yes a 11 year can code. Better get started at a young age and its fun

    8 months ago   Reply

  • it the best job on the world

    9 months ago   Reply

  • can a 11 year old code?

    Landon LeJeune 9 months ago   Reply

    • Of course!

      5 months ago   Reply

  • Am Monalisa and l want to be a computer programming

    Monalisa 9 months ago   Reply

  • Will you work for TEch Companies, and if you do, will you get free gadgets??

    Ibbi 10 months ago   Reply

  • it"s called code Louisville, they use Treehouse as a teaching tool. Is it good enough to get in the business with?

    larry Jones 10 months ago   Reply

  • I'm 13 and I'm a Java expert. Currently developing Android applications. None of them are released yet, but I've been working on an app for around 5 months. It'll be free. I don't care much about money. But this actually encouraged me a lot.

    AbAppletic 1 year ago   Reply

    • I'm 5 and I'm a java expert, C++ expert, C# expert, PHP expert, Fortran expert, COBOL expert, Assembly Expert, and VBA expert.

      mark 6 months ago   Reply

    • hey im 16 and im trying to learn coding, could you tell me how you learned to code? could you please reply t my email amal_kiani@outlook.com

      amal kiani 1 year ago   Reply

      • you could learn how to code by going to codecademy.com

        8 months ago   Reply

  • Apologies for the dumb question but what difference does it make where you reside? How much does a programmer from a very reprehensible place make?

    Harry 1 year ago   Reply

  • 100k means nothing anymore. Lawer: 200-400k Surgeon: 400-1M+ Dentist: 300k Get the picture? Don't waste your time with 'tech'. Its a dead end just like engineering.

    The Truth 1 year ago   Reply

    • Yeah, that's a great idea. Let's all stop working in the tech industry! No more smartphone, laptop, PCs, software, improvements on AI, and I could go on like this forever. Get the picture?

      Kay 4 months ago   Reply

    • what type of lawyer? Most lawyers do not make that kind of salary.

      mark 6 months ago   Reply

    • You know that not everyone gets to be a lawyer or a surgeon, right? Average american people get around 60k a year so 100k is still pretty much.

      The real truth 9 months ago   Reply

    • You know some people like me just hate working with people and that's why they are tech guys or IT specialists. For me 100k is still a lot, lot of money

      SomeGuy 1 year ago   Reply

  • how much do they make with out salaries like 50 dollar an hour or so on

    he has no name 1 year ago   Reply

  • What you're not mentioning here is that as a valuable Senior Engineer, you probably will be working insane hours, and if you are not careful, you will be doing it on a salary. Even if it seems big, it won't be that much larger by the hour than mid level programmers are making working a straight 40. You also will be expected to sign a "you own my entire brain" Intellectual Property agreement that will prevent you from doing anything that your company doesn't then own all the rights to. This may well be true even if, by some sheer act of willpower, you work a 90 hour week, then put in a 20 hour week on your own idea. If you attempt this, it will, in fact, eventually kill you. You will also pay an insane level of taxes, unless you can convert them somehow to capital gains earnings. If you don't make it to management by 45, you probably will get fired, or put under impossible conditions until you quit. There is only so good you can get and there is hard salary ceiling unless you get into a startup or start your own business that's successful. You should also know that if you do attempt a startup, or work for one, you're chances of going back to a big fat corporate america job are significantly reduced. Companies know that you want to run your own ship or be a principal in a big ship, not a good worker slave, so they will hire a less experienced, lower paid, worse developer to do the job, even if that means hiring 3 people instead of 1. Also, know that those big corporations were caught conspiring with each other not to hire current or former employees of the other large companies. Google, Facebook, Oracle, and Apple were among those involved. So once you take a big job, save a lot and be well prepared when and if you take the leap to be your own boss. You will also need to take the time to learn all the business rules, regulations, tax stuff. This is not to be underestimated, it's a huge amount of stuff.

    Sam Allen 1 year ago   Reply

  • Plus that you suck

    1 year ago   Reply

  • Is ther a one answer

    1 year ago   Reply

  • I'm 17 i was wondering how much i could make for a side job on programming and just working with computers in general possibly turning it into my own business i know HTML / CSS / Javascript / Lua / and some foundations of Java i also am in the progress of 3D Modeling and Rendering i am currently making you tube intros and Models for Garry`s mod but i don't charge anything due to not being of age for a credit card / pay pale.

    Jeremiah 1 year ago   Reply

  • money momey money

    RMB 1 year ago   Reply

  • im 12 years old and i want to do programming as a job when i get older. i wanna make a lot of money because i want to buy a cat and i also want to build a separate house for my cat because my mom is allergic to cats. thank you this was helpful

    Cassandra Peters 1 year ago   Reply

  • this sounds dope af

    cassie 1 year ago   Reply

  • Im 12 years old and a started with python programking a few months ago. Nothing too hard i understand it and everything but after reading all this i dont think i can do it. My mother was a validictorian with a 4.0 in high school she is a psychologist now and my dad was a 4.0 in college he took C++ and said it was the hardest class he took. Do any of you think i can do it becasue i just need a little motivation to keep working on programming.

    Anonymous 1 year ago   Reply

    • im 14 in middle school just started python i dont care what anyone says or how hard it is you can do it and so can i so keep on going

      1 year ago   Reply

  • I am a front-end programmer (HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, JQuery)... I am a 17 year old and I feel like I am too late, as I should now be a professional programmer :( However, I am still learning Jscript and PHP as I want to be a free-lance web developer or even start a ready-script company...

    Khalid 1 year ago   Reply

    • Oh, you have more than enough time to learn to program and become a professional programmer. I don't know what your best bet for getting there is, but I can tell you that at seventeen years old, you've got plenty of time to learn. I see a lot of older people (in their 30s and above) in introductory programming classes at school, just starting to get their Bachelor of Science. Another thing to note is that those introductory classes are actually meant for people who have zero prior programming knowledge - some of the first things done in those classes are learning how to declare variables and write Hello World programs. I'm not going to say that starting earlier wouldn't be an advantage, but you're already working in the field which is advantageous. Don't be discouraged, don't quit before you've started. It's a long journey to become a great programmer, but if you're interested in it, it is a lot of fun to do and so very worth it. Best of luck!

      Matthew 1 year ago   Reply

  • Ohhhh ma gawd i try to do ittttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt, but it dont workkkkkkkk, what the button to do the jump thing?

    juan 1 year ago   Reply

  • See the great thing about programming though is you do actually make more than doctors. Since they spend most their life paying off insane school debt and at the same time paying for insanely high malpractice insurance. As a programmer you most likely will make more than 70% of the lawyers out there and definitely more than any lawyer who is just starting out or not a partner of their firm. AND as for making less than a banker. It's hard to get into that field and if you consider 'a banker' to be someone who works in a bank you will be making more than them as well. With the Opportunity to build something and sell it for millions.

    Steven 2 years ago   Reply

  • hi everyone i am 13 years old.im learning c++ for 2 months.i want to go abroad to MIT.How can i win scholarship?

    Nickolas 2 years ago   Reply

    • Good job bro. If you want to go to MIT I'm a be real with you, your going to want to make sure you do not mess around in school. Make sure you go for some honor classes and a 4.0 GPA or higher. I would recommend taking bio, chem, and psychics. Also make sure you get really good at math because a part of computers is being pretty good at math for whatever you want to do. IF you go to MIT first your going to need the average GPA to get in, extra circulars, and good SAT scores. BTW extra circular can be like math club and merit scholarship club stuff like that. If you don't want to do sports then don't do it. I'm a be honest to money is a big factor, depending what level of education you want, I would recommend going to a school that is cheap. Another thing I want to include is if you get your BA in some kind of computer major, going to grad school to MIT might give you a higher chance. Messg me kik:nacho218

      Ignacio-Manuel Atilano 1 year ago   Reply

    • Your 13 years old man. You still have at least 2-3 years before you have to start worrying about college. As for finding a scholarship in 13 years. It's called google I hear there is even an app. But at the end of the day if you don't get any scholarships for good grades/ sports taking out college loans is not that bad. Your family can be piss poor and you can still go to college.

      Steven 2 years ago   Reply

  • Make sure to change jobs every few years. That will give you a twice better raise than a promotion.

    Coderplusplus 2 years ago   Reply

  • I already am trying to learn it at a young age

    corb 2 years ago   Reply

  • i did not known they earn that much money they are so so lucky

    mey 2 years ago   Reply

  • It's 2014. I'm in Canada, I've been a programmer for 12 years. I can code in all .NET languages, C++, PHP, Java, Javascript, and many more. I've never made more than 47k/year and I have never received a raise or a promotion. I have always had to leave secure employment to upgrade my pay-cheque.

    Joshua Richet 2 years ago   Reply

    • hi Joshua!This is my first year of programming.i have only worked as programmer 8 months.I already received over 100000!Only thing thing i can recommend is be creative and choose only one language.I had worked on a channel program for 1 month and now i am working on video games.i always use c++

      Nick Thompson 2 years ago   Reply

    • can i work with you cool

      mey 2 years ago   Reply

  • how old do people usually start programming, i feel like i am already late and i am starting at 16

    alejandro 2 years ago   Reply

    • My brother started around 16 and now he's making $500 per month

      Sky 2 years ago   Reply

      • that is really bad money my brother makes 2000 a month sometimes as a firefighter and a coder

        cadyn 1 year ago   Reply

    • i was 12 when i started though i feel that doesnt really mater a lot. It depends on talent and will.

      Jari 2 years ago   Reply

  • In Argentina also ALL programmers are badly paid :(

    Misery 3 years ago   Reply

  • did you really have to bring up dr. robotnik? ohh the horror. he was definitely not making $100K.

    Zehra 3 years ago   Reply

  • I make $170k in the SF Bay Area, and still mainly use the C language, as I did when I started 15 years ago, but past about $120k the amount of time which I spend programming steadily decreased as I moved into technical leadership roles and spent time coordinating with other teams, making plans with product management, doing architectural review, etc.

    Technical Lead, not Programmer 3 years ago   Reply

    • I really don't care that much about the money but is it a fun job? Do you go to work everyday with a smile and really for another challange or is it a really stressful job.

      Ruben 4 months ago   Reply

  • In Portugal ALL programmers are badly paid!

    Pedro 3 years ago   Reply

    • You can't compare the standard of living in Portugal and that of the bay or even other European cities...

      Ric 3 years ago   Reply

  • But Mr Evans did you some good, didn't he? If everyone is looking for the bottom dollar, we all lose.

    Chris 3 years ago   Reply

    • So true

      Onelove 2 years ago   Reply

  • I suspect Mr. Evans could have made a comeback with Python or Ruby.

    over 40 3 years ago   Reply

    • g payscale.com? It can tell you very specifically how much you should make based on location, programming language, years exp, etc. It does this by crowdsourcing salary dat

      compare the standard of living in P 1 year ago   Reply

      • compare the standard of living in P

        1 year ago   Reply

  • Have you tried using payscale.com? It can tell you very specifically how much you should make based on location, programming language, years exp, etc. It does this by crowdsourcing salary data from other developers.

    Alex 3 years ago   Reply

    • oh my daaaiiise fam.

      Jelly 2 years ago   Reply