Times are good for software developers of all sorts, with jobs being plentiful and high paying even for those right out of school. Of course, while most programmers are doing well, the degree of wellness can vary depending on where they live and work. For example, there are lots of data out there which suggest pretty strongly that developers in the United States make significantly more than their counterparts in the United Kingdom.
Last week, Business Insider published a new analysis of data from job site Hired, which found that, on average, UK developers earn 30% less than US developers. The gap varies depending on where in the US you live, with software engineers in San Francisco doing the best relative to those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, averaging salaries that are 46% higher than those in the UK. The gap gets smaller with more experience, but remains quite large.
I decided to poke around some other publicly available salary data myself, to gauge if this pay gap shows up in other measures of software developer compensation. The shorter answer is, it sure does. Here’s what I found, based on data as of July 10, 2015.
- Payscale lists the median salary for software engineers in the United States as $77,961 (based on data from 32k people) and the median salary for software engineers in the United Kingdom as £33,105 (3,400 people), which is roughly $50,982 (using an exchange rate of 1.54 dollars per pound). Based on these data, US software engineer salaries are 53% higher than those in the UK.
- Glassdoor lists the average salary for software engineers in the US as $90,374 (43k people) versus the average salary for London-based software engineers of £35,000 or $53,900 (229 people). This suggests that the gap is even higher, with US software engineers making 68% than their counterparts in London.
- The US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, which is based on a semi-annual survey of employers, finds that the annual median pay for software developers and programmers is $91,320 (for 1.5 million such workers). Meanwhile, the UK Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for 2014, which is based on a sampling of workers, finds that annual median pay for programmers and software development professionals is £40,007 (see table 14), or $61,611 (149k workers), suggesting that US software developers make 48% more than UK software developers. The two government data sets aren’t quite apples-to-apples, since one surveys employers while the other samples employees. Plus, the US includes part time workers, while the UK data don’t. Both sets exclude contractors and don’t account for compensation beyond (essentially) base pay (i.e., they don’t include bonuses or profit sharing).
It seems clear, then, that software engineers in the US make significantly more than those in the UK. Why is that, then? Hired’s Sophie Adelman suggested to Business Insider that it was a simply a result of the US tech market being much hotter that than in the UK. Indeed, the Hired data suggested that the gap also applies to other jobs in tech, with senior data scientists in the US making 44% more than those in the UK and mid-level UI/UX designers in the US earning 33% more than UK designers.
No matter how you slice it, it seems that if you want to make the most money you can using your coding skills, you’re better off working on this side of the pond.