This week, I wanted to discuss what it really takes to get to those high-paying salaries that you are always seeing influencers talk about.
After spending what seems like a lifetime learning to code and securing your first job, it can be easy to think that becoming a better developer is enough to secure that promotion and 6-figure salary.
Sorry to burst your bubble, being good at programming just isn’t enough.
If you really want that 6-figure salary, there are few things you need to think about.
I want you to think for a moment about the answer to this question.
Why did your company hire you?
If your answer is “because I am a brilliant programmer, who writes elegant clean code” then you are wrong.
Your company hired you to work on a project that they thought would bring in more money than they are paying you.
No company is going to spend more on your salary than they will make in revenue from what you are building. It just isn’t a good return on investment.
If you are working on something that isn’t revenue generating for the company, then chances are, paying you is just a cheaper alternative compared to paying a contractor.
To get that 6-figure salary and beyond, you need to know what you are worth. How much money do you earn the company? How much time have you saved? After all time is money.
Keep track of what you have worked on and what you have contributed in terms of time and money. When performance review time comes up, you can then list out exactly why you deserve that promotion.
As they say, “go where the money is”.
Not all industries are the same for software developers. If you are looking for a high salary, it is a lot easier to obtain in companies where software developers are “first class” employees.
Technology companies need software developers to continue to grow. Without software developers, they can’t release new features to sell to customers.
There are still plenty of software development jobs at non technology companies, but the pay usually doesn’t go as high as it does at tech companies.
At technology companies it is a lot easier to calculate your return on investment, and therefore it is a lot easier to get a higher salary.
Companies don’t hire software developers to write code. They hire software developers to solve problems.
Every line of code you write is a liability. The most reliable code is the one you never had to write.
When you are solving problems for your company, don’t always be so quick to jump to a custom code solution.
Your job is to solve the problem in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible.
Often, especially with so many SaaS providers out there, it is more cost-effective to use an off the shelf service than to write your own.
Any software you write needs to be maintained for its entire lifetime. Not only that, software developers tend to underestimate how long it takes to write code.
Something that you think will only take a week, will typically take 3. You then will need to maintain it for at least an hour a week.
Take a software developer who earns £100,000 a year, that’s £1,923 a week, £48 an hour (not including employer taxes).
Assuming 3 weeks development and an hour of maintenance a week, over the course of a year that will cost:
£1,923 x 3 + £48 x 49 = £8,121 or £676.75 a month.
There aren’t many small SaaS applications that are going to cost the company that much a month.
Even if a £39 a month or a £99 a month SaaS solves the problem, then you would be better off suggesting that to your employer than writing code for it.
You can then even tell them how much money you saved them when your review comes around.
Ultimately, you still need to be good at programming, but it isn’t the only quality that will help you to get that high salary.
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