what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

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zarci
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what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

hello there! i’m a European software engineer contemplating a move to the US. before i look around i want to have a reality check and see what kind of pay would be realistic.

i’m in my late twenties and have five years of experience as a data engineer. that’s essentially implementing distributed computing on “big data” for private companies. my responsibilities have not included team lead or increased responsibility up until now. i do have a very good track record as a consultant. think successful projects for satisfied clients, and judge myself as ready for a first stab at something with more responsibilities on a technical level.

so right now my gross pay as an independent contractor is about 160.000 usd. my take home is rougly 90.000 usd after taxes.

my question; is that level of pay realistic for US salaries? or for US contracting day rates?


thanks!

EDIT:

Some more details on what exactly I do;

Data engineering is the engineering counterpart of the more popular data scientist role in companies. This involves programming in Java, Python and relies on distributed computing frameworks like Spark for example. A popular example is Netflix; they keep data on what users view, how long they view programs and their general digital viewing behaviour. Their data science team wants to create recommendation engines etc, and they need an engineering team to build the necessary infrastructure to do that.

The most notable difference is that i do this as a contractor for non tech companies. Think your typical telecom or financial company.

Hope that helps!

:sharebeer
Last edited by zarci on Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
hicabob
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by hicabob »

Generally software engineer pay is higher in the US than in the EU. Contractors should be paid more than salaried employees (50% more or so) because they need to buy health insurance, pay more in social security, get no paid vacations, have less stability, etc. Glassdoor.com is a pretty good website for getting an idea about pay levels.
JD2775
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by JD2775 »

A lot of it has to do with where you re-locate to, and who you work for. 160k for a Data Engineer in the Bay Area is on the low side I think. Of course, I am referring to full time positions. I have no idea what contract work pays.
bob991
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by bob991 »

I moved to the US from Europe many years ago. Your first hurdle will be to find a company that will sponsor your work visa. You will be paying a whole lot less in taxes, my effective tax rate last year was 13%.
tibbitts
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by tibbitts »

zarci wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 11:48 am hello there! i’m a European software engineer contemplating a move to the US. before i look around i want to have a reality check and see what kind of pay would be realistic.

i’m in my late twenties and have five years of experience as a data engineer. that’s essentially implementing distributed computing on “big data” for private companies. my responsibilities have not included team lead or increased responsibility up until now. i do have a very good track record as a consultant. think successful projects for satisfied clients, and judge myself as ready for a first stab at something with more responsibilities on a technical level.

so right now my gross pay as an independent contractor is about 160.000 usd. my take home is rougly 90.000 usd after taxes.

my question; is that level of pay realistic for US salaries? or for US contracting day rates?


thanks!
You won't be able to get meaningful responses due to the extreme variations in salaries for similar job descriptions, but your figure is probably within the range of possibilities.

I don't know about the EU but in the U.S. my experience as a contractor is that often any extra amount you "earn" is eaten up by intermediaries you may be forced to work through. Technically I was an independent contractor (paid via 1099) for much of my IT career, but various employers often required that I work through intermediaries - their approved vendors. In some cases I was able to negotiate my way out of that, but in other cases that wasn't possible. You can of course always insist on working directly - but you can also end up without the job. In any case once you add in benefits I don't think you'll find dramatic differences between typical contractor and employee compensation. Employers/clients will pay a small premium for the convenience of a a contractor, but larger amounts are more unusual and/or for every short-term projects or extraordinarily skilled contractors (who would likely be highly compensated as an employee, as well.)

Your tax rate would be high for the U.S., although that varies by state and locality, and also depends if you count sales and other taxes besides income taxes.
simas
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by simas »

zarci wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 11:48 am hello there! i’m a European software engineer contemplating a move to the US. before i look around i want to have a reality check and see what kind of pay would be realistic.

i’m in my late twenties and have five years of experience as a data engineer. that’s essentially implementing distributed computing on “big data” for private companies. my responsibilities have not included team lead or increased responsibility up until now. i do have a very good track record as a consultant. think successful projects for satisfied clients, and judge myself as ready for a first stab at something with more responsibilities on a technical level.

so right now my gross pay as an independent contractor is about 160.000 usd. my take home is rougly 90.000 usd after taxes.

my question; is that level of pay realistic for US salaries? or for US contracting day rates?


thanks!
Questions is too broad - a lot depends on where you move as compensation as well as cost of living varies greatly in US.
As others said , the real hurdle is to get someone to sponsor you for immigration purposes which is not easy with our immigration system (you would be completing with hundreds of thousands of other candidates primarily from south east Asia).

try things, apply for few positions - this would tell you much more than any forum.

for comparison, I am paying 175/hour for consulting help in things like data analytics/power bi to consulting companies. I am paying 110-120k in salary for mid level position in Chicago. Our costs are lower and our salaries are lower vs the costs. US taxes overall are much lower than EU.
bampf
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by bampf »

Take a look at Glassdoor (google it). It will tell you salaries (approximate) at many companies.
Humility101
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Humility101 »

Pretty broad question, but generally you could expect a six figure salary, and higher six figures in certain locales. However this also depends on degree, certifications, programming languages, etc. You don’t reference specifics on any of the above so it would be hard to nail down your true market value. It seems like you are focused on enterprise cloud migration, which is a strong sector and will be in the foreseeable future.

Someone also made a great point about H1B visa sponsorship. Very important, but very possible if you have the right skills.

Good Luck,

Humility101
Normchad
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Normchad »

Check out levels.fyi lots of good salary information there.......
pseudoiterative
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by pseudoiterative »

For another data point, I reckon similar take-home pay is achievable in a permanent role for your specialty in one of Australia's major cities. Although there's the downside that you'd probably have to work at a bank. There would be very little room to increase salary any further without transitioning into a lead or management role. You could get it a bit higher with contracting day rates, and perhaps a fair bit higher if you are coming in as a contractor who can deliver a whole solution for a client rather than getting plugged in as labour into the client's project team.

To make it easier to compare between countries: for a citizen or a permanent resident in Australia, there would be public health insurance at no additional cost, and as well as the take-home pay there would also be compulsory employer contribution of +9.5% of gross pay toward a retirement account.

I gather there would be more opportunity, variety of work & market demand in the right parts of the US.
Last edited by pseudoiterative on Fri Dec 04, 2020 1:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
confused1
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by confused1 »

Also take a look at https://www.teamblind.com/
Site is anonymous which means there is some BS but useful to better understand salaries as people can speak freely about what's usually a confidential conversation.
Pomegranate
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Pomegranate »

zarci wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 11:48 am hello there! i’m a European software engineer contemplating a move to the US. before i look around i want to have a reality check and see what kind of pay would be realistic.

i’m in my late twenties and have five years of experience as a data engineer. that’s essentially implementing distributed computing on “big data” for private companies. my responsibilities have not included team lead or increased responsibility up until now. i do have a very good track record as a consultant. think successful projects for satisfied clients, and judge myself as ready for a first stab at something with more responsibilities on a technical level.

so right now my gross pay as an independent contractor is about 160.000 usd. my take home is rougly 90.000 usd after taxes.

my question; is that level of pay realistic for US salaries? or for US contracting day rates?


thanks!
Just hired one for my team (permanent) - 105 base + 10% bonus. Typically you can multiply it by 1.3-1.5 to get a contractor rate. MCOL
There will be few folks here talking about 'every IT guy makes 7 numbers easily' but it's up to you to believe it or not :sharebeer
rich126
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by rich126 »

A software engineer is not the same as an IT specialist. And IT specialist could have a lot of different meanings as well.

In my experience IT jobs pay less, often substantially less then what a sw engineer gets.

Would depend on what you mean by that term.

And salaries would vary hugely by company/state/etc.
howard71
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by howard71 »

I was an independent contractor as a software developer from 1995 to about 2005, after a long and successful period as a salaried employee. I was making $100 per hour and was once even paid $1k/day with a five day minimum and a first class plane ticket just to help a company solve a problem they couldn't figure out on their own (it took me less than an hour). In my best year I made about $200k. That wasn't typical at the time but it was also not unheard of for top level contractors.

The last time I looked into contracting before I retired, the going rate seemed to be around $35/hour or less and I couldn't even land a gig at that rate because I didn't have a computer science degree. It all comes down to supply and demand and people like you from Europe and especially from India have been contributing to the supply side. I had the great fortune of getting in on the ground floor when IT was first taking off and computer "wizards" were still rare. Today they seem to be a dime a dozen, or at least $35/hour.

I don't think you'd have any problem at all making the kind of money your are talking about as a salaried employee but as a contractor nowadays I'm not so sure.
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wander
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by wander »

rich126 wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:02 pm And IT specialist could have a lot of different meanings as well.
Yeah. ITs at my company are good at reset login passwords, update computer security and sometimes the work they do actually break computers and we, the users, have to find licenses that were lost during the software upgrades. Some are smart, but many are so so. The salary range is wide.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by DoctorPhysics »

Levels.fyi
Jack FFR1846
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

wander wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:44 pm
rich126 wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:02 pm And IT specialist could have a lot of different meanings as well.
Yeah. ITs at my company are good at reset login passwords, update computer security and sometimes the work they do actually break computers and we, the users, have to find licenses that were lost during the software upgrades. Some are smart, but many are so so. The salary range is wide.
For these guys, $50k a year is pretty good. Community colleges in my state have 2 year associates degrees in IT (information technology).

With the money you're making in the EU, I expect that's not what you do. Don't forget health care costs in the US are the highest in the world. Insurance, even heavily subsidized by an employer will still be expensive and if you actually go to use it, you'll have to first pay out of pocket for deductible, then when that few thousand dollars are paid, you'll pay a co-pay for each visit/service/prescription. And if a doctor sends blood work to the "wrong" lab, you'll pay that bill as your insurance will deny the out of network claim.
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jarjarM
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by jarjarM »

Data engineer is a hot field so I don't think you'll have any trouble finding jobs (I work with them daily). As for salary expectation, it'll depend on the type of company you join. If you're aiming for fortune 500 but non-tech company, I think $200k total comp is easily achievable. You'll be a specialist reporting to the IT org. If you want to be more aggressive and push for FAANG or top tier tech, you can get $3-400k total comp depending on how well you interview. Good luck :beer
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by HawkeyePierce »

I work in big data/distributed computing applications.

$250-500k is reasonable in the US. This also isn't really considered IT over here.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ivgrivchuck »

zarci wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 11:48 am hello there! i’m a European software engineer contemplating a move to the US. before i look around i want to have a reality check and see what kind of pay would be realistic.

i’m in my late twenties and have five years of experience as a data engineer. that’s essentially implementing distributed computing on “big data” for private companies. my responsibilities have not included team lead or increased responsibility up until now. i do have a very good track record as a consultant. think successful projects for satisfied clients, and judge myself as ready for a first stab at something with more responsibilities on a technical level.
Depending on your experience, exact skill set, where you live, negotiation skills, the total compensation could be anything in $100k-$500k range.
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ivgrivchuck
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ivgrivchuck »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:51 pm This also isn't really considered IT over here.
+1.

OP is a software engineer, not an IT support person.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ivgrivchuck »

zarci wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 11:48 am my question; is that level of pay realistic for US salaries? or for US contracting day rates?
If you are good, know what you are doing, get into FAANG, you'll make more in the U.S. than in Europe, potentially a lot more.

I wouldn't recommend contracting in the U.S. (at least to begin with). Get into a big mature company, they'll take care of everything (health insurance, VISA, retirement accounts). Get 3-4 years under your belt, and then consider your options.
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62nc
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by 62nc »

Geography matters for sure.

Also can you be more specific than “big data”? What software and technologies? That could help target the salary ranges.
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zarci
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

Thanks for the replies! I left out the details to avoid being "recognisable". But I'll add some more details to the original post.
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zarci
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

HawkeyePierce wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:51 pm I work in big data/distributed computing applications.

$250-500k is reasonable in the US. This also isn't really considered IT over here.
I had no idea there was such a big gap in what was considered "IT" and software engineering. Thanks for clearing that up!

250 even seems like a really high figure, that's almost twice my current salary. How realistic is it for a European to be granted a work visa?
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zarci
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:15 pm
wander wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:44 pm
rich126 wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:02 pm And IT specialist could have a lot of different meanings as well.
Yeah. ITs at my company are good at reset login passwords, update computer security and sometimes the work they do actually break computers and we, the users, have to find licenses that were lost during the software upgrades. Some are smart, but many are so so. The salary range is wide.
For these guys, $50k a year is pretty good. Community colleges in my state have 2 year associates degrees in IT (information technology).

With the money you're making in the EU, I expect that's not what you do. Don't forget health care costs in the US are the highest in the world. Insurance, even heavily subsidized by an employer will still be expensive and if you actually go to use it, you'll have to first pay out of pocket for deductible, then when that few thousand dollars are paid, you'll pay a co-pay for each visit/service/prescription. And if a doctor sends blood work to the "wrong" lab, you'll pay that bill as your insurance will deny the out of network claim.
Thanks for the feedback. Could you maybe give me a "ballpark" figure on what a decent health care insurance would cost me? Assuming my employer would have some form of coverage?
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:30 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 8:15 pm
wander wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:44 pm
rich126 wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 6:02 pm And IT specialist could have a lot of different meanings as well.
Yeah. ITs at my company are good at reset login passwords, update computer security and sometimes the work they do actually break computers and we, the users, have to find licenses that were lost during the software upgrades. Some are smart, but many are so so. The salary range is wide.
For these guys, $50k a year is pretty good. Community colleges in my state have 2 year associates degrees in IT (information technology).

With the money you're making in the EU, I expect that's not what you do. Don't forget health care costs in the US are the highest in the world. Insurance, even heavily subsidized by an employer will still be expensive and if you actually go to use it, you'll have to first pay out of pocket for deductible, then when that few thousand dollars are paid, you'll pay a co-pay for each visit/service/prescription. And if a doctor sends blood work to the "wrong" lab, you'll pay that bill as your insurance will deny the out of network claim.
Thanks for the feedback. Could you maybe give me a "ballpark" figure on what a decent health care insurance would cost me? Assuming my employer would have some form of coverage?
if your single, employer coverage could costs you from very little (free) out of your paycheck, to 300ish a month. (more then that, the employer is really cheap on healthcare)... a plan could have anywhere from 200 deductible to 2000-3000 deductible...
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ClevrChico »

The move would probably only financially make sense if you could land a job at a big tech company that pays extremely well. (Google, Facebook, etc.)
That might be hard given your experience is non-tech companies. The interview process is extremely competitive.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ivgrivchuck »

zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:27 am How realistic is it for a European to be granted a work visa?
I came with a visa known as H1B. It requires that you find a sponsoring company who puts you into a lottery system. You have around 40% chance of getting the visa. Your sponsor may re-enter you into the lottery annually.

There are also other techniques people get in (L1: internal transfer visa, O1: genius visa), but they also require a sponsoring company and have their own restrictions.

You may also try the green card lottery. It is free, but chances are slim that you will win.

It is not easy. It is not impossible. Good luck!
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ivgrivchuck
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ivgrivchuck »

zarci wrote: Fri Dec 04, 2020 11:48 am
Some more details on what exactly I do;

Data engineering is the engineering counterpart of the more popular data scientist role in companies. This involves programming in Java, Python and relies on distributed computing frameworks like Spark for example. A popular example is Netflix; they keep data on what users view, how long they view programs and their general digital viewing behaviour. Their data science team wants to create recommendation engines etc, and they need an engineering team to build the necessary infrastructure to do that.

The most notable difference is that i do this as a contractor for non tech companies. Think your typical telecom or financial company.
It's hard to imagine any of these non-tech companies sponsoring you.

And your skill set may not be easily transferable to big tech companies. That is probably your best bet anyway. If you can show that you are very good, they'll take you. They are always hunting for new talent. The interview process is not easy though.
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Soon2BXProgrammer
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

the other place to look for a job if your not dead set on leaving europe is US defense contractors that have European contracts, they seem to always be looking for local hires.
simas
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by simas »

Soon2BXProgrammer wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:36 am
zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:30 am Thanks for the feedback. Could you maybe give me a "ballpark" figure on what a decent health care insurance would cost me? Assuming my employer would have some form of coverage?
if your single, employer coverage could costs you from very little (free) out of your paycheck, to 300ish a month. (more then that, the employer is really cheap on healthcare)... a plan could have anywhere from 200 deductible to 2000-3000 deductible...
+1 what this guy said above. don't let the 'US healthcare is horrible and horribly expensive' refrain scare you. at the level you are coming from and the role you are coming into , your healthcare costs would be in that ballpark above - 50-250 per paycheck + max out of pocket of few thousand a year. you are very unlikely to work for tiny company with no benefits (they simply can not afford you or unlikely engage in sponsoring immigrant visas), big companies all have very good benefits.

You mentioned 160k Euro gross annually which nets you 90k euro annually. In dollars it is $194k and $110k. At that level of income, single, your take home net after taxes would be $142k for that salary in place like Austin, TX (no state income tax) or $125k in Los Angeles , CA (one of the highest state income taxes in US). And this is before any real reductions for things like 401k (our self directed pension plan), HSA (special accounts to pay for healthcare), etc. Even if HSA 'high deductible policy' , and at the same level of income, you are ahead of where you were in EU. I used smartasset.com free paycheck calculator for estimates if you want to run your own numbers.

where you would be looking for position matters, each state in US is actually a 'state' (as in self governing territory that sets is own policies, laws, taxes, etc). 200K position living in Des Moines , IA is not the same as 200K position having to live in San Francisco, CA.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by KyleAAA »

It doesn't sound like you are looking for IT specialist jobs, but rather data engineering jobs. Where would you want to live and how much effort would you put into studying? If you could crack any of the top companies you would earn far more in the US. It might not be worth the move to work in non-tech F500 companies, though.

Anywhere from $100k-500k is realistic depending on where you live and how skilled you are.
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zarci
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

KyleAAA wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:53 am It doesn't sound like you are looking for IT specialist jobs, but rather data engineering jobs. Where would you want to live and how much effort would you put into studying? If you could crack any of the top companies you would earn far more in the US. It might not be worth the move to work in non-tech F500 companies, though.

Anywhere from $100k-500k is realistic depending on where you live and how skilled you are.
That is correct. The ideal position would be an opportunity to design and implement a data science / engineering platform for a non tech company or startup. Or a position in a hardcore engineering tech company, which implies working with people that are both smarter and more experienced at data engineering.

Location would be secondary to that.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

ClevrChico wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:38 am The move would probably only financially make sense if you could land a job at a big tech company that pays extremely well. (Google, Facebook, etc.)
That might be hard given your experience is non-tech companies. The interview process is extremely competitive.
Could you maybe elaborate on this? I'm interpreting this as there being a very large spread on salaries for non-tech fortune 500 companies when compared to FAANG or similar.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:15 pm
ClevrChico wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:38 am The move would probably only financially make sense if you could land a job at a big tech company that pays extremely well. (Google, Facebook, etc.)
That might be hard given your experience is non-tech companies. The interview process is extremely competitive.
Could you maybe elaborate on this? I'm interpreting this as there being a very large spread on salaries for non-tech fortune 500 companies when compared to FAANG or similar.
if you are a highest level individual contributor at a big airplane manufacturer in Seattle, you might be able to make 160-170.

If you work for FAANG, you could easily make 200+ without batting an eye. plus equity compensation if the company continues to do well
Last edited by Soon2BXProgrammer on Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by pasadena »

zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:01 pm Location would be secondary to that.
Location will be a huge factor due to local cost of housing and living - and taxes.

When I moved from France to the US, I basically doubled my gross income, but while I had indeed more money in hand, it wasn't double. Also note that I went from employee in France to employee in the US. I wasn't a contractor. A few things you need to take into account:

- Rent. I wasn't living in Paris or Zurich, so my rent wasn't anywhere close to what I had to pay in Los Angeles (new rent in LA was about twice as much as old rent in France) and the apartment wasn't nearly as good.

- Health Insurance. This depends a lot on the company. Could be zero cost to you (very rare), could be several hundred $ twice a month. Generally speaking, the bigger the company, the lower the cost of insurance. On top of that, if you need actual health care, you will have to pay out of pocket up to a certain limit before insurance kicks in (deductible). Beyond that, you will pay part of the costs up to another higher limit (maximum out of pocket). When working for a small company or a start-up, all of that can add up to a lot of money.

- Retirement. There's a federal retirement system (social security) that costs 6.5% of your salary. On top of that, you are expected to save and invest on your side. This will cost you $19,500 a year, taken out of your gross income (so no taxes on it). You can do less, but I wouldn't recommend it at your level of income. You can - and should - do more, with your post-tax income, in other vehicles. There's also a 1.45% tax for Medicare (health insurance for retirees).

- Income taxes. They're lower than most of Europe, but still a good chunk of your income. Effective federal tax could range between 18% and 30% of your gross income, depending on a ton of factors. Then there's state taxes, which obviously depends on your state (and sometimes city).

Point is, a big difference with Europe is that you need to look at the whole package of salary + benefits, not just salary.
international001
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by international001 »

Right. Many places in Europe take ~30% to invest in your future pension (for a small part get a deduction, the rest is implicit. IN US is 10%. So you are expected to save by your own.

Pensions in Europe are under question, so 401k/IRA are likely to offer you better returns. If you plan to move back to Europe, it's another level of headache to maintain them.

For costs, did you try numbeo?

For plain salary, international companies use some ranges for the same category. This could be a good orientation. It's adjusted on the cost of living
From some old numbers I have, in Switzerland, you would get ~x2 what you would get in Greece and still +30% of what you would get average in US.

Also, now it may be a bad moment. Tech pay in HCOL areas may go down as a result of covid and more people choosing remote work.
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ClevrChico
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ClevrChico »

Soon2BXProgrammer wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:17 pm
zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:15 pm
ClevrChico wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:38 am The move would probably only financially make sense if you could land a job at a big tech company that pays extremely well. (Google, Facebook, etc.)
That might be hard given your experience is non-tech companies. The interview process is extremely competitive.
Could you maybe elaborate on this? I'm interpreting this as there being a very large spread on salaries for non-tech fortune 500 companies when compared to FAANG or similar.
if you are a highest level individual contributor at a big airplane manufacturer in Seattle, you might be able to make 160-170.

If you work for FAANG, you could easily make 200+ without batting an eye. plus equity compensation if the company continues to do well
Exactly. $160k would probably put you in the top 10% of engineer pay for non-FAANG companies. It makes a big move not really worth it if it's solely for money.

Plus, you'll need a company willing to sponsor your visa.
Starfish
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Starfish »

.....
Last edited by Starfish on Sat Dec 05, 2020 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
regularguy455
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by regularguy455 »

You may find this website useful: https://h1bdata.info/

If you follow it to the underlying source data, it is VERY interesting.
Starfish
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Starfish »

zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:15 pm
ClevrChico wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:38 am The move would probably only financially make sense if you could land a job at a big tech company that pays extremely well. (Google, Facebook, etc.)
That might be hard given your experience is non-tech companies. The interview process is extremely competitive.
Could you maybe elaborate on this? I'm interpreting this as there being a very large spread on salaries for non-tech fortune 500 companies when compared to FAANG or similar.
The spread is very large because a lot of compensation in FAANG comes from stock grants. As their stocks did very well, it can quickly become the majority of your compensation.
It's always better to be part of the core business (profit center) than a cost center. It could make a large difference in how you are compensated.
If you are good and have access to FAANG, US is where you want to be. You can make 3-500k, depending on the role etc.
For a generic job, it's much harder to say. Personally I would not even consider it. Europe offers better quality of life, you have friends & family there. Some American companies are very hard on your work/life balance, vacations policies etc (but some are reasonable). Emigration is very hard for most people.
Until you get an offer, this discussion is pointless anyway.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Dottie57 »

Starfish is right. “It's always better to be part of the core business (profit center) than a cost center. It could make a large difference in how you are compensated.”. Is very true.


Most. career was spent in a cost center. So pennies were pinched on salary. Star in companies and companies where you help by THE product.
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by ivgrivchuck »

Starfish wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 5:37 pm If you are good and have access to FAANG, US is where you want to be. You can make 3-500k, depending on the role etc.
For a generic job, it's much harder to say. Personally I would not even consider it. Europe offers better quality of life, you have friends & family there. Some American companies are very hard on your work/life balance, vacations policies etc (but some are reasonable). Emigration is very hard for most people.
+1
Until you get an offer, this discussion is pointless anyway.
Well, OP is considering whether or not he should pursue this path. And knowing what lies ahead could impact his decision.
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Pomegranate
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by Pomegranate »

zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:01 pm
KyleAAA wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 11:53 am It doesn't sound like you are looking for IT specialist jobs, but rather data engineering jobs. Where would you want to live and how much effort would you put into studying? If you could crack any of the top companies you would earn far more in the US. It might not be worth the move to work in non-tech F500 companies, though.

Anywhere from $100k-500k is realistic depending on where you live and how skilled you are.
That is correct. The ideal position would be an opportunity to design and implement a data science / engineering platform for a non tech company or startup. Or a position in a hardcore engineering tech company, which implies working with people that are both smarter and more experienced at data engineering.

Location would be secondary to that.
If you are capable for designing a platform, then you're in a higher tier than regular data engineers. Comp in my team for such ICs might be 140+ base and 15% bonus.
MCOL, F500
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zarci
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

Starfish wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 5:37 pm
zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:15 pm
ClevrChico wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:38 am The move would probably only financially make sense if you could land a job at a big tech company that pays extremely well. (Google, Facebook, etc.)
That might be hard given your experience is non-tech companies. The interview process is extremely competitive.
Could you maybe elaborate on this? I'm interpreting this as there being a very large spread on salaries for non-tech fortune 500 companies when compared to FAANG or similar.
The spread is very large because a lot of compensation in FAANG comes from stock grants. As their stocks did very well, it can quickly become the majority of your compensation.
It's always better to be part of the core business (profit center) than a cost center. It could make a large difference in how you are compensated.
If you are good and have access to FAANG, US is where you want to be. You can make 3-500k, depending on the role etc.
For a generic job, it's much harder to say. Personally I would not even consider it. Europe offers better quality of life, you have friends & family there. Some American companies are very hard on your work/life balance, vacations policies etc (but some are reasonable). Emigration is very hard for most people.
Until you get an offer, this discussion is pointless anyway.
Thank you for providing useful and clear answers, even though my original question may have been vague. Currently I am a top contributor and in the top 10% compensation bracket of a local non-FAANG company.

I'll be honest. What originally spurred my question was that I noticed that my supervisor is reluctant to give me more responsibilities. I believe they prefer to use those as a bargaining chip when attracting new hires. Remember that the difference in cost between employees and contractors is huge here. As I'm typing this I do realise I should probably ask them directly about that to make sure I'm not just being arrogant.

That effectively makes my current work dead-end. Even though I enjoy it very much. Other than that I also noticed they're really penny pinching on compensation.

So if I summarise what I've learned from your replies on this thread I'd say that a non-FAANG company outside of my current locale probably would not compensate me significantly more than what I'm currently earning. It may however do away with the distinction between employees and contractors and provide a more level playing field for deciding who gets what set of responsibilities.

Then, a FAANG company would likely pay much more, provided I'd be good enough to pass the interview process. And I guess this ties in with companies where I'd contribute on the core product or business generally being more appreciative.


So I guess I have two realistic options:
  • Make a move to a non-FAANG company where I'm still part of the cost center, but have more responsibilities
  • Make a move to a FAANG-company or company where the data platform is the core product ore business
I have briefly skimmed these types of companies and salaries in Zurich, Switzerland. There does not seem to be a major difference with US salaries, or with my current contractor rate. Which is consistent with what you're giving as feedback.

And I will gladly admit I'll have to get a job offer on the table that proves I'm walking my walk and that I'm not just being cocky. Which is honestly my main motivator for making a switch now that I come to think of it :confused


I honestly did not expect the Bogleheads board to provide such good career advice. Thanks! :sharebeer
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by international001 »

Ok.. Zurich.. you may get better salary than non-HCOL US, but it's still expensive ;-)
I know people in Europe moving there (or dreaming of) at least for a few years to save some big bucks
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zarci
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by zarci »

international001 wrote: Sun Dec 06, 2020 12:02 pm Ok.. Zurich.. you may get better salary than non-HCOL US, but it's still expensive ;-)
I know people in Europe moving there (or dreaming of) at least for a few years to save some big bucks
Expensive it is! It may be easier for me compared to obtaining a US visa since i'm legally allowed to work in the EU
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Re: what’s a realistic salary for an IT specialist?

Post by KyleAAA »

zarci wrote: Sun Dec 06, 2020 5:46 am
Starfish wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 5:37 pm
zarci wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 12:15 pm
ClevrChico wrote: Sat Dec 05, 2020 10:38 am The move would probably only financially make sense if you could land a job at a big tech company that pays extremely well. (Google, Facebook, etc.)
That might be hard given your experience is non-tech companies. The interview process is extremely competitive.
Could you maybe elaborate on this? I'm interpreting this as there being a very large spread on salaries for non-tech fortune 500 companies when compared to FAANG or similar.
The spread is very large because a lot of compensation in FAANG comes from stock grants. As their stocks did very well, it can quickly become the majority of your compensation.
It's always better to be part of the core business (profit center) than a cost center. It could make a large difference in how you are compensated.
If you are good and have access to FAANG, US is where you want to be. You can make 3-500k, depending on the role etc.
For a generic job, it's much harder to say. Personally I would not even consider it. Europe offers better quality of life, you have friends & family there. Some American companies are very hard on your work/life balance, vacations policies etc (but some are reasonable). Emigration is very hard for most people.
Until you get an offer, this discussion is pointless anyway.
Thank you for providing useful and clear answers, even though my original question may have been vague. Currently I am a top contributor and in the top 10% compensation bracket of a local non-FAANG company.

I'll be honest. What originally spurred my question was that I noticed that my supervisor is reluctant to give me more responsibilities. I believe they prefer to use those as a bargaining chip when attracting new hires. Remember that the difference in cost between employees and contractors is huge here. As I'm typing this I do realise I should probably ask them directly about that to make sure I'm not just being arrogant.

That effectively makes my current work dead-end. Even though I enjoy it very much. Other than that I also noticed they're really penny pinching on compensation.

So if I summarise what I've learned from your replies on this thread I'd say that a non-FAANG company outside of my current locale probably would not compensate me significantly more than what I'm currently earning. It may however do away with the distinction between employees and contractors and provide a more level playing field for deciding who gets what set of responsibilities.

Then, a FAANG company would likely pay much more, provided I'd be good enough to pass the interview process. And I guess this ties in with companies where I'd contribute on the core product or business generally being more appreciative.


So I guess I have two realistic options:
  • Make a move to a non-FAANG company where I'm still part of the cost center, but have more responsibilities
  • Make a move to a FAANG-company or company where the data platform is the core product ore business
I have briefly skimmed these types of companies and salaries in Zurich, Switzerland. There does not seem to be a major difference with US salaries, or with my current contractor rate. Which is consistent with what you're giving as feedback.

And I will gladly admit I'll have to get a job offer on the table that proves I'm walking my walk and that I'm not just being cocky. Which is honestly my main motivator for making a switch now that I come to think of it :confused


I honestly did not expect the Bogleheads board to provide such good career advice. Thanks! :sharebeer
Don’t get hung up on FAANG. They are not the highest paying companies in the market. There are dozens of companies that pay as much or more than FAANG all over the country (not just in California). They are all either tech companies or fintech/HFT companies. Fortune 500 non-tech companies can pay well but they won’t come close to matching tech company pay in most cases. These high paying companies with offices in Zurich will pay comparably to the US, so it may not be necessary to move if you can get an offer.
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