A little fun with the average tech salaries as reported by dice.com

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Disclaimer:This post is for amusement purposes only. No life changing decisions should be made based on it. There, you’ve been warned.

Every year dice.com puts together a salary survey for those of us working in tech. It’s a chance to look at what other developers say they are making and either snicker or sigh wishfully. This week they released “2010-11 Tech Salary Survey Results”. (Go ahead, click, scroll around a bit and then come back and I’ll tell you what I found)

To me, page 5 was the most interesting. Page 5 is a table of salaries by metro area. This is interesting and at first blush it makes me wish I lived in Silicon Valley where the salaries are the highest. However, having actually lived in San Jose, CA, I know that while salaries are high, so is the cost of living. So I got to wondering what the buying power of these salaries were and how they really compared to each other.


Actually, to Sperling’s Best Places, they have the best cost of living calculator I’ve found. They give each city a number that compares it to the US average, the US average being 100. I poked around and while I couldn’t find a city that scored exactly 100, Charlotte, NC scored a 101 so I decided that for our purposes, that was close enough. Using Charlotte, NC as a baseline, I normalized each city’s average tech salary to give us some idea of how they actually compare. Here’s the normalized chart.

City Average Tech
% change
Silicon Valley $99,028 $61,984 -37%
Washington D.C./Baltimore $89,149 $67,866 -24%
New York $87,298 $53,070 -39%
Boston $86,782 $54,454 -37%
Seattle $86,168 $61,272 -29%
San Diego $85,617 $65,422 -24%
Los Angeles $84,551 $59,373 -30%
Houston $83,625 $93,080 11%
Denver $83,168 $81,876 -2%
Atlanta $82,944 $85,909 4%
Charlotte $82,825 $82,825 0%
Sacramento $82,237 $78,594 -4%
Philadelphia $81,986 $79,478 -3%
Dallas/Ft. Worth $81,579 $85,367 5%
Hartford $81,172 $84,506 4%
Chicago $79,933 $72,954 -9%
Austin, TX $79,375 $75,787 -5%
Raleigh $77,825 $74,659 -4%
Phoenix $77,141 $86,052 12%
Columbus, OH $74,615 $88,594 19%
Portland, OR $73,096 $59,534 -19%
St. Louis $71,539 $89,226 25%
Detroit $71,445 $94,453 32%

I won’t draw any conclusions for you form this data. The times I’ve had to look for jobs or evaluate offers though, I’ve always found it useful to compare the offer to my current salary at my current location.

Ok, I’ll draw one conclusion, let’s all meet in Detroit and telecommute to Silicon Valley. :)

About Cal Evans

Many moons ago, at the tender age of 14, Cal touched his first computer. (We're using the term "computer" loosely here, it was a TRS-80 Model 1) Since then his life has never been the same. He graduated from TRS-80s to Commodores and eventually to IBM PCs.   For the past 10 years, Cal has worked with PHP and MySQL on Linux OSX, and when necessary, Windows. He has built on a variety of projects ranging in size from simple web pages to multi-million dollar web applications. When not banging his head on his monitor, attempting a blood sacrifice to get a particular piece of code working, he enjoys building and managing development teams using his widely imitated but never patented management style of "management by wandering around". Cal is happily married to wife 1.33, the lovely and talented Kathy. Together they have 2 kids who were both bright enough not to pursue a career in IT. Cal blogs at http://blog.calevans.com and is the founder and host of Nomad PHP