You are deep into your final projects, graduation is just around the corner, and before you know it, you’ll be receiving that coveted piece of parchment that quietly suggests you make your way into adulthood. In no time at all, (if you’re not already) you will be going on interviews, and trying to make the most educated decisions about your first “real” job after college.
Aside from trying to find the best opportunity for technical and career growth, you’re also probably thinking dollar signs, and dreaming about rolling in gold coins- Scrooge McDuck style. Perhaps this is overstated, but the truth is that most recent college graduates simply don’t know what they are worth in today’s job market. They are also not quite sure how to find out, and they’ve probably never had to negotiate salary. Additionally, it can’t help when you keep hearing stories about that guy who graduated from your program last year, and was hired as an iOS/Rails/big data/cloud engineer at your dream employer, for $100k, plus equity and a signing bonus. It’s easy to see how you might over- or under-value your skill set.
While every individual offer is going to vary, there are some trends that have been prevailing in 2011-2012. I recently came across an article on CIO.com, titled “10 Cities Where IT Professionals Earn the Most”. The author pulled data from a few different sources to create a top ten salary list for all levels of IT employees. I decided to do research of my own to find out specifically what entry-level tech professionals are making.
After surveying my colleagues from across the country, I found that the CIO results are pretty spot-on, regardless of your time in the workforce. Silicon Valley seems to be the undisputed high roller, with San Francisco and New York City not far behind. My findings come from IT recruiting managers working in fields ranging from software and web engineering, systems administration, and embedded development, with the focus being on entry-level positions-- i.e. recent college grads with little-to-no professional experience.
Entry-Level IT Salary Ranges
|Silicon Valley||$60 - $100k|
|San Francisco||$50 - $90k|
|Los Angeles / Orange County||$50 - $85k|
|New York||$42 - $80k|
|Boston||$44 - $70k|
|Philadelphia||$35 - $60k|
|Chicago||$35 - $60k|
|Washington, DC||$32 - $63k|
Obviously, a multitude of factors can create hiring advantages, such as notable internships, project contributions, university reputation, awards, etc., but as with senior positions, the west coast and New York City seem to be the cities that pay the best. (It is fitting to note that NYC, SF, and SJ also have some of the highest costs-of- living.) However, there are exceptions to the rule and great companies in all cities. Instead on trying to move cross-country, you should be focused on finding a company where you can make an impact, as well as learn and grow. After all, you’re only going to be entry-level for so long.