How Much Do Coders Make? Salary Potential & Career Outlook
By The Fullstack Academy Team
From mobile phones, laptops, and cars to enterprise, industrial, and space systems, the software that runs today’s technology plays a vital role throughout society. Companies in nearly every industry use software to become more efficient, more productive, and more successful.
The computers and other hardware that make technological innovations possible have their own language, and it is up to software professionals to write instructions that computers can understand. These instructions, known as code, enable software to communicate with hardware to make technology work.
But how much do coders make, and what should individuals know about pursuing coding careers? Read on to learn more about where a coding career can take you, and how much you can expect to earn along the way.
In this article, we’ll explore:
What Is Coding?
Before looking at coding roles and salaries, it’s important to answer the question, “what is coding?” The term “coding” describes the use of a programming language to instruct a computer to perform a specific operation or set of operations, including inputting, processing, outputting, storing, and controlling. The two primary types of programming are low-level and high-level programming. Understanding the primary types of programming is the first step in distinguishing between the many coding roles available.
Low-level programming uses native computer language to provide basic instructions to a CPU. The two primary types of low-level programming language are machine language and assembly language. Machine language contains binary code made up of 1s and 0s. Assembly language is a slightly more advanced than machine language level and includes commands that enable computers to perform basic operations, including calculations and registry instructions. Humans cannot typically read these languages.
Software will continue to be the driving force of the current digital transformation. As software becomes more advanced and innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning take on bigger roles in society and business;coding will continue to grow in importance, creating more opportunities for professionals with the right background.
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Computer Coding Salary and Salaries of Related Fields
From database developer to web developer and digital designer, there are many different types of software careers–each with their own responsibilities, specializations, and earning potential. Still, they typically share a common trait: they’re all in high demand, which often translates into competitive salaries.Below are some examples of how much coders make.
Computer Programmer Salary
The overall median salary for computer programmers was $93,000 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Individuals in entry-level positions typically earn far less than those with years of experience in the field. The median annual salary for individuals in the lowest 10% was less than $47,560, while the highest 10% had a median annual salary of more than $155,240.
BLS occupational employment and wage statistics suggest that geography is a major determining factor of salary for computer programmers. For example, the highest-paying states for computer programmers in 2021 were Washington and California, with mean annual salaries of $183,610 and $114,740, respectively.
Another determining factor is industry. The average computer programmer salary in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry was $140,560, while those in the semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing industry had a median annual salary of $128,300, according to the BLS.
Web Developer Salary (Full-Stack Developer Salary)
The overall median salary for web developers was $92,349 in 2021, according to Emsi Burning Glass. The range of salary for web developers can vary based on experience. For example, the median salary for an entry-level web developer (up to two years’ experience) was $80,800, while the median salary for experienced web developers (nine or more years of experience) was $102,100.
Geography also plays a role in web developer salaries. For example, the median annual salary for a web developer in the Cleveland, Ohio, area was $82,145, while the median annual salary for the same role in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area in California was $105,607.
Web developer salaries can be further broken down by type:
- Front-end web developer salary: median annual salary of $77,028 as of April 2022, according to Payscale
- Back-end web developer salary: median annual salary of $87,009 as of April 2022, according to Payscale
Mobile App Developer Salary
There are various types of application developer roles. Mobile app developers are in high demand thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices. Mobile app developers earned a median annual salary of $74,797 as of April 2022, according to Payscale.
Less-experienced individuals typically earned much less than those with many years of experience. The median annual salary for individuals with less than one year of experience was $61,097, while those with 10-19 years of experience earned $117,147.
Another determining factor of salary for mobile app developers is location. For example, Payscale reports that mobile app developers in San Francisco, California, earned about 31% more than the median annual salary nationwide. Mobile app developers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, earned 9.3% less than the median annual salary.
User Interface / User Experience Developer Salary
The median annual salary for user interface / user experience (UI/UX) developers was $67,410 as of April 2022, according to Payscale. The median annual salary for individuals with less than one year of experience was $56,686, while those with 10-19 years of experience earned $89,833.
Geography can play a significant role in determining salary. Payscale reports that UI/UX developers in San Francisco, California, earned about 61% more than the median annual salary nationwide. UI/UX developers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, earned about 13% less than the median annual salary.
Database Developer Salary
The overall median salary for database developer-type roles, including database administrator and database architect, was $98,860 in 2020, according to the BLS. The salary range for database developers can vary widely. The median salary for the lowest 10% of workers was $54,070, while the median salary for the highest 10% of workers was $155,660.
Geography also plays a role in database developer salaries. Database developers in Houston, Texas, earned 26% more than the median annual salary, but in Atlanta, Georgia, they earned 5.6% less than the median annual salary, according to Payscale.
Development operations (DevOps) engineers earned a median annual salary of $109,909, according to Emsi Burning Glass. Experience typically influences DevOps salaries. The median annual salary for individuals with less than two years of experience was $98,900, while those with more than nine years of experience earned $114,500.
Job location is a determining factor for DevOps professionals’ salaries. For example, Emsi Burning Glass reports that DevOps professionals in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area in Colorado earned a median annual salary of $110,134, while those in Oklahoma earned $100,972.
Software Quality Assurance Engineer Salary
Software quality assurance engineers earned a median annual salary of $110,140 as of May 2020, according to the BLS. Salaries for software quality assurance engineers vary widely. The median salary for the lowest 10% of workers was $65,210, while the median salary for the highest 10% was $170,100.
The median salaries for software quality assurance engineers also vary by industry: software publishers ($124,050), manufacturing $119,280), management of companies and enterprises ($109,840), and computer systems design ($106,160).
Salaries for software quality assurance engineers also vary based on location. For example, software quality assurance engineers in San Jose, California, earned 43.8% more than the median annual salary, but in Austin, Texas, they earned 3.9% less than the median annual salary, according to Payscale.
Types of Coding
Another reason behind the wide variety of programming languages is that people express ideas differently. Coders can use any number of tools to accomplish a task, based on their preferred working method and how they think.
Five Types of Programming Languages
Programming languages primarily fall under five types: procedural, functional, object-oriented, scripting, and logic.
Procedural programming involves writing code that calls out a procedure, also known as a routine or function, that instructs a computer to take certain computational steps. Languages used in procedural programming include C, Java, and Pascal.
Functional programming is used to build software through pure functions. The code calls out sequential functions that take in an input value and return an output value. Languages used in functional programming include Scala, Scheme, Haskell, and SML.
Object-oriented programming (OOP) consists of classes: a type of blueprint for creating objects. An object, which packages data in particular structure, contains information that instructs a computer how to perform actions. Languages used in OOP include C++, C#, and Python.
In logic programming, formal logical clauses express the actions that computers are to take based on the rules of logic that the coder creates. For example, a line of code tells a computer to take an action with a logical sequence: If A is true and B is true, then C and D are also true. Languages used in logic include Prolog, Datalog, and Absys.
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Integrated Development Environments
Coding can be complex and time consuming. With larger software development projects involving different individuals and teams, the coding process can become chaotic. This is why many software development teams turn to integrated development environments (IDEs).
What is an IDE? IDEs facilitate coding processes and steps by combining various software development tasks in a straightforward interface to make the job quicker and easier. IDEs do this in various ways, including the following:
- Consolidating the different aspects of coding
- Helping to manage workflows
- Giving coders access to a suite of sophisticated development tools
- Providing a simplified user interface to minimize clutter and improve productivity
- Offering cross-platform support across different languages
Popular IDE environments include the following:
- NetBeans. A Java-based IDE that helps reduce coding errors and simplify problem-solving. This feature-rich text editor provides detailed views of applications, drag-and-drop features, and ready-to-use integrations.
- Eclipse. An IDE that allows development in Java and other languages, including C/C++, Python, and Perl. This free-to-use platform provides plug-ins that facilitate code development and testing.
- Emacs. One of the oldest IDEs, it includes a text editor available on various operating systems, including Linux, macOS, and Windows. Users cite its efficient commands for complex actions as one of its benefits.
Resources: Types of Coding
Knowing where to turn for additional information can help increase your understanding of the types of coding, like the following resources:
- Fullstack Academy, “Blog: Learn to Code”: Provides links to informative articles about coding careers, skills, and resources.
- HubSpot, “12 of the Best Programming Languages to Learn in 2022”: Explains what languages are used for and their demand in the labor market.
- Inc., “10 Most Popular Programming Languages Today”: Provides a basic understanding of various programming languages and their benefits.
- Veracode, What Is an Integrated Development Environment?: Provides a history of IDEs and expands on the different types.
Salaries by Programming Language
It makes sense for software developers interested in learning which languages translate into the highest salaries to keep an eye on the most in-demand programming language skills sought by employers. Some of these roles can pay around six figures a year. Here are median annual salaries of some of the most popular programming languages.
In 2021, the median annual salary for PHP was $103,580, an increase of nearly 2 percent from the previous year, according to The Dice Tech Salary Report: 2022 Edition.
The median annual salary for professionals with Python skills in the AI and data space was $150,000, according to O’Reilly’s 2021 Data/AI Salary Survey.
Perl professionals earned a median annual salary of $122,944 in 2021, an increase of over 4% from the previous year, according to Dice.
How to Become a Coder
The lexicon of the programming world is diverse, encompassing a wide variety of languages and approaches, so the path to becoming a coder will differ from person to person. Knowledge of programming languages and coding skills is foundational if you are seeking information on how to become a coder. You can acquire this knowledge through education.
Regarding coder requirements, as long as an individual has demonstrated skills in coding, experience in the technology field is not required to become a coder. However, it can play a key role in reaching senior positions.
Some individuals interested in pursuing coding enroll in bachelor’s in computer science programs at colleges and universities. These programs typically take four years to complete. In addition to programming languages, they require students to complete general education credits and math courses, including calculus, discrete mathematics, and statistics. It is important to note that a bachelor’s degree is not a coder requirement, but it can have benefits depending on the career.
Other options are self-study and coding bootcamps. Individuals who opt for self-study must first choose which programming language they want to learn. Then, they need resources such as books, interactive tutorials, and online videos to learn programming basics. Self-study also encourages learning through trial and error and practicing with personal projects.
Coding bootcamps offer elements of both a formal four-year education and self-study. Bootcamps are intensive, accelerated programs that require less of a time commitment than a degree and offer students guidance on developing in-demand coding skills, individualized mentorship from developers and educators, networking opportunities, and more.
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Certifications and Requirements
Organizations interested in hiring coders and programmers may want to verify their skills in specific programming languages. One way to demonstrate expertise in coding is by completing a certification. Certification provides individuals with an opportunity to highlight their expertise. Each certification process varies, and requirements differ. Some certifications require taking a course and being tested upon completion, while others require professional development hours or demonstrated professional experience in the area of focus.
Popular certifications include the following:
- Oracle Certified Associate Java Programmer (OCAJP)
- Certified Associate in Python Programming (PCAP)
- R programming
- Ruby Association Certified Ruby Programmer
Resources: Becoming a Coder
Developing in-demand coding skills can set you apart as a software developer and coder. What else does it take to become a coder? The following resources offer some perspectives on becoming a coder:
- InfoWorld, “The Most Valuable Software Developer Skills to Get Hired Now”: Explores some of the most valuable developer and coding skills for the future.
- New Relic, “8 Essential Tips to Become a Better Coder”: Provides a step-by-step guide to improving your coding skills.
- TechBeacon, “So You Want To Be A Great Developer? 30 Inspiring Stories”: Shares stories of professionals in the field and how they became developers.
- ZDNet, “What Is Coding and What Is It Used for? A Beginner’s Guide”: Provides information about the benefits of coding, types of coders, how to become a coder, and more.
Powering the Engine That Drives the Economy
The driving forces behind the rapidly evolving global economy are the computer hardware and software that work together to accomplish tasks that make our lives easier. Thanks to the coders and programmers who write the instructions for computers, we have seen major advancements in business, healthcare, energy, and society in general. As digital transformation continues to impact every sector of society, coders will play a central role in building the backbone of the future.