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What is a fair Salary ??

 
Greenhorn
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I have been contracting for the past year and it appears I will be entering the job market due to budget constraints with my current client. I have been in this field for about six years and have several successful projects under my belt. I live in Florida which typically pays less because of a lower cost of living. So far the numbers here seem to be pretty low in the current local market. Any accurate resources out there to assess what would be a fair salary ? One company is talking about 60K with good benifits. I was making more than that three years ago. I am just wondering if this company is shooting low, or if this is fair now. It would be about a 20k pay cut.
They do however offer a stable environment and pay for grad school, which I want to complete. Any input or URL's would be appreciated.
 
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What is your background?
What is your education?
What is the scope and nature of the projects you completed at previous jobs?
What is the nature of this job?
What are the skills needed?
How readily available are others with these skills?
I also recommend seeing my salary negoitation advice, as some of those issues are also relevant.
--mark
 
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M.C. Horn:
- Right now, I would take the US$60K/yr + grad school.
- But, only if the job was 40 hours a week and you had enough energy left at end of day to go for a Master's Degree (Paid for by Employer).
- I have friend over at General Electric - has BS-Applied Math / BS-Comp Sci. Place is in Melbourne Beach, FL on Gulf Side. Has 10 yrs C++ and 2 yrs Java programming.
- Doing Java/JMX/EJB for $70K / no bonus / no relo money. They have education $$ but not sure how much.
=======
- Like Mark mentioned in his post. If you think you have better prospects shoot for more $$ at either this outfir or find another one.
- But, as we all know, the job market (especially for us Java folks) is utterly horrendous right now when compared to 2 or 3 yrs ago. Looks like it will stay that way for the next 6 months anyhow.
----------
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
Mark Herschberg
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John always has great advice about job hunting and is an inspiration to us all. However, I to make comment about one of his points, which is this is not the right view to take.

Originally posted by John Coxey:

- But, as we all know, the job market (especially for us Java folks) is utterly horrendous right now when compared to 2 or 3 yrs ago.



This is a bad comparison. Yes, it is horrendous comapared to 2-3 years ago. But I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that market to return (and I'm optimistic about the economy). 2-3 years ago was an anomily. When you look at measures like: GDP growth, unemployment rate, PE ratios, salary growth rate, etc they were all significantly off the norm. I think we will have a good economy sooner rather then later, but I don't think we can expect that kind of demand for software engineers anytime soon (even ignoring the trend to use overseas development).
Look back to the software salaries in the early to mid 90's and adjust for inflation, and that's the type of range to look for. Of course, there are two main sources of noise: real growth of software demand (e.g. internet), and "bitterness," as companies don't want to shell out money (either as payback for overinflated salaries, or due to chain of chian of command delays from income to exec to hiring managers).
I suspect John knows this, but want to make it explicitly, for someone else who may read that as "soon it will be back to as it was in the late 90's."

--Mark
 
Ranch Hand
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Mark, would you agree that in real dollars technical salaries are declining? Or was I overpaid when I was a new college grad?
 
Mark Herschberg
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Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
Mark, would you agree that in real dollars technical salaries are declining? Or was I overpaid when I was a new college grad?


It depends on what time scale. I think overall software salaries are increasing due to increasing demand for software. I also think that during the lat 90's "irrational exuberance" overinflated the market. The stocks were overinflated, so companies had more equity and we saw overinflation hit the job market. The stock pirces weren't based on fundamentals, and neither were salaries. In that sense, I think many people were overpaid during that time period.
--Mark
 
John Coxey
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Mark:
I agree that we won't see the extreme demand for Java programmers again like we did in the 1990's. However, I would like to see the market bounce back to the point where experienced Java programmers can bounce from one region of the country to the other - given a little effort on the job search part.
Right now - US$70K for a Java programmer with 3 yrs experience & MS-Comp Sci degree is considered pretty good wages.
However, I wonder if it's really worth the effort to get the MS-CS degree and put in the kind of effort necessary to learn the J2EE model, and become a mid-level Java programmer. For only US$70K/yr.
I say only - becuase myself and the other 2 Java guys here put in another 1 to 3 hours a day hitting up the books - outside of work. I study more now than I did in college.
I think I would want to put my talents towards studying something that will generate additional (not just maintain) my current income level.
---
I am at the point in my life where I have too much invested in this field to just up and change careers.
But for the new person going to college - is computer science going to be worth the effort? Meaning, are the rewards worth the cost?
---
I would hope that we see salaries back in the US$90K for mid-level Java programmers - but doubt that will happen (if ever) for quite a while.
Right now, I am grabbing some decent $$, but would hate to see the salaries if I had to go back into the job market again.
---
I think an argument you could make - would be to switch to a new technology.
Personally, I am banking on XML-Web Services, along with WebSphere Application Developer and Webshere itself to keep me employed for the next 4 or 5 yrs. Fortunately, this all sits onto of Java/J2EE so I can continue to leverage my existing skill-set.
-----
A little off topic but here goes:
Getting back to different skill-sets. Am headed up to Syracuse, NY in March to look at a weekend nursing school. They are only place in USA (that
I have found) that offers weekend clinical (hospital experience).
All other programs that I have looked into want you to do weekday clinicals - or do weekend clinicals with weekday classes. And these are located more towards the east coast --- to far to
just go for an evening class.
Getting back to the Syracuse, NY program. Classes are every other weekend. Would have to fly from Evansville, IN to Syracuse, NY for clinicals. Cost is around $230-$250 round trip.
But, I think it's something I cam going to pursue.
They have orientation/counseling w/admissions folks in March - so I am making an trip up there
to see what's all involved.
Will be fun doing this, and trying to hold onto the Java position.
----
Will have to create an online journal - like those guys that bike across USA. Would certainly break the monotony of cube life up.

A lot of ideas.
John Coxey
(jpcoxey@aol.com)
 
M.C. Horn
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Thanks for all of the feedback. I was hoping for diverse opinions from others in the same field. I was hired as a new Grad at Harris Corp in Melbourne, Fl, and spent three years there before being lured 90 miles away with a big pay increase. The company that lured me away, tanked after a year, and hence I ended up on the contracting merry go round. I have a B.S., a couple of relevant certs, and a great track record. I have fallen a little behind in the Web Services area, and do not have any EJB 2.0 implementations under my belt, but have done some pretty interesting projects with XML/XSLT/XPATH being used with MQSeries and EJB1.1 (mainframe integration). I am kind of leaning toward assessing whether it would be a good place to work, while I continue my education, whether it be via a Masters program or technical certs. The main plus about a Masters degree is it could provide an opportunity to teach at some local colleges. I have always enjoyed teaching. Rufus, you should also know, I am an older dog (retired Army officer), not real long in tooth, but can relate really well to the long in tooth !
 
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Hi MC, i dont have the experience to say authoritatively nor do i live in the USA, but ... go for it! sounds like a good thing, alright pay, and a good package for further-educating oneself. plus you can teach at local colleges which you are into.
another point - how do you feel about the company, about the managers and co-workers there, do you feel there could be a good symbiotic working relationship? If so, it could be the perfect job at the perfect time!
 
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I'd hope to get $65K, but I'd accept $60 if if got me into grad school, especially at UCF. I draw the line at the positions that demand things like COBOL+Java and offer $45K. For that, I'll go find a job at Wal-Mart, do all my Java work gratis as open-source in my off-hours and they can #$%%#@!! learn whether you really can successfully offshore all your custom programming.
The only problem with going for the education, is that while there is a posting over in the "Jobs offered" forum that demands a Master's degree, the traffic I hear is still indicating that it's more of a liability than an asset. Too much skill, too much education, too many years in the field, they go looking for someone cheaper.
The story around N. FL is that under 5 years or over 10 experience and you can kiss off finding a job right now, so if you have an offer of $60 or more, you might as well take it, since if things do turn around, you can always hit them up for more or move to greener pastures.
My only regret is that I was a faithful corporate drone for years instead of contract-hopping for the highest bidder while the frenzy was on. I'd be just as unemployed and I might at least have made better contacts for the current job search. And if, not, at least I'd have more in the bank.
 
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