Web Developer Salary in the US
Since you are here on my website, I will assume that you want to become a web developer. There are many reasons to become one, especially if you are into technology, computers, mobiles, etc. Probably the most common question that all developers get is: “What is a web developer salary?” Considering that I’m in the business for more than 15 years, it will be my pleasure to answer the most common questions and help you decide whether a web developer career path is an excellent choice for you or not.
Web Developer Salary in 2020
First of all, let’s focus on salary since it is always the most important thing for every person making their life choice. According to the ZipRecruiter website, the average web developer salary in the United States in 2020 is $75,073 per year or 36$ per hour. Other websites report slightly different salaries ranging from $59,578 (payscale), $68,524 (glassdoor), $69,038 (CareerExplorer), $78,046 (indeed), $95,180 (salary.com). When we take all those reports into account, we can create one nice graph and give an average:
Another critical aspect when talking about web developer salaries is seniority. Earnings per hour are widely different, so if you are just a beginner, you may expect a wage of $18.13 per hour or $37,716 per year as an Entry-Level web developer.
Junior level web developers earn, on average, $50,223 per year or $24.15 per hour. Mid-level web developers reported $33.19 per hour or $69,038 per year for 2020. Senior web developers reported $45.63 per hour or $94,903 per year for 2020. Top-level web developers listed their starting earnings from $60.76 per hour or $123,373 per year.
As of July 2020, we may see from all reports that the lowest reported web developer salary in the US was $22,000. The highest was $137,500, while most reported salaries fall between $52,000 (25th percentile) and $90,500 (75th percentile). Considering this range, we may conclude that education and experience may significantly impact your salary. Of course, positions, certifications, and additional skills will change the pay.
Salary changes from 2000 to 2020
After the initial boom of Internet 1.0, before the year 2000, a minority of web developers found their place in big companies and earned pretty good money. From 2000 to 2010, we could notice that web developer salaries were stagnant. Predictions during that time were that Java developers would make a lot in the future. The main reason for salary stagnation was job outsourcing, cloud computing, and recessions.
In 2010, money.usnews.com reported a salary of $79,370 on its website. Since I can’t find more meaningful information, we will have to go with it.
In 2011, the median salary, according to BLS, was $77,990 per year or $37.49 per hour.
The median web developer salary in 2012 was $62,500, according to BLS. During that time, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that web developers might expect a 20% growth, considering the demand and eCommerce expansion. The Jobs Rated reported at the same time income of $76,179 per year for 2012.
In 2013, I found reports for web developer salaries of $65,750 per year.
In 2014, the salary reported that I have gathered for web developers was around $68,670 per year. We could notice here the growth of 14.3% for the past two years.
For 2015, I couldn’t find a specific and accurate document that I may consider reputable and trustworthy. Thus, I will need to go with an estimate from the chart that I have found. From this chart, I can say that the average salary in 2015 was around $70,000.
In 2016, the average salary for web developers moved up a little bit to around $72,150.
In 2017, the average reported salary for web developers was $74,110 per year or $35.63 per hour, according to BLS. According to them, in 2017, we had 125,890 persons employed in the industry in the US.
In 2018, the median salary for all web developers, according to the Bureau of Labor, was $69,430 a year or $33.38/hour. There were 160,500 jobs in the industry at that time.
In 2019, the median salary for web developers was $73,760 per year or $35.46/hour.
Salary by Experience
Experience is a crucial factor in the industry, so with more experience, and you should expect a higher salary. Entry-level web developers with less than one year of experience reported an average salary of $50,371, including overtime, tips, and bonuses. Web developers with 1-4 years of experience reported $57,431, while mid-career developers with five to nine years of experience reported $66,331. Experienced, senior web developers with ten to nineteen years of working experience, reported $70,668. Top-Level developers with more than 20 years of work experience reported an average salary of $76,148.
**The payscale.com website provides this data.
Compared to other websites, payscale.com lists the lowest average salary for 2020 of $59,578. The difference with ZipRecruiter is almost $16,000, so I expect you to add a bit to those numbers.
Salary by Education
Even though we have many web developers in the industry that never finished higher education, getting a good position in a company, and advancing in a career is associated with learning. More than 86.000 persons took a survey about their culture. More than 45% of web developers have a Bachelor’s degree, followed by 22.7% with a Master’s degree. On top of that, 1.4% has a professional degree and a 2.8% Doctoral degree. In order to advance in your developer career you will need to finish at least one of recommended courses.
Of course, education isn’t everything when talking about web development. We may see a significant number of persons that never finished high school. In that case, you should expect lower salaries. According to the survey, 12.2% have some college/university, and 10% of web developers have finished just secondary school.
Of course, you don’t need to go to school if you want to freelance, but you will need a degree if you’re going to work in the industry. An important thing that you need to remember is that 89% of US companies ask for a bachelor’s degree.
Web Developer Salaries by Language
In 2016 famous website Stack Overflow created a survey where web developers from the whole world participated in listing the most used and demanding technologies. More than 56.000 developers took place in the study, and here is the list of most used languages in their work:
- SQL – 49.1%
- Java – 36.3%
- C# – 30.9%
- PHP – 25.9%
- Python – 24.9%
- C++ – 19.4%
- AngularJS – 1.9%
- Node.js – 17.2%
In 2020, StackOverflow created survey once more with more than 65.000 web developers participating the survey. Most wanted languages in 2020 are:
- Python – 30%
- Go – 17.9%
- TypeScript – 17%
- Rust – 14.6%
- Java – 8.8%
- C++ – 8.6%
- SQL – 8.2%
- C# – 7.3%
- Swift – 6.6%
You can see how times change with Rust taking the top spot as most loved programming language. Python is four years in a row top programming language.
Average Reported Salary by Web developers by language according to salary related websites:
- Java – $102,000
- C# – $92,000
- PHP – $86,000
- C++ – $116,000
- .NET – $92,000
Average salary by web developer language in the US according to StackOverflow users that took their survey (median of 7900 responses):
- Scala – $150,000
- Go – $140,000
- Objective-C – $135,000
- Kotlin – $130,000
- Perl – $130,000
- Ruby – $130,000
- Rust – $130,000
- C – $125,000
- Swift – $125,000
Web Developer Skills That Pay Well
The more skills you have as a web developer, you will earn more. Moreover, you will have the possibility to choose where you want to work. Demand for different skills goes up and down over time as more developers learn it. At this moment, we may notice a growing need for the following skill sets:
- Backbone.js – +46.1%
- GraphQL – +35.8%
- Angular – +26.8%
- WCF – +22.9%
- Spring – +20.2%
- Node.js – +19.6%
- React – +18.7%
- Java – +16.3%
Apart from listed skills and languages, you need to know that web developers should understand and use PHP, SQL, CSS, and HTML. Considerable focus is on communication, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, writing, and troubleshooting.
According to the latest 2020 surveys, ASP.NET is the most loved framework. Newcomer framework Gatsby is gaining more followers while developers consider Angular as most dreaded. Here is list of most wanted frameworks in 2020 according to the web developers:
- React.js – 22.4%
- Vue.js – 16.4%
- Angular – 10.6%
- Django – 9.4%
- Angular.js – 7.7%
- ASP.NET Core – 6.6%
- Flask – 5.4%
- Express – 5.3%
- Spring – 4.4%
Demand for Web Developers
Web development and, on first-place software development, is one of the most demanding, accessible, and fastest-growing industries in the past two decades. Being a web developer of any kind and profile is excellent for sure. According to BLS, demand over the past twenty years was continually growing, and we will need at least 13% more web developers. Considering this, if you decide to become one, you will find a job in the industry.
Like every occupation, web development has its downsides. You need to understand that it is a very competitive industry. You will need to keep up with the industry, changes, new languages, frameworks, etc. You will need to stay relevant if you want to have a good salary. So, if you find this profession interesting, you will have a bright future.
Types of Web Developers
You may choose from many different and exciting career paths in web development. Once you have great foundations, you can specialize in many different areas. If you plan to get into the industry, here are some interesting specializations that you can pursue:
- Full-Stack Developer – $112,956
- Front-End Developer – $108,589
- Back-End Developer – $127,472
- Software Engineer – $109,765
- Java Developer – $104,474
- PHP Developer – $93,802
- Application Developer – $91,548
- Database Administrator – $98,264
- DevOps Specialist – $99,604
* All this data is from Indeed website to help you compare average salaries in the industry.
Highest Paying Cities in the US
As you already know, some US cities have higher salaries, but this is not the whole story. Understand that most of those cities are very expensive for living. Also, consider the price of renting a place, local tax, etc. Here are the top 5 highest paying cities in the US:
- Washington DC – $105,411
- New York – $96,646
- Houston – $86,176
- Chicago – $85,517
- Los Angeles – $84,576
Decent salary comes with its own problems and obligations. Considering that IT industry is constantly changing don’t expect that you will sit in the office and just do your job. Professional developers are constantly learning new languages and frameworks. According to them, innovations happen all the time and they need to keep up with the fast pace of the industry. Here is frequency of their learning:
- Every few months – 34.9%
- Once a year – 37.9%
- Once every few years – 25.1%
- Once a decade – 2.1%
Its NOT easy job
When I read articles about web devs, I often get mad, especially when I see how they state that it is the “best low-stress job” that pays well. Yeah, sure! Believe me, it is not “low stress.” Of course, this mainly depends on your employer.
Suppose you decide to work as a freelancer. In that case, you will find yourself in a situation that you always chase another project, working for people who often don’t know how much time and work is needed for finishing a particular job. It’s a bumpy road, but once you build your portfolio – the sky is the limit! Of course, forget about free time, weekends, paid vacations, etc. Every employer will see you like a robot that works 24/7.
Suppose you decide to work for a company. You will find yourself working on many projects at the same time. Every single one is “urgent” and with “yesterday” as the deadline. In most cases, managers will make a deal for the next project as soon as you start working. Yeah, it is crazy, and you will often feel that your managers are sitting your head asking, “Are you finished yet!”. Of course, if you are lucky to end up in a company with their projects (games, software, apps), you will be in a more “laid back” situation.
Don’t get me wrong, working as a web dev is fantastic, engaging, and challenging. I want to stress out that it is not a vacation; it’s a job! Like every other, with ups and downs, with good and bad days.
Negative Sides of Web Dev Job
Back pain, eye strain, headaches are pretty standard for all people that spend most of their lifetime sitting on their backside. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Computer Vision Syndrome is pretty standard. People working from home face social problems, depression, loneliness, and anxiety.
You need to make sure that you practice at least an hour a day. Whenever you can choose – choose to walk. That will keep your mind and body in good shape. If you decide to work as a web developer, you need to understand that you will do that for 30 years. It’s a great job, but you need to find a balance or you will burn out.
One more thing, every person you talk to when you say that you are a developer will have a “great money-making idea,” “amazing opportunity,” “million dollar project,” and so on. Put a smile on your face, listen to a little bit, change the subject, get on with your life. It will save you a bunch of time and grey cells.