A recent article in US News and World Reportlisted The 10 Most Overpaid Jobs. Number one on the list: Consulting Software Engineer. Someone needs to tell them we’re not overpaid, we deserve it!
According to the report, the median mid-career salary is $123,000. Many of you will notice that this is higher than the mid-career salaries reported elsewhere on this site. The operative word here is “consulting”, which is another way of saying “contractor” or “freelancer”. Consultants do make a higher hourly wage than their full-time employee counterparts. The other side of the coin is that full-time employees get benefits (such as paid time off, health insurance, 401k, etc.) and steady work. I was going to say “job security” but some would argue that’s merely an illusion. They make a valid point.
Anyway, being a consultant is a good way to maximize your earning power as a software engineer if you’re able to find clients. Just be sure to build a lot of down time into your hourly rate. The rule of thumb I’ve always used is to divide your annual salary by 1,000. If you’re making $89,000 at a full-time job, for example, then you should seek $89 per hour as a contractor. This allows you to be off the clock about half of the time and still break even.
Following the link to US News and World Report’s Best Jobs for 2013, we find that 4 of the top 10 jobs are in the computer science field: Computer Systems Analyst, Database Administrator, Software Developer, and Web Developer. They give a median salary of $89,280 for software developers. That’s more like it.