How much should I be earning?

Hi all,

I need some insight and perspective from fellow designers and developers alike.

I’m sure this question has bounced around the minds of many people in our field and it’s one I’ve been fiddling with lately. In your experience and opinion, what salary should I be on, based on my experience, skill set, contributions and value to the company I work for and its growth? Here are some scraps of info on me:

  • I live and work in the UK, and will turn 27 this year. I currently earn £22,000 p/a with no previous salary rises or adjustments.
  • I’ve been doing front-end development for around 10 years, as a hobby. In terms of professional, employed experience, I’m edging towards the 2 year mark. At the same time, I will have completed a year’s service with my current employer.
  • My skill set is typical of a front-end developer - very competent in HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript/jQuery, (a little) PHP, Sass/LESS, wireframing/scamping, RWD, UX/UI focussed design, Photoshop/Illustrator, etc.
  • I consider RWD and UX design my speciality or ‘focus’.
  • Obviously I cannot prove or form tangible evidence of this, but I’m a key contributor in the web design department in my company, not just a dull, uninspired ‘nine-to-fiver’.
  • My company is the largest UK holidays provider in the world, and part of a multi-million-dollar multinational conglomerate.

This company is incredibly tight with its wallet, and do not give out pay rises easily (in fact, my department head said they “don’t do pay rises, ever”, which seems naive…). Despite this, when I cross the 2 year milestone, I intend to defy all futility and negotiate for a raise. I’ve been on a higher salary in the past, and I know that there is no concrete answer to this.

I need to know in your unbiased opinion, however, what salary you believe I should be on, based on the information I listed. Am I on a good salary? A poor salary? What should it be? Don’t be afraid to argue with me, ha.

Thanks. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

£22,000 is roughly equivalent to US$33,738 as of the time I am writing this. Depending upon what part of the country you are in, this could be good, or not so good. I’m not familiar enough with the UK to say. Cost of living is always an important factor. It’s my understanding that your rent or mortgage should be roughly 25% of your monthly income, in order to allow you to have enough leftover for your other obligations and to be able to save some for other things.

US$34,000 would be almost nothing in a US city like Chicago, Los Angeles, anywhere in Hawai’i, New York, etc. You could do somewhat alright in smaller cities, like St. Louis, anywhere in Montana, Cincinnati, etc. If one lived way out in the sticks, US$34,000 could even be considered “rich”.

One thing that really strikes me as odd is the whole “we don’t do pay raises” attitude. If I were hired by such a company, I’d be looking for another job, almost immediately. Not even “cost-of-living” increases? Really? IMHO, environments such as this are good for stifling creativity and not being interested in employee morale (both are counter-productive.) And if you are a “key contributor”, then you should be recognized for that; more than just a pat on the back.



1 Like

Yeah, I’ll disagree with that. I’ve lived in the sticks (no nearby neighbors, 10m outside of a 4k pop town, in the middle of farms and woodlands) and I’ve lived in the city, and in neither would that be close to being considered “rich” :smiley:

That might fulfill an entry level salary requirement, but no way would I stay there if they don’t offer raises. You’ve gotten your toes wet, professionally, now go find something better. And do it with confidence, if you really know your stuff.

As @WolfShade says, it depends on the cost of living, hugely. Don’t hold out for job that’s twice your current salary, for example, if you can live comfortably on a 10% raise. Obviously, though, look for the best you can find - if you can find something really good, maybe you’ve just been stuck in the wrong company!

Bigger companies sometimes pay less. They’re big, slow targets with huge incoming and outgoing employee rates. People who need a job and can’t find one can find one there. That means that they can offer lower rates and low (no?) raise tables, and be fine doing so - if you don’t like it, you leave, they replace you, the cogs keep turning. In smaller companies you can become harder to replace much more easily, and thus more valuable. Your expertise and inherent value can also be seen more easily in a smaller company - but FYI, so can your flaws, sometimes.


This isn’t really relevant to you, but for Americans this is a great way to get an idea of salaries:

This is the salary guide used by one of the largest recruiting companies in the US. AFAIK, this is what the recruiters actually use to negotiation candidates’ salaries.

The UK has vastly different salaries. You could always look at different sites, like Glassdoor or Indeed, but those are self-reported numbers and are often inflated.

I’ve always understood it to be the opposite, unless it’s just a bad company. Usually bigger companies have higher pay and better financial benefits (401k, insurance, etc), even the ones that aren’t necessarily prestigious and get their pick candidates from the top schools. Smaller companies and startups have less money, but try to make up for it in equity/benefits/perks.

I could be wrong though.

1 Like

Maybe it depends on the company? I know for a fact that some of the larger companies I looked at paid significantly less for the same position and experience. Now, if you’re talking about small companies that aren’t doing well, they’re going to be cheaper and tightening up their belts, so to speak, but I guess I’ve found in general that smaller companies that are succeeding offer more than large companies - unless the company leaves the “normal” realm, i.e. Apple or Google or such.

I could be wrong though.

Yeah, my thoughts are in my own limited experience and what I’ve read/heard around colleagues and the web, so I could be decidedly wrong. Or I suppose it could be a mix of both, depends on the companies, no particularly strong trends. Or maybe industry (the company’s industry) specific trends? IDK.

Thanks for the feedback so far, interesting debate going here.

@jeffreylees: Despite learning of this company’s misguided attitude towards pay rises quite some time ago, I’ve stuck it out with them for the sake of building up loyalty, to demonstrate to other employers. I’ve turned down other offers (for similar or fractionally more money) elsewhere since for this reason.

As mentioned, they’re a high profile, multinational entity, who frivolously spend their budgets on poor, ineffective marketing schemes instead of rewarding satisfying salaries to staff (we’ve lost a few key team members this past year because they refuse to negotiate on salaries).

1 Like

If you’ve been there more than two years, find greener pastures.

Just my two cents.


What about inflation?

1 Like

:slight_smile: I got tired of typing out “Just my $0.03264 (after inflation).” And for people in some other countries, it only showed up as “Just my 0.03264” without the dollar sign. (shrug)


1 Like

Kinda drifted away from this topic and forgot to respond. Really appreciate all the feedback I’ve been given, I know it’s a difficult area to discuss as everyone has a different experience on their career paths. Thanks for the help. :slight_smile:

This topic was automatically closed 91 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.