Microsoft .NET Salary Survey

Microsoft .NET Salary Survey


Salary Surveys

Visual Studio Magazine’s 2012 .NET Developer Salary Survey

Our first annual salary survey shows that developers aren’t just surviving, but thriving.

When we set out late last year to do our first-ever salary survey, we weren’t sure what we’d find. The global economy continues to limp along, and unemployment in the United States remains stagnant. Layoffs are still a very real possibility for many, and employers remain hesitant to hire with future uncertainty. That’s why our results were so encouraging: The survey reflects numerous positive trends for software developers, from job security to bonuses to the future outlook to job satisfaction. Yes, it’s a good time to be a developer.

We polled software development professionals who subscribe to Visual Studio Magazine and related eNewsletters (.NET Insight and Redmond Developer News) in November 2011. More than 1,300 subscribers who currently work in the United States participated in the survey and filled out the online questionnaire. The median base salary was $92,000. On average, VSM Salary Survey respondents were college graduates with a four-year degree or higher level of education and more than a decade of industry experience.

The single-biggest survey takeaway is that 59 percent of respondents reported higher salaries in the last 12 months. More than half of those surveyed received bonuses during the same time period. The average reported base salary was $92,754, not including bonuses and additional compensation. More than one-third (38 percent) of survey respondents said their current annual base salaries, not including bonuses, fell into the six-figure range ($100,000 or more).

Bucking the Trend Despite the gloomy global outlook, many Microsoft software development professionals appear to be bucking the “back to the future” trend.

“Microsoft software development gives us a strong future in the sense that there is some security in it,” says Rafique S., who has worked as a software engineer and application developer for almost a decade at a manufacturing company (non-computer-related) outside of Los Angeles, Calif. “There is always going to be a demand for that type of skill and that type of work — it’s a good skill set to have,” he says. “Our company has been stable and we’re still hiring more people. We haven’t had freezes or significant reductions. It’s a little bit more conservative and the compensation that we’re seeing has been about average for the last three or four years.” That includes slight increases in salary and “token” bonuses around the holidays, which are based on corporate profitability.

Long tenures with the same employer may have helped some people ride out the economic rollercoaster in the technology sector. More than 43 percent of VSM Salary Survey respondents have been with their current employers for a decade or more — 22.8 percent of that group have worked for the same organization for more than 15 years.

Survey respondents who worked for an independent software vendor (14 percent) reported the highest average salary, at $106,435. Those who worked for consulting firms, training companies and systems integrators also fell into the six-figure range on average at $103,635, not including bonuses and additional compensation. The majority of survey respondents, however, worked for corporate IT/IS (43.9 percent), with an average base of $95,015. Those employed by state and federal government, the education sector and non-profits (22.7 percent) earned less, reporting $78,688 on average. Average salaries might more closely reflect urban pay scales (see Average Salary by Location) because 65 percent of survey respondents worked in cities (200,000 to 500,000 residents) and major metropolitan areas (more than 500,000 residents).

Despite some job movement — 16.2 percent have been with their current employer for one year or less and 4.5 percent have been laid off in the last 12 months — by and large Visual Studio and .NET developers have skirted some of the harsher realities felt by stagnant or depressed job markets. But not everyone: while 59 percent received higher salaries in the last 12 months, 8.3 percent reported making less, based on budget cuts. Some government employees told us they experienced “5 percent cuts across the board,” and federal employees are under a salary freeze mandated by Congress.

About 90 percent (89.7) of respondents indicated that they anticipated working in Visual Studio and .NET development in five years. And the rest (10.3 percent) expect to move beyond .NET for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the comments from people who might be headed elsewhere:

  • Will be retired within five years
  • Not sure where the development trends are heading
  • My company is moving toward open source products
  • Leave it to the younger guys
  • I think I’ll be working more with Windows Phone development than .NET development
  • Not Sure — HTML5 and CSS don’t require a commercial IDE
  • Career change out of IT for more money
  • Microsoft Marketing will have re-branded it by then
  • Going toward medical software
  • Judging from the Windows 8 articles that I’ve read, the .NET app development may be a thing of the past
  • Tired of Microsoft not listening to developers
  • T-shirt sales by the beach
  • It’s so hard to predict the future in this field. Who knows what we’ll have in 5 years?

— K.R

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