How Tech Salaries are Faring During the Pandemic

How Tech Salaries are Faring During the Pandemic
  • Opening Intro -

    It’s never a bad time to turn to technology-related professions. At least that’s what the 2020 LinkedIn US Emerging Jobs Report indicates.


Among this year’s top three are Artificial Intelligence Specialists, Robotics Engineers, and Data Scientists, all of whom have seen nearly 40 percent growth in hiring. In other words, if you’re looking to make a career switch, your best bet would be data science or software engineering fields.

It’s a widely known fact that working in the tech industry equates to an impressive paycheck.

High Tech Salary Levels

Entry-level tech jobs pay a starting salary of $50,000 to $60,000 annually. As you move higher up the ladder, the pay gets exponentially higher. The average compensation of Facebook employees, for instance, stood at nearly $230,000. That’s accounting for their base salary and bonuses. 

Field-wise, strong compensation has become the running theme in the industry. Data scientists, for instance, earn a median annual salary of $100,560. They also have one of the highest job satisfaction ratings. With that much remuneration for their services, it’s easy to see why.

Software engineers likewise earn a sizable income, boasting a median annual salary of $105,590. For Google’s software engineers, compensation is even higher. Their pay ranges from $120,000 on the lower end to $318,000 on the higher end, depending on their experience and tier-based level.

However, these figures may soon see a downturn as the bigwigs of the tech industry move to make remote work a market-based approach to paying their employees.

Trouble in Silicon Valley?

In May, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company’s employees will be allowed to work from home permanently starting next year.

In fact, he said that in 10 years, 50 percent of the company’s workforce is slated to be working remotely. The caveat: their rates will be contingent on their place of residence.

This means that those who move outside of the San Francisco area in favor of less expensive cities will likely be at the receiving end of cut pays.

The policy has since gathered support from other tech moguls, including Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey who insisted that plans of decentralizing their company’s offices have been in the works even before the pandemic hit.

“No one wants to move to San Francisco anymore, no one can afford to live in San Francisco anymore, so they’re hiring people all over the country, all over the world,” said Dorsey in an interview with Business Insider. 

Rental rates in San Francisco cost $4,500 on average, thrice higher than the national average rent. Owning a house is even more of a gamble. To afford a house, one would need at least $172,000 in wages just to keep up with the mortgage.

However, the median household income in the city stands at $112,376, tens of thousands lower than the required number. As such, only 18 percent of households can afford a house in the Bay Area. With sky-high expenses, it isn’t surprising why the Bay Area, the core of the tech industry, is seeing urban flight.

As Employees Vacate the Cities

Now as employees leave the city, the decentralization of physical offices is happening at a quicker pace, and with it, the adoption of localized pays. To offset the expected pay cut, Twitter put in place several incentives.

These include a $1,000 one-time allowance to cover for additional expenses incurred from working from home, as well as additional days off to compensate for the blurring boundaries between work and home.

Although both Facebook and Twitter have not released a concrete display of how the cuts will vary from city to city or state to state, another company has. Software company VMware is also in league with companies that recently enforced the pay adjustment policy.

In correspondence with Bloomberg, employees, who requested anonymity, said those looking to leave the Bay Area for Los Angeles or San Diego must be prepared to take an eight percent reduction on their annual pay.

Meanwhile, employees who plan on relocating from VMware’s Palo Alto, California headquarters to, say, Denver must relinquish 18 percent of their annual salary. 

Considering the high costs of moving, it’s interesting to note how tech employees are responding.

The Advent of Remote Work Setup

In May, a survey conducted by the online workplace community Blind revealed that 66 percent of professionals would be willing to leave Seattle, New York, and San Francisco even at a costly price. That is, getting reduced wages.

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Several factors underpinned the positive response. For one, the costs of moving to a less expensive city are lower than the costs of staying in the cities mentioned.

It’s important to note that when speaking about costs, these are not just limited to financial expenses. It also applies to lost opportunities. There’s the chance of being closer to their families, as well as spending on other needs that were otherwise neglected due to steep rental fees.

Meanwhile, some said the bonuses and added incentives make up for the adjustments in their base salaries. With such responses, it’s safe to say that the remote work setup has, on the face of it, been a boon to the tech industry.

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