How Much Money Do Programmers Make?

Ben Stegner Updated 03-01-2019

Thinking of becoming a programmer? While there’s a lot to consider, the money you’ll make is no small part of the decision.


If you’re wondering how much money the average programmer makes in a variety of positions, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s look at standard coding positions, their usual job descriptions, and how much you can expect to earn.

Note: We used aggregate results from Glassdoor, PayScale, and to provide the average numbers here. These are not guarantees.

1. Web Developer

Job description: Responsible for creating and maintaining web applications.

Web development is a diverse field. Your exact work depends on the programming languages you’ve learned, whether you’re a front or back-end developer, and similar.

Glassdoor rates the average base pay for web developers at $93,000 per year. That’s much higher than PayScale ($58,000) and, which claims a median of $60,000. It truly depends on the type of web work you do.


Most web developers move into a Senior Web Developer position later in their careers. Check out our comparison of programmers and web developers Programming vs. Web Development: What's the Difference? You might think application programmers and web developers do the same job, but that's far from the truth. Here are the key differences between programmers and web developers. Read More for more info.

2. Web Designer

Job description: Create and design websites for the best user experience.

While web developers focus on building apps for a website, web designers are the ones who build the site in the first place. Their primary concern is how the website looks and feels.

Taking into account averages from all three sites, you can expect a salary between $49,000 and $75,000 per year as a web designer.


Depending on the organization’s size, web designers may also branch out to copywriting, SEO work, and similar. Some of the best channels for web design Want to Learn Web Design? 7 YouTube Channels to Get You Started YouTube has thousands of videos and channels for web design beginners. Here we look at some of the best ones for getting started. Read More can help you learn more.

3. Computer Programmer

Job description: Someone who creates and debugs computer software by writing code.

“Programmer” is a broad generalization for many standard programming jobs. Typically, an entry-level programmer in this position will know one primary language (like C++, Java, or Python) and may expand as they become more experienced.

They usually report to a project manager and work on a variety of projects. This may involve coding a brand-new application, updating an old app to work with modern standards, or similar.


Your salary will vary quite a bit depending on the languages you know, the company you work for, and your location. Expect a ballpark low of $60,000 per year and $75,000 on the higher end. Entry-level programmers may well earn $10,000 less than this.

4. PLC Programmer

Job description: Write and test programs for machine equipment.

PLC (programmable logic controller) refers to a computer that controls a machine process. These are often used in assembly lines and similar environments where consistency and having an easy way to identify faults is paramount. Thus, PLC programmers code these system to run optimally.

The average salary for a PLC programmer is between $64,000 and $74,000. Note that many jobs in this position require experience due to the sensitive nature of the machines being programmed. Thus, salary rises significantly as you become more experienced.


5. Game Developer

Job description: Create video games through coding logic, creating art, and similar tasks.

Programming video games for a living sounds like a dream. And it’s definitely a real career path, though the pay you can expect depends wildly on where you work. Small independent studios obviously can’t pay as much as major developers like Sony.

Thus, it’s hard to give an estimated salary here. PayScale provides a $61,000 average for a “video game designer” but just $45,000 for a “video game developer”. Meanwhile, Glassdoor rates the salary for a “game programmer” at $89,000.

If you want to make a game on your own, check out some free game development software tools 5 Free Game Development Software Tools to Make Your Own Games Free game development software is a great way to start video game making. We've compiled the best game software on the market. Read More .

6. Mobile Developer

Job description: Design, test, and support mobile applications.

More people access the internet on their phones and tablets than ever, which is why mobile development is so important. This type of programmer works to create mobile-specific apps for companies, typically for Android or iOS.

Mobile developers earn a good wage, with average estimates around $72,000 on the low end and $103,000 on the high end.

Read up on the programming languages you must know to create Android apps To Build an Android App, You Need to Learn These 7 Programming Languages Which programming language is right for creating Android apps? It comes down to your programming history and which languages you feel most comfortable using. Fortunately, you have options. Read More if this interests you.

7. Database Developer

Job description: Develops and improves database systems to ensure simplicity and usability.

Databases are critical to almost every company, especially with the advent of big data What Is Big Data, Why Is It Important, and How Dangerous Is It? Big data powers many industries and has an effect on all of our lives. But is it more dangerous or helpful? Read More . Because of this, businesses have an interest in making sure their databases are clean, easy to access, and efficient. This is what database developers (an in-demand type of programming job 10 Computer Programming Careers and Jobs That Are in High Demand Looking for a career in programming? Here are just some of the best paying coding jobs that you can apply for today. Read More ) handle.

If you’re looking into database development, expect your annual wages to be somewhere between $73,000 and $99,000.

Which Programming Path Will You Pursue?

We’ve taken a look at the average salary for seven different types of programming jobs. No matter which part of programming you pursue, you can expect a decent wage.

The 2015 median household income in the US was $56,516 according to the Census Bureau. In 2016, the real median personal income was $31,099.

These numbers have risen somewhat in the past few years, but it gives a good indication of how lucrative a career in programming is. You probably won’t make the above salaries right out of college, but with some experience, you’ll be well on your way.

If this talk of salaries has you interested in pursuing a new job, check out the best job search engines 10 Job Search Engines You Should Try First These job search engines can help you find and apply for the exact type of position you seek. If you are job hunting now, these sites are for you. Read More .

Related topics: Job Searching, Programming.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Quantum Mechanic
    September 6, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    I'll second 200k Developer's comment.

    Further, location isn't just U.S. It makes a big difference whether it's North America, Europe, India, China, etc. Downtown or Outback. Work From Home vs. 9 to 5? International team (and late night calls) or local only? Full benefits or social safety net?

    There is just no way to account for all of those variables, with self-reporting datasets such as those listed. Where are the data scientists? The statisticians?

    This is modestly helpful as a relative guide, but breaks down quickly across industries and locations.

  2. Rprobe
    September 4, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    This is such a useless, pointless article. I totally agree with 200 k Developer's comments.

  3. 200k developer
    September 3, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Speaking as a Programmer who's held a varies of titles over 15 years, I can confidently advise that these kinds of salary listicles are absolutely worthless for predicting what you might actually earn by pursing one path or another. Title isnt even close to the most important factor in determining your earnings. Well ahead of that are things like:
    -Years of experience in any software development related roles.
    - Location. You make slot more in California than Oklahoma for the same work.
    - Perhaps most important, your ability negotiate. After your first programming language, then next language you should learn is negotiation. No one will ever pay you more than you ask for. Know what your worth, change jobs every 2 years, and get multiple offers you can pit against each other if you want to maximize your income.
    - Your ability to rapidly identify and learn new technologies that make you and your team more productive. If you want to learn one language and framework and stick with that for 40 years, your income will be stagnant and on the lowest end of these scales. Programming is a career for people who want to be constantly learning new things.
    - Your ability to share knowledge and enhance otherwise skills. It's great if you're 50% more productive than your colleagues. But it's better if you can help 10 or 20 of your colleagues become 20% more productive than they were.

    Besides title, the other major factor in career choice that doesn't affect earnings as much as people think, is the size of the company. Some big famous companies get away with paying less, despite media reports of sky high salaries for some, because of their fame. Some small starts ups are very well-founded, and will to pay top dollar if you have the specific skills and experience to help them get to market more quickly.

  4. dragonmouth
    September 3, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    If you go into programming just for the money, you will either not last long or you will not make the money you expect, or both. Just like with any other profession, you have to enjoy programming to be successful in it.

    • Pugwash
      March 29, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      Exactly this. After enjoying programming at an early age I did a degree and got a job working on legacy PC applications. I was employed after demonstrating an aptitude, as the exact language I was working on I had never seen before.