Author Topic: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)  (Read 7530 times)

TheAnonOne

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How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« on: September 19, 2016, 10:24:25 AM »
Hello!

I am a .NET software contractor/consultant in MN and make around 160-170 (with no overtime, could be up to 190-200 if I really get 1. lucky, 2.over-worked a bit. 2015 was 205k) I usually work as a W2 so only pay my side of payroll taxes as well.

I feel confident in my skills, as I have been doing this for 7-8 years now, and have an ability to pick up new tech pretty fast.

I see some salaries on here and elsewhere that are 200-250k (full-time?) and am wondering what it takes to get to that level? What are these job types (tech type, management)?


The way I see it, I am doing well and I am not envious of anyone making 250k in the "valley" because my 170 goes a long way when my mortgage is only 600-700 bucks. Though, I see no reason to not push for the next level if one exists.

Are people exaggerating? Including other oddities (bonuses, stock options ect)? Only living in extremely HCOL areas?

Thanks! Looking forward to hearing from other people!

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2016, 11:18:57 AM »
Hello TheAnonOne,
great job coming that far. Unfortunately, I can't help you but my husband (also software engineer) would like to to know how you got that far.

Thanks!

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 11:27:07 AM »
Any chance you can use your skills in some type of "Cloud" engineering position?  We see some serious money lately being allocated to that sector within IT

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 11:32:16 AM »
Hello TheAnonOne,
great job coming that far. Unfortunately, I can't help you but my husband (also software engineer) would like to to know how you got that far.

Thanks!

I get that I am in the high-middle assuming an absolute range of 100->250, so I figured I would get the converse asked of me. I want to say that I am not dissatisfied with how I have done, just always looking for the next step.

Ultimately, the answer for me so far as been consulting/contracting. Hourly rates in the 75/h (maybe up to mid 80s for a unicorn and down to 65 for more midlevelish) zone can be had for senior level work pretty 'easily'. Which given that you work 75 X 2080 = 156k and I almost always work a LITTLE overtime gets you to the 160-170 zone. (Lately my rate has been around 80 which adds another 10k making it more like 170-180)

Full time around here the highest I have seen jobs go for is about 130k / year. Which seems unfortunate given what I occasionally read here and other online locations.

If you want, you can PM me with more specific questions. Other than that, it's just keeping up with the times and getting a few years /projects under your belt.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 11:36:50 AM »
Any chance you can use your skills in some type of "Cloud" engineering position?  We see some serious money lately being allocated to that sector within IT

There is no reason why I couldn't do 'Cloud' work. In a sense, most development is server based now anyway. (dot)NET itself can be used to do pretty much anything but I also know a number of other languages that are less MSFT based (C++/JAVA), though, to a lesser degree.

I am not entirely sure how to look for these types of roles. I have found getting a good recruiter network has been profitable for me so far, but none have mentioned much in this space (to me at least). Maybe, MN isn't the market for it?


TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2016, 11:42:51 AM »
You say 7-8 years experience.  That's quite good for less than 10 years experience.  Salaries inflate with more experience and more value added.  Here's my thoughts:

Over time, your salary will go up.  The data you're getting may be from those with 15 years experience or more.

Increase your contribution - Get more stuff done in less time.  Do things that help your org that you weren't asked to do.  Be available during off hours if a problem comes up.  Help enable others to be more productive - this is a big one that makes you a key asset to your org.  One guy is relatively easy to replace, but the guy that enables a team is invaluable.  Make sure your efforts are noticed, but don't be obnoxious about it.  You want to be the person everyone goes to with questions.  If you find you're spending more time helping others than doing your own work, you're doing it right.

Move - many large, multi-site companies have different salary ranges for different geographical areas.  Like you already mentioned, getting the bigger salary is likely not worth the increased cost of living.  I think for the US, you're best value is being in the lowest paid geographical area (where you are now).

I have mainly held jobs that have been more than the years required for... my entire career. It's an odd industry, or I have been lucky (or uncommonly good at my job?) Ultimately, if it takes until I have 15 years of experience, that's fine but I will probably be FIRE shortly after (9-11 years out assuming I don't learn to live with less and I am working on that, and my wifes or my income does not go up at all)

I don't THINK MN is a "low" paid market, it's probably middle of the road but people PROBABLY make more money here than on the coasts, all said and done. It's a decent sized tech hub with many high-profile HQs (medical/bestbuy/target/USBANK, ect ect)

Great insight! I generally have been a tech/team lead developer for the past 3 years, helping the team succeed is one of my every-day main goals at work. Which probably is why I am where I am at, at the age of 26.

(My motivation for this post is more or less a double check that I am not missing something obvious, some 'clear-to-others' path that I have been working to hard to see)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 11:45:11 AM by TheAnonOne »

JLee

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2016, 11:47:16 AM »
You say 7-8 years experience.  That's quite good for less than 10 years experience.  Salaries inflate with more experience and more value added.  Here's my thoughts:

Over time, your salary will go up.  The data you're getting may be from those with 15 years experience or more.

Increase your contribution - Get more stuff done in less time.  Do things that help your org that you weren't asked to do.  Be available during off hours if a problem comes up.  Help enable others to be more productive - this is a big one that makes you a key asset to your org.  One guy is relatively easy to replace, but the guy that enables a team is invaluable.  Make sure your efforts are noticed, but don't be obnoxious about it.  You want to be the person everyone goes to with questions.  If you find you're spending more time helping others than doing your own work, you're doing it right.

Move - many large, multi-site companies have different salary ranges for different geographical areas.  Like you already mentioned, getting the bigger salary is likely not worth the increased cost of living.  I think for the US, you're best value is being in the lowest paid geographical area (where you are now).

I have mainly held jobs that have been more than the years required for... my entire career. It's an odd industry, or I have been lucky (or uncommonly good at my job?) Ultimately, if it takes until I have 15 years of experience, that's fine but I will probably be FIRE shortly after (9-11 years out assuming I don't learn to live with less and I am working on that, and my wifes or my income does not go up at all)

I don't THINK MN is a "low" paid market, it's probably middle of the road but people PROBABLY make more money here than on the coasts, all said and done. It's a decent sized tech hub with many high-profile HQs (medical/bestbuy/target/USBANK, ect ect)

Great insight! I generally have been a tech/team lead developer for the past 3 years, helping the team succeed is one of my every-day main goals at work. Which probably is why I am where I am at, at the age of 26.

(My motivation for this post is more or less a double check that I am not missing something obvious, some 'clear-to-others' path that I have been working to hard to see)

I know this isn't the topic of this thread...but making 170-200k for years, with a $700 mortgage...you should be able to reach FI a hell of a lot faster than 9-11 years. If that's your goal, it may be worth posting a case study.

I moved to the NYC area to break 100k (infrastructure/IT) - doubling my salary while retaining my old COL would make me FI ridiculously quickly.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2016, 11:56:36 AM »
You say 7-8 years experience.  That's quite good for less than 10 years experience.  Salaries inflate with more experience and more value added.  Here's my thoughts:

Over time, your salary will go up.  The data you're getting may be from those with 15 years experience or more.

Increase your contribution - Get more stuff done in less time.  Do things that help your org that you weren't asked to do.  Be available during off hours if a problem comes up.  Help enable others to be more productive - this is a big one that makes you a key asset to your org.  One guy is relatively easy to replace, but the guy that enables a team is invaluable.  Make sure your efforts are noticed, but don't be obnoxious about it.  You want to be the person everyone goes to with questions.  If you find you're spending more time helping others than doing your own work, you're doing it right.

Move - many large, multi-site companies have different salary ranges for different geographical areas.  Like you already mentioned, getting the bigger salary is likely not worth the increased cost of living.  I think for the US, you're best value is being in the lowest paid geographical area (where you are now).

I have mainly held jobs that have been more than the years required for... my entire career. It's an odd industry, or I have been lucky (or uncommonly good at my job?) Ultimately, if it takes until I have 15 years of experience, that's fine but I will probably be FIRE shortly after (9-11 years out assuming I don't learn to live with less and I am working on that, and my wifes or my income does not go up at all)

I don't THINK MN is a "low" paid market, it's probably middle of the road but people PROBABLY make more money here than on the coasts, all said and done. It's a decent sized tech hub with many high-profile HQs (medical/bestbuy/target/USBANK, ect ect)

Great insight! I generally have been a tech/team lead developer for the past 3 years, helping the team succeed is one of my every-day main goals at work. Which probably is why I am where I am at, at the age of 26.

(My motivation for this post is more or less a double check that I am not missing something obvious, some 'clear-to-others' path that I have been working to hard to see)

I know this isn't the topic of this thread...but making 170-200k for years, with a $700 mortgage...you should be able to reach FI a hell of a lot faster than 9-11 years. If that's your goal, it may be worth posting a case study.

I moved to the NYC area to break 100k (infrastructure/IT) - doubling my salary while retaining my old COL would make me FI ridiculously quickly.

Yes, I do want to avoid getting off-topic. Though I will entertain this.

Our spending is 55-60 a year, and it is going to be coming down a bit with time. I really only started making this amount 2-3 years ago and went from 0-invested to 225k invested over 24-30months. Shooting for 1.5-1.625 million while saving 80-100k a year is how I came up with 9-11 years. (my wife makes 40k a year, so we net 135-145 a year total - (55/60) gives us that 80-100 saved)

Now clearly, a number of things will/could happen.
-I will hopefully cut spending closer to 45-50k bringing my number down to 1.25m, while increasing my savings yearly up another 10k.
Time to FIRE with this, assuming I consistently can do it, is closer to 7 years.

-I could hit a few clients that need tons of hours worked, saving all of it. If, I could repeat 2015, year over year, that would cut 2 years give-or-take. 2016 will be lower than 2015 for me.

-I could hit a dry spell and be out of work (unlikely) for a period, increasing time to FIRE.


JLee

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2016, 12:01:19 PM »
You say 7-8 years experience.  That's quite good for less than 10 years experience.  Salaries inflate with more experience and more value added.  Here's my thoughts:

Over time, your salary will go up.  The data you're getting may be from those with 15 years experience or more.

Increase your contribution - Get more stuff done in less time.  Do things that help your org that you weren't asked to do.  Be available during off hours if a problem comes up.  Help enable others to be more productive - this is a big one that makes you a key asset to your org.  One guy is relatively easy to replace, but the guy that enables a team is invaluable.  Make sure your efforts are noticed, but don't be obnoxious about it.  You want to be the person everyone goes to with questions.  If you find you're spending more time helping others than doing your own work, you're doing it right.

Move - many large, multi-site companies have different salary ranges for different geographical areas.  Like you already mentioned, getting the bigger salary is likely not worth the increased cost of living.  I think for the US, you're best value is being in the lowest paid geographical area (where you are now).

I have mainly held jobs that have been more than the years required for... my entire career. It's an odd industry, or I have been lucky (or uncommonly good at my job?) Ultimately, if it takes until I have 15 years of experience, that's fine but I will probably be FIRE shortly after (9-11 years out assuming I don't learn to live with less and I am working on that, and my wifes or my income does not go up at all)

I don't THINK MN is a "low" paid market, it's probably middle of the road but people PROBABLY make more money here than on the coasts, all said and done. It's a decent sized tech hub with many high-profile HQs (medical/bestbuy/target/USBANK, ect ect)

Great insight! I generally have been a tech/team lead developer for the past 3 years, helping the team succeed is one of my every-day main goals at work. Which probably is why I am where I am at, at the age of 26.

(My motivation for this post is more or less a double check that I am not missing something obvious, some 'clear-to-others' path that I have been working to hard to see)

I know this isn't the topic of this thread...but making 170-200k for years, with a $700 mortgage...you should be able to reach FI a hell of a lot faster than 9-11 years. If that's your goal, it may be worth posting a case study.

I moved to the NYC area to break 100k (infrastructure/IT) - doubling my salary while retaining my old COL would make me FI ridiculously quickly.

Yes, I do want to avoid getting off-topic. Though I will entertain this.

Our spending is 55-60 a year, and it is going to be coming down a bit with time. I really only started making this amount 2-3 years ago and went from 0-invested to 225k invested over 24-30months. Shooting for 1.5-1.625 million while saving 80-100k a year is how I came up with 9-11 years. (my wife makes 40k a year, so we net 135-145 a year total - (55/60) gives us that 80-100 saved)

Now clearly, a number of things will/could happen.
-I will hopefully cut spending closer to 45-50k bringing my number down to 1.25m, while increasing my savings yearly up another 10k.
Time to FIRE with this, assuming I consistently can do it, is closer to 7 years.

-I could hit a few clients that need tons of hours worked, saving all of it. If, I could repeat 2015, year over year, that would cut 2 years give-or-take. 2016 will be lower than 2015 for me.

-I could hit a dry spell and be out of work (unlikely) for a period, increasing time to FIRE.

Ah, I see.  You've made a ton of progress and are making me wish I was a software dev. :P

I think if you keep on with the current plan, you may find that you'll reach your goal earlier than you currently anticipate.  This is showing a starting balance of $225k at 4%, 7%, and 10% returns over 10 years, assuming $8k/mo invested:



Good luck!
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 12:13:53 PM by JLee »

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2016, 12:07:14 PM »


Ah, I see.  You've made a ton of progress and are making me wish I was a software dev. :P

I think if you keep on with the current plan, you may find that you'll reach your goal earlier than you currently anticipate.  This is showing a starting balance of $225k at 4%, 7%, and 10% returns over 10 years, assuming $8k/mo invested:



Good luck!

I was doing 5% because that is what networthify defaults to.

https://networthify.com/calculator/earlyretirement?income=140000&initialBalance=220000&expenses=55000&annualPct=5&withdrawalRate=4

I will be fine, if it's 7 or 9 it hardly is that big of a deal being FIRE by mid 30s is basically a fairy tail for most humans. I am not one to complain about OMY, but I am still pretty far out yet, so it's hard to say when I hit year 7 how I will feel about working 2 more years because I was lazy in controlling spending.

Out of the two sides SW vs HW. SW is winning for salaries, but you never know for how long. Back when I was in college, everyone thought that the infrastructure guys were making out better.

(Also, thanks for the image!)
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 12:15:20 PM by TheAnonOne »

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2016, 02:17:13 PM »
Gee, I would love to earn that much developing software!

secondcor521

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2016, 02:30:03 PM »
FIRE'd firmware engineering manager and former embedded firmware developer here.

Not exactly "as a software dev", but you *might* be able to make more as a sofware dev manager.  Mentioning "team lead" in one of your replies makes me think that either you have skills/inclinations in that direction or someone already is thinking that about you.

The salary bump can be modest - maybe 10-20%.  But you'll often get additional compensation in terms of stock options and/or bonuses.  You'll also probably have more flexibility in when/where you work, if that's important to you.  ("Working from home on status reports.  In by noon." was easily doable where I worked.)

Downsides:  You'll end up withering away from the tech stuff, which I was ready to do but you may not be.  You'll spend most of your day talking to people, doing email, and PowerPoints.  Your contribution to the organization will be less concrete and harder to feel good about.

Finally, dealing with other egosmanagers can be very trying.  I was an engineer for 15 years and a manager for 5, and enjoyed it until the last project, which pushed me over the FIRE edge.

Good luck!

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2016, 02:34:22 PM »
FIRE'd firmware engineering manager and former embedded firmware developer here.

Not exactly "as a software dev", but you *might* be able to make more as a sofware dev manager.  Mentioning "team lead" in one of your replies makes me think that either you have skills/inclinations in that direction or someone already is thinking that about you.

The salary bump can be modest - maybe 10-20%.  But you'll often get additional compensation in terms of stock options and/or bonuses.  You'll also probably have more flexibility in when/where you work, if that's important to you.  ("Working from home on status reports.  In by noon." was easily doable where I worked.)

Downsides:  You'll end up withering away from the tech stuff, which I was ready to do but you may not be.  You'll spend most of your day talking to people, doing email, and PowerPoints.  Your contribution to the organization will be less concrete and harder to feel good about.

Finally, dealing with other egosmanagers can be very trying.  I was an engineer for 15 years and a manager for 5, and enjoyed it until the last project, which pushed me over the FIRE edge.

Good luck!

Awesome insight! Management might be a good path to go down. Though, it does seem like it COULD be risky if you lost your skills and had to get back into development.

Still waiting to see any 200k+ devs post here. . .

triangle

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2016, 02:51:57 PM »
It wasn't entirely clear if you are covering your own health insurance or other expenses; but I think you are doing fine, well above average. While a few people doing software development may be able to make more with bonuses and/or stock options I do not believe it is typical. Not everyone is working for a high flying silicon valley company. I believe software developers with master degrees and 10 years experience can be hired in most US locations for less than you are currently earning. It takes an in demand skill to make significantly more.

Gronnie

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2016, 02:57:52 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

secondcor521

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #15 on: September 19, 2016, 03:21:30 PM »
FIRE'd firmware engineering manager and former embedded firmware developer here.

Not exactly "as a software dev", but you *might* be able to make more as a sofware dev manager.  Mentioning "team lead" in one of your replies makes me think that either you have skills/inclinations in that direction or someone already is thinking that about you.

The salary bump can be modest - maybe 10-20%.  But you'll often get additional compensation in terms of stock options and/or bonuses.  You'll also probably have more flexibility in when/where you work, if that's important to you.  ("Working from home on status reports.  In by noon." was easily doable where I worked.)

Downsides:  You'll end up withering away from the tech stuff, which I was ready to do but you may not be.  You'll spend most of your day talking to people, doing email, and PowerPoints.  Your contribution to the organization will be less concrete and harder to feel good about.

Finally, dealing with other egosmanagers can be very trying.  I was an engineer for 15 years and a manager for 5, and enjoyed it until the last project, which pushed me over the FIRE edge.

Good luck!

Awesome insight! Management might be a good path to go down. Though, it does seem like it COULD be risky if you lost your skills and had to get back into development.

Still waiting to see any 200k+ devs post here. . .

In my corner of the world, engineers who are interested in management were usually given sort of a hall pass to try it out.  If they didn't like it (and many did not), they would usually figure it out pretty quickly and usually be able to return to development without much issue - in other words, they were not looked down upon for trying it.  Tech does move quickly, but being out of it for a year and then having to brush up for a few weeks to re-enter isn't a big deal.

As far as the salary level goes, you're making at the very top end of what developers make around here.  I think Silicon Valley and the Boston tech area, along with maybe Dallas, are the only places where one can make $200K, so it wouldn't surprise me at all if you don't get much of a response.  And of course, all those areas are relatively HCOL, so on an absolute basis I would say you're in an extremely good spot.

dividendman

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2016, 03:28:06 PM »
Still waiting to see any 200k+ devs post here. . .

I know developers at NetFlix who make well over 200k base salary. That being said, they don't offer any other compensation. Your base salary is it. Netflix pays well above market.

I'm in tech  (Software Eng. Director) and make over 200k base. I know that the "bands" for management and technical tracks are roughly the same at most large companies. So, if you can become a technical director/principal engineer (different names at different companies) you can probably pull that down too.

FINate

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2016, 03:30:42 PM »
Salaries are a function of several factors, including region. Without knowing your exact city, educational background and skills it's hard to comment on your comp. Based only on years of professional experience I would suggest Software Engineer IV or V would be about right. If you don't have a CS/EE or related degree, and/or your skillset is narrow then you might be more in the SWE II-III range. Assuming the high end, Salary.com in Minneapolis estimates SWE V at a median pay of $132K. You're a contractor so you need to factor in payroll taxes and other expenses that would normally be covered by the employer in full time employment. Based the info provided, my guess is that you're pay is about right. If the absolute top-line number matters to you, you can seek employment in the Silicon Valley which will almost certainly push your total pay over $200k (base pay + bonus + equity), but your cost of living will absolutely explode so do the math first to decide if you actually come out ahead.

I would not go into management just for a pay increase - it's very different work that does not provide the same satisfaction as building and creating stuff. If you like dealing with people, helping them grow, don't mind dealing with performance issues, budgets, etc. then sure, go for it.

JLee

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2016, 03:50:10 PM »
Still waiting to see any 200k+ devs post here. . .

I know developers at NetFlix who make well over 200k base salary. That being said, they don't offer any other compensation. Your base salary is it. Netflix pays well above market.

I'm in tech  (Software Eng. Director) and make over 200k base. I know that the "bands" for management and technical tracks are roughly the same at most large companies. So, if you can become a technical director/principal engineer (different names at different companies) you can probably pull that down too.

Netflix is also known for letting you go when you're no longer needed, so there's probably a bit of a risk/reward prospect going on there to justify the higher salary.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2016, 03:52:01 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

Sure, if this thread is doing anything it is humbling me.

Age- Income
19- 35
20- 42
21- 50
22- 90   - Started Consulting
23- 160 -Worked 2760 hours @ 65/h W2
24- 152
25- 205 - 2400 hours @$82h W2 (don't have to pay both sides of taxes)
26- (today, probably 170ish)

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2016, 03:54:04 PM »
You're a contractor so you need to factor in payroll taxes and other expenses that would normally be covered by the employer in full time employment.

I would not go into management just for a pay increase - it's very different work that does not provide the same satisfaction as building and creating stuff. If you like dealing with people, helping them grow, don't mind dealing with performance issues, budgets, etc. then sure, go for it.

I am a consultant through another firm. I work hourly and get paid hourly, but only pay regular employment taxes.

I wouldn't go into management for the money, UNLESS it was a large increase. Usually, it seems like a pay-cut...

seattlecyclone

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2016, 03:58:20 PM »
I've been writing software in Seattle for seven years after I earned a master's degree. My base salary has never been anywhere near $200k (it was around $130k before I took a pay cut to work 60% time earlier this year). However my total compensation has been higher than $200k for the past few years because of equity. I joined a late-stage startup a few years back. It went public two years later, making my stock options rather lucrative.

When I decided to seek out a different job after the IPO, I was able to use my unvested options as a bargaining chip to get even more compensation at my current job. I recently exhausted the large stock grant that my current employer offered me to lure me away from the pre-IPO options at the last place, but even now my total comp would still be right around the $200k level if I hadn't reduced my hours. I could probably go up a bit more if I worked my tail off to earn a promotion or two, but I'm close enough to FIRE that I'm having a hard time finding the motivation for that.

Gronnie

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2016, 04:01:57 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

Sure, if this thread is doing anything it is humbling me.

Age- Income
19- 35
20- 42
21- 50
22- 90   - Started Consulting
23- 160 -Worked 2760 hours @ 65/h W2
24- 152
25- 205 - 2400 hours @$82h W2 (don't have to pay both sides of taxes)
26- (today, probably 170ish)

Awesome. It looks like you were self taught (ie no degree?)

I didn't go to school until later when I got my act together and got a CS degree with a 4.0 GPA, which probably explains why my starting salary was higher. I also had lots of "real world" work experience, so I knew exactly what it takes to get noticed and was promoted to Senior Engineer after only 1 year. If I can progress to 150k+ in the next few years I would be very happy.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2016, 04:10:28 PM »
So how are you all landing these highly-lucrative SW dev positions?  It's making this Java (and a bunch of other languages) developer/EE a bit envious... :)

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2016, 04:10:47 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

Sure, if this thread is doing anything it is humbling me.

Age- Income
19- 35
20- 42
21- 50
22- 90   - Started Consulting
23- 160 -Worked 2760 hours @ 65/h W2
24- 152
25- 205 - 2400 hours @$82h W2 (don't have to pay both sides of taxes)
26- (today, probably 170ish)

Awesome. It looks like you were self taught (ie no degree?)

I didn't go to school until later when I got my act together and got a CS degree with a 4.0 GPA, which probably explains why my starting salary was higher. I also had lots of "real world" work experience, so I knew exactly what it takes to get noticed and was promoted to Senior Engineer after only 1 year. If I can progress to 150k+ in the next few years I would be very happy.

I got my 4 year degree when I hit 20 after starting when I was 18. I started working full time when I was newly 19. Those were some busy years....

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions about your progress. You'll top out at 100 to 130 if you want to stay a full time employee.

Gronnie

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2016, 04:19:30 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

Sure, if this thread is doing anything it is humbling me.

Age- Income
19- 35
20- 42
21- 50
22- 90   - Started Consulting
23- 160 -Worked 2760 hours @ 65/h W2
24- 152
25- 205 - 2400 hours @$82h W2 (don't have to pay both sides of taxes)
26- (today, probably 170ish)

Awesome. It looks like you were self taught (ie no degree?)

I didn't go to school until later when I got my act together and got a CS degree with a 4.0 GPA, which probably explains why my starting salary was higher. I also had lots of "real world" work experience, so I knew exactly what it takes to get noticed and was promoted to Senior Engineer after only 1 year. If I can progress to 150k+ in the next few years I would be very happy.

I got my 4 year degree when I hit 20 after starting when I was 18. I started working full time when I was newly 19. Those were some busy years....

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions about your progress. You'll top out at 100 to 130 if you want to stay a full time employee.

Awesome, thanks a ton! Obviously you already have great insight to get to where you are already, and hopefully you will break the barrier you are at now and have insight on how to do that too!

That's very impressive getting your degree in such a short time while working full time as well. Keep up the awesome work!

I think in a couple years I may be ready to branch out of full time into something else. I love what I do, but working at a megacorp I seem to have a lot of downtime and get bored sometimes. My wife is an RN at Mayo, so I would have awesome benefits through her, which makes contracting even more attractive/lucrative without having to worry about that aspect of it!
« Last Edit: September 19, 2016, 04:21:54 PM by Gronnie »

FINate

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #26 on: September 19, 2016, 08:21:36 PM »
You're a contractor so you need to factor in payroll taxes and other expenses that would normally be covered by the employer in full time employment.

I would not go into management just for a pay increase - it's very different work that does not provide the same satisfaction as building and creating stuff. If you like dealing with people, helping them grow, don't mind dealing with performance issues, budgets, etc. then sure, go for it.

I am a consultant through another firm. I work hourly and get paid hourly, but only pay regular employment taxes.

I wouldn't go into management for the money, UNLESS it was a large increase. Usually, it seems like a pay-cut...

160-170 as a regular employee is extraordinarily good comp given your location and experience. You might break through $200k if you can establish yourself as a superstar - for example, leading a difficult and/or lucrative project for your company, or by becoming an expert in a valuable subject (not just within your company, known throughout a broader community).

If you are technically competent *and* have great people skills *and* enjoy management work you can make a lot of money on the management track because few people have the necessary intersection of skills and inclination, and this combination is extremely valuable.

Or get lucky and join the right startup at the right time - but you may also get unlucky since most startups fail, and most that do succeed are not that lucrative.

Golden handcuffs can be difficult to navigate, but all things considered it's a great problem to have.

humbleMouse

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #27 on: September 19, 2016, 09:21:23 PM »
Holy shit, you make 160k as a .NET dev in minnesota?!?!  That's ridiculous, I can't believe a .NET position even exists like that in MN. 

bacchi

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2016, 10:05:40 PM »
To answer your question: geographic arbitrage.

Get a job on a coast, fly there once a month, and bank $200k, even with expenses.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #29 on: September 20, 2016, 09:50:48 AM »
Holy shit, you make 160k as a .NET dev in minnesota?!?!  That's ridiculous, I can't believe a .NET position even exists like that in MN.

Keeping in mind, its contracting. AKA: Get a 6-12 month gig, move on to the next one. So yes, I do make that much, but it's pretty stressful stringing these things together as well!

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #30 on: September 20, 2016, 09:51:52 AM »
To answer your question: geographic arbitrage.

Get a job on a coast, fly there once a month, and bank $200k, even with expenses.

I suppose if you could get one that lets you work from home 4 days a week, you could fly there once a week on Monday's!

Jack

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #31 on: September 20, 2016, 10:00:45 AM »
Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions about your progress. You'll top out at 100 to 130 if you want to stay a full time employee.

I read the thread title and thought "holy shit, how am I so underpaid?!" Then this post made me feel better.

To answer your question: geographic arbitrage.

Get a job on a coast, fly there once a month, and bank $200k, even with expenses.

Does the DC/Baltimore area count as "a coast?" My company hired me in Atlanta because they can't compete with the salaries the NSA can offer...

bacchi

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #32 on: September 20, 2016, 10:09:30 AM »
To answer your question: geographic arbitrage.

Get a job on a coast, fly there once a month, and bank $200k, even with expenses.

I suppose if you could get one that lets you work from home 4 days a week, you could fly there once a week on Monday's!

My East Coast banking gig (Java stack) was one week/month onsite. I rented a room and was able to keep my work clothes there. Win-win -- I got a room for less than 5 nights hotel and the home owner got a tenant that was only there for a week. The pay was $110/hour.


TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #33 on: September 20, 2016, 10:23:44 AM »
Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions about your progress. You'll top out at 100 to 130 if you want to stay a full time employee.

I read the thread title and thought "holy shit, how am I so underpaid?!" Then this post made me feel better.

To answer your question: geographic arbitrage.

Get a job on a coast, fly there once a month, and bank $200k, even with expenses.

Does the DC/Baltimore area count as "a coast?" My company hired me in Atlanta because they can't compete with the salaries the NSA can offer...

Glad I could help!

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #34 on: September 20, 2016, 10:25:04 AM »
To answer your question: geographic arbitrage.

Get a job on a coast, fly there once a month, and bank $200k, even with expenses.

I suppose if you could get one that lets you work from home 4 days a week, you could fly there once a week on Monday's!

My East Coast banking gig (Java stack) was one week/month onsite. I rented a room and was able to keep my work clothes there. Win-win -- I got a room for less than 5 nights hotel and the home owner got a tenant that was only there for a week. The pay was $110/hour.

Yikes, $110/h is pretty high. The highest I ever hit was $82/h @ W2 rate (probably about $90 1099/corp-corp) Are Java rates consistently that high?

Gronnie

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #35 on: September 20, 2016, 10:31:06 AM »
In another forum I post on, a lot of the very experienced guys say they won't even consider working a contract gig for less than that.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #36 on: September 20, 2016, 10:49:14 AM »
In another forum I post on, a lot of the very experienced guys say they won't even consider working a contract gig for less than that.

Hmm, assuming they are talking 1099 it's about 20/h more than I make now. Basically, 200k @ 2000 hours (more or less). I do wonder if those rates are sustainable in the mid-west though. I have not seen anything really higher than I have now (80W2/90Corp) around here. At least for (dot)NET.

LiquidLen

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #37 on: September 20, 2016, 11:42:13 AM »
Since you make a pretty good salary I wanted to ask a question or 2.

1. Do you calculate  the time it takes you to get jobs into your your income/hour?
2. Where does one usually go to find freelance jobs? (I'm a dev too and wouldn't mind doing a project or 2 on the side on occasion).

bacchi

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #38 on: September 20, 2016, 12:06:50 PM »
Yikes, $110/h is pretty high. The highest I ever hit was $82/h @ W2 rate (probably about $90 1099/corp-corp) Are Java rates consistently that high?

Nah. They're about what you get. This was a combination of 1) large bank; 2) high COL rates; and 3) desperation.

I've never made that high since.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #39 on: September 20, 2016, 12:18:51 PM »
Since you make a pretty good salary I wanted to ask a question or 2.

1. Do you calculate  the time it takes you to get jobs into your your income/hour?
2. Where does one usually go to find freelance jobs? (I'm a dev too and wouldn't mind doing a project or 2 on the side on occasion).

1. No. I have not had any downtime for 5 years. I usually start looking 6 weeks out from the end and work interviews into my day (take a few hours off or w/e)
2. Side clients are harder to find than the "day job" types. I usually go through recruiting firms, which probably take 10-20 percent of the rate, but make finding jobs pretty easy.

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #40 on: September 20, 2016, 12:20:14 PM »
Yikes, $110/h is pretty high. The highest I ever hit was $82/h @ W2 rate (probably about $90 1099/corp-corp) Are Java rates consistently that high?

Nah. They're about what you get. This was a combination of 1) large bank; 2) high COL rates; and 3) desperation.

I've never made that high since.

Ah. Yea, it sounds more or less like a "unicorn". I just couldn't imagine 110 X 2500 billable hours I had last year. 275k. FIRE wouldn't be very far away at that speed!

protostache

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #41 on: September 20, 2016, 01:26:49 PM »
Sounds like you're doing well. If you want to change to more of a consultant-y role, here's some tips:

Move up the business stack. You don't write software, you solve business problems for business people.

Have lots of irons in the fire. Don't work just one 6 month contract full time until it's done and then seek another one. Instead, try to get a larger variety of short term projects (2-3 weeks maybe). This lets you refine your process faster and raise prices more often to try to find the sweet spot for your market. The goal here is to be able to say "I'm booked solid for three months. Can I put you on the calendar for then?" and have people say yes.

Niche down, *way* farther than ".NET developer." You want to be the go-to person for something extremely specific. Anything. Doesn't matter, as long as a) there's people who will pay you for $thing and b) you know how to talk to those people about $thing and about how you can apply your specialized knowledge and experience to their specific problem.

Say no more often than you say yes. 2x, 3x, 10x more. Let prospects say no, too. That's how you find out you're charging too much.

I'm on track for ~$200k this year. ~70% of that is an anchor client on retainer for 2-3 days a week, the rest has been projects from the beginning of the year that I did to build up a cash horde for the month I took off when my daughter was born. Turns out my retainer client didn't want to bother changing the payroll schedule so it ended up being paid time off (he banked the time for sometime later this year). I don't keep track (because the retainer client doesn't care and other clients I bill by the day), but doing some math I would say by the end of the year I will have worked about 140 days total.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 01:31:04 PM by protostache »

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #42 on: September 20, 2016, 02:05:28 PM »
Sounds like you're doing well. If you want to change to more of a consultant-y role, here's some tips:

Move up the business stack. You don't write software, you solve business problems for business people.

Have lots of irons in the fire. Don't work just one 6 month contract full time until it's done and then seek another one. Instead, try to get a larger variety of short term projects (2-3 weeks maybe). This lets you refine your process faster and raise prices more often to try to find the sweet spot for your market. The goal here is to be able to say "I'm booked solid for three months. Can I put you on the calendar for then?" and have people say yes.

Niche down, *way* farther than ".NET developer." You want to be the go-to person for something extremely specific. Anything. Doesn't matter, as long as a) there's people who will pay you for $thing and b) you know how to talk to those people about $thing and about how you can apply your specialized knowledge and experience to their specific problem.

Say no more often than you say yes. 2x, 3x, 10x more. Let prospects say no, too. That's how you find out you're charging too much.

I'm on track for ~$200k this year. ~70% of that is an anchor client on retainer for 2-3 days a week, the rest has been projects from the beginning of the year that I did to build up a cash horde for the month I took off when my daughter was born. Turns out my retainer client didn't want to bother changing the payroll schedule so it ended up being paid time off (he banked the time for sometime later this year). I don't keep track (because the retainer client doesn't care and other clients I bill by the day), but doing some math I would say by the end of the year I will have worked about 140 days total.

Wow, do you get help in finding these clients? I am not sure how you juggle 2-3 week projects with a quick turn around like that? Or is it not as hard as it immediately looks?

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #43 on: September 20, 2016, 03:12:55 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

Sure, if this thread is doing anything it is humbling me.

Age- Income
19- 35
20- 42
21- 50
22- 90   - Started Consulting
23- 160 -Worked 2760 hours @ 65/h W2
24- 152
25- 205 - 2400 hours @$82h W2 (don't have to pay both sides of taxes)
26- (today, probably 170ish)
You think you are humbled?
22 - $19k
...
46 - $113k

I picked the wrong kind of engineering.

protostache

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #44 on: September 20, 2016, 03:20:46 PM »
Sounds like you're doing well. If you want to change to more of a consultant-y role, here's some tips:

Move up the business stack. You don't write software, you solve business problems for business people.

Have lots of irons in the fire. Don't work just one 6 month contract full time until it's done and then seek another one. Instead, try to get a larger variety of short term projects (2-3 weeks maybe). This lets you refine your process faster and raise prices more often to try to find the sweet spot for your market. The goal here is to be able to say "I'm booked solid for three months. Can I put you on the calendar for then?" and have people say yes.

Niche down, *way* farther than ".NET developer." You want to be the go-to person for something extremely specific. Anything. Doesn't matter, as long as a) there's people who will pay you for $thing and b) you know how to talk to those people about $thing and about how you can apply your specialized knowledge and experience to their specific problem.

Say no more often than you say yes. 2x, 3x, 10x more. Let prospects say no, too. That's how you find out you're charging too much.

I'm on track for ~$200k this year. ~70% of that is an anchor client on retainer for 2-3 days a week, the rest has been projects from the beginning of the year that I did to build up a cash horde for the month I took off when my daughter was born. Turns out my retainer client didn't want to bother changing the payroll schedule so it ended up being paid time off (he banked the time for sometime later this year). I don't keep track (because the retainer client doesn't care and other clients I bill by the day), but doing some math I would say by the end of the year I will have worked about 140 days total.

Wow, do you get help in finding these clients? I am not sure how you juggle 2-3 week projects with a quick turn around like that? Or is it not as hard as it immediately looks?

Clients tend to come to me. I try to be as helpful as I can to everyone who asks, which has served me well for the two years I've been doing this. I've also written two books which help people find me and, crucially, pay me a small amount.

I don't personally turn clients that fast but I know a bunch of people who do. I have my anchor client that would quite comfortably pay all of our bills and then some. I work short duration projects when something interesting walks into my lead funnel.

The other thing to remember is that you're going to be charging a much higher rate for these short duration projects because you're an expert at exactly what they want done. That means slack time between them is not a big deal.

jeromedawg

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #45 on: September 20, 2016, 03:28:13 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

Sure, if this thread is doing anything it is humbling me.

Age- Income
19- 35
20- 42
21- 50
22- 90   - Started Consulting
23- 160 -Worked 2760 hours @ 65/h W2
24- 152
25- 205 - 2400 hours @$82h W2 (don't have to pay both sides of taxes)
26- (today, probably 170ish)
You think you are humbled?
22 - $19k
...
46 - $113k

I picked the wrong kind of engineering.

LOL, "humbled" takes on a whole different definition here... at 22, I was making half as much as OP was. And at 26 I was making less than half of what he's making at his 26 years of age today! To me, those are ridiculous numbers at his age, but he's probably a rockstar dev too.

OP if you really want to make more (to me, what you posted reads like you want more of a challenge and higher-ranking, not so much the money), and if you're a top dev who can confidently pick-up anything and nails interviews, go work for Netflix, Linkedin, Google, Facebook, Apple, etc in Silicon Valley. Suck it up and perhaps move out there for several years, if nothing for the sake of the challenge. Then when you've established yourself there as a high-ranking contributor, do as someone else suggested and work out a telecommute/remote work arrangement and move back home (if you're that good, they'll make the arrangements). You'll be set for life.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2016, 03:33:50 PM by jplee3 »

TheAnonOne

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Re: How to make more as a software dev??? (cur: 160-170)
« Reply #46 on: September 20, 2016, 05:02:44 PM »
I am in MN and a about 1.5 years out of school. Can you share a little about how your income progressed over your 8 years experience?

I started at about 78, and got a raise to 92k a couple months ago. Would love to be up to 170k in another 6 years.

Sure, if this thread is doing anything it is humbling me.

Age- Income
19- 35
20- 42
21- 50
22- 90   - Started Consulting
23- 160 -Worked 2760 hours @ 65/h W2
24- 152
25- 205 - 2400 hours @$82h W2 (don't have to pay both sides of taxes)
26- (today, probably 170ish)
You think you are humbled?
22 - $19k
...
46 - $113k

I picked the wrong kind of engineering.

LOL, "humbled" takes on a whole different definition here... at 22, I was making half as much as OP was. And at 26 I was making less than half of what he's making at his 26 years of age today! To me, those are ridiculous numbers at his age, but he's probably a rockstar dev too.

OP if you really want to make more (to me, what you posted reads like you want more of a challenge and higher-ranking, not so much the money), and if you're a top dev who can confidently pick-up anything and nails interviews, go work for Netflix, Linkedin, Google, Facebook, Apple, etc in Silicon Valley. Suck it up and perhaps move out there for several years, if nothing for the sake of the challenge. Then when you've established yourself there as a high-ranking contributor, do as someone else suggested and work out a telecommute/remote work arrangement and move back home (if you're that good, they'll make the arrangements). You'll be set for life.

Thanks! It's not a bad idea to go that route. I am going to look into the bigger tech giants and at least give it a sanity check.

Also...
Humbled was a poor choice of words, I meant more "blessed" or a general sense of gratitude for my position.