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Programming The Almighty Buck

Taking a Look At High-End Programmer Salaries 133

Posted by timothy
from the today-let's-take-the-gold-robot dept.
msmoriarty writes "Our reporter decided to try to document the high end of programmer salaries (at least in the US). It seems that $300,000 to $400,000 and up is not unheard of in the financial industry, but the highest salary we could document was apx. $1.2 million, earned by Sergey Aleynikov, who was later convicted of stealing proprietary source code from a previous employer, Goldman Sachs."
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Taking a Look At High-End Programmer Salaries

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  • Ah, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @08:22AM (#36306860) Homepage Journal

    But programming was a minor part of Aleynikov's job.

    His primary duty was keeping his mouth shut.

  • Financial Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThomasFlip (669988) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @08:26AM (#36306886)

    From my understanding, programmers making 300 - 400 thousand in the financial industry are typically quantitative analysts or financial engineers with masters degrees or Phds in these fields. Their primary duties are things like modeling complicated financial scenarios or finding statistical anomalies to exploit in high frequency trading. Yes they code their strategies but I don't know if I'd put them in the same category as your typical programmer.

  • Re:Ah, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chord.wav (599850) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @08:31AM (#36306924) Journal

    Same as any well-payed job.

    "Every organization rests upon a mountain of secrets" - Julian Assange

  • Re:Ah, but (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NNKK (218503) <nknight@runawaynet.com> on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @09:01AM (#36307124) Homepage

    Whether he keeps his mouth shut about how the algos work or other dodgy goings-on is irrelevant. Non-disclosure is non-disclosure.

    Not in the US. You cannot contractually forbid someone from reporting illegal activity.

  • by cptdondo (59460) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @09:20AM (#36307282) Journal

    I owned a consulting company. There's a reason why you make so much. You work that much harder, and you put your entire financial future on the line every time you sign a big contract or fire an employee.

    I now work for a public utility. Regular hours, no worries, and a regular paycheck. Yes it's half of what I used to make, but I have half the hours and a quarter of the stress.

  • by OutputLogic (1566511) on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @09:28AM (#36307354) Homepage
    The article doesn't differentiate between base salary and "extras", such as bonuses, stock options, and other forms of compensations. Stock option grants can easily amount to a yearly base compensation in large Silicon Valley shops. And bonuses at Goldman Sachs [csmonitor.com] is even more.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 01, 2011 @10:33AM (#36308048)

    Yes, finance gigs pay higher but there are LOTS of buts.

    First, there is so much legacy code and systems that your skill set might end-up lagging behind the market by 10 years. So if you ever want to escape the frigid NYC winters and move to California then you'll find your skill set obsolete. And realistically you need to work in NYC to make money in finance.

    Second, the big money only occasionally sweeps by your star. The trends in the market come and go. So the $400k Russian coder at GS might only make that for a few years. Then he's back to $100k year. This was probably part of the reason he moved to a new venture.

    Third, for the long term gigs require specialized knowledge of finance or markets which can be mind numbingly dull for top engineers. It is soulless work only for the black-hearted. Lucky if you get to work on interesting algorithms. Most work is in excruciatingly painful market data or regulatory related work.

    Fourth, some the personality types which are considered splendid in tech are unwanted in finance (think Richard Stallman, James Gosling or other folks you might meet at a science fiction convention). They don't appreciate the odd ball creative genius or the pedantic sorts.

    Did I mentioned that the winters in NYC are freaking FREEZING!? If you have the choice, take the $100k you can make in SF or LA. California has a much better quality of life than the NYC rat race.

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

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