I am a PHP developer with 3 yrs experience and got exposure in Joomla, CodeIgniter. What should be my hourly pay in U.S. and what should I do to increase it with a steady curve?
Short term: ask for a raise or look for a new job that pays more.
It's a tough thing to do. You should look for a salaried position. Your freelance skills will be much better received, if you've worked for a couple of companies doing programming full time. Nothing beats working at it all day long for a few years.
If you're set on being freelance, write some utility that will be popular, and submit it to Freshmeat.net. Now that's asking a lot. Those on the Web looking for programmers will most likely want you to work for 'sweat equity'. That is, a share in the company for you labour. In other words "FREE". I've done my share of those, and if you're just getting into this, you should steer away from them. You may hit the jackpot, but you won't sleep for the next few years ;-)
You are paid hourly? I would have expected most IT people to be on salary
Depends what your boss is like, he might be easy going and just give a raise if you ask for it.
Failing that, do some self improvements, learn something new, take a course, maybe take some PHP certifications or even java certifications? Then at least you can say you're trying to move up
In regards to pay, have a look on monster or some US job sites, at jobs similar to what you do and with the similar requirements, that should give you an idea of what you should be on.
If all else fails, find a new job, that is always a good way of moving up
Hope this helps
Start by going to Salary.com and figuring out what the range is for your location (could be quite wide). Then also look at job postings in your area and see if any of them mention remuneration (gov't jobs tend to do this). If possible go and ask other people in your field what they think the expected range of salary should be.
Take all that data and create a range for your position. Then try and place yourself in that range based on your experience and skill set. Be honest.
Compare that with your own pay. If your figures indicate you should be making significantly more, schedule a meeting with your boss (or wait for a yearly review if it's relatively soon) and lay out your findings. They can say:
Be ready for curve balls like benefits, work environment and other "intangibles".
If they say no and you still think your compensation is unfair, it's time to polish up your CV. The easiest way to get a job is to already have one.
Most full time developer jobs in the US are paid on a salary basis rather than hourly unless you are a contractor. Also, the pay varies widely by region in the US with the West and East coast typically paying the most, but also having the highest cost of living.
A site I really like for getting salary data by region and keyword for technical jobs is indeed.com. Here is a link to a chart on that site comparing salary trends for PHP and Joomla.