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.

Longer term:

  • Expand your skill set. PHP programmers are plentiful. Unless you are exceptional (e.g. you wrote a top selling PHP book) you're going to get PHP programmer market pay. If you have other skills you will be in high demand.
    • Keep an eye on job postings, what are they asking for? Acquire those skills.
    • Work on gaining expertise in tools. What's in use at your company? What's listed in job postings?
  • Expand the scope of your skills. Get outside just coding. Programmers are plentiful. Developers who understand the entire life cycle, understand the business, and can work with customers are rarer.
    • Learn about project management.
    • Work on your "soft skills" -- listening, negotiation, etc.
    • Get some "domain specific" knowledge. If you're a developer with deep expertise about the Real Estate market, you're in a smaller niche.
  • Grow your personal network. Live and online. Meetups, Linkedin, etc. Some of these will also help increase the skills I mentioned above.
  • Keep a journal of things you've done for the company. When it's time to ask for a raise or for your review, things will go more in your favor if you can show management a detailed list of what you've delivered for the company. (This list also helps you when it's time to revise your resume -- lift out the high points and insert into your resume.)
  • In general, turn yourself into an indispensable asset to your company and/or clients. And make sure they know it. (Just don't be an arrogant jerk in the process.)
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    +1 great answer and it even includes bullet points :) (totally serious about bullets being a good thing, they make reading it much easier.) – George Marian Aug 11 '10 at 2:53
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    Great answer. You can apply the same principle to any job - if you want to be paid more, you need to add more value. If at that stage, your employer doesn't appreciate your added value, find one who does. – bcmcfc Aug 11 '10 at 8:04
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    Great answer. As a dev team manager I wholeheartedly agree with the point about increasing the scope of your skills - you are so much more useful if you can code, understand why you're coding it, and have the confidence to deal with customers to resolve issues and ambiguities. – Col Aug 11 '10 at 10:04

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 ;-)

  • +1 for avoiding sweat equity. Unless you want to run and own your own business don't get involved at the ground floor. You will make dirt. – MrChrister Jan 7 '10 at 17:02

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:

  • Yes
  • No

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.

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