Colombia has many software developers, but not a single major Colombian university teaches software engineering. After I wrote that somewhat controversial article, the directors of several engineering programs reached out to me. What I learned is that the issue has to do with demand: young people don’t want to study systems engineering, software engineering, or computer science. Why? Because they think it doesn’t pay well. Unfortunately, existing salary surveys exclude freelancers and only take into account the salaries of software developers that work in Colombia for Colombian companies. To shed some light on this issue, and hopefully attract more people (especially Latin Americans) to become software developers, we ran a [non-scientific] survey to find out what Colombian software developers really make. It includes traditional employees, freelancers, people working for companies outside Colombia, and Colombians that have migrated to other countries.
The results are in! A very big thank you if you were one of the ones answering or sharing it.
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First of all, some disclaimers:
- This was a self-reported survey.
- Unfortunately, we didn't ask for the location of person. We'll do it next time.
- Unfortunately, we asked for ranges of monthly incomes, instead of exact numbers. As such, finding median monthly incomes is almost impossible. We'll have to settle for averages. Shame on me! We'll fix the issue next time.
- We removed obvious duplicates (same email address) from the results.
Here are the results of the survey as of January 21st, 2015. Feel free to copy the spreadsheet, analyze it, and share your conclusions. If you want to be notified about this survey next year, please subscribe here.
These are some of my findings, followed by some graphs:
- The average Colombian software developer earns between USD$2,000 and $3,000 per month.
- The top 10% of Colombian software developers earn more than USD$4,000 per month.
- The bottom 10% earn less than USD$1,000 per month.
- Software developers with nine years of experience earn, in average, three times as much as software developers with two years of experience.
- Most Colombian software developers (67%) obtained a degree on Ingeniería de Sistemas. 16% have not obtained a degree at all.
- Colombian software developers that did not go to college earn almost the same, in average, than those that studied Ingeniería de Sistemas. Granted, there aren't many of the former.
- Colombian software developers working for a company outside of Colombia earn significantly more than software developers working for a Colombian company. This is likely to happen because they have migrated outside of Colombia or work from within Colombia for non-Colombian companies.
- 30% of software of developers are earning equity of some sort. Even more interesting: software developers earning equity earn significantly more cash than those that don't. As such, software developers that don't earn stock options are getting the shorter side of the stick in two fronts!
Feel free to share your opinions in the comments section. I'd love to hear your feedback.
P.S. Thanks to Jun Loayza, Melissa Gaviria, and Lucho Molina for co-authoring this post.