Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

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Hello all.

I have a question about what you all get paid, and what I should expect
in my situation.  I googled quite a bit, but not come up with any
benchmarks definite enough that I would want to approach my employer
with, so I figured I would check with you, since presumably at least
some of you do this for money.

I have been with a small company in Laguna Hills, CA for almost two
years now.  I am the only programmer here (effectively anyway--my boss
knows a bit of ASP and minor scripting stuff).  I'm currently only 20
and not even halfway through college yet.  The company shows great
promise, and I absolutely love working with the rest of the people in
the company, including my boss.  They are extremely flexible with me
when it comes to getting hours in, and fitting in classes each
semester.  We are on very good terms.  There is no reason on earth I
would want to leave right now, or in the forseeable future.

That said, know that I am currently in a salaried position, 24 hours
(effectively 3 days) per week, at $20 per hour.  I don't feel like I'm
being exploited in any way; my boss is not the type who would take
advantage of me because I'm just some young college student and I still
live at home.  But I'm also fairly confident I could ask for more.

Now, I'm not an absolute guru, but I am completely confident that I
*don't* suck.  I've been programming in various languages since I was 8
(starting with copying GW-BASIC program listings out of the back of
Usborne science books), and have worked extensively with many
implementations of BASIC (DOS and Windows), C/C++, PERL, ASP, and now
PHP and MySQL.  My strongest language used to be C++, since I spent
most of my teenage years working and playing with that.  However, I've
now been working with PHP for a very solid two years, and I've gotten
quite proficient with it.  I write easy-to-read, structured code.  I
comment.  I divide files logically so that all related functions are
grouped together.

Now, to give you an idea of the level of code that I'm working with.
I'm not still in the GET-based ugly HTML form submission stage.  No.
The project I've been working on is a complete customer management
web-app, using PHP and MySQL.  This contains oodles of DHTML and
javascript in addition to the server-side code.  It provides network
component logging, contact management, documentation (for every single
visit they make to clients), full calendar/scheduling, task lists,
alerting (even so far as automatically sending text message reminders
to phones).  This is one huge and awesome project.  They used to use
Exchange and Outlook, but have since dropped that to use this instead.
Everyone who uses it thinks it's awesome, so it's not like they're
being forced into a crappy system because it's company policy.

Keep in mind, I'm the ONLY programmer on this project.  Granted, other
people do most of the conceptual design, but I'm the guy who has to
make it happen.  This also means I'm the only guy who can fix problems
if they show up on some random weekend.  I'm also the guy handling the
SSH-based maintenance (though it is very low) of the virtual private
server this thing is hosted on.

So to sum up:

My 2-year review is coming in a couple weeks, and I want to know what I
can ask for.  I realize my station in life (live-at-home college
student) *should* have absolutely no bearing on my wages; I know the
quality of work should be the only thing that affects that.  So, based
on the above information, what should I ask for?

I don't want to screw the pooch, so to speak.  I'm willing to make a
sacrifice in the money side of things in order to keep a really good
relationship with my boss.  All the flexibility and totally great work
atmosphere are worth something to me.  Though, my boss isn't the type
who would get all indignant just because I ask for more, as long as I'm
not a jerk about it.

So folks, what's reasonable?  I appreciate any and all input.  Thanks.

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

<8 Aug 2005 15:14:24 -0700>

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Psychology 101 says you shouldnt ask for anything .

Let him make the offer .

- pick a quiet time of the day

- ask the boss if he has a few moments for a private chat

- you like working there and you like him etc

- explain you will honor your commitments and finish any work

- but in x amount of time you would like to broaden yourself and will  
soon be looking at other job opportunitys

- perhaps even give another member of staff a bit of training before you  
leave etc

Now , From what you say about the guy he will understand and will wish  
you the best of luck on your career .

As your not leaving straight away he wont make any offers there and then  
as he doesnt have too - he will think it over for a few days or perhaps  
even a week .

The chances are *if* your boss wants to keep you he wont wait too long  
before making you a offer as he knows the longer the gap the more chance  
there is of you seeing a higher paying job elsewhere .

Your boss will then ask you if you have few minutes to spare for a chat  
and when that happens its ching a ching ching dollar signs DONT GET  
COCKY when this happens as your boss will no doubt have as much macho  
pride as you do .

Not that your irreplaceable or anything - for the sake of a extra few  
bucks it would save upsetting what sounds like a smooth running self  
administrating company .

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

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This is the biggest part, first off they are being really flexible and  
also allowing you the time to go to school.  Any amount of money and  
also experience is worth every penny.

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I would take that consideration into much more thought.  $20 is fairly  
average... thats $40K/yr but also for CA I am not sure around the  
salary... Salaries are normally per state but that is a pretty good pay  
for how flexible they are being with you.

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The code is not the important part... anyone can write.. its the  
conceptual and proven models that you are working with.  Also having  
education and having been certified to back it up.

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Normally at reviews a 5% wage increase... So that would be $21 maybe go  
for $22-24. $24/hr if you are fulltime would be right around $50K.  
Remember although your employeer is being very flexible so be careful  
what you ask for that reason.

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

On 8 Aug 2005 15:14:24 -0700, reciprocity85@gmail.com wrote:

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Now I'm depressed :(

I'm 19 years old (born on July, 29. 1986), just finished highschool, got
into informatics college(17th from 120 on the rank list), an official Mensa
member with an IQ > 172, started programming 4 years ago...

...I've been working for 2 years now for a firm which makes web sites, cd
postcards and all sorts of other multimedia. I've started as a part time
intern programer, and today I'm the lead web programmer(3 other older
programmers are in my command) with excelent knowledge of php, javascript,
xhtml, css, actionscript and mysql. I also know my way around c, c++, c#,
vb6, vb.net and asp but don't use it on a daily basis. Working for this
firm I have developed a commercial cms(based on lamp, supports templates,
modules, multiple languages, frontend style administration, built in
wysiwyg editor...) which I've used to develop ~15 sites so far this year,
and ~20 sites last year. I have also developed a simple web based resources
planing system for our internal needs which is used daily by every single
employe, and have helped programming a couple of cd postcards when the guys
in charge of action script encoutered some problems that they couldn't

And know to explain why I'm depressed: I live in Croatia, my boss is one of
those that don't care about the employes much and even worse doesn't pay
much, I work ~6h a day(most of the time even saturdays and sundays) + I go
to school(on the fall college)...

Now guess how much do I earn?
Somewhere between 850 and 900$ per a month!!! :((
(Croatian averege is 600 - 700$)

And plus, by the law, beacause I still go to school/college I can't be a
reqular employee so they are paying me over a schoolarship which means that
they get benefits from the state, they don't have to pay my healt insurance
and all the other things that they would normally have to...

This is why life sucks if you live in Croatia and are not rich so you have
to work, even if highly underpaid, in order to be able to pay for your

And then you ask yourselfs why outsourcing is so popular!

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

brzina :) wrote:

Hi Brzina,

I think you are even expensive compared to India-wages. :-)

Anyway, do you think you can hire a room in CA-area for your monthly salary?
Life seems to be very expensive over there..
So the salaries are not as high as they may sound to you.

Some friendly careeradvise:
- Finish school first!
- Maybe get involved in some international project (maybe via  
www.sourceforge.org) to get a name and proof your capablities.
- Make a good CV.
- Master english (but I have the impression that you already did that)

After that: Stay or leave.
- Croatia is member of EU, so expect things to improve (slowly of course)
- Try to get some job in Germany or Holland or some other rich b@stard  
If you are really good, they do not want to see you leaving. :-)
The hard part is of course getting chance.

I know a Russian guy here in Holland who gets paid like 150 euro an hour.
He is some Javaguru. But he started with nothing too.
So stay optimistic brzina!

Erwin Moller

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

On Tue, 09 Aug 2005 11:35:31 +0200, Erwin Moller wrote:

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no problem there :)

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don't have the free time needed to do something like that :(

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working on it :)

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trying to :)

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I would much rather stay here :)

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no, we still aren't :(

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Germany isn't what it used to be - they are financialy degrading...

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hope to become that good :)

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I will Erwin, thx for the advices.


Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

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Yeah, and jobs there are starting to flow across the border into
Poland. 4000zl (~1000 euro) is a pretty good salary there. When
restrictions on cross-border competition are fully lifted, we're going
to see IT salary nose-diving all across Western Europe.

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

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reciprocity85@gmail.com wrote:

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Living in Laguna Hills on $40K/year you sure would be being exploited.  
However you say you are working 72 hour work weeks. @ $20/hour that's  

 Many companies would give you flexibility if you want. Hell you can  
always do contracting and get gigs where you only bill the hours you  
work and then the flexibility is totally up to you - provided your  
getting the assignments done.

Let me know if you wish to move up to a whopping $30/hour as I'm sure I  
could place you for around $50/hour - hey I'm only taking $20/hour for  
every hour you bill - I'm not greedy... ;-)

Remember 3*24 = 72 hour weeks or 3600 hours/year. @ $30/hour you'd be  
making $108K (And I'd be pocketing $72K just for playing you!).

Moral here - if you are any good at what you do you can definitely make  
better money that you are getting right now. It's nice to have good  
people to work with but they exist in other jobs. Many places are  
flexible WRT people working odd hours or days. Besides, I'd rather have  
the money.

As for Croatian there's just no comparison but if you want a sample of  
the difference an average 2 bedroom condo down in SoCal will run up  
upwards of $500-600K. What's a 2 bedroom flat go for there (or whatever  
is considered average living quarters for a small family)?
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Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

On Tue, 09 Aug 2005 02:53:47 GMT, Andrew DeFaria wrote:

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The minimum monthly rent for a 2 bedroom flat(~60 square meters) is around
250$, and the prices for buying are > $200K...

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

There's reasonable, and then there is what the market will pay. Twenty
dollar a hour isn't a whole lot in California, but that's pretty much
the going rate for a junior programmer position. I have seen companies
advertise "internship" position for fifteen even. Since earning in IT
depends so much on work experience,  applicants probably weren't

Increase of asking for a raise, it might be more prudent to seek extra

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

Chung Leong wrote:

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Then there's just plain unreasonable like the following during the  
height of the dot com bust:  

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$20/hour might be a whole lot in say Modoc County but not in Orange County.

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Some people are only alive because it is illegal to shoot them.

Re: Going rate/salary for PHP programming?

Andrew DeFaria wrote:
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Twelve bucks an hour? Holy crap! I bet you someone actually took it
though. The job market was that bad in California.

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It's even less in the San Francisco Bay Area. That's why I packed up
and left for the nation's capital.

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