Where do you look for salary information?

Hello everyone!

I’m finally close to finishing my master’s in computer science and am starting to look around for jobs. Of course, salary is a big part in choosing a job and during negotiations it’s important to know what ‘the market rate’ is. Besides glassdoor and levels.fyi I don’t really know where to look for that information, especially when it’s supposed to be specific to Switzerland.

Could you wonderful people please recommend some websites to find (not necessarily IT) salary information? I’m sure lots of other people would appreciate that too.

I find this quite accurate:

the quality and applicability to your individual situation varies widely, but here some sources i used

  • my network: outright ask people to share their salary info
  • glassdoor: “the” place to publish salaries. however not so transparent, and i read stories of significant biases in their numbers
  • Salarium the federal tool for salaries
  • apply to get an offer
  • some more pages i forgot

the room for negotiation at entry-level is rather limited i think. but never say never!

Good luck!

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Don’t go lower than 85k. Where I work, the entry salary for a Software Engineer is 87.5k (82k for Bachelor which is low in my opinion) and rises fast the first 5 years. I think 90-100k is reasonable in Zurich for an entry level Software Engineer. Of course it depends on the sector and other factors. But if you care about salary and want to work in Zurich, don’t go lower than 85k for an SE Job.

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Good question, I’m also wondering about this since I’m in my Bachelor also studying computer science.

I think it’s quite hard to find out what one is «worth». One one side I hear things like Sandro mentions that you get an entry salary from 85k-90k, but on the other side I hear about people getting 110k-120k right out of university.

Of course the individual situation differs, but this is quite a big span in possible salaries…

Also this michaelpage salary study is quite interesting but I’m confused. In their «factsheet» it says 70k for an entry level SW Developer / Engineer, but in the «salary guide 2021» it says 95k for an entry level java developer position. Maybe the factsheet is outdated? Just shows that you find a lot of different numbers and opinions and it’s hard to find out what applies to your individual situation.

That highly depends on city, industry, company and sometimes even within a company on the business unit, and what exactly you do and what projects you work for etc. Important strategic projects have more leverage to have HR paying more, than less important projects or business areas. So every kind of generalised form of information you find about this on the internet is inaccurate.

Best thing to do is networking, speaking with people (especially managers who can tell something about salary bands for specific functions and levels), once you know many people from many companies you get a better idea what are your boundaries in a negotiation.

Last but not least, change your company regularly. In the beginning maybe every 3-5 years, later on every 10 years. It is not possible to significantly increase your salary if you stay in the same company. They will tell you that’s not true and you just have to do this and that so you can get a higher level in some years etc. But that’s all nonsense. The only way to significantly increase your salary is to change regularly, not too often, but regularly.

And also, know what functions, levels and ranks exist in a company, this is very relevant in terms of salary and usually they try to put you in a lower level or rank if you don’t specifically ask for a specific level, so they have more flexibility to promote internal employees (most companies follow some Gaussian distribution in their ranks/levels, etc.). It is easy to get the right level from HR directly when you negotiate a new contract, and it’s 1000 times more difficult to get it or an increase of salary through promotion.

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This was rather meant as a lower bound for an SE role directly after University at a software company in Zurich. What I meant was, if this applies to you, don’t go lower. If you want to work in an industry company and do more low-level engineering stuff, salary might be lower. My friends who do electrical engineering have a lower salary than me doing SE.

You can of course go higher. Probably banks pay more (I call it Schmerzensgeld). Google also pays more or Nvidia. Nevertheless 120k directly after University for SE in Switzerland seems ambitious, I don’t think there are many places that pay that much. But I’d like to be proven wrong and hear some counterexamples.

Apart from starting salary it’s also very important to consider salary development and career development. I don’t think starting salary is that important.

I find Salarium to be pretty accurate.

But whatever you do, not under 7000 a month.

For us ~8 years ago it was pretty much 85k for BSc and 95k for MSc students out of university. Generally advisable is to make them offer you something and only stating your expectations if the offer was below the mentioned numbers.

Had a friend who went through that recently, it seems tough to navigate when you’re being asked for providing an offer.

It’s pretty clear that from a negotiation point of view you’ll give them a lot of advantage if you provide the info, but in practice if you end up in the situation where they asked for it before you did, it seems to be tough to counter.

I wonder if people have any tips on what to do. (esp. when not currently holding a job, which means the cost of blowing the offer could be high).

(My friend ended up asking for something she thought was way too high, partly based on salarium data but this was accepted without question, so she definitely left money on the table)

A friend got 120k from Google in ZH right after he finished his Masters degree in Uni Basel.

Btw, if they really want you, you won’t blow the offer by asking too much. A friend in my bank worked for an insurance before. He asked for 150k (as he earned at least that every year) and they said 65k is the offer (lol) which to he replied “I wouldn’t even get out of my bed for 65k”. At the end they offered him 91k which is the highest salary I’ve heard of for his position and rank. He accepted it.

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Holy cow ! That is an amazing tool!

All I can say is thanks! I checked mine and now I know how our RH sets salaries: it was scary accurate (and reassuring that I negociated well enough :), whew!)

Yeah Googlers are outliers, shouldn’t be used as a data point (other than knowing the definitive upper limit) :slight_smile:

I’m curious why do you think that? I don’t think Google pays well because it wants to be nice (ask people working for Google in London or Dublin about it), it pays well because the market requires it, so that must mean there are similar job paying the same in Zurich.

One major difference though is that it might be easier to be a very senior technical person at Google vs. elsewhere in IT (where you have to switch to management to get the same compensation). But those are still senior roles.

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Also check these:
levels.fyi
payscale.com

Yes, salary bands for technical roles are capped e.g. in banking, so if you want to earn more you have to switch to the management track. But that means giving away access to all technical stuff because they want you to either decide to go for a specialist track or the management track but not both, either you are a specialist or a manager. This is somehow very sad. What some people do is switching to the management track and get promoted to a higher rank / title with a corresponding salary and then switch back to a technical track after some time, because it’s a rule that you don’t get demoted from a title perspective and as such they can’t demote you back to a lower level because the title requires a specific level and salary is also not decreased. But I guess it’s a difficult workaround and very rare to see people in such a rank on a purely technical function.

Because IT salaries in other big Zürich (Swiss) companies are - in my 2nd and 1st hand experience at least - significantly below Google’s.

If you find a few examples of a big Swiss company (banking/insurance/whatever) giving 120k+ for a fresh MSc graduate in IT/CS (or let’s add Data Science too, those are ‘hot’ these days), I could change my mind.

Maybe Microsoft/Facebook, again not a ‘standard’.

Perhaps some potential analytics unicorns are trying to compete on total comp, but they probably tilt to more stock options-based compensation rather than just the ‘base’ salary competitiveness.

N.B. I am referring to 120k base salary, if I properly understood the original Google example post.

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This is also interesting: https://www.michaelpage.ch/sites/michaelpage.ch/files/banking_factsheet_de.pdf

From what I saw in the last 4 years in my bank, these numbers seem very realistic.

Partly true, as a IT consultant one can reach about 250k everything above would mean your some very niche specialist or established a business (and have multiple employees contributing to your income). While levels.fyi shows that SWE salaries can reach around 360k w/o specific leadership functions. Everything after would be a TL or Manager role.

The problem with public databases is that they only have standard job profiles. Myself, I ended up being a specialist; there aren’t many open positions for me in the market, but then I usually have very little competition.

What I do is just say what I earned in my previous position and take it from there.

Exactly! Maybe you’ll turn away a potential employer if you ask too much. But then, would that really be a loss?

My girlfriend left a major corporation lately and joined a smaller company. She told them how much money she wanted and they were like “urghh… that’s a lot, but okay”. She then told them that she was waiting for another company to decide, as she wanted to make her decision with all her options open. They thought she was about to decide against them and, without asking, increased their salary proposal!

Yes, but you’ll be among the very first to get axed during the next restructuring exercise. I’ve seen a few people go this way. :man_shrugging:

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