How Much Do Computer Programmers Make?

How Much Do Computer Programmers Make?

A lot! Computer programmers make a lot.

Computer programming is a cash cow, and one that gives more milk as time passes.

Here’s the catch, though.

It’s not an easy cow to milk.

Programming is not a cakewalk. It takes a lot to be good at, and even more to get to a level where you can make bank.

This is neither to say you cannot make a decent living programming if you’re a beginner nor to imply you’ll take decades to become a high-paid one.

Below are some figures if you’re looking for hard numbers. Then, we will go into what matters and how you can make good money.

How Much Can You Make as a Computer Programmer?

It depends on a lot of factors (which we will come to later). However, there are some average salaries we can look at.

According to Indeed, computer programmers in the US have an average base salary of around $72,158 per year. Similarly, Glassdoor reports an average of around $74,180 per year, with around $64,000 being the base and the rest additionals.

This, of course, goes up with experience and expertise. Glassdoor reports that for programmers with up to a year of experience, the pay falls to around $63,000 per year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has its own data about this. According to its 2021 wage statistics, computer programmers earn around $93,000 a year, which is significantly higher than the Indeed and Glassdoor averages.

Thus, looking at the numbers, you could say you’ll earn around $60,000 a year as a computer programmer, at least in your first years in the industry.

Factors That Affect Your Pay as a Computer Programmer

Having looked at the mean figures, we can now discuss a few variables that will affect your salary as a coder.

Your Field of Choice

By your field of choice, we mean the path you choose in your programming journey. These could be Web Development, Software engineering, Machine Learning, Data Science, Database, UI/UX Design, etc.

The available data suggests that these choices make a big difference. Here’s a table to make things clear:

Field of Choice

Average Yearly Salary (US)

Web Development/UI/UX Design

$78,300 per year

Software Development

$109,020 per year

Machine Learning/Research Scientists

$131,490 per year

Data Science

$100,910 per year


$101,000 per year

How You Begin Your Programming Journey

Programmers are of generally two types — ones who go through college and the ones who are self-taught/learn programming through means other than formal education.

Many companies now do not seem to discriminate between the two. However, there are still places where having a programming-related college degree is valued more than not having one, especially if you’re hunting for that first job.

If you are self-taught, you would benefit from having something to show for your know-how and progress, i.e. projects and internships. Certification courses like ours and coding boot camps help, too.

This difference in pathways only seems to make a difference at your first job, though. Because once you gain some experience, it likely does not mean much.


Your years in programming are one of the most important (if not the most important) factors in determining your pay.

Hands-on experience in projects will teach you things college degrees and boot camps might never. And this knowledge is what props up your value to employers.

The data says as much. According to Glassdoor’s average salary predictions, programmers with under a year of experience get paid only around $64,000 annually.

That number climbs up to around $70,000 for coders who have between one and three years of experience.

Specialization and Industry of Involvement

Today, almost all industries need a bit of digital assistance. So, as a programmer, your choices are endless.

However, where the risks are higher, the rewards are, too.

What you know, how well you know it, and where you apply yourself have a lot of bearing on your pay.

For example, if you specialize in cybersecurity and work in the finance sector, chances are, you will get paid a lot.

On the other hand, if your know-how is limited to basic front-end and you work in a government organization, you might not be making that much.


Where you’re physically situated also plays a massive role in determining how much you can earn as a programmer.

Coding jobs might be harder to come by in rural areas. Conversely, if you live near Silicon Valley, you might easily find a decent-paying job.

According to BLS’s data, the top five states with the highest number of jobs for computer programmers are

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. New York
  4. Florida
  5. New Jersey

However, Washington seems to be the state that pays its programmers the most, with wages climbing up to $183,610 per annum.

Work Preference

Your willingness to leave your home also affects your pay.

Generally, programmers who work full-time and physically attend offices are paid more than those who do not. They also get a few other perks.

Freelancers are paid according to the hours they put in or the work they get done.

Although freelancing and Work-From-Home have become more commonplace after COVID, they still have lower-on-average pay compared to in-house employees.

Of course, there are exceptions. There are freelancers making way more than in-house programmers.

But, to get to this level, you need extraordinary levels of discipline, efficiency, and communication skills to work on multiple projects simultaneously.


Many things go into determining how much you can make as a computer programmer. You can control a few of them while the others you cannot.

This makes programming a career where you have to be both quick and patient. You have to play the long game, and eventually, you will make good money.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether you’re interested in coding, if you’re putting in the time, and if you’re any good at it. Because if you are, you will likely get a higher-paying job.


What’s the difference between a programmer's salary with a degree and a programmer’s salary without a degree?

The data from BLS suggests that, across all occupations and all industries, the wage difference between workers who have a college degree versus those who don’t is around $525 per week.

This is, however, misleading as the difference is not this big in the tech space, if there even is one.

Is programming a good career?

Yes. Computer programming is a good career because it pays well, can be done remotely if you wish so, and mostly has a flexible work schedule.

How much does a computer programmer make per hour?

A computer programmer, on average, makes $44.71 per hour. So, if a coder works nine hours a day, they make $402.39.

However, if you’re just starting out, expect this to be between the $15-25 per hour range.

What is the highest-paid type of programmer?

Going by Indeed’s data, the highest-paid type of programmer is a data scientist. They get paid around $140,232 per year.