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Market for software developers in Canada

  • Last Updated:
  • Jan 10th, 2020 4:56 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2019
109 posts
101 upvotes

Market for software developers in Canada

I graduated and worked in the GTA for a number of years as a software developer, but have been in the states for the last 5 years or so.

Right before I left the GTA in 2014 I was a tech lead / architect making ~120k total. This I think was on the higher end. I interviewed locally and didn’t have too much trouble getting multiple offers for similar or slightly higher salary.

Recently I’m hearing a mix of things. Some people are telling me there is a tech boom and salaries and opportunities are going up. Others are telling me it’s getting more competitive to find a job and there is downward pressure.

What has been your experience recently?

Specifically:
- how do you feel about your ongoing earning potential? Increasing or decreasing or same?
- how do you feel about job prospects?

Including details like role, location, industry and current total compensation would be helpful. Thanks!
66 replies
Deal Fanatic
Dec 5, 2006
6291 posts
1903 upvotes
Markham
I feel you need pay people to tell you those details lol
Newbie
Jun 30, 2019
52 posts
74 upvotes
Gorbers wrote: I graduated and worked in the GTA for a number of years as a software developer, but have been in the states for the last 5 years or so.

Right before I left the GTA in 2014 I was a tech lead / architect making ~120k total. This I think was on the higher end. I interviewed locally and didn’t have too much trouble getting multiple offers for similar or slightly higher salary.

Recently I’m hearing a mix of things. Some people are telling me there is a tech boom and salaries and opportunities are going up. Others are telling me it’s getting more competitive to find a job and there is downward pressure.

What has been your experience recently?

Specifically:
- how do you feel about your ongoing earning potential? Increasing or decreasing or same?
- how do you feel about job prospects?

Including details like role, location, industry and current total compensation would be helpful. Thanks!
You are not having a hard time finding offers at that range because you are underpaid significantly. Intermediate developers can easily earn more than 120k in the GTA and you are presenting yourself as a tech lead instead.

Use this salary report as a reference point:

https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4229238/ ... iIy8TRz0uM

I personally have 5 years experience in the industry and I am making 176k BASE salary right now. In my previous job a year ago I was earning ~120k. I do not carry a senior title.

I have posted my salary progression on this thread: http://forums.redflagdeals.com/your-roa ... #p31255494 and a few other developers have pasted theirs as well.

This market is all about finding what your net worth is and asking for the maximum possible. If you require some personal career advice, feel free to PM me and I can personally coach you on salary negotiation if you want.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2019
109 posts
101 upvotes
serious9 wrote: You are not having a hard time finding offers at that range because you are underpaid significantly. Intermediate developers can easily earn more than 120k in the GTA and you are presenting yourself as a tech lead instead.

Use this salary report as a reference point:

https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4229238/ ... iIy8TRz0uM

I personally have 5 years experience in the industry and I am making 176k BASE salary right now. In my previous job a year ago I was earning ~120k. I do not carry a senior title.

I have posted my salary progression on this thread: http://forums.redflagdeals.com/your-roa ... #p31255494 and a few other developers have pasted theirs as well.

This market is all about finding what your net worth is and asking for the maximum possible. If you require some personal career advice, feel free to PM me and I can personally coach you on salary negotiation if you want.
Thanks for the great info, this is very helpful. To clarify 120k was back in early 2014, which at the time while not top of market I think was higher than average. Good to see the compensation situation seems to be improving in the last few years. I assume you feel good about your job prospects too? Eg if you were to lose your job today you don’t think you’ll have trouble finding an equivalent one?

Also thanks for the offer for more advice and coaching, very kind of you to try to help your fellow developers.
Newbie
Jun 30, 2019
52 posts
74 upvotes
Gorbers wrote: Eg if you were to lose your job today you don’t think you’ll have trouble finding an equivalent one?
There are many positions that exist in the market today that are unfilled. The reason is because there is a severe lack of talent in the GTA since they are leaving to the US for significantly hire pay (see https://www.levels.fyi/ as a brief example of the numbers in the states).

I was recently on the job market and I was able to find my first offer within a week (130k). I got a dozen in a month (110k-145k). I ended up accepting the best offer after 2-3 months of my job search.

From what I see in the market today, many companies/department have a desire to increase head count. These are hidden jobs that are not posted because they don't want to waste time interviewing candidates due to the tough hiring market. You can easily grab these jobs by networking or emailing managers on LinkedIn.

I would definitely find it tough to find a similar job with my current salary because I did ultimately get lucky with it. I am sure I can get another one similar to that with about 6 months of job searching. The alternative is to become a contractor where you can easily earn 150k+ after taxes.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2019
109 posts
101 upvotes
serious9 wrote: There are many positions that exist in the market today that are unfilled. The reason is because there is a severe lack of talent in the GTA since they are leaving to the US for significantly hire pay (see https://www.levels.fyi/ as a brief example of the numbers in the states).

I was recently on the job market and I was able to find my first offer within a week (130k). I got a dozen in a month (110k-145k). I ended up accepting the best offer after 2-3 months of my job search.

From what I see in the market today, many companies/department have a desire to increase head count. These are hidden jobs that are not posted because they don't want to waste time interviewing candidates due to the tough hiring market. You can easily grab these jobs by networking or emailing managers on LinkedIn.

I would definitely find it tough to find a similar job with my current salary because I did ultimately get lucky with it. I am sure I can get another one similar to that with about 6 months of job searching. The alternative is to become a contractor where you can easily earn 150k+ after taxes.
Ok so sounds like based on your experience job market is pretty healthy with comp somewhere in the 130k - 170k range for a mid level. I assume more than that for senior / lead positions.

Do you think this reflects the experience of the typical developer or are you more of an exception?
Jr. Member
Jan 12, 2011
145 posts
78 upvotes
Toronto
Gorbers wrote: Ok so sounds like based on your experience job market is pretty healthy with comp somewhere in the 130k - 170k range for a mid level. I assume more than that for senior / lead positions.

Do you think this reflects the experience of the typical developer or are you more of an exception?
No those aren't typical numbers. It's near top of the market for mid level in Toronto. It's only been a few short years since you left. Things aren't all that much better. If you are already in the states you have much better opportunities there.
Newbie
Jun 30, 2019
52 posts
74 upvotes
Gorbers wrote: Ok so sounds like based on your experience job market is pretty healthy with comp somewhere in the 130k - 170k range for a mid level. I assume more than that for senior / lead positions.

Do you think this reflects the experience of the typical developer or are you more of an exception?
I'm more of an exception because I am knowledgeable about current market conditions. Most developers are not aware about salaries and ask for very low amounts. And they don't know how to negotiate.

I think anyone armed with this knowledge can command top dollar with little effort.
Newbie
Jun 30, 2019
52 posts
74 upvotes
cnfjti3 wrote: No those aren't typical numbers. It's near top of the market for mid level in Toronto. It's only been a few short years since you left. Things aren't all that much better. If you are already in the states you have much better opportunities there.
Yes it is top of the market but it is definitely not out of reach.

I have a group of friends with similar mid level experience and we all able to grab this salary. Yes it might have taken a while but we supported one another until we made it.

The money is there in the market. One needs to stay persistent in the job search and be tactical with negotiation.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 29, 2008
9993 posts
5311 upvotes
Developers here are severely underpaid it’s not funny. I’ve worked at a few software firms and yes, the best talent are leaving and I see no issue with that. As someone said, a lot of people do not know their true value. Most companies value employees less than what they deserve and employees only realize that when thry go out in the market and see offers coming in at quite a bit higher than their current position. I know my company has lost talent and it is due to money. But management acts dumbfounded. Pay the top talent or they will leave. It’s that simple.

I encourage everyone to look around and see what’s out there. You may be surprised when you see offers come in. Take that info back to your company. If they can’t do anything for you then move on.
Jr. Member
Jan 12, 2011
145 posts
78 upvotes
Toronto
serious9 wrote: Yes it is top of the market but it is definitely not out of reach.

I have a group of friends with similar mid level experience and we all able to grab this salary. Yes it might have taken a while but we supported one another until we made it.

The money is there in the market. One needs to stay persistent in the job search and be tactical with negotiation.
I think the thread is more about how it compares today vs 5 years ago. These high paying positions might have existed back then as well, yet OP did not find them. The question is more around what can someone making 120k 5 years ago expect to find in today's job market.

If I had to guess, given OP's additional experience, he/she should expect 150k+ if he/she spends the time to secure those competing offers.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Oct 5, 2019
109 posts
101 upvotes
cnfjti3 wrote: I think the thread is more about how it compares today vs 5 years ago. These high paying positions might have existed back then as well, yet OP did not find them. The question is more around what can someone making 120k 5 years ago expect to find in today's job market.

If I had to guess, given OP's additional experience, he/she should expect 150k+ if he/she spends the time to secure those competing offers.
Yes that’s right, thank you.

More to get a feel for the difference in the overall market over the last 5 years or so. When I was there in 2014, 140k was about the top end for individual contributors. There were some places you can go for more, like amazon or remote positions with US companies but they were fairly rare. The other possibility was CTO or technical director type of roles. But again not the typical software developer job.

In talking with a few people; friends, old colleagues and recruiters, it seems like at least in the GTA earning potential has moved up beyond that now, to maybe high 100k range for senior IC roles. I’m also hearing the opposite from some, that it’s harder to land jobs now too and there is downward pressure. So just wanted to get some additional data points here.
Sr. Member
Aug 16, 2008
991 posts
320 upvotes
Markham
There arent many companies in the GTA let alone Canada that have any meaningful equity compensation, so that significantly drops the OTE pay for Canadian technical roles. Add the fact that GTA firm A will only compare it's salaries with GTA firm B, and not firms down south, you will rarely see any job offers that break that so-called "120k barrier". High OTE/potential pay jobs come from either startups with significant positive momentum, or established FANG-ish companies - both of which pay equity. Even if you were to work a remote job for a US-based software vendor, those salaries will be relative to the local job market.
Newbie
Sep 28, 2010
86 posts
34 upvotes
High 100s are still rare, but not unheard of for the Toronto market.

As others have said, Canadians are lagging behind with salaries if you compare to what you can make south of the border. If you can handle working remotely and find an employer that doesn't pay you based on your location, that's your best bet if you're looking for highest numbers.
Newbie
Jun 30, 2019
52 posts
74 upvotes
cnfjti3 wrote: I think the thread is more about how it compares today vs 5 years ago. These high paying positions might have existed back then as well, yet OP did not find them.
I don't see what the point is for dwelling in the past. Past performance does not indicate future performance.

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