Study: 36 Percent of Technology Workers Underpaid

Posted By Terri Williams on July 13, 2017 at 7:03 am
Study: 36 Percent of Technology Workers Underpaid

While doctors and lawyers are the country’s highest-paid workers, these professions have extended educational requirements. Engineers and technology workers are the highest-paid professionals who typically have a bachelor’s degree. However, a recent Paysa study reveals that 36% of technology workers are underpaid – and by at least 10%.

Chris Bolte, CEO of Paysa, tells GoodCall®, “To create the study, Paysa examined more than five million resumes of tech and engineering professionals.”

To some people, 10% might not seem that significant, but Bolte puts the data in perspective.   “Considering that the average salary for a software engineer is $112,000, this translates into a minimum of $11,200, per person, per year, in lost wages.” In 10 years, that’s the equivalent of working one year for free.

So, which companies, according to Paysa, are most – and least – likely to underpay their tech employees?

Most likely to underpay Least likely to underpay
1 Accenture Intuit
2 Glassdoor Amazon
3 Pinterest WalmartLabs
4 Microsoft MZ
5 Dropbox Capital One
6 Airbnb Yelp
7 Lockheed Martin Yahoo
8 Facebook Qualcomm
9 Uber Bloomberg LP
10 IBM Netflix


A Robert Half Tech Salaries survey reveals that many chief information officers think technology workers are paid fairly.

CIOs were asked, “When it comes to most technology salaries, which of the following statements do you agree with most?” Their responses were as follows:

63% They are fair, given the need for talent or the talent shortage
20% They are too low given expectations and the current workload
12% They are too high – it can become hard to compete when recruiting
4% Don’t know/no answer


John Reed, senior executive director for Robert Half Technology, tells GoodCall®, “While technology professionals in certain high-demand roles have the potential to be compensated at above average rates, employers need to be extremely cognizant of the salary trends in their specific regions. Depending on how specialized the role, leaders must be prepared to offer salaries that will keep them competitive in what can be an extremely tight market for technology talent.”

The Paysa report also reveals that Seattle, Boston, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, New York, and San Diego were the 10 cities most likely to undercompensate their engineering and technology workers.

The question for technology workers: Negotiate or leave?

While unfair treatment has been listed as the most common reason for tech turnover, workers are also leaving for better wages. Should they try to negotiate before departing for greener pastures?

Bolte recommends negotiating, but he says it’s important for workers to know their worth. “While talking about money with your manager can be uncomfortable, having data to back your discussion about your achievements and accomplishments can open the door to a productive conversation that leads to a promotion or a raise.”

Even if the conversation doesn’t result in a raise, Bolte says the employee will have data to prove his or her worth and will be in a position to negotiate elsewhere.

And don’t think that negotiations are few and far in-between. “Thousands of employees are getting raises, promotions, and successfully negotiating new job offers,” Bolte explains. “For perspective, we have helped over 6,000 people increase their salaries by $180,000,000 – since January of 2017.”

Many tech workers might follow conventional wisdom: believing if they work hard, their good work will automatically be rewarded, but this might not be the best approach. “In the job market and at your current employer, it’s extremely important to be your own advocate when it comes to your earnings,” Bolte says. “While putting money away for a rainy day and investing for the future is important, it all starts with your ability to earn to your full potential.”

More important than money

However, money may not always be the driving force when deciding whether to leave or stay. Greg Harris, president and CEO of Quantum Workplace, tells GoodCall® that employee retention is a problem, especially in the tech industry.

“While my company’s 2016 Engaging Tech Employees Industry Report showed tech companies ranked fourth as most engaged out of the 17 we profile every year, their year-over-year engagement is declining.”

Other research has found that some workers are leaving for more money or because they’re unhappy, but Harris says his research found that employees want to know that the company’s leaders are dedicated to making the organization a great place to work. “Tech employees look to company leaders for making work great; however, the leaders have to openly communicate with employees to fully understand their expectations.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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