Should you expect 100k for your first job?

Published: 2023-11-06

Written by: Jessica Wilkins

3 min read



A few days ago, this Tweet went viral telling new developers not to expect 100k for their first job. This prompted a lot of people to comment and re tweet with their thoughts and first salaries online.

I read through a lot of the discussions online and I thought I’d share my thoughts on the topic.

Disclaimer: When it comes to discussing salary, I will be talking about expectations in the United States. I realize that salary expectations are very different in other parts of the world.

tweet about 100k

Where did the 100k salary expectation come from?

When you first enter this industry, you hear a lot of talk from boot camps, YouTube, and social media about making lots of money in tech. So this leads new developers to think that they should be making 100k right out of the gate.

However, a lot of developers have revealed that their first jobs in tech didn’t make anywhere near that.

kedasha tweet about salary

Hiroko tweet about the salary

For my first job, I made 50k with benefits. I didn’t bother to negotiate either because I was just happy to land my first tech job since they are so hard to get. I knew that people were making more than me but I just let it be and focused on gaining experience.

How long does it take to make 100k?

Based on the discussions, it took anywhere from a couple of years to 4-5+ years to hit 100k. Now some of this highly depends on when the developer entered into the industry as well as the pay within that local market.

So if someone entered into the industry 10 - 15 years ago, we need to account for inflation when discussing first salaries. Also, if someone is based in a higher cost of living area like San Francisco, they will likely hit 100k sooner than someone in a lower cost of living area like the Midwest.

But most agreed that they didn’t hit 100k until they had a few years of experience under their belt and they had switched companies.

Why do people switch companies to get pay raises?

Because it works. 😀

I know people who tried getting raises at their previous companies and were denied and then turned around and got a 20k+ raise at a new company. Sometimes they were able to get even more than that.

Most people have reported that they saw the larger pay jumps earlier on in their careers(junior, mid-level) and then the pay raises started to slow down as they got more senior.

Why is it important that we talk about salary?

This whole discussion on Twitter is really important because new developers need to understand the realities of the industry. For most people, it takes a few years to hit 100k and that’s okay.

Also, salary happens to be a taboo topic in a lot of industries. So it is important to have these open discussions so that people can get a better understanding of what to expect.


Breaking into the tech industry is hard and when you do get that first job it feels like you have made it. But it is important to understand that you are just getting started and that you will have to work hard to get to where you want to be. And if you continue to work hard and grow your skills then the money will follow.

For more information on salaries, I recommend checking out It is a great resource for comparing salaries at different companies and levels.