Big Bucks: 4 Programming Jobs with the Highest Salaries


Skilled programmers are some of the most well-paid technology professionals in today’s market. Robert Half Technology’s 2015 Salary Guide reports that starting compensation for a programmer is $74,250 - $129,000, a 5.9 percent increase over 2014 figures.* Specialized skills such as mobile applications development or enterprise resource planning (ERP) experience can boost a programmer’s earning potential even more.

These are the four top-paying programming jobs, according to the 2015 Salary Guide:

1. Mobile applications developer

Mobile applications developers are in high demand, especially those with skills such as:

  • Objective C (for iOS) or Java (for Android)
  • Graphic design
  • User interface (UI) design
  • Working with REST web services (for integrating with cloud services)

In 2015, mobile applications developers can expect to earn average starting salaries in the $107,500 - $161,500 range. This represents a 10.2 percent increase in compensation over 2014, the biggest boost among all tech positions tracked by the annual Salary Guide.

2. Applications architect

The applications architect is responsible for designing the technical implementation of a software project. As applications become more critical to businesses and more complex to build, demand for application architects is growing. These professionals can expect to earn $115,750 - $159,500 in 2015 — 6.5 percent more than last year.

Becoming an applications architect requires deep learning of programming theory and extensive hands-on experience. Applications architects also need experience across a wide range of programming domains such as database work and integrations with third-party services. An applications architect also must be able to coordinate with nontechnical people in the organization, such as business analysts. In some organizations, an applications architect fills the same role as a lead applications developer if the team is not large enough to support both positions.

3. ERP technical developer

ERP projects are some of the largest, most expensive and time-consuming projects that companies can undertake. ERP technical developers play a key role in the success of an ERP project, as they are responsible for implementing and customizing ERP packages. According to the 2015 Salary Guide, ERP technical developers can expect to see starting salaries between $99,750 - $136,750, a 5.3 percent increase from 2014.

ERP technical developers should know a common business language such as Java or C# as well as any specialized development languages or tools relevant to the ERP system they are working with. Fluency in SQL and the ability to work with databases are mandatory skills. Experience with a major ERP system, such as Oracle Enterprise One or SAP, and with enterprise integration technologies such as SOAP, is often required.

4. Lead applications developer

A lead applications developer is a technical leader and mentor to the development team. This position often includes business leadership responsibilities, such as playing a part in hiring other developers and scheduling product delivery. In some teams, the lead applications developer is also the applications architect and vice versa. Soft skills such as communications and coaching are very important for this role.

Like the other three programming jobs listed above, lead applications developers stand to benefit financially from increasing demand for their specialized skills. This year’s expected average starting compensation for a lead application developer is $106,250 - $148,250 — a 7.2 percent increase over 2014 figures.  

The 2015 Salary Guide has more information on compensation trends across the IT job market. Use our Salary Calculator to adjust salaries for programming jobs in your city and to check out the latest hiring trends in your region.

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*All salaries listed above are in U.S. dollars. For Canadian salary ranges for these positions, see the Robert Half Technology 2015 Salary Guide.