What to put for salary expectations as a new dev

I am in the middle of applying to a remote position for a front-end developer. I have no professional experience and I am self-taught. I also have no degree (in anything). This has me feeling pretty low. With all of that and general imposter syndrome, I don’t know what I am worth.

The job I am applying for requires you give them a salary expectation. I have no idea what to put. I live in a big US city and the company is US-based. I don’t want to lowball myself, but I’m afraid they will look at all of the dings against me and thing I am delusional for asking for too much.

According to GlassDoor, the average Junior FED salary is around $75k, with the low-end being $58k. The company itself on GlassDoor has only a few data points, with the front-end salary range being between about $60-70k.

I’m not sure what to put. Does anyone have any advice so I don’t blow this?

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well, it sure sounds like you did some research and you have a good basis for an estimate. Can you provide a range? Also I wouldn’t worry too much about them ignoring you given the numbers you posted (they’re not crazy high).
One thought, if you said 60-70 would you be happy if they gave you 60 and you later found out other colleagues were at 70 when they started? (would being hired be enough satisfaction?)
Another thought, if you did find out that you were underpaid, there’s nothing preventing you leaving if a raise request gets no response?

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I think a lot of times this is just to make sure you are in the ballpark. If the position maxes out at 80k, they don’t want to bother with someone that will refuse anything below 100k. In large companies, salary ranges are often already explicitly outlined so there isn’t much wiggle room anyway.

I usually say, “Yeah, this is the question everyone hates. I am expecting at least $50-60k, which I realize is a little low in this field, but I’m more interested in getting this first job so I can learn and grow.”


Thank you so much! I can provide a range. It doesn’t ask for one, but it’s just text field so I can and probably should provide a range and not a hard number.

And honestly, being hired at all (provided I at least make the lowest salary listed) would be enough for me at this moment. I realize it’s hard to get your first job, especially with no degree or even bootcamp, and they will be taking a big risk on me if they choose to hire me.

That’s an excellent point! I didn’t think of that. I was worried, for example, if I say my expectation is $55k and they only want to pay $50k, they will just move on. It definitely seems more likely that they are just trying to weed out people with expectations way beyond what they can give. Thank you for saying that!

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One baseline I would draw is anything below 60k for a developer job in a “good” developer market city in the US isn’t good enough. I take this baseline from IT jobs (think like local tech support), which usually start around 50k - 60k, and don’t increase to much with experience. (when compared to developer/software engineer jobs)

I haven’t had many jobs, but I don’t hear to much about other people’s salaries, so I wouldn’t worry about FOMO (fear of missing out) if you don’t know what your missing out :wink: especially if your starting out. Unless money is of utmost importance I’d care more about learning, experience and networking. As that’s what gets your salary to increase further down the line, with the current company or another.

As you already stated the average is 60k-70k and this is on point, so it’s a good start, but remember money isn’t everything, especially as a software developer. The sky is the limit with the more you know, and bring to the table ;D

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I don’t see any advantage in looking for other peoples’ salaries.
That’s an ego thing and I would try to leave it behind me.

What I did:

  • I calculated what I absolutely need for basic living (rent, food, insurance, mobility) = Point 1
  • I added some nice to have things, that I can live without (car, going out) = Point 2
  • I added 30% as savings = Point 3

In the meeting, I came up with Point 3, the CEO said that it was too much,
I went down 10%, so I am between Point 2 and Point 3,

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There’s nothing wrong with accepting lower pay so you can get your foot in the door. Even if you get a coding job and get paid $10 an hour, you can easily apply to other firms while you work for 3-6 months, and then get higher pay at the new job that accepts you. Also, the place that hires you will most likely want to keep you if you’re doing your best, and they will steadily increase your pay to a suitable market price as time passes.

Seriously, I got a programming job in the Silicon Valley where I competed with 70 people, and I got it because I told the boss I wanted to learn and that I was willing to work for free. He eventually started paying me well after a week or two. And by then, I had only taken two programming classes in community college, so I had no degree or experience.

So don’t be depressed about it man. You’ll have to bootstrap for a bit, but the journey of being a programmer is a long and tumultuous one. Bootstrapping is a part of being a self taught developer. But that’s the small price you pay for saving $100k+ by not getting a CS degree.

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Thank you everyone for all of the input! I really appreciate it.

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I feel like if you were to say 60-70k, why would they pay you 70k? Why would somebody choose to pay you more if they can pay you less? You have already basically said that 60k would be fine. I personally think it’s much better to provide a hard number and start on the higher end. Also, asking for more shows that you value yourself more, which will make them value and respect you more. If I were a recruiter, and someone’s asking price was very low, it would show me lack of confidence and make me very hardly question if they can actually code.

Disclaimer: I have no professional experience in the software developer industry. This is just my opinion formed from the things I have learned.


I feel like if you were to say 60-70k, why would they pay you 70k? Why would somebody choose to pay you more if they can pay you less?

That is an obvious concern. I would suggest a few possible reasons.

  1. In medium to large companies, pay scales are often defined by formulas and tables.
  2. Because if they have a long term vision, they don’t want to short change you now and risk building resentment later. They are investing in you and it is in their best interest to keep you over the long run. Switching employees every year can be very costly. Yes, they want to save money, but they also want happy employees. They know that you may be ecstatic to have a job right now, but in 6 months when you are nailing the job and realize that you are getting paid half as much as your peers and the corporate policy limits pay raises to a max of 10% a year (or whatever) then you are going to quit and find something that pays better.

I agree that you shouldn’t short change yourself. You’re right that if you ask for too little, it shows a lack of confidence. But if you also ask for more than your experience and education justifies, you may cause them to think that you have unrealistic expectations and they may see that as problematic.


If they have a formula, they can easily calculate the range that will be available for any given position. If they can calculate that, why are they asking candidates for a figure rather than stating the range and asking if it aligns with the candidate’s expectations?

As it was explained to me, they need to know that you have reasonable expectations. I’ve heard this in interviews from a few recruiters.

Yes, I’m sure there some people trying to lowball people. I don’t think it’s as many as we fear. I’ve actually had a few interviewers tell me that the position starts at a higher salary than I quoted. YMMV

Yes, it’s douche-y question. But then many of the questions asked in interviews I think are stupid or irrelevant. From an employer’s perspective it is a good question because:

  1. Again, it makes sure you have reasonable expectations. If they can only offer $70k, they don’t want to waste their time with someone that won’t settle for less than $100k. There are people making that and for some that is a reasonable expectation. And they don’t want to get deep into negotiations and some guy’s head gets big and figures out he has some power and decides to use it. I’m sure that has happened. They are in a position of power so they can head that off before it starts by laying a ground work.

  2. One interviewing technique is to make make the person uncomfortable and see how they respond. Do they get defensive? Are they unable to articulate and answer? Does this expose their ego or insecurities?

  3. It’s an easy way to see if you’ve done your homework. If you know what the job is and know the industry, you should have a pretty good idea.

  4. I think some interview questions get asked because people just think they’re supposed to. There are several “trendy” interview questions and this one seems to be on that list.

Personally I hate all interviewing - I love relating to people, but interviewing is fake, it is artificial, it is inherently insincere. But it’s part of the game. And (amazingly considering how many unfilled positions there are) they have all the power. (At least they do for people like me, trying to break into the game.)

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Thank you so much for that link! I would have been much more comfortable if the question came in an interview (I haven’t gotten one yet) rather than the application for reasons stated in that article. If they asked me and I could tell them more than a number, at least I could present how I came to that conclusion (researching jr. front-end salaries in my city as well as the company’s range of front-end salaries on GlassDoor). Hopefully if I get to the interview stage, I’ll be able to express my reasoning.

Your confidence and determination is worth more than a degree. If you go with the mind set that you want to be number one, that would show.

I don’t have a degree in anything but I am making 100k plus because I feel confident and I am big on morales + I deliver fast. 

I connect people together and network with everyone no mater their position. I have a great relationship with the janitor and with my boss.

You want 80k? Ask for it. The worst they can do is say “how’s 75k”

Keep your head up and speak firmly + make eye contact + don’t forget the smile. Be humble but not a push over

You got this!


i think, it depends entirely on ur situation.

for me, im not asking for more.
for the first job, its simple: accept the offer, so you got a job.
from there on, its also simple
if they think im worth more, they can offer that to me.
if i think im worth more than what im payed, i can apply for other jobs.
and if its all just for the money, one can maybe do some stupid legacy drupal job nobody wants. it might earn more and easier money than real development.