I've been at my current position about nine months. I have the chance to negotiate my pay soon and I want to know how to decide what my job is worth.

I'm doing a mix between software engineering, signal processing, and audio engineering. It's a complex job and requires a good understanding of all those fields. I have been training my coworkers for 9 months now and they are still barely grasping how to run and develop the systems in the lab.

I'm looking for advice that doesn't need to be specific to this role. It's more about how to value a job that has multiple roles involved and is pretty difficult. How can I decide what this job is worth? Should I value it based on the most valuable role, or is there some better metric to use?


2 Answers 2


Start from the highest. Note this assumes you can make a case that you're qualified. For example, if signal processing generally requires a masters and a certification, but you're a comp sci graduate who just has a knack for the aspects of signal processing you're doing, maybe that's a consideration.

Go up from there. You have evidence that this is a combination of disciplines that not everyone with any one of them can easily master. Next, you're taking on some risk diluting your core experience with spending significant time on fields that aren't part of your core. On the upside, you're becoming a very specific expert. But this specialized combination is of value to a very small space.

Tell them you find the combination interesting and are happy to continue, but the last nine months have well demonstrated the value of your grasp of the multiple disciplines both in terms of what the combination can achieve and how uncommon that combination is to find.

  • 3
    I'll take two sentences from JS answer and summarize: Start from the highest. Go up from there.
    – Fattie
    Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 15:42

In software engineering the very definition of "even higher salary" is when you are a mixed specialist.

I'm doing software engineering, signal processing, and audio engineering


Should I value it based on the most valuable role, or is there some better metric to use?

You certainly do not !! value it based on the "highest role".

For mixed specialists, it's the highest role times at a minimum 1.50.

Part of what we do is precisely find "mixed specialists" like this for very unusual products. Folks who are precisely leading experts in more than one disparate field. These folks get absurdly high pay.

Note OP that as you explain

  • after 9 months your otherwise competent colleagues are nowhere with the skillset

  • there could be as few as count them on your fingers people on Earth who can step in to the role

1.5 times the "highest one" at a minimum.

What can they do, find someone else? The answer to the rhetorical question is no, they cannot. This is what Steve Jobs meant with the whole 10x comment.

  • 2
    What 10x comment are you referring to? Commented Apr 17, 2019 at 16:14

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