Background: I work as a software engineer (C, TypeScript, PL/SQL and PHP) for a small technology company (less then 50 employees) in the Chicago area. I've been here for a year and 9 months as of posting this question. When I was hired, it was made clear that they were "taking a chance on me" because my previous job history was not as a software engineer (previously, I was a Business Analyst at a fortune 500 company doing a software engineer job essentially). I received a significant salary increase compared to my previous job ($83k to $95k annual). In my time with the new company I've essentially become a senior software engineer / "go to" person according to multiple individuals including each manager up to the owner of the company. After a year I was bumped to $100k salary which is where I am now. I think I've been pretty successful here for someone with no college education in CS (or any degree at all - I'm self taught).
This week the Software Development Manager / Software Architect (SDM/SA) announce that he's leaving the company. He's my direct manager's boss, but I've worked very closely with him especially over the last 6-12 months - he's my de facto manager in many ways. My direct manager and the technology director (the manager of the guy who's leaving) reached out to me before the wider announcement and let me know that this will mean opportunities will be opening up to assume some of the current SDM/SA responsibilities - they asked if I would be interested and I said yes.
Yesterday, my direct manager called me and told me that at a high level it is "official" that they want to move forward with offering me the new position and title, but that the absolute details are being finalized before an offer is made. He asked if I had a preference in job title between "Software Development Manager" or "Software Architect" - after doing some quick research on average salaries for each I ultimately chose "Software Development Manager". From the sounds of it, I'll basically be a project manager and not have any direct reports (which is perfect to me, I'd prefer not to manage people) and I'll basically be the lead developer / architect for the new software development our company has been doing. I'll also be involved in the design / requirements phase of new development. I'll be able to assemble small teams for various projects and lead those teams as well as continue doing software development.
This all sounds great and I'm very excited at the possibilities.
Here's the part that worries me and what I need advice on:
My direct manager mentioned that a "salary adjustment / pay increase" would be involved but that he didn't know the specifics of what would be offered yet. He also indicated that the technology director suggested that they might want to do an "incentivized pay upgrade schedule" - it sounds like pay increases based upon the projects I deliver or manage. He didn't know any more details of that, but told me that his personal preference was to just give me a normal pay increase instead of tying it to something that needs to be tracked / measured (he would be the one doing that).
I'm not 100% sure what is meant by an "incentivized pay upgrade schedule" but it sounds like no raise initially (maybe?) and a raise spread out over the next 6 or 12 months (I'm assuming here).
What is the best was to press for a standard raise? At my old job I was "promised" raises a couple times that ultimately never materialized and while I think this place is different it's not something I want to just trust will happen considering I'm taking on additional responsibilities and a new title. I'm willing to take the new position regardless of how the pay increase is given, but is there a good approach to protecting myself and ensuring the promised increase will ultimately happen?
Finally, I've tried to come up with a number of where I would expect my salary to be with the new position. I'm currently at $100k salary annually - I'm leaning towards $120k to $125k salary annually (20-25%) increase. Does this sound reasonable or am I asking for way too much?
tl;dr At company less than 2 years as a software engineer. Software Development Manager / Software Architect is leaving, I'm being offered a promotion that includes many of his responsibilities. The salary increase being suggested might be a "incentivized pay upgrade schedule", how can I press for a normal raise or protect myself to ensure I end up getting a raise. Finally, I'm planning to ask for a 20-25% increase ($100k/annual to $120k/$125k) - am I crazy?