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I'm a 20 year old web designer/developer without a degree and without experience in a web design job, rather Ive been working in Print Media for a year. My goal is to develop my own company featuring web apps I'm working on in all of my spare time so I have no interest in getting a degree. I'm taking on the risk of not having a degree in order to devote as much time to my craft - the design and developmemt of web apps.

So for the time being, I need to get a better paying job in a different area, and I'm willing to work below the industry standard pay for a web designer, I dont need much money, only a job I can enjoy doing and enough to support a meager lifestyle while I work on my software.

So the industry low for a web developer is about $33,000 - that's not hugely reliable, but it's the low end of "a study" which puts the range between $33K-$110K. $33K comes out to be a little more than $17 per hour assuming a 40 hour week.

In my area I can live on $2000 a month, so in my resume I could offer to take a wage as low as $13/hr.

Would this possibly help me secure a job assuming I have a good portfolio to go with my resume?

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    Don't forget to account for taxes and deductions that may make that low end not quite work as well as you thought in some places. – JB King Aug 17 '15 at 20:22
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    Closely related question: Is it a good idea to ask for a significantly lower salary than the median to increase the chances of an offer?. Not an exact duplicate so I'm tempted to keep this open. – Lilienthal Aug 17 '15 at 22:44
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  • @JoeStrazzere I design ads and layout for a local newspaper for $9 an hour so at this point the poverty line looks really good to me. – Viziionary Aug 18 '15 at 11:38
  • @JoeStrazzere You'd think at $9/hr I'd be a pretty bad designer, but Ive actually been an an artist all of my life, I'm really really good. But I've got this software dream and I realized that I could take the safe route, go through college, pick up some debt to pay for 15+ years and a degree, or take a risk and work really hard to build the software project Ive been training myself for 5 years for, study on my own and be an entrepenuer. Unfortunately that means taking some really sh*t pay in the mean time. – Viziionary Aug 18 '15 at 11:47
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Not really. And if it does, that's not a job you want..

Almost all employers publish a job posting with a particular set of skills and a salary range in mind. They base that salary range on the market rate for the experience level, the location, and the supply and rarity of the required skills in the workforce. They'll move that range up if they're willing to pay a premium for high performers or down if they don't mind paying below the industry average and just have FTEs to fill. As an example, call centers are notorious for the latter.

Given their requirements, a manager will try to find the best candidate for the position he's trying to fill and salary will not be (or at least should not be) a motivating factor in that decision. The way to get hired is by applying for jobs that you would excel at because of a combination of cultural and social fit; and technical skills and experience. Pricing yourself below the market is not a valid strategy.

In your particular situation, your lack of experience or education in web design, coupled with a bad job market means that you are very unlikely to be a strong let alone a top candidate for a job as a web developer. While that's probably not the advice you're hoping to hear, you should be realistic about your chances. In your situation I'd explore other jobs that just pay the rent while you work on building a portfolio, an education or starting a business.

In general, any employer swayed by your argument that he can exploit you for cheap labor is not one you want to work for, especially as you say that you want a job that you enjoy doing.

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It is impossible to know what an employer might be thinking. Below are just some possible things that pop into my head.

By offering to work for a low wage, you might discourage some employers from hiring. They might think your work inferior, or you would leave as soon as you had some experience for a better paying job.

On the other hand, you might get the job due to your low wage demands. It would be expected that over time that as you learn and become more competent. When that happens, you might ask for or expect a raise. That lower starting wage might limit your potential raise.

  • Definitely agree on the point of having the lower starting wage negatively impact future earnings with that employer. If the OP is looking to do a hit-and-run to gain experience; it could work. If they're looking for long time employment there; I wouldn't recommend it. – Jim B Aug 17 '15 at 19:48

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