I work as a software engineer, making 120K annually. Recently I discovered that I'm contributing 3-4x compared to everybody else on my team, but we're all paid the same. Is it appropriate to ask for double my current salary on these grounds?

Btw, not a duplicate, that guy is making much less than me.

  • What was your measure? I hope it wasn't Lines of Code / Number of Commits / Number of Tickets Solved / Direct Sales Effect? – phresnel Oct 20 '15 at 8:18

Is it appropriate to ask for double my current salary on these grounds?


  • You can quantifiably show that you contribute 3-4 times the value to the company compared to everyone else
  • You have been working at this company for at least a few years
  • You believe your company (and in particular your boss) cares significantly about your additional contributions
  • Your company has a history of giving good raises
  • In your locale, very large raises wouldn't be completely exceptional
  • Your company (and your boss' budget) can afford such a raise

then Yes, it's appropriate, and you should ask for double (or perhaps triple or even more) your current salary.

Of course, that doesn't mean you'll get it, as some of your assumptions may be incorrect, your boss and/or company may not want to set a precedent, or they may have other reasons for denying you.

Also ask yourself why you would continue working for a company that pays all of it's software engineers $120k, when you are worth $240k.

In my part of the world, I've never known anyone to ask for and receive such an increase, no matter how good they were. But there's always a first time.

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  • I work in Silicon valley where engineers are very hard to find, and to find people who can contribute as much as I do are near impossible. – Michael Reinhard Sep 19 '15 at 20:19
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    Don't want to be presumptuous here. But are you @MichaelReinhard familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect? More often than not, I find myself thinking I am the best at something when I am actually not, much to my chagrin. – Frank FYC Sep 20 '15 at 2:44
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    "Find people who can contribute as much as I do are near impossible" Employees comes and goes, and talented people are everywhere, learn to be humble.. – feco Sep 20 '15 at 3:57
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    Please come back and tell us what happened. – DJClayworth Sep 21 '15 at 2:07
  • @feco In software it's not unheard of for one engineer to contribute 5x other engineers. OP could be cocky, but that doesn't mean his claim isn't legitimate. – Eric S. Sep 21 '15 at 17:28

Is it appropriate to ask for double my current salary on these grounds?

Double your salary? Probably not. In fact, almost certainly not. Software engineering, like most of engineering, is rather egalitarian. In almost every field in engineering, the top outperform the bottom by a lot more than your factor of three or four. Pay is not commensurate with that huge variation in performance. People who can't program their way out of a wet paper bag are paid almost as much as you. People who can program even better than you are paid only a bit more than you are. That's life.

To make twice your already nice salary of $120K/year, you need to do something beyond programming. If you stay where you are, you might eventually see that 100% pay raise, but only over the course of many years. Another option is to climb the ladder and become a manager. An even more lucrative (but much more risky) option is to become an entrepreneur and start your own business.

A third option: Look for something other than money in your job. If you're as good as you think you are, look for and ask for the most challenging assignments. You'll be paid more than your mindless cohorts (but not double), you'll work harder than your mindless cohorts, but your mindless cohorts will be doing mindless work. Your work will be fun and challenging. Even better, find ways to create your own work. You might get nice bonuses for that.

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If you're sure your contribution is that much more than the rest, then by all means ask for a raise in my opinion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to get what you're worth out of an employer. I'm not familiar with the USA. But I have asked for double and got it when my leverage was solid.

The worst that can happen is they'll say no and you can plan from there. More likely if they recognise your contribution you will be offered a raise and can start negotiating. If you let it slide, you'll never know.

I've also quit a job that wouldn't give me a raise, started my own business and had half their clients follow me because they couldn't handle their work properly.

It's all about getting ahead in life, if you're worth top dollar and feel you're being taken advantage of, go get top dollar.

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