I am currently working at a company as a junior programmer on contract for the summer (June - Aug). I am working and going to school at the same time hence the contract, the company is hiring me as a permanent full time programmer once I am done in August. This was agreed upon during the job offer.

However, I am not satisfied with my current salary and low-balled my salary expectations during the interview (I was asked out of the blue,nervous and my first job where I was asked this).

My salary is currently ~$42k/y but I would like to have ~$50k/y, would it be appropriate to renegotiate my salary with my boss when my contract ends and I start full time?

I would like to add that I had 1 year of programming experience before this job and even talked to one of my professors saying I should be making atleast $50k/y.

  • 1
    It is not wise to renegotiate, if you are depending on this job to come through. Look for another job with that salary expectation and use this one you (will) have as a bargaining point. If some other job comes through, paying what you want, then you can renegotiate. Otherwise, your professors might be full-o-crap, not knowing how the jobs in the real working world go.
    – MelBurslan
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:27
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    Do not believe what teacher say. They have reasons to overvalue you. Believe in the market. Get a few interviews, try to get a few proposals, and you'll have a better idea of your market value.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:41
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    If you want more money, then go out, find another job, get another offer. Then you have leverage you could use with this company. Jun 21, 2016 at 16:59
  • @gnat which is a duplicate itself. Jun 21, 2016 at 18:10
  • Yes, even $50k is low for today's market. Completing your degree increases your market value. They should have planned for this. Demand for competent programmers is huge right now. I know undergraduate interns in Seattle getting $6000/month. You should shop yourself around. Jun 21, 2016 at 22:53

5 Answers 5


would it be appropriate to renegotiate my salary with my boss when my contract ends and I start full time?

It would be unexpected and possibly lose you the job altogether. It may well go fine though, particularly if you have made a very good impression there. But it's a big jump from 42 to 50.

If you want to go this route then I would suggest job searching elsewhere as well just in case. At the moment you have a guaranteed job at 42k, that's 42k in real money, that's worth a lot more than a hypothetical job at 50k which is roughly 0 real money.

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    +1 Blunt, to the point, and sound. He'd also take a hit to his reputation. Not a good idea. Jun 21, 2016 at 16:51
  • I don't think it's advisable for a junior, maybe a highly skilled senior in a hard to fill niche.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:55
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    It is bad etiquette for an employee at any level to pull such a last minute renegotiation deal.
    – MelBurslan
    Jun 21, 2016 at 17:28

I would say that such action would be "brave" in the way that the British use that term. Or to put it more directly, very foolish. Additionally, it will reflect poorly on your character as a one who reneges on his agreements. That reputation can and WILL follow you around in the industry.

$42 isn't terrible for a junior programmer, but it isn't great either.

Do not attempt to renegotiate. No takesie backsies in the business world, especially with so little experience.

Either take the job at the negotiated salary and press hard for raises and promotions, or find a better offer elsewhere. Your professors are giving you bad advice, and the old adage "...those who can't, teach" comes into play here. Take advice from those in the field instead.

Go in, learn all you can, outshine your colleagues and the money will take care of itself in little time at all.

  • 3
    Reputation is what careers are based on
    – Kilisi
    Jun 21, 2016 at 16:56

There's merit to the idea that renegotiation is bad because you don't want to look like someone who can't stick to his word or someone who is greedy. I'm going to disagree with that idea.

Something that many, many people seem to forget is that the employment process goes both ways. They aren't just evaluating you. You are also evaluating them. Never, ever forget that. You aren't Oliver Twist asking the master for "More" it's two equal parties coming to an agreement on a mutually beneficial business relationship.

You are a contractor. You say that the reason is because you're still in school. But the reality is that your being still in school is irrelevant to whether or not they could hire you. They can hire you right now if they chose, but instead they gave you a contract. Why? So they could evaluate you and decide (without the burden of benefits, etc) whether they would like you to be permanent. What isn't said (because it's not to their advantage to do so) is that you're also evaluating them. A contract ending is a lot simpler to explain than leaving a permanent job, whatever the reason.

They are evaluating your skills, attitude, aptitude, cultural fit and work ethic. As I said, you're evaluating them. You're evaluating your boss, the culture, the type of work your doing, a company's ethics and whether the compensation suggested at the outset is sufficient long term.

Do you see the term I used in the last sentence? Suggested. Even though you initially agreed to a certain wage, it was still a suggestion unless you signed a contract for the permanent job as well.

For some reason, people subconsciously give employers more rights than they have themselves. Would they hesitate to offer you less if their budget suddenly wouldn't allow it? Would they hire you anyway if you weren't a fit? You are an equal at this point.

The bottom line is that until the job becomes permanent, you're still not employed by them and you have no responsibility to keep working beyond your contract. You can absolutely renegotiate. The chances of them being distressed are pretty slim. If they don't like it, they'll probably just say "this is all we have budgeted and that's what the job pays" and it's up to you to decide whether to accept the job.

When they come back with "you agreed on 42,000" you can respond by saying that it was just a number off the top of your head when you were put on the spot. In that time, I have realized that I'm actually worth 50,000 and that's what I think I deserve"

Let me state this again though. If they've made a formal offer in writing for 42,000 and you accepted it, you can try to renegotiate but it is a bad idea. If you've only signed a contract for the summer, it's a standard contract-to-perm and you should feel free to explore your new expectations.

  • 1
    Sure, and he's unlikely to get it but he may get a counter offer. In my experience (unless there's been an actual offer made) most people see such requests as part of doing business and assertiveness is often a respected quality as long as he's willing to take 'no' for an answer and not press it. How he reacts to their response is also important.
    – Chris E
    Jun 21, 2016 at 17:11
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    Geez, you deleted your comment and now I'm responding to nothing. lol
    – Chris E
    Jun 21, 2016 at 17:13
  • Sorry, didn't want to disagree too strongly, because you do have a reasonable point
    – Kilisi
    Jun 21, 2016 at 23:28

Be aware that you are asking for almost a 20% pay raise after only 3 months. Very few companies are going to go for that. Annual raises are most commonly in the 2-5% range, so 19% is a huge raise. You have contributed little of value in only 3 months compared to long-term employees and they don't get offered such raises except in exceptional circumstances. It is far easier to find someone at entry level as well, so you have no leverage there either.

Now you do have the advantage that you are going from contractor to permanent, so that does give you a chance to negotiate some. However, it is more common for them to offer less in this situation as they now have to pay benefits. So again, be aware that asking for a huge raise may be off-putting to them.

Personally if I liked the company and was happy about everything except the pay, I would try for a smaller increase or a promise of a raise within 6 months. If the pay raise is that critical to you, I would search for another job as it is unlikely to come at this one unless you have something more than the typical entry level person. A good, solid, experienced person has far more leverage than you would in negotiating a raise.


I'm going to go ahead and disagree with a lot of the answers so far. 42K for a programmer who already has a year of experience is NOTHING. I was making 50K with no experience, so you really need to be making at least that, given your skills.

This doesn't need to be awkward or confrontational either. Just a few weeks before you're supposed to switch to full time, ask to sit down with your boss to discuss a potential raise. Showcase the ways you bring value to the team, and how your hard work and dedication has benefited the company. Don't lament about saying 42K when asked before, or complain about getting "low-balled"; this is about how your value has increased. When asked for how much you believe you should be making, confidently say $50000.

Now, you ARE worth more than that, and your boss likely already knows this, so this really shouldn't be a problem for him. If, however, they refuse your raise, or offer you less of a raise, don't threaten to quit or anything. Simply thank them for their time, get back to work, and start looking for another position. This job hunt shouldn't take long; the world has a shortage of programmers.

  • I totally agree, I don't think I am worth $42k. This is what I am exactly going to do but before I do this Ill still apply for jobs just in case.
    – Daniel
    Jun 21, 2016 at 18:07
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    @Daniel It's bad advice. There is NO shortage of programmers, at least not junior programmers. There is a dearth of senior programmers, as most of us are 45+ old and long in the tooth. Jun 21, 2016 at 18:21
  • The exact dollar amount doesn't matter, and what you made doesn't either. What I make as a developer in Minnesota is well above what I'd expect to make for the exact same position in Arkansas, but well below what I'd expect in NY or most of CA. Jun 21, 2016 at 20:07

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