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I have worked for the past few months as a tech support help desk rep for $11.75/hr through a temp service. Recently, they asked if anyone had front end development skills. Several people responded and over a two week period we were tested. I was finally chosen as the candidate for the job which I was extremely excited about because I have been trying to get a development job.

The only issue is that they never mentioned raising my pay and for the past month I have had the same pay ($11.75). I'll also mention this job is still though the temp service for an undefined amount of time. Are they using me since they already know I'm willing to work for that amount of money? In my area front end developers typically start out at around $45,000 on the low end.

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  • Do you have a contract with your temp agency? Did you talk to anyone at your company or the agency? You should have demanded a raise upon accepting the job offer and written letter of offer from the company hiring you (never leave this up in the air). Temp agencies are a scam because they don't want you to get hired because then they stop getting paid an exorbitant amount on top of your earnings.
    – G.T.D.
    Jul 9 '16 at 17:37
  • I don't have a contract. My help desk job was supposed to last 6 months though. I was lucky enough to transfer to the development job before everyone was let go. For the "hiring", I was only in contact with the actual company, but I kept my temp service recruiter updated. The company said the job was still through the temp service.
    – Ralph
    Jul 9 '16 at 17:44
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    Salary is very dependent on where you work. A site like salary.com can help you determine what's a reasonable wage in your area. Just keep in mind that you're not an Jr yet. You're very equivalent to a paid intern., an Apprentice, if you will.
    – ThatGuy
    Jul 10 '16 at 12:26
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    @Paparazzi I have trouble understanding what the topic of this site is, given the number of downvoted questions that appear to be about the "workplace". This is hardly a question about someplace other than work. Perhaps you can explain in more detail what the topic of this site is. Maybe it could be renamed, so as to avoid so many off-topic questions that are about the workplace.
    – BobRodes
    Jul 10 '16 at 16:31
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    @BobRodes "Perhaps you can explain in more detail what the topic of this site is" That's what we have a help center for. Join The Workplace Chat if you have further questions about this.
    – Lilienthal
    Jul 12 '16 at 8:49
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I sold cars for a short time back in the 80s. One of the things that stuck with me from training was this. The manager asked the question "How much should someone pay for a car?" Everybody weighed in with one thing or another, and he finally said "What someone should pay for a car is as much as he's willing to pay for it."

So it is with you. If you're willing to work for $11.75 an hour, then work for $11.75 an hour. If that's what you're willing to work for, then that's what you're worth. Now, if you're developing some front-end developer skills, you'll be worth more pretty quickly. But you sound impatient. You have only "recently" begun doing this kind of work, so you're probably talented (since you're the one who got the job) but don't have much experience.

Think of it as getting paid to go to school and learn a higher-end skill. Put the time in, get some deliverables under your belt. If you start focusing on the idea that they might be using you, that's not going to take you anywhere you want to go. Even if they are using you, you're using them, too. They picked you up when you didn't have any experience, and gave you an opportunity to move up. Keep that in mind. They're taking a risk to give you this job, because if you don't work out they're not only out what they paid you, but whatever project you're working on is going to be delayed. So, you can worry about whether you're getting paid enough for your job title, or you can take the time to invest in your future by developing valuable skills.

I have a brother who got a Master's in Fine Arts 30 years ago. He was a great artist, but he didn't know a thing about computer graphics. He worked in some small toy factory for a few years, then quit his job and moved with his wife to Seattle. He looked around for a job for a bit, and then walked into a computer graphics place and offered to work for free so he could learn graphic software. (I know most of us can't afford to do that, but his wife had a good job and understood that he was investing in his future.) He did that for over a year before they created a position for him and started paying him. He stayed another year or so, and wound up a stone expert in UI/UX design very early on. Then, he got a contract at Microsoft, designing stuff for early versions of IE. 25 years later, he's still there as a full-time employee and doing extremely well. Now, if he had been worrying about people using him, he'd probably be working in a factory packing software boxes or something. He would have been using his imagination to imagine where he didn't want to be instead of where he did. And, he would have gotten there.

So, see that you don't wind up in a place you hate. By fearing that you might, you put your energy into imagining just the situations you want to avoid. By doing that, you make it more and more your reality. So don't do that! My advice is to stick with it for at least six months, and see what develops. They might offer you a job for pretty good pay, especially if you're good at what you do. Forget about what you're paid if you can live on it, and focus on doing the best job you can. If you move, don't do it for higher pay. Do it because you found a more interesting job. More interesting jobs in the IT business generally pay better, too.

Keep focusing on what you do want. If they aren't the ones to give it to you, you'll know soon enough with a bit of patience. As you focus on the things you want, opportunities have a way of coming out of hiding.

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  • "early versions of IE. 25 " Did you mean "early versions of IE. 25 years later..."?
    – Brandin
    Jul 11 '16 at 9:04
  • @Brandin Thanks, fixed. After I put "30 years ago..." earlier on, I was debating whether or not to take that out. I guess I couldn't make up my mind so I compromised and took out part of it. LOL
    – BobRodes
    Jul 12 '16 at 1:09
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I couldn't find figures for junior front-end devs, but mid-levels seem to start at 40K as you say. With that in mind, assuming that you work 8 hours a day, a mid-level dev earning the above figure makes almost double what you make: $21.3 per hour.

There's a critical difference between you and a dev though, and this is where my answer converges with the one from @BobRodes: you are not a front-end dev, you are a temp who does front-end stuff.

My advice would be to complete the project as best you can, and use it as a demo in your next jobhunt. It doesn't hurt to ask for a raise however; your circumstances have changed, after all. How should I approach my boss if I'm feeling underpayed seems relevant, and there are countless articles on the web on how to ask for a raise. Just don't expect any miracles, you probably won't get the raise, because the company has gone to a temp agency most likely with the explicit purpose of saving money.

Best of luck.

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    I would think that his boss has a very different understanding of his value in monetary terms than he does. If someone with two months' experience came up and told me he didn't think he was being paid what he was worth, I'd ask him what he thought he was worth, and then give him a list of things he needed to be able to do to be worth that much to me and offer to help him get there. But I'm a better than average boss. A lot of bosses would take a bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you kind of offense.
    – BobRodes
    Jul 10 '16 at 16:36
  • Remember that as a temp, part of what would be your wages goes to the temp agency. If you want transient work that pays more reasonably, you need to up your game to consultant level.
    – keshlam
    Jul 10 '16 at 21:48
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Considering that you are working for a temp agency complicates your situation. The company you work at decides what you do, but doesn't decide how you are paid. The temp agency does that.

However, now that you are doing a completely different job than the job you were requested for, the place you work at might be undercharging the temp agency. So you might want to be a loyal employee and tell the temp agency about it so they can adjust their bill accordingly.

After that you can ask the temp agency if they shouldn't pay you a higher rate now that you are employed for a job which takes far higher qualifications (and now also brings in more revenue for them). Will they? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on their general attitude and your negotiation skills.

Should the negotiations fail, the next thing you could try is to contact the company you work at and ask if they maybe want to cut out the middle-man and employ you directly. But don't get your hopes up too high - contracts between companies and temp agencies often include non-poaching clauses which explicitly forbid them from doing that.

But in the long run, the best strategy might be to say goodbye to both the temp agency and the place you work at and apply to someplace else. Working in a temp agency is usually a dead end career-wise and rarely pays as good as a direct employment. It's something you can do to avoid being unemployed between two jobs but nothing you should be doing permanently.

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