A note before the actual question: I know this is similar to this question, but mine is kind of different, so it's not a duplicate.
We, as programmers, work for money. It's obvious: we want to pay the bills and have enough left over to buy cool stuff.
When you go to an interview at a software company, the issue of salary is obviously going to come up, at some point. How do you know how much a programmer in a similar position is earning ? There are many factors to consider, like the size of that company, the position you're applying to and the geographical area.
So when they make you an offer of let's say $50K per year, how do you know that it's a standard value ? How do you know it's not waaay off ? Maybe a similar programmer earns $80K and you just don't know it.
The solution is to ask other programmers. We all have friends who are also programmers. But I've discovered that it's a very sensitive issue. Companies have internal policies to not disclose to an employee how much another employee is earning. There are a few programmers which I've known for years and, when I asked them, they told me they won't disclose how much they're earning.
Even if you can find 3 or 4 or 5 programmers willing to tell you how much they make, that will probably be a data sample too small to draw any reliable conclusion.
On top of all this, salaries keep changing:
- as time goes by
- as you advance in your career and
- as the economy of the country you live in goes up or down
How do you stay up-to-date about this issue ?
PS: This is especially harder for people who are at the start of their career: the list of their professional connections is thin at best and they have no strong negotiating position.