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How salaries for federal software engineers stack up against the private sector

Tech-recruiting firm Cyber Coders revealed new data that showcased the most in-demand IT, accounting and construction vertical jobs and salaries. The information technology section in particular showed that IT workers in the private sector tended to have higher salaries than federal IT workers.

Software Engineering was found to be the most in-demand job in information technology, with an annual salary range of $99,106 to $139,165.

Glassdoor.com indicates that federal government IT manager’s make between $95,000 and $173,000 annually, which is slightly below similar positions in the private sector, notably private senior software engineers who make between $121,195 and $169,170. Federal software engineers themselves make on average $82,300 annually, more than $17,000 less than similar private sector positions.

Sectors Minimum Salary Average
Private Sector Software Engineer  $99,106
Federal Software Engineer  $82,300

“Due to competition for top candidates and deeply broken federal hiring process, many of the brightest employees in critical fields like cybersecurity, science, technology, engineering and math are choosing other employers over the federal government,” according to the Partnership for Public Service.

Increased salaries tended to be an important factor as to why tech workers often sought out private sector jobs over public. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported in 2009 that PhD-level computer science, information science and computer engineering employees were paid more by the private sector. Furthermore, the CRS reported that recent computer science/information systems college graduates were paid an average of $34,075 to $42,209 in the federal government, as compared to $48,661 offered by the private sector.

Federal IT employees could face further detriments to their salary from the newly approved Holman Rule tucked within the 115th Congress House Rules package. The Holman Rule allows congressmen to utilize retrenchment amendments in appropriations bills without seeking insights from the agencies they plan to cut funds from. Organizations such as the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union fear that the rule could adversely impact federal jobs, salaries and services provided to American citizens.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union said that “funding for federal agencies and employees should be determined through the course of a deliberative process, and should not be at the mercy of political floor statements that only serve to destroy Congress‘ inherent role to provide funding for the federal government’s operations and personnel.”

“I don‘t see how we get to our future in we don’t complete the work of IT modernization,” Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, said during her confirmation hearing in July. She plans to advance the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (ICITE) started under former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, a federal IT modernization effort that plans to consolidate and streamline information sharing and services.

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