San Francisco Skyline


If you’re looking to break into tech, you may be considering a few facts. Of course, we all consider the skills needed for a specific role as well as our desire to work in a particular technical focus. However, the one thing most people tend to focus on when considering if a job is right for them is usually how much money they’ll be making. 


The cost of living nationwide is continuing to grow as we move into a new era of technological innovation. However, when you look at the astronomical living prices of San Francisco, it’s no wonder tech industry hopefuls are concerned about their future salaries.


In fact, San Francisco’s median home cost for a single-family home or condo was around $1.3 million dollars in 2019. Not exactly the mansion in the hills that you might think would cost $1.3 million. Housing is only the beginning of the costs tech workers face in San Francisco.


 From expensive food costs, transit fees, state taxes, and just the sheer lifestyle of living in the tech filled city of San Francisco, it’s safe to say that tech workers are in need of major compensation to afford living in the Bay Area. With so many different job openings in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley area, you might be wondering which positions actually offer the best payout. 


A History of San Francisco’s Tech Scene


Old Cassette Radio
Tech innovation continues to come a long way in San Francisco and beyond!


Silicon Valley’s tech scene has been booming since the early 1900s. Due to the community’s geographical location, nearby port access made it possible for San Francisco to be on the forefront of technological innovations through radio and telegraphs. 


As tech continued to develop throughout the 90s and into the 21st century, the tech scene of San Francisco continued to grow. The Silicon Valley that we know today has grown to become a multi-billion dollar economy. With thousands of tech workers moving to the area each year, it’s no surprise that industry workers are looking to cash in on their own slice of tech economic prosperity. 


San Francisco by Numbers 


San Francisco has seen an increase in over 1.1 million tech jobs since 2010 with an annual job overall job growth rate of 5%. The average salary for a tech worker in San Francisco is $145,000 per year, which is up 2% from 2018. It should be noted that San Francisco has one of the highest costs of living in the United States. In 2019, the average cost of living in San Francisco is around $86,196 a year. 


Signs of a Great San Francisco Tech Job


People having a work meeting.
A healthy work culture is highly important to your career and health! 


It’s important to remember that humans are more than just numbers. While money is a great tool that can unlock many doors in life, we also have basic needs as humans that money alone can’t always fulfill. When trudging through the thousands of current available tech jobs in San Francisco, it’s important to keep an eye out for a few major things. 


1. Work Culture


One of the most important aspects of the workplace is the social atmosphere that comes along with it. Do you vibe with your coworkers and team? Do you feel safe and comfortable during your day to day activities? Do you feel that your superiors foster an open and nurturing learning environment? 


While you don’t have to be best friends with your coworkers, working in an environment where you feel comfortable and accepted is an absolute must if you’re going to maintain a healthy mindset throughout your career. Regardless of the amount you make on paper, some hostile work environments just aren’t worth the immense havoc they wreak upon your mental and sometimes physical health. 


2. Work/Life Balance 


While the tech industry is notorious for long hours and overtime, it’s important to realize that this work method may not be sustainable forever. Finding a job that encourages a strong work/life balance is absolutely crucial to building a long lasting and successful tech career. 


Additional perks to be on the look out for include paid time off, casual work days, work from home options, work retreats/outings, and just a general dedication to downtime. While these perks alone may not make or break your job experience, they are certainly a great bonus! 


3. Workplace Perks


Tech companies both big and small are constantly competing for talent and competent employees. Because of this, many companies have resorted to incentivized perks to retain and attract employees.


These include anything from free food, free transportation, complimentary gym memberships (or even office gyms!), paid time off, cool office gadgets, and trendy work spaces. While you shouldn’t base a job offer solely on the offered perks ( no matter how good your company’s lunch specials are!), on the job benefits are definitely something to keep in mind when scoping out potential employers. 


It’s important to reiterate that just because living in San Francisco can be expensive, doesn’t mean you should be deterred from living there. Many tech workers make full use of their offices perks as a means to save money on things like food, gym memberships, even housing, and electricity costs. While deciding which company is right for you, remember to take these perks into account as they may help you save money in the long run.


Highest Paying Tech Jobs in San Francisco


Stacks of coins.
Tech remains one of the most lucrative career markets in the world.


With so many jobs and so much demand for qualified technical experts, which job opportunities pay the highest?  Let’s break down the highest paying jobs in San Francisco. 


Data Scientists – $150,000 per year 


The life of a technical Data Scientist pretty much revolves around one thing, data. Data Scientists are responsible for making sense of large amounts of data and breaking this information down into understandable terms. Data Scientists spend large amounts of time collecting, cleaning, organizing, and interpreting data.


Data Scientists are also responsible for building algorithms that collect and optimize data as well as continuously innovating ways for their company to extract, store, and organize data. For such a complicated and prestigious technical job, you could imagine that companies would pay massive amounts of money for Data Science positions. 


The average Data Scientist salary in San Francisco is $150,000. This of course does not include any bonuses, stock options, or office perks and upgrades. On the low end, Data Science newbies earn around $117,000, which is the second highest starting salary on this list. Seasoned Data Scientists can potentially earn as much as $189,000 per year. 


Full Stack Developer – $147,000 per year


Full Stack Developers are another essential “jack of all trades” in the tech industry. You may have heard the terms “front end” and “back end” development. In short, front end developers create the side of applications that users can actually see. This includes the wording, pictures, and overall interactivity of a web page.


Back end web developers focus on the “server” side of applications. Whenever you browse the internet or click on a website, the application must communicate with a variety of servers and networks to reroute your computer to the proper channels so you can view the webpage. Back end developers are responsible for making sure all communication happens and users are able to get to where they need to go in the quickest amount of time possible. 


Full Stack Developers combine the skills of both front end and back end developers.This means that Full Stack Developers have the ability to build both the user and server sides of applications. This job is continuing to rise in demand as companies are eager to look for well rounded individuals that can both build and maintain quality websites and applications.


The average salary for a Full Stack Developer in San Francisco is around $147,000 per year (excluding job perks, bonuses, and stock options). Full Stack newbies in San Francisco can earn as low as $65,000 while seasoned Full Stack Developers can earn as high as $260,000 per year. 


DevOps Engineers – $145,000 per year


DevOps Engineers are one of the lesser known yet highly important careers in the tech industry. DevOps Engineers are essentially “jacks of all trades” and are trained in a variety of coding languages and skills. DevOps Engineers manage databases and coordinate with different Software Engineers and IT professionals to ensure that all systems are functionally properly. DevOps Engineers routinely test different code segments, implement changes and updates to programs, and script different elements of code to build and maintain a functional application. 


The average salary for a DevOps Engineer in San Francisco is $145,000 per year. This of course does not include any bonuses, stock options, or office perks. 


The low end salary of a DevOps Engineer is $114,000. This means that some DevOps Engineers with minimal experience can still earn a six-figure salary. Seasoned DevOps Engineers can earn as much as $184,000 per year. 


Software Developers – $134,000 per year 


As the creative minds behind some of the most prominent internet programs, Software Developers are responsible for working technical magic and putting raw ideas into code and churning out beautiful programs to be enjoyed by millions of users. While this is definitely a job with a lot of responsibility, the payout is pretty outstanding. 


The average salary for a Software Developer in San Francisco is $134,000 per year. This of course does not include any end of year bonuses, company stock options, or standard office perks like free food and transportation. 


With a starting salary of $99,000 per year, Junior Software Developers are still making a great income before they rise through the ranks. With an average max salary of $167,000 per year, the numbers speak for themselves when considering a lucrative career as a Software Developer in San Francisco 


UX/UI Design – $112,000 per year 


User Experience or User Interface Design refers to the accessibility and overall look of a webpage. Again, this is one of those tech careers that you don’t think too much about until you encounter a website that lacks a UX/UI touch. 


We’ve all seen those clunky and hard to use websites and applications. Not only are they super displeasing to the eye, they’re sometimes so awful that users can’t even fully experience them. UX/UI Designers are responsible for the way a website or application looks, feels, and interacts with the user. With the growing number of websites and applications available, this career is definitely one that is here to stay. 


The average salary for a UX/UI Designer in San Francisco is around $112,000 per year. This doesn’t include bonuses, stock options, or additional perks. UX/UI Designers can make as low as $84,000 per year and as high as $147,000 per year. 


How Does This Benefit You? 


Person giving thumbs up.
How can you use this info to your advantage?


If you’re new to coding or just considering switching careers to the tech industry, you may be wondering what this all means for you. If you’re from the San Francisco area or are considering moving to Silicon Valley, these numbers could make all the difference as you embark on your job search. 


As you continue to grow throughout your coding journey, keeping yourself informed of the industry’s latest happenings will be absolutely vital to your career success. 

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