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Communications of the ACM

ACM Careers

The Anatomy of Your Salary

coins and bills rain into an open wallet, illustration

Game developers earn less than developers at a bank because attractive jobs are easier to fill.

Credit: Getty Images

Your salary is largely disconnected from how valuable your job is to your employer or society.

Your salary is determined by how much your employer would need to pay someone else to do your job. The harder it is to find someone else to do the job, the more they'll be willing to pay.

Salaries tend to be suppressed when the relative value contribution of employees is hard to evaluate, and when the organization has limited incentive to perform better.

Only by understanding the incentives and forces behind salaries that we can empower ourselves to make informed decisions about our careers and reshape what these systems reward.

From Philip Joubert
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