I'm a junior web designer and developper. I want to talk about salary.

over 7 years ago from , Product Manager @ Bulldozer


I'm 21 years old, living in Québec City in Canada (yes I speak french!) and I'm working in a marketing agency. The agency officially started in august 2014 and I was one of the three first employees.

I am in charge of everything related to the web. I meet the clients at the beginning of the project, analyse their needs, conceptualize the websites, design the mockups and the prototypes, build them in HTML, Sass, JS and PHP. Since i'm the only one in the agency who knows about the web industry & development, I am in charge of managing most of the web projects. I am frequently directly in contact with clients.


  • , over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    I submitted the post by mistake. Here's the rest of my post :

    In september, I will have the opportunity to discuss my salary with my boss.

    I'm currently paid 18$/hour for 35h per week. That's 2520$ (before taxes) per month.

    I feel like I should have a raise, but I don't know how much I can ask for. Is my salary honest for the work I do ? What would you do if you were me ?

    Most of my friends who work in bigger agencies have approximately the same salary as me, but i'm the only one who does so much different tasks. Most of them are "only" front-end / back-end.

    Thanks for your input!

    EDIT :

    I should have said that my contract allows me to ask for a raise after my first year of work in the company (1st September). Every employee have the same opportunity and I'm here to get information about how I should negotiate my raise.

    19 points
    • Zsolt KZsolt K, over 7 years ago

      It seems like you are having a strong position there. Based on what you told you seem to be under-compensated.

      Things I'd consider: - Figure out how much you charge on projects, that should tell me if it's possible to stretch the salary. I'd directly ask my boss about it. - If it's possible to stretch, ask more and don't wait till September. - If it's not possible to stretch the salary yet (maybe the company is cheap or not growing nicely, or still building up the business, anything), I'd wait till September or look for other opportunities.

      It worth playing in the open and being upfront. If they can't handle that well and be honest/open with your, that's also a sign to move on.

      There might be other details you didn't share, so take those into consideration ;-)

      2 points
      • , over 7 years ago

        We charge around 75$/hour for our web projects. I think this is cheap, but the company is young (me too!) and we're all learning a lot. We made a lot of improvements in the agency and we'll charge more very soon. My teammates are 21, 25 and 27 years old and they all have more experience in business than me.

        I have a very good relationship with my boss and he's always open to talk with me about anything. Right now, I don't feel bad about my job and/or my salary, I just want to get more information about the topic and be prepared.

        1 point
      • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, over 7 years ago

        Redacting my last comment as I totally read your part about money incorrectly.

        In this case - you should definitely ask for a raise but still might be worth it to write down all the value you bring into the company. If you bring a lot of value which no one else does maybe they'll see how much money you're worth.

        Also - if you have this discussion, make sure to come with a solution, not just the problem.

        Sorry for the other post, totally misread.

        0 points
    • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

      redacted this comment cause it was really incorrect~!

      0 points
      • Jeff ShinJeff Shin, over 7 years ago

        Huh? Where are you getting 70k from? He said he's making $2520 before taxes a month. That's slightly north of 30k.

        3 points
      • Clay MacTavishClay MacTavish, over 7 years ago

        "I'm currently paid 18$/hour for 35h per week"

        I'm pretty sure that isn't $70K.

        0 points
        • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, over 7 years ago

          Woops!! I totally read that incorrectly. Which set the tone for the whole response. My bad about that. I thought it was 35/hr, which is about 70k/year.

          0 points
      • , over 7 years ago

        Thank you Patrick for your answer!

        Right now I make 630$ per week, for 50 weeks per year. That's 31 500$ per year, before taxes.

        I'd consider writing down what value you bring to the company. Do you help bring new business into the agency? Do you act as a developer? Do you also act as a project manager? Do you act in an account management role?

        That's what I want to do :) In the company, I mostly do :

        • Project management (In part. I have some help.)
        • Design (UI/UX and everything else)
        • Front-end Dev
        • Back-end (a little bit)

        I am also in charge of everything related to the technology : Technical support for the team, network and file-sharing, software installing/updating, and websites deployment/hosting.

        0 points
  • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, over 7 years ago

    Ask yourself some questions before you ask for a raise:

    • What could you get paid elsewhere?
    • Which things did you not do the last period because you did not have enough money?
    • Is the company making a profit? Are they taking the profit or investing it into the company?
    • What is your ambition? What would you want to do if money is not an issue?

    You do not want to twist their arm into giving you a raise. If all data was on the table (your financial situation and theirs, the market, the company, etc) there would probable be a fair salary for you. Try getting that on the table so you can feel good about the money you earn :)

    5 points
  • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, over 7 years ago

    There's a lot of good advice here, but I wanted to add: play the long game.

    I was grossly underpaid at your age too, but worked hard and found meaningful work that built my portfolio. I stumbled into it through luck and sheer determination, but I'll make 10x what I made when I was 21 this year.

    You're in a small shop charging $75/hr. They can't realistically pay you much more than they already are. This job won't probably ever pay you what you're worth. The next one probably won't either. But if you play the long game you'll find a situation that pays you what you're worth and where you can do incredibly meaningful and fulfilling work.

    4 points
  • Zsolt KZsolt K, over 7 years ago

    What's the question?

    4 points
  • Account deleted over 7 years ago

    Just some random thoughts to add to the conversation:

    1. When looking back over what you've accomplished this past year, be sure to evaluate client satisfaction as well. Have the agency's clients been thrilled with the work you've done for them? Has it resulted in more business for the agency? It's a much more compelling sell for yourself if you can say more than "I did X, Y and Z", but can find a way to highlight how it's affected the agency's bottom line and success.

    2. Any company/boss worth his salt knows your worth in relation to the current market. You are young and experience is a big deal, so keep that in mind and go for what you feel is true market value for what you bring to the table - in the area you live (people dropping bay-area comparisons is silly). I'll be real. If you feel you're worth 5-10K more a year, have helped the agency grow and have made them look good... they will not have an issue paying you fair value. They know what they've got and to risk letting you go to only pay the money you wanted for someone new - and then get them gelling as part of the overall team is foolish if everyone is happy.

    3. If they are truly just getting ramped up, consider asking for profit share at year end instead of a big salary jump. Maybe ask for a raise you feel is solid and then ask to have the opportunity to make more based on agency success. This way - you're skin is in the game and they only pay you out when they've cleared all expenses, etc. It can be a win-win for all involved.

    4. You're a jack-of-all-trades. In the long run, this can make it harder to get a big salary. Think about a few things you love to do, specialize in that (while still knowing the other stuff). It's easier to be a UX expert (who makes X on average where you live) and sell that alongside your other skills... versus "I know a little of everything". In that case, there is no clear area of expertise (or salary comparison). Be "T shaped" super deep passion/knowledge in one area... but then know a whole bunch of other shit to round you out.

    Good luck.

    2 points
  • Joel CalifaJoel Califa, over 7 years ago

    Check out #talkpay for your area and experience level. Honestly the amount you should be paid is equal to the amount you can get paid, regardless of experience level. It's your job to figure out what that number is. If you're leaving money on the table, that's on you.

    You should do some research and see what you could make working somewhere else, you should figure out how much you're actually worth to the place you're working at right now (including the costs it would take to hire someone new and get them up to speed), and you should ask for that (not demand it). Good employers will do what they can in order to keep you satisfied (especially in this talent market). Keep in mind that your employer might not do this, in which case maybe it's time for a move to somewhere that's willing to may you market rate.

    2 points
  • Crampa ...Crampa ..., over 7 years ago

    You don't even have 1 year of professional experience, just relax and enjoy your work.

    2 points
    • , over 7 years ago

      You can be sure I enjoy every day.

      When I signed my contract, it was only for 1 year. After that, I have the opportunity to revise my new contract and my salary at the same time. It's written on the paper.

      1 point
    • Joel CalifaJoel Califa, over 7 years ago

      Seriously disagree with this. You should always be getting paid the amount you can get paid.

      15 points
  • Louis-André LabadieLouis-André Labadie, over 7 years ago

    Hey Antoine!

    I live in Québec City and have been around a few places here since 2010. Here's some local info (#talkpay style, I guess!) for you:

    All numbers are for an designer or interface designer position:

    • Year one, small 3-4 person agency: ~30k, promotion to 35
    • Year two & three, big up-and-coming mobile agency: 35k, promotion to 40 and some design leadership/client relationship (wasn't well paid once the additional responsibilities kicked in)
    • Year three, four, five on the way: Web app company, I'm the creative director. Pay is variable but comes around to ~42k before taxes.

    None of these jobs had contracts that requested or rewarded 40+ hour work weeks, so free time or overload hasn't been an issue.

    Feel free to email me if you'd like some details on that :)

    1 point
    • , over 7 years ago

      Merci infiniment Louis-André.

      That's the a very precise and helpful answer!

      I'll keep your name and email in note.

      0 points
  • Tom WoodTom Wood, over 7 years ago

    Judging by what the wages are for devs in the US and the Bay area, sounds like you're underpaid.

    When you're 21, it's rare that anyone is going to give you anything - you only get what you're asking for, and trust me (from experience) if you don't ask, you don't get, AND you are good enough to get what you deserve, even if it's elsewhere.

    It sounds like you're good at what you do, humble and hard working. I would guess that you would approach the conversation delicately. Have the strength of your convictions and don't be afraid. The worst thing that will happen is a "no".

    1 point
  • Tori ZTori Z, over 7 years ago

    Hey fellow Canadian :DD I'm also a junior designer in Vancouver, BC. Thanks for making this awesome post! I feel so afraid to talk about salary at such a level and often just accept what I got.. It feels so encouraging to see a post like this.

    1 point
    • Samantha S, over 7 years ago

      Are you underpaid? What's the average salary of a junior designer in b.c.?

      0 points
    • , over 7 years ago


      You're welcome. I did it for me :)

      I want to be as good as I can be, and Designer News is an incredible place to talk about our job and everything related to it. I'm happy I have access to so much information at my age.

      I'm probably not going to ask for a huge raise, but I want to make sure that my boss and the company understand the value I bring to the company. That's all that matters to me right now. Since we're only 4 (soon 5) employees, this company is a huge part of me and i'm a huge part of it, so I want to make sure everything is the best it can be.

      In Québec City, the business is small and everybody know everybody. So I have to do my best.

      0 points
  • Tyler Fowler, over 7 years ago

    I'm in almost exactly the same boat as you. 21 years old, got my first full time job out of college in September (on the same day as you.. weird enough). I love the company I work for, it's a small startup environment and only in the last month or so have we really started to grow.

    However, because of the nature of the company pretty much everyone is early-30's to late 40's and those are mainly C++ developers with a ton of experience, and the web contractor that they were using before me is a big Java/Spring enterprise guy (now he's on app development). So I'm building internal web services in Node and Angular which nobody else in the office knows, but am getting paid about $43k a year (before taxes). Not to mention that I'm the only one who knows design of any sort.

    I'm with you on this one, I'll definitely be asking for a raise coming this September. When I started I didn't have many options so I was ok with getting underpaid, but now that I've been there for a while I get recruiters emailing me like crazy with most of the positions offered range from $55 - $65k a year.

    I think part of it might also be that, at least in my company, since nobody is really a web developer and management focuses on the main product (which are mobile apps), any web dev work seems to be undervalued and underappreciated.

    1 point
  • Andrew LeeAndrew Lee, over 7 years ago

    Hey Antoine,

    It sounds like you are in a great position to learn A LOT of things about the industry and the way business works. I wouldn't undervalue the importance of this.

    I've always tried to compare my situation to a set of rules to determine whether or not I need to move on, or attempt to make changes.

    1. Am I learning new things at my current position?
    2. Do I like the people I am working with?
    3. Are they paying me enough to live comfortably? (comfortable is subjective)
    4. Am I enjoying the work I am doing?

    Generally if 2/4 are satisfied, I will stick around, unless an unbelievable opportunity comes along.

    That said, I think that you could ask for a bit more in salary, say, ~$22-25/hr, or for ~20$ with 40hr work weeks. You may get denied, but it never hurts to ask... And IF you do get denied, try and set up criteria with your boss that would validate your claims for higher pay in your next review.

    For me, I worked at the same rate for my first year out of school, and got some raises on the year anniversaries afterwards.

    My point in outlining the criteria above is, don't discount the incredible learning opportunity that you have and working with people you enjoy being around. The money will come in time.

    Good luck!

    1 point
    • , over 7 years ago

      It sounds like you are in a great position to learn A LOT of things about the industry and the way business works. I wouldn't undervalue the importance of this.

      I never learned this fast in my entire life and I am very grateful. This job is one of the most beautiful opportunity I ever had and enjoy as much as I can.

      1. Yes, I learn a lot every week. I often face new challenges.

      2. I have a great team. They are now all my friends and we do great work together.

      3. Yes, I live very comfortably right now because I still live with my parents. Although, I am moving in appartement in ~1 month. I will still live comfortably.

      4. Yes, I enjoy the work I do, but I would like to concentrate my work on the design part of the projects. I would like to do less back-end work and concentrate more on the UI/UX & Front-end part, including working with the client. Ultimately, I think I would be a great project manager.

      I have absolutely NO reason to leave this job. I just want to get as much information as I can about how salary should work and how I can enjoy all opportunities I encounter. I feel like I work very hard and I have a huge value for the company. Right now I am the most profitable employee of the company.

      Thanks again for your comment. It very valuable for me!

      0 points
  • Clay MacTavishClay MacTavish, over 7 years ago

    How much PHP are you doing? Are you writing MVC PHP or copy/pasting Wordpress methods? Are you structuring databases too? Slinging jQuery around the DOM or writing complex MV* angular/backbone stuff?

    You could be writing amazing shit but if you aren't contributing to the company's vision then you are worthless.

    You should get numbers down on paper. Your boss won't care how your Sass is structured or if you are name-spacing your javascript correctly. It is about numbers to management.

    For example, if you worked for a furniture company and were in charge of ecommerce you could say;

    "I rewrote the front end using AJAX to load pages and optimized the entire site to render across multiple platforms and devices which has created an entire new user base...we're seeing an increase in sale from mobile devices by 10% and our bounce rates down 3% and abandoned carts down 7% this quarter."

    I was in your shoes once. Hope this helps.

    1 point
    • , over 7 years ago

      How much PHP are you doing?

      Not a lot. I work mostly with Wordpress. Most of the time I make simple templates but I had to code a web application with Symfony.

      You could be writing amazing shit but if you aren't contributing to the company's vision then you are worthless.

      I know! But I do very good work. I'm not the best, but i'm very good considering all the different things I have to do. All our clients are satisfied with the work we did for them.

      "I rewrote the front end using AJAX to load pages and optimized the entire site to render across multiple platforms and devices which has created an entire new user base...we're seeing an increase in sale from mobile devices by 10% and our bounce rates down 3% and abandoned carts down 7% this quarter."

      That's a great idea. Thanks again!

      0 points
  • Mike MaiMike Mai, over 7 years ago

    You are a full-stack designer, you deserve 6-figure salary.

    0 points
  • Luis La TorreLuis La Torre, over 7 years ago

    Someone should I build an app that test your code skills, and evaluate your salary based on how well you can code. And another app that evaluates your A/B designs success. Maybe another app that can evaluate the branding value of your design by polling people in ad recall/brand recall.

    0 points
  • Rolf NelsonRolf Nelson, over 7 years ago

    You may be a superstar, and it never hurts to talk about salary, but be patient on your journey.

    You are 21, and granted, so you have a lot to learn and a long time to do it. You are making decent money for a 21 year old, currently.

    Cost of living where I am, vs where you are is quite comparable. I graduated college and started work for internationally renown brand(s), doing design and dev immediately out of school and only made <1k more than you currently are. The next year I got a bump, and each year subsequently, raises promotions for 2 years, then I left the job, got paid more at my next one, went freelance made a lot less that year and then got another larger pay bump this year... so it fluctuates, but normally, you only have things to gain.

    I hope that gives you a little bit of hope, even if the growing pains are currently present, and/or stick around for a while. Just keep working hard and eventually you'll get paid what you are worth, regardless of if THIS job pays it to you.

    0 points
  • Jono HerringtonJono Herrington, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    If I were you I would still expect to be paid as a jr web designer and developer. The reason they hired you and are paying you the way they are is because you are a jr. They probably couldn't afford someone more sr.

    0 points
  • Petr TichyPetr Tichy, over 7 years ago

    Hey Antoine, I am not to familiar with the state of FED in Canada, but these 4 tips might help you when you're negotiating your next salary:

    How To Ask For A Pay Rise And Get it!

    Good Luck!

    0 points
  • Jon DarkeJon Darke, over 7 years ago

    Speaking from a London perspective, for someone with the experience possible in a 21 y/o 40-45 $usd is probably about right, but there is no golden rule. Trends are just that - vague figures based on averages. The same employee cannot be paid the same salary in every business of a similar size & vertical.

    Based on your role description you might be underpaid, but it also depends on the business turnover & profit.

    Salary always depends on: skills + experience + responsibilities = $value to the business / what the business can afford for that role. Ultimately if the company you work for believes you are worth more than they are paying you, you should be able to ask for a pay rise to an appropriate level. Everyone deserve what they are worth, and a business owners will rarely openly express this without being actively poked as they are making more profit by paying a valuable employee less than they are worth to the business.

    Don't be afraid to talk about it openly with your boss. It's not a battle, just an open conversation of value. If you are valuable they will not want to loose you - good employees hold all the chips.

    Good luck.

    0 points
  • pjotr .pjotr ., over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Here are my $0.02 so take it how you will.

    I'm not too in tune with Canadian salaries vs U.S. salaries but in the U.S. you would be considered extremely underpaid.

    In most major metros a junior front-end developer is going to make between $60 - $90k. If they're in the Bay Area it's closer to $100k - $120k. Mid and senior level developers are pulling in a bit more than that.

    If you brand yourself as a software engineer you could be making even more.

    Now for your specific situation I would absolutely ask for a raise. Agency work is typically lower paying but even so you're still really underpaid. I'd basically just give the company and ultimatum. Either double my salary or I walk. That seems rough but it's absurd how low they are paying you.

    0 points
    • Jimmy LiuJimmy Liu, over 7 years ago

      This was what I was thinking, seems to me that you are very underpaid. Interns around the valley earn double.

      1 point
    • Louis-André LabadieLouis-André Labadie, over 7 years ago

      This is good advice for the Valley but completely unrealistic in Québec City.

      You have to take cost of living into account. To give you an idea, for 1k/month, you could rent a 2-bed all by yourself in the best areas of town around here.

      Also: You can't brand yourself software engineer coming from any experience or training – which actually makes more sense than what's happening on the US side, with people spontaneously becoming engineers. "Engineer" is a regulated title here, meaning you have to have an engineering degree.

      1 point
    • Adam Brace, over 7 years ago

      Its tough to compare Quebec City to the bay area. I live/work in Toronto so a little closer to Quebec City and I can tell you that you $30k a year here would be abit of a struggle. I can't see how Quebec City would be too much different then that.

      Bear in mind you are also doing the work of 3 other potential hires. If you only did visual design then they would perhaps need to hire a developer and a project manager, that means you are a lot of value to the business.

      It's good when you are first starting out to not focus too much on the money and grow yourself and the business (if you want to work there long term) but you have to make sure that you and the business understand your worth, to avoid devaluing yourself as you grow your career.

      1 point
      • pjotr .pjotr ., over 7 years ago

        I guess it's just more of an American mentality thing but for grads coming out of school with $80k + in student loan debt it's extremely important to focus on just the money. You need to put yourself in a stable financial state before you can start being picky.

        Having said that I'm not speaking about the Bay Area specifically. As noted in my original comment it's not uncommon to receive $80k right out of school. I've hired people for that. So I know it's true. In fact I know several new grads that have received much higher salaries than that right out of school and they weren't in The Bay.

        0 points
        • Adam Brace, over 7 years ago

          Ah yeah you're totally right, my specific situation is different, parents helped me through school, lower cost for university in Canada, I didn't really consider that.

          0 points
  • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    I have no idea about salaries and cost of living in Canada but it seems like you're in a good position. Money can often seem like a vulgar subject to bring up but you seem to be a valued member of the team and ultimately you want to be rewarded for your work.

    I can't give a figure but you deserve an upgrade of salary just on the basis of what you do (and that's a lot by the way).

    In terms of your future it would be a lost opportunity if they don't reward you; you're an asset.

    Good luck, and would love to see an update on any decisions made.

    0 points
  • Jeremy StewartJeremy Stewart, over 7 years ago

    Did you mean for it to end there? You might want to type more as a comment.

    0 points