With a job skill as coveted as software engineering, it’s only natural for developers to wonder how their salaries stack up against the average—and how their earning potential differs from city to city.
For software engineers in the UK, London is undoubtedly the epicenter of tech in the country, despite a number of other cities (like Manchester and Bristol) vying for top spots. In this article, we’ll examine how much software engineers make in London, as well as some other considerations beyond salary that might factor into your career decisions.
Investment into UK companies doesn’t seem to have felt the impact of the Brexit decision, with European investments into British tech companies reaching a record high in 2018. Tech giants are also doubling down on Europe’s unicorn capital, with Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple all investing in office space to house their growing London workforce.
Tech salaries have likewise been growing since 2016. According to Hired’s 2019 State of Salaries Report, the average tech salary in London was £62k last year, up £4k from the year prior and £5k since 2016. Software engineers fare even better than the average tech worker, with the highest-paid role in London (embedded engineer) earning an average of £71k in 2018. Blockchain and data engineers earned the second and third most, perhaps unsurprisingly given London’s emphasis on fintech:
When compared to other UK cities, London salary averages across the board are undoubtedly the highest. Taken together with job and investment growth—not to mention a blossoming tech ecosystem—London is a compelling option for technical talent in the UK and beyond.
There’s no doubt that Brexit has created uncertainty for companies and employees alike, but there’s good evidence that London will continue to be a center for innovation in the UK as well as a tech hub for continental Europe.
While London workers tend to fare better than people in other UK and European cities in terms of salaries, it’s important to keep the cost of living in mind.
London has historically been known as a relatively expensive city, but it’s certainly not world-leading in terms of cost. The cost of living in London (based on consumer prices and rent), for example, is about 30% less than in San Francisco.
In deciding where to look for jobs—whether in the UK or abroad—remember to account for the cost of living based on your lifestyle decisions. Factors such as whether you eat out or in and take the train or walk to work will impact your monthly costs—and therefore how far you can stretch your paycheck.
Average salary numbers can be helpful to get a sense of what you might earn, but don’t limit yourself by averages if you think your skills are worth more. Use market-specific leverage points to create a strong case for negotiating the salary you want: For example, you might consider citing the “chronic deficit of tech skills” in London to highlight how difficult it is to find skilled engineers.
In addition, consider ways you might make your profile more attractive to potential employers. For example, given London’s focus on fintech as well as a booming global demand for blockchain engineers, those interested in blockchain may look for roles specifically requiring those skills rather than generalist roles. This isn’t to say you should choose a focus area based solely on salary prospects, but rather that it’s worth playing up skills and experiences which speak to what your potential future employers are most excited about.
With Hired, top companies in London will apply to you and many will provide large relocation packages, if needed. Visit Hired today to create a free profile and add London to your location preferences.