Australian Job Market Salary Data for Fun and Profit

16 Mar

Have you heard of If you’re too lazy to follow the link, I’ll sum it up here: it allows you to see what companies pay their employees. And it’s free! You basically just rock up and have a look at what EA pays its programmers, what Starbucks pays its store manager, or what Toyota pay their middle managers. The service is free, but there is a nice little catch: in order to use the site, you must anonymously provide your salary for your role. Clever, right?

This kind of information has a bunch of uses:

  • See how you stack up. You instantly get a picture of how you are valued compared to your colleagues. If you’re paid a lot lower than the average for your role then you can pretty safely ask for a pay rise.
  • See if your employers are tight. You get a pretty clear picture of what your employers pay compared to the rest of the industry. You’ll be able to tell if your bosses are paying below the industry average, as well as where the grass may be greener.
  • See if extra training or education will pay off. Thinking of going back to university, or something similar? Take a look at the earnings of the more senior versions of your roles. You will get a clear picture of what your salary increase will be like, and you’ll be able to decide if it’s worth the effort.
  • See the industry from a different perspective. Knowing what a company pays gives you some unique insight into its performance and culture. For example, recently popped up in the news when it was observed that Apples engineers are paid significantly less than their counterparts at Google or Microsoft. Seriously, how sexy is the Apple brand? Consumers pay top dollar to own an Apple, and engineers accept bottom dollar to work for Apple. No wonder they’re so profitable.
  • And finally… We’ve all got a big talking friend who just doesn’t shut up about how much money they make. You can check up on the company he works for, realize that he’s actually full of it, and sleep soundly at night.

This is all well and good, but it turns out that most of the data on glassdoor comes from the United States. Being an Aussie, I want some info on salaries a bit closer to home.

As it turns out, there’s actually plenty of salary data already out there. On online job listings. They’re certainly not a perfect source of information, but it’s something. I had the bright idea of writing a little script to parse online listings and tabulate the results in a speadsheet. How hard could it be?

Now I know that this isn’t really the same thing as glassdoor, for a whole bunch of reasons:

  • Online recruiters generally don’t advertise which company the role is for, so I can’t correlate salaries with companies.
  • I’m dealing with advertised salaries, the speculative “bid price”, rather than actual salaries that are negotiated between employees and employers.
  • The majority of available positions aren’t even publicly advertised, so I’m missing out on all those private back room handshakes altogether.

But I did it anyway, you know, for fun.

Fast forward a week and a half and I finally have some perl, xslt and more perl scraping a local job advertising service. I end up with around one thousand advertised positions in a csv file containing the job title, location and salary. Let the graphing begin!


In terms of average salaries, capital cities are all pretty close together. Sydney is the best paying capital city, while Canberra is the worst. Perth was a surprise second, just pipping Melbourne. Of course, up until now I’ve ignored the pink elephant on the graph: the capitals pale in comparison to the mining hot spots. If you can dig stuff out of the ground and sell it to China, and you don’t mind living and working in remote areas… well, good for you.

So, we know where the money is, but where are the jobs?

In terms of the number of (publicly listed) positions advertised, Sydney wins overall. Combined with it’s highest average salary of any capital city, this makes Sydney a pretty lucrative place to be. If you live and work in Sydney you’ll have a lot less trouble finding a well-paying job than in other areas. On the other end of the scale, it’s interesting to note that the mining locations noted in the above graph don’t even get their own slice of this pie, they’re all lumped into “other”, alongside many other non-mining rural locations. So, mining pays extremely well, but there aren’t that many (publicly advertised) positions available. I suppose from this we could infer that there’s fierce competition for these roles.

Yeah yeah, mining pays extremely well, we already figured that out. High salaries imply growth, so this pretty much confirms what the news keeps telling us: we’re in the middle of a mining boom. Engineering also does pretty well for itself, but it’s a pretty vague term and encompasses many, disciplines (software, civil, construction and even mining again), so this doesn’t really mean much by itself.

It’s worth mentioning that the sales value shown here is grossly understated. Here’s why. Online advertisements will specify remuneration with something like “75k + bonus”, or “60,000 + commission”. My little salary parsing regexes will only pick up on the “75k” or “60,000” part, and won’t factor in any other component. What I’m really trying to say is that these graphs are only showing base salary. Sales roles often pay a big commission component – 30 to 50 percent of the base salary – so that sales bar should really be a fair bit higher, I guess somewhere near the $120,000 mark. That’s right, sales can be very lucrative.

One final pair of graphs. Because I’m a software developer, I was mostly interested in what skills attract the highest salaries. So I put a graph together showing salary for specific programming languages and technologies:

Okay, so C# and .NET is where the money is at… but are there many positions available for these technologies?

Hear that? That’s the sound of me buying some more .NET books.



Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Uncategorized


6 Responses to Australian Job Market Salary Data for Fun and Profit

  1. John Sietsma

    March 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Adrian,

    Great post! I knew things were shifting that way, but my mind was blown seeing salary and market share put together. It shows that C++ is not a specialised skill, it’s just dead.

    Also, didn’t realise just how just how dominant C# had become.

    What about the cool kids? Where are Python and Ruby and the newer web frameworks?

    • adrian

      March 18, 2011 at 8:30 am

      Hiya John!

      It feels like C++ is only used in embedded scenarios these days – and of course legacy apps. Having said that, it’s important to note that this is a pretty skewed view of the job market: this is only taking into account publicly advertised jobs that also advertise a salary. It’s far from perfect, but it tells you /something/.

      Also interesting to note is that keywords like Python, Ruby, Rails, Django, JavaScript, jQuery and Flash all turned up exactly zero results in my data 😐

  2. Leigh McCulloch

    March 18, 2011 at 3:50 am

    A little regex can go a long way :). You should wrap your perl script in a website and publish it. I did something similar for the Apple Refurbished stores,

    • adrian

      March 18, 2011 at 8:40 am

      I’m giving some thought to doing exactly that 🙂 Watch this space…

  3. Brenton Murray

    May 12, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Hi there,

    I had been referred to this website among other from an outplacement center.

    Hays Salary Review covering AUS & NZ.

  4. Brenton Murray

    May 12, 2011 at 4:50 am

    Thanks for going to all that effort though 🙂


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