monitors and income

Introduction

The use of multiple displays has become increasingly prevalent amongst software developers who find the additional screens to be particularly helpful by increasing the accuracy of their work and by making cross-referencing and multi-tasking easy.

While it is not uncommon to feel more productive when using more than one monitor, does this increased productivity translate into more money for the employee? Do software engineers with more and larger screens actually make more money?

We sought to answer this question through an informal online survey of more than 1300 software developers from across the United States and compared the results to median income data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for Computer Programmers in the United States.


Income and Number of Monitors

Based on this survey it was found that developers limited to using a single display at work were paid an average of about $64,900 per year, nearly 7% less than the national median income for computer programmers of $69,600 (Source: BLS, U.S. Department of Labor, 2010). On the other hand, developers using two displays averaged $76,200 (almost 10% higher than the national median), and those using three or more displays averaged $88,900 (more than 27% higher than the national median).


Income and Size of Monitors

What about the size of the monitors used? After evaluating data from the survey, we determined the average salary of respondents based on the largest monitor at their workstation. The average income of workers with no monitors larger than 15-17” was $66,300 while the 18-20” crowd averaged $76,000. This number increased only slightly amongst the 21-24” group, which posted an average income of $77,800. While fewer than 10% of the respondents reported using one or more monitors larger than 24”, their average income was substantially higher at $95,600; over 37% more than the national median for computer programmers.


Implications

While the average income of respondents was indeed higher amongst those using more and larger monitors, it is impossible to determine the exact nature of the relationship. Is the higher income due to the increased productivity resulting from expanded screen real estate, or do employers simply provide more and larger monitors to higher-paid developers as a perk or reward? The answer is likely some combination of both, depending on the employee and the company he or she works for.


Statistical Disclaimer

Although the data suggests a possible relationship between monitors and income, we would like to emphasize that this survey was an informal effort and does not necessarily prove statistical correlation or causality.


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