June 29, 2008

The Bay Area Jobs thread

Best City for Tech Jobs
#1: San Jose/Silicon Valley

Jobs per 1,000: 285.92
Total: 225,343
Rank: 3
Growth: 3%
Average wage: $144,828
Salary Rank: 1
Biggest sector: computer systems design
Area employers: Google (GOOG), Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Apple (AAPL)

#13: San Francisco
Jobs per 1,000: 93.84
Total: 79,442
Rank: 19
Growth: 3%
Average wage: $118,518
Salary Rank: 2
Biggest sector: computer systems design
Area employers: Salesforce.com (CRM), Genentech (DNA)

Burbed reader DreamT suggested this topic: Jobs!

No, not Steve Jobs, who, incidentally, deserves a Burbed Award for keeping house prices in the Real Bay Area nice and comfortably high. But jobs. You know, the thing you do during the day to make money, while your house appreciates at night and makes money for you.

So… what do you do? Is your company hiring? What are the prospects? Will college hires make $90k working there? Will it be generating the next round of millionaires to boost Palo Alto?

Comments (77) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:39 am

77 Responses to “The Bay Area Jobs thread”

  1. Brian Says:

    Graduating from college and knowing I’ll be making 35,000/year in my industry, this just makes me sick!

  2. sonarrat Says:

    $15 an hour with benefits from a contracting firm, doing administrative work for a supply chain company in the high-tech field. Prospects are good for a possible 50% raise within the next few months if they hire me on.

  3. Real Estater Says:

    If you make anywhere near the average salary, you need some serious tax shelter. If you don’t buy a house, you might as well throw your money out the window. This is why some people perpetually don’t have any money, or perpetually tight with money, even though they make a 6 figure income — because they have a big leak in their pocket. The money only passes by their account. It never stays there.

    Keep in mind many families here have double income, and take in significantly more than the amount quoted in the article.

  4. Real Estater Says:

    I believe salaries are going to be higher to adjust for inflation. At least most big companies do that. If you have a fixed rate mortgage, your life will be much easier after this round of inflation. Homeowners just don’t fear inflation, they welcome it.

  5. waiting_for_the_fall Says:

    I know several high tech people looking for a job change and finding it difficult. There’s nothing available close to where they live.

    They would have to add an hour commute to find a new job. And most of those jobs are contract instead of perm. With gas prices as high as they are, and the economy so uncertain, the people I know have no choice but to stay where they are until things turn around.

  6. rick Says:

    I just wonder even if Yahoo pays their people in that range. $144k wage, not total take home pay. Google does not.

  7. Herve Says:

    Riverside and San Bernardino sure look appealing with such a picture:

    So does Fog^H^H^HOrange County:

    I won’t answer the above questions since it is common practice here, but I’m wondering how many people would be willing to move to another city for another job… I probably wouldn’t. Huntsville, AL is #3 by the way, who’s moving?

  8. punch_it_chewie Says:

    @Real Estater #4

    Our company (18k employess worldwide) just announced that there will be no salary increases this coming merit review that would have taken effect July 1st. Reason: the economy is shaky and inflation is high/increasing which means the cost of running all of our worldwide facilities is getting too expensive. This for a company that has reported 5 straight years of record profits.

  9. madhaus aka guitar hero Says:

    RE, what exactly do you do? Why won’t you ever specify it? I guess you are horribly ashamed of it. My advice to you is find a career to be proud of.

    Software/networking geek, fairly senior. High-tech startup, can’t say in what area (announcement in a few months), but firm is hiring now. So is VMWare (interviewed there, would-be manager asked for other good people, had 6 reqs). Took 3 weeks to get 4 job offers. If you’re good, they find you. Previous place was taken over by idiots, half the engineers wrung their hands but didn’t do a thing for themselves. By the time they realize they should be out looking for work, the other half will have taken all the best-fit jobs.

  10. madhaus aka guitar hero Says:

    punch_it_chewie, last company did the same thing, and in asking around this seemed fairly common. RE probably lives in his mom’s basement and has no idea what is really happening out there.

  11. WillowGlenner Says:

    I’m glad to see the inflation discussion here, because to me that is the only thing that matters with RE. I don’t know what the future holds but in this decade there was a silent push of inflation behind housing prices. Same as the rising dollar we had in the 90s, providing a boost to stock prices. Sure you can find all kinds of reasons for bad stock markets other than a crashing dollar- but in the end, its a lot easier to make money in stocks with a booming currency than a crashing one. Same with real estate- yes there are other contributors to RE (low interest rates, easy credit) but in the end the currency crash/inflation thing is always out there.
    I used to love the stock market and would welcome a bull market again, but after this Bush damage what will it take? We’ll have to see if Obama has a “morning in america” effect. in the meantime RE is da bomb.

  12. Sprezzatura Says:

    My employer is hiring and pays well. If you’ve got the chops and have decent people skills, you can get a good gig.

    It might take a little longer to find the best fit these days, but the jobs are out there.

  13. roxboy Says:

    who is paying $144K/yr? is that the average salary? if that’s true then i’m way underpaid and i’m a software developer.

  14. cardinal2007 Says:

    I get paid about the 90k burbed suggested, and right out of grad school. My company is not hiring anyone except new grads, and it seems that there are very few open positions, new positions are not being created right now. College hires will make $90k working there, if they have a Masters from a top university, I don’t know about others, but this is just the developers. There will not be any new millionaires any time soon coming out of here.

    I seem to come across plenty of people who are not programmers, or managers at tech companies. I swear, I see them all the time, am I the only one??

    Sometimes I wonder if I’ll stay around here for the long while. Buying something seems like it would be a lot easier in NoVA where my family lives, and they claim they can match my salary. It would certainly be more relaxing that way. But Virginia has a very close minded culture, and I don’t think I will fit in there for the long while, even though I sort of grew up there. Sometimes I wonder if other places like Seattle or Boston would be a good fit, just leave California, and go to Boston, kind of like that song.

    In truth, I’m kind of glad prices are coming down though, when I first came here I sort of figured, I would stick it out for 10 years, save and invest money, and then leave, and settle down somewhere else. Nowadays it seems like it might be doable to settle down around here eventually.

  15. Real Estater Says:

    >>RE, what exactly do you do? Why won’t you ever specify it?

    I’ve told you many times already. I’m a tech guy, and dare I say…in management (sorry Pralay, but I’m just answering the question).

  16. Real Estater Says:


    If you drive on 101N near Shoreline, you’ll see a big sign by Yahoo that says “We’re hiring”.

  17. rick Says:

    My wife’s friend was making 90k while in MBA school, she only had a literature degree from Berkeley and a few years working for her parents’ pretty diverse company. However, her fellows (now graduating) are making 50-70k.

    Yeah jobs are out there, you don’t even need to be any special to get high pay, but it does not mean you represent the norm. Probably nobody believes any statistics these days.

    New grad of Masters from Berkeley are actually making 125k in my former company back in ’99, so don’t be so proud of yourself guys. Back in ’99 top eng master grads are already making the typical 90k.

  18. madhaus Says:

    I’ve told you many times already. I’m a tech guy, and dare I say…in management (sorry Pralay, but I’m just answering the question).

    I’d believe you could be in management. I’ve met a lot of bonehead managers who use lots of buzzwords but haven’t a clue what the people they manage actually do or how they do it. I doubt you have a tech background. You might work for a tech company, but that does not make you a tech guy any more than sitting in the garage makes you a car.

    I had a boss who you sort of remind me of. He was hired to be our first line, in his previous job he was a second line. So he acted like a second line and wouldn’t deign to get his hands dirty with actual work. Spent most of his time hiding in his office, not listening to his voice mail, not reading his email, unless it was from a superior. If given a direct order, he’d come out and enforce it wanting immediate results.

    He probably put 3x as much energy into avoiding doing work than it would have taken to do it. Went to meetings and told them we didn’t have any needs, went to us and told us nothing happened at the meeting. We learned to work around him, because we had to. It took a long time but eventually he was canned for nonperformance.

    Oh yeah, and he had a tendency to attack people who questioned anything about him, because he knew he wasn’t doing squat and that was his way of diverting it.

    Like I said, he reminds me of you. He really didn’t know anything except how to kiss butt, but he must have been good at it. After getting fired, he ended up at a bigger company pretty quickly. They went down the tubes a few years later, maybe it was his fault.

  19. Pralay Says:

    I’ve told you many times already. I’m a tech guy, and dare I say…in management (sorry Pralay, but I’m just answering the question).

    This is what you said two months back.

    Where did I say I’m a management class guy? How many times have I stated I’m just your average Silicon Valley tech guy?

  20. Real Estater Says:


    I must be your inspiration for the night. I gave you a one liner, and you wrote up a fiction.


    Where did I say I am not a management class guy?

  21. Real Estater Says:


    Will you share something about your career? What kind of job do you work at?

  22. Pralay Says:

    Will you share something about your career? What kind of job do you work at?

    I’ve told you many times already. I’m a tech guy 🙂

  23. Real Estater Says:


    Is there any reason why you refuse to talk about your job?

  24. Pralay Says:


    Where did I say I am not a management class guy?

    Where I did I say that I am not a homeowner?

  25. burbed Says:

    Ok, how about this… both of you write your complete biographies to clear up all misunderstandings.

  26. Trader Joe Says:

    What does it matter anyway? You are all kindling for the soon-to-be bonfire that is California. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=ascMK9stYqCQ&refer=home

    Got marshmallows?

  27. bob Says:

    I got here when the tech bust happened in 2000-2001. NOBODY was hiring and in fact, everyone seemed to be moving away. Lots of moving trucks. Rent was still insanely high. So I worked at a contractor supply place making $10 an hour. I did that for 2.5 years. Things started looking up a bit in 2002-2003. I got my first tech job making 30k a year, which to me was thrilling.

    After that, I jumped from job to job. I’ve been at around 5-6 different companies. Everything from huge multi-national companies to tiny startups. I jumped around because I was interested in buying a house, but since the prices were going up so fast at the time, each time I got another 10-20k more in salary, home prices jumped that much more. Then around 3 years ago I cleared the 100k mark. But even then, the cost of housing was so high that even at 100k, it still made zero sense to buy, and especially if all I could buy would be a crappy run-down house.

    My Wife made the same kind of leap, working in a totally unrelated field, then working her way into tech almost accidentally. She too also now makes a good salary. So we feel pretty fortunate and I am extremely grateful every day that I can work as I do. Once we got to that level, we sort of looked at our financial situation. We’re both excessively frugal with our money and even prior to getting into tech ha saved up quite a bit. We put two and two together and realized that working perhaps another 2-5 years would enable us to put enough away into retirement, save up for a house in another state and city, and perhaps have some leftover for vacations and other pleasantries. We could then work at less demanding jobs, make less, but still be fine since all of our life’s expenses would be paid for already. So in the meantime, I’ve been visiting and checking out other cities and areas. These range very dramatically from one place to another, from Louisville,KY, Montgomery, AL, and Austin, TX as well as many more.We’re already 90% to that goal, but the more we can save, the better.

    Lastly, I think that the people you work with are more important than the money. I really enjoy where I work now. Even though I could make more elsewhere, I enjoy the people I work with now, which is why I don’t really want to work anywhere else for now.

    I think our situation is probably a good place to park while the economic storm rages over the next few years.

  28. madhaus Says:

    Ok, how about this… both of you write your complete biographies to clear up all misunderstandings.

    RE is the only one here hiding anything. When asked for details he usually demands them from others, same as my old loser boss.

  29. Jim D Says:

    Well, we’ve talked about this before, eh?

    I’m a software guy, making about 20k more than the “average” that they list up there.

    Former manager, and let me tell you – that average wage they list is not the average. The average is about 20k lower – for good people.

    Married to an asian engineer, which if I recall correctly, was considered to be the way to own a house on this blog. But as I’ve said before, she’s civil engineering, so her salary is sub-50k. Ah, if only I’d picked a wife with the right major, a house would already be in my grasp! (Or not, I ain’t buyin’ until we hit 150x rent. It isn’t about what I can afford, it’s about what I’m willing to lose on housing.)

  30. Pralay Says:

    Ok, how about this… both of you write your complete biographies to clear up all misunderstandings.

    1. I live in “management class” neighborhood.
    2. I have a Porsche and two SUVs.
    3. I can pay off my mortgage anytime.
    4. The ONLY reasons I work 9-5 are
    – earning frequent flyer mileage
    – getting paystubs for investment purpose (not in interested in salary though)
    – health insurance
    5. I cashed my stocks just before Bear Sterns collapsed (smart investor!)
    6. I have energy stocks (smart investors! Gas price up = more gain for me).
    7. I hate “flyover country” people.
    8. I talk like real estate agent (or Amway agent).

    And last but not least

    8. I am an average tech guy.

    Sounds too unrealistic? 🙁 Come on! That’s what I am.

    Ok, ok! Let me revise it again.

    1. 2004 implant in bay area.
    2.”Priced Our Forever” in a place where “They Are Not Making Any More Land”.
    2. Enjoying Pride of home-ownership home-rentership in 95050.
    3. Average tech guy.

    More realistic? 🙂

  31. madhaus Says:

    Nothing average about me. Average tech guys have hobbies like ham radio or model trains. High-power rocketry is more a fit with software engineering than all our musical instruments. For software engineers, we have a very extroverted family; both kids are in theater.

    You all already have heard dozens of times that I live in a SFH in 94087/CUSD which we bought 15 years ago. We refinanced 4 times, each time getting better interest rate, terms, and lower principal. We only owe 10% of the current home value.

    Considered trading up, which is how I found this blog. Am convinced this is the worst possible time to do it. Also considered selling this place and renting 5 years. But won’t. When the market comes back we will owe nothing on this house, could turn it into rental and probably trade up then. By then kids will be older and mrs madhaus will be working too. Needed 2 incomes to buy this house so we’ll need 2 to buy another one.

  32. rick Says:

    Jim D,
    That is what I suspect the actual salary lies.

    A friend of mine (Berkeley alumni with a lot of experience) is looking for a job and ask me what salary should he be expecting. I told him for a staff/senior he should be asking 130k as start. He said that he was expecting more, I told him “you can ask for $140k-$150k but you would probably not get many interviews, the base salary is not everything”. Big companies routinely pay bonus within 10-20%.

    I see people routinely brag about how much money they are making, they probably haven’t experienced a down turn and its effort on one’s career (unless they just started a couple of years). The thing is, people who hup around will be the first to let go in a down turn, a startup will fail, a big company usually has old folks who stay for more than 10 years and their salary is capped at 3-5% raise a year, and you are looking at half a year’s severance pay to get rid of them. Down turn is a pretty scary time for cleaning up the house.

  33. DreamT Says:

    Ha, I wasn’t suggesting a job thread as much as asking burbed if he knew of a company looking for a leader for their software engineering efforts:) My company’s about to disappear from the Nasdaq – they’re not hiring! 🙂 However my future prospects don’t seem to belong in job boards, seems like they’re only hiring non-managers out there.

  34. Name Says:


    If you’re capable of leading a software engineering project, I suggest you contact a few VC’s and make their acquaintance. At some point they will see a project with an idea they like but do not have faith in the founders. At this point they’d be happy to make an introduction and see if you fit the bill to lead the effort. If it’s in a general enough space, they make just turnaround and fund a new project which is a variant of the pitched idea and ask you to run the show on the technical side while they hunt for the rest of the folks.

  35. bob Says:

    I agree. I bet that quite a few people demanding such exorbitant salaries haven’t experienced a bad economy firsthand. People forget how bad it was in 2001-2003. Personally, I work as if every day could be my last day at whatever job I’m at, which is why I still drive crappy old cars, squirrel away money, and so on.

    I’d like to see some of these people who think 130k “Isn’t enough” live off say- 30k instead. It’d be humbling, but I bet they’d learn to appreciate the dollar a bit more.

    In the end, the “median” salary in the BA doesn’t mean much anyway. 144k in the BA is more like 50-70k in most other states, and thus buys you as much, which means a mediocre, middle class lifestyle. Sort of like a third world currency.

  36. DreamT Says:

    Name – that’s a very sensible suggestion. Frankly I hadn’t thought about it. Many thanks!

  37. RealEstater Says:

    DreamT says,
    >>I wasn’t suggesting a job thread as much as asking burbed if he knew of a company looking for a leader for their software engineering efforts:) My company’s about to disappear from the Nasdaq – they’re not hiring! However my future prospects don’t seem to belong in job boards, seems like they’re only hiring non-managers out there.


    My suggestion would be to diversify your skillset with more business content. From what I’ve seen the pure development manager / tech lead types are dime a dozen, and have limited upside potential.

  38. DreamT Says:

    RE – You’re mistaken about my background. I’m at VP level, managing directors and business units. There are plenty of tech lead jobs published out there.

  39. RealEstater Says:

    One of my mentors told me, “A VP/Director title means nothing the day you leave your job. Only ownership of assets will last you a life time.”

    (BTW, this post is unrelated to my exchanges with DreamT)

  40. DreamT Says:

    How are “job titles” relevant to real estate or burbed’s questions in this thread (or relevant to anything at all really)?

  41. RealEstater Says:


    The moral of the story: A VP with no home is no match for a home owner who is not a VP.

  42. madhaus stock options cashed in August 2000 Says:

    I think the real moral of this story is: You can lead a donkey to water, but it’s still an ass.

  43. DreamT Says:

    RE – sorry but I don’t get the story nor the morale. Where is there a VP with no home? And how’s “VP” relevant at all?

  44. Curious Says:

    Real Estater,

    Do you try to sound like Dilbert’s boss or is it just coincidental?

  45. Name Says:


    I’ve enjoyed your comments on Burbed, so I’m glad I could return the favor.

  46. Weekly News Round-Up | Redfin San Francisco Sweet Digs Says:

    […] to explain how Bay Area housing can be labeled “affordable.” Their recent post on Bay Area Jobs, shows that the average wage for a tech worker in San Jose/Silicon Valley is $144,828. If you are a […]

  47. Norcalboomer Says:

    You are all kidding me right? I work in Health Care. My base salary is over 200K. Total Family income is > 300 K. I am getting raped by the Federal Gov’t. I live in Raleigh, NC. I am a California NATIVE. I have relatives with STREETS named after them in Northern California. I LOVE MY NATIVE STATE. It has been F—ed up by all of the In migration. I DO NOT BLAME ANY OF YOU for migrating into the state of MY BIRTH. I would like to return HOME someday BUT I am not sure it will be anything like when I left. I was there last week . The fires were terrible but expected. I wish all you HIGH TECH types and the HIGH TECH INDUSTRY never came to my HOME STATE. IT HAS F–ED IT UP BEYOND ALL REPAIR. RANT OFF. PEACE TO ALL AND HAPPY FOURTH TO ALL!!!!

  48. DreamT Says:

    RealEstater, have you got a street named after you yet? Now THAT’s prestige!

  49. RealEstater Says:


    In the spirit of community, would you share some info about yourself ? Do you own a home? Which zip do you reside in?

  50. DreamT Says:

    RE – Huh? Talk about selective reading!

  51. RealEstater Says:

    A link would be fine if you covered it before.

  52. DreamT Says:

    RE – On this blog, I have shared: home ownership status and history, with zips, tract and year of purchases; my employment status and level; my country of birth.
    Let me put it this way: if any casual reader wanted to find out who I am, he/she’d have no problems doing so.
    But please reassure the aforementioned community: surely you were joking, right?

  53. WillowGlenner Says:

    Everybody had streets named after them back in the day. The typical scenario in 1978 was: Your family owned a small cherry orchard (or apricot, etc). You sell the land to some developer for 200K (a HUGE SUM at the time), and he names the streets in the tract after your family. That was common place, hence the numerous street names “Katrina” etc. Those were the WIVES of the people that sold their small farms to developers.

    I remember one from Los Altos- “Belshaw way”. The Belshaws owned a small plot of land – cherries I think.

  54. DreamT Says:

    WG, do you know what typically happened to these farmers? Would they settle in the same neighborhood and retire, or would they leave the bay area because it was getting too urbanized?

  55. RealEstater Says:


    I don’t read every single post here. Been more active lately due to too much free time (have over a month of vacation each year with my job).

    Can you repost the info?

  56. RealEstater Says:

    Many streets in my neighborhood are named after the early land owners in the area. One of my current neighbors actually has buildings named after them at Stanford.

  57. DreamT Says:

    RE – No. And you just made a fool of yourself as well.

  58. RealEstater Says:

    A fool for not following your every word?

  59. madhaus Says:

    You can lead a donkey to water, but some will always drink the Kool-aid.

  60. DreamT Says:

    RE – a fool for invoking “the spirit of community” for which you show much contempt. I believe by now the community is sick of hearing me bringing up my zip code in every other thread 🙂

  61. madhaus 94087 Cupertino Cupertino Cupertino did I say Cupertino School District? Says:

    I believe by now the community is sick of hearing me bringing up my zip code in every other thread 🙂

    That’s why you’re supposed to put it in your userid!

  62. DreamT 95051 CUSD Says:


  63. madhaus 9 guitars 1 bass 2 keyboards Says:

    Arghghghh! You weren’t supposed to listen to me! You were supposed to NOT cooperate! After all, we know he’s too lazy to read all those threads to look you up, right?

    Quick, erase that and play these drums! 4/4, 92 bpm, start with a single paradiddle and then throw in a triple ratamacue. Got it?

  64. DreamT Says:

    madhaus – sadly, in addition to being literal, I am genial…

  65. RealEstater Says:

    Is it a coincidence, or do all the bubble guys live in Santa Clara?

  66. madhaus 9 guitars 1 bass 2 keyboards Says:

    I know, DreamT, that’s why just about everyone here likes you. Hey, keep the beat up!

  67. DreamT Says:

    RE – notwithstanding the misplaced insinuation, what’s a bubble guy?

  68. Pralay Says:

    Is it a coincidence, or do all the bubble guys live in Santa Clara?

    I wonder if 94301 zip is full of LOW tech guys with “prestige”? They they so LOW tech that they even cannot google it?

  69. Pralay Says:

    Sorry, typo again. Correction:
    Are they so LOW tech that they even cannot google it?

  70. DreamT Says:

    RE, are you truly a manager? Not only you categorize people (a fatal management flaw), use insinuations (great for employee morale!) and abuse slimy logic (using some correct premises and skipping to an over-generalized conclusion that cannot be proved nor disproved), but you also, how can I put it nicely, routinely jump to wrong conclusions about people.
    Not trying to antagonize more people here, but this would mean that your company leadership is less than adequate. Good for you I guess.

    madhaus – I’m out of here as soon as I land a job 😉

  71. madhaus not from Santa Clara Says:

    Hey, what’s a bubble guy? Am I a bubble guy? My house went up in the bubble, but then again, I’m also telling everyone not to buy because of the bubble, so either way doesn’t that make me a bubble guy? Can you be a tech guy and a bubble guy? What if you have too many guitars to fit in the bubble? Do I have to buy some more guitars to keep the excluded guitars company?

    Does my lawn fit in the bubble? Can I still water it? Is there room in here for my lawn and the other bubble guys in Santa Clara? What if I need to change guitar strings and I’m cutting off the ends after winding and the sharp end pops the bubble? Then what happens? Am I no longer a bubble guy? What about the old guitar strings, what do I do with them?

    What about Renter4, can she be a bubble guy? Or is she priced out of the bubble?

  72. Pralay Says:

    Been more active lately due to too much free time (have over a month of vacation each year with my job).

    Not going for vacation? What happened to your frequent flyer mileage – the very reason you are working 9-5 everyday? 🙂

  73. madhaus bubble guy Says:

    DreamT, if you play those eighth notes like half notes, you’re not going to last the gig.

    Pralay, only real tech guys know about teh Google. Tech guy wannabes think they get it, but it’s like leading a donkey to water.

  74. RealEstater Says:


    The prestige and vacation questions have all been answered in the other thread. I won’t show you a link, and I won’t repost it here, because I’m a moron.

  75. burbed Says:

    Good grief.

  76. madhaus bubble guy Says:

    I won’t show you a link, and I won’t repost it here, because I’m a moron.

    Good grief, indeed. He couldn’t even spell it correctly.

  77. Pralay Says:

    , because I’m a moron.

    I always thought you so. At least this is something we both agree.

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