How to make $200k+ in a tech job on Wall Street

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Wall Street banks are competing with other sectors for top-notch technologists, and that competition for data scientists, computer engineers, programmers, product managers, designers and other information technology (IT) professionals is driving salaries higher.

Hedge funds are paying up for data scientists in particular. There have long been reports of people making $500k plus per year, but Matt Stabile, the data science and engineering manager at recruitment firm Averity says there's renewed interest in mid-level hires making $150k-$200k who "won't break the bank.”

Recruitment firm Robert Walters says banks are hiking tech pay to keep up with the buy-side. Compensation range for software developers/algorithm coders can range from $100k to $1m, according to Peter Wagner, managing director at recruitment firm Affinity North who previously worked at Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers. Wagner says there's currently big demand for people well-versed in JavaScript and related frameworks such as AngularJS and React, plus Python. Fintech firms are interested in Scala. Low latency firms are interested in Kdb+. This is where pay is increasing.

Mike La Rosa, the director of financial services at Twenty Recruitment Group, says sell-side salaries range from $100k for junior tech pros and rise to around $175k. They're often topped up by bonuses of up to 50%. Buy-side programmers typically earn $150k at the top end with equal or higher bonus potential. If you're looking for pay hikes, La Rosa says the in-demand roles include quality assurance (QA)/software engineers with open-source automation testing experience (Selenium WD for web-based automation testing and Appium or Espresso for mobile automation). People with cloud automation expertise are also popular (Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure), as are site reliability engineers and data scientists.

La Rosa cites a few examples of candidates who recently received higher-than-expected offers. They include a data scientist at multi-strategy hedge fund; an engineer at a high-frequency trading firm; a mid-level web developer at brokerage house with knowledge of JavaScript, React.js, Redux, Angular2, Ext.js, HTML and CSS; a VP-level QA manager focused on data-driven automation frameworks and continuous integration using Jenkins; and a DevOps engineer.

“Comp continues to increase as financial services firms compete in a small pool of candidates,” La Rosa says.

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