Are you a computer science student about to graduate?
If you are, you’re probably researching how much Malaysian companies pay fresh tech graduates or junior developers.
Maybe, you also want to find ways to earn more as a junior developer with no experience.
If so, you’ve came to the right place. At Devance, we’re obsessed about helping young developer talents find their dream tech jobs and get the salary they deserve.
One thing we do a lot is to survey attendees of tech events like Google Developer Fest, and see what they think should be a fair salary for junior developers. The results? Most Malaysians, junior developers and employers alike think junior developers should receive a starting pay of RM3,500 – RM3,999.
Let’s discuss the current ‘market rate’ for junior developers in Malaysia, and how you can go above the salary range with a few strategies.
Average Junior Developer Salary in Malaysia in 2023
The average junior developer salary in Malaysia is RM3,299 (according to data from Payscale & Indeed)
Again, this an average salary figure.
One thing you should know is that the figure reported by job matching platforms like Indeed, are averages taken from the salaries reported on their website. But it misses on a lot of salary data from 1000s of other companies that are not listed on its website.
The point we’re trying to make is – while that’s the average you see, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for a bigger salary as a junior developer in Malaysia.
Another survey done by a Developer Kaki, a local community for developers in mid-2021, revealed that average salaries for junior developers (developers below 2 years of experience) was at RM3,816 per month.
Where companies are based at matters for salary.
Companies based in different states and cities in Malaysia also offer different salary ranges to developers.
From the data, companies in states like Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor advertise for the highest salaries for programmers. In these states, you can expect to receive a salary of RM4,500 per month, as a junior programmer.
Why do companies in big cities offer bigger salaries?
One of the reasons is it’s more expensive to live in a big city. Because of that companies tend to offer higher salaries to attract talents.
But, you have a great perk as a software developer.
As a developer, you have the flexibility of being able to work from anywhere.
Some companies allow remote working or have work-from-home arrangements that can be beneficial for you, especially if you live in a state with lower living costs like Kedah or Penang – and work for a company that is based in Kuala Lumpur.
Of course there are pros and cons when it comes to remote-working. And as a junior developer, it’s probably a good idea to get close to where the tech scene is most active – so you will be able to get yourself up to date. But again, that’s a topic for another post on our blog.
You can also take advantage of our programmer developer’s community on Discord to keep in touch on what’s going in tech.
What can I earn as a Programmer?
The future of programming and developing is bright. It’s a high in-demand skill. With more companies rapidly moving into digitalization, the demand for programmers is only going to continue to grow.
Being a programmer can be a lucrative career choice.
With the right qualifications, skillsets and mostly experience – you can expect to start with a medium-high pay and quickly grow your salary, given – that you join a company with room for growth as well.
Many companies, especially high-growth tech companies offer bonuses and other incentives such as stock options or profit sharing plans that can further increase the total pay for you as a junior developer.
For a software developer, bonuses bonuses are usually awarded based on performance metrics, such as meeting development deadlines and exceeding expectations. While it differs from company to company, bonuses can range from a few hundred to thousands of ringgit.
Getting stock options is a great way for developers to benefit from the success of the company you work for. This can be very advantageous for you if you see potential in the company’s vision and growth.
In fact, this is how you should aim to hit the higher income brackets as a developer.
Stock options used to be reserved for C-level executives or people who dared to take a leap, working in a very early stage startup. However these days, you’ll find more and more companies handing out developer stock options.
Should you specialise or generalise?
Additionally, developers who specialise in certain areas like mobile app development or system operations may be able to receive higher salary compensations over generalists – who do it all.
Companies who are stable and focused, usually know the exact development role they want to hire for. To find good talents, they would offer higher salary packages.
Compared to companies who are still in growth or exploration stage, who might hire generalists who can do it all.
While specializing in a certain development niche will help you command a higher salary, this doesn’t mean you should neglect the other fields of software development as well.
At Devance academy, we usually recommend our students to have general skillsets, but yet specialize in one or two key areas. Put simply, become a ‘jack of all trades & master of some’.
How to ask for a higher salary at your first development job.
As someone fresh to the working industry, you might think to let the company decide how much salary to pay you. Don’t make that mistake!
Even as a junior developer, there are ways to negotiate for a higher salary. Here are some tips:
1 – Focus on the company’s wants. Not what you want.
Why would a company logically pay you anymore that what’s advertised? Well, it ultimately come down to what you can do for the company.
Before entering an interview session, do some research on the company and understand the reason they need to hire developers. What is the impact that you could possibly bring to the company? Is there a number you could put to it?
During the interview, demonstrate that you understand where the company is heading to and how hiring you would not only be the right choice, but the best choice to help them achieve their goals. Keep the conversation about the value your bring and how the company can fairly compensate you.
2 – Make it known that you’re a self-initiated learner.
Hiring talents is one of the biggest costs for a company. Apart from the salary, a company has to consider things provided to an employee like insurance, EPF, SOCSO, training cost and more.
Companies want to make sure they’re hiring the right talent. And more than that, someone who potentially is a self-initiated learner, so that they would spend less time and resources grooming and training a talent.
One way to do this is to mention the courses, study programmes and programs that you’ve taken to enhance your development skillset in your resume and in conversation during an interview.
3 – Probe for a range.
Most companies would usually have a budget set before they go out to recruit talents.
Subtly probe by asking questions and get a sense of what they company can offer before you name your ideal salary.
In some cases, interviewers will ask you to name an expected salary early in the hiring process. In this case, instead of giving a hard number, tell them a salary range. Ideally, the minimum is something you cannot afford to go below and the maximum would be your ideal earning.
If the recruiter lowballs you with a low salary package, use this script: “Thanks for the offer. What can we do to take it the salary to X?”
Find out what’s the ‘extra’ needed to get to the X, agree on a deadline with the recruiter to revisit the negotiation. Then ask you start working, do your best to hit the extras as discussed.
Want to increase your salary as a junior developer?
Getting a decent salary as a junior developer depends on a few factors, from your skillsets, negotiation strategy and choosing the right company.
But the biggest truth is – it’s something you can control.
Rather than let companies and the ‘industry’ decide your salary and pathway. You can learn the right skills and negotiation strategies to build a lucrative development career in Malaysia.
That’s a major reason why we started the Programmer Career Accelerator program. To help fresh graduates, out of computer science study, like you – build up necessary skillsets and find their dream tech jobs.
The program opens only a few times a year. Visit the Programmer Career Accelerator page to learn how you can join a cohort.