Average income of a developer

[Split from the Pablo Dobarro Sculpt Mode thread]

It’s a pity that one of the few Blender devs who really engaged with the community has recently left: @William Reynish.


That’s bad news (even though I don’t agree with most of his UI decisions)…
What happened?

He got a job offer he couldn’t refuse. :slightly_smiling_face:


Interesting. AFAIK, Blender devs are paid $5000 a month, I guess he indeed found a really good job offer :wink:

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The last thing any developer wants or needs is a million armchair designers telling them how to do their job.


Of course not… That’s not what we were talking about here…

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You said there’s no such thing as wasting time talking to users as a developer. I’d argue that there isn’t a BIGGER waste of time as a developer. If you ask a hundred people for input on the design of a feature, you’ll get a hundred different answers and be no closer to a good design, let alone the best one. Until the car, people would have just asked for a faster horse. Users are just about the worst source of data on how to please users. There’s a reason UI and UX experts get paid big money.

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It seems BF is looking for community managers…

maybe someone of us guys who’s interested could chime in? :wink:

To be fair $5000 a month is moderate salary for good programmer. Not to mention that 2-3D is payed less in general that other kind of programming. Also there are a carer opportunities and … else.
Good news is that people which work in 2-3D mostly are passionate for his job. Especially Blender developers, not to mention all people which contribute to Blender for free.

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I don’t know about you but there are some people I am close to working on high end vfx projects, including marvel related work. Some of them are leads and not low level vfx artist. On average they make between 4000-6000 a month. I know some that even make less than that. So yeah, they are not paid as much as you think. The only time you see more money come in is when they have to work massive over time shifts 10+ hours a day, and on weekends with an hourly wage.

If you are in California (such as Los Angeles), you also get tax penalties for going over a certain rate, not to mention the cost of living here is so high it might as well be extortion this point.

Unless they are a department head, I can’t imagine anyone in that position making double or triple that, much less 4 times that. They are more likely to hover around the $4000 range give or take.

ILM, Weta, Framestore for example. I’m sure it’s similar for other big players. $4000 would not even cover a mid level modeler. I don’t like discussing numbers but I do think it’s important. I’ve seen higher wages than the one’s described - it’s not HOD level, just mid to senior.

Just an example: a department of 60 people is asking for a feature that’d take about 2 sprints of developer time (2*2 weeks). I’ve heard multiple times that “putting 10 modelers and brute force it” would be a lot cheaper, and the request would be rejected.

It appears to be based not just on location but the rank of the studio itself. I’m over in Los Angeles, we don’t have Weta or ILM, but rather a lot smaller (occasional “award winning” ) vfx shops that get a lot of bulk work, especially with TV. Unfortunately all the ones I know (my wife included) who are considered upper level environment artist, compositors and the like struggle to get paid more than $50/hour on average. Might sound like a lot to some here, but when rent cost $2000+ for a dingy run down apartment or a tiny old house goes for well over $1,000,000, and all of it taxed to oblivion, its not much.

Probably doesn’t help the competition over here is pretty high as well, they have to bid very low just to keep the work coming in, often with highly unrealistic time frames. Just reminds me, I have to get the hell out of LA haha.


That’s a global phenomenon. There are similar prices or higher prices in SanFran all the way to BC or London. Even prices here (NZ) have doubled over the past 5 years, hard to find anything semi decent to rent under $2000. For the big shops it must be about tax incentives as well.

TV/Ads is a different game, harder to justify in house development due to fast turnaround times,
but even looking at out of the box autodesk salaries on glassdoor (which I’m sure are not representative), developer salaries go quickly above $200k/year.

Let’s hope this covid thing will bring at least some positives like work from home. Big cities and main hubs are becoming more and more expensive. I can do the same work in the same amount of time working from a nice little house at a lake somewhere in W Virginia for the fraction of the cost compared to Cali.


Is it really that bad over there?

Hard to believe, because oftentimes, some of the most expensive homes you can even find for sale in Kansas are around or even below that price (by that I mean rather large homes on huge lots). The work from home movement will help immensely in taming the overcrowded, overpriced markets.

I don’t want to get too off topic, but yeah. Its that bad. Just zillow Los Angeles homes for sale. Your jaw will hit the floor.

As Dan said, hoping covid at least helps cement the remote work lifestyle because getting out of the cities are almost a requirement these days for affordable living.

Ok back to Blender! =)


In California $5000 is … meeeh salary. Taxes, living costs eat lot of money. I hear this couple times… but people LOVE to live in California… love to work for big studios… Anyway salary for programmers are bigger. Mean for GOOD programmers, which have knowledge, experience, talent… So, not good enough… I mean Really good. For this reason game industry can not keep such people, soon or latter they go. Do not be fooled, some people may look as IT experts for common people, but in reality they are average to say it in diplomatic way.

Core render engineers in the LA area can easily make $200k+, close to 50% more if you’re an established TD/lead working at one of the big three FX houses, or one of the Big Two OTS renderers (Renderman and Arnold). $70k a year would make qualified applicants laugh.


By the way, you can find out more about @William’s career move in his LinkedIn profile.

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Quite the upgrade perhaps. Unity is a great game engine. Someone else has to take over on the GUI front. I just realized that might also mean the industry standard keymap is going to get ignored.

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I do not think everyone using Unity is going to start saying how awesome their new UI looks though.

If you have read threads throughout this forum, you will hear of William either being a UI design hero or a rookie who does not know what he is doing. I do think he has made more good decisions than bad overall, but imagine if Blender’s current madness with sub-panels and organization-first design becomes the primary theme in the workflow of your favorite game engine?

That said, I am not denying he was full of good ideas, but many of the big “UI experts” in the tech. industry these days tend to have a polarizing reputation (see the never-ending complaints about constant UI changes in apps. ranging from Photoshop to Maya to Windows to Youtube to Facebook…
nearly everything related to computers).