Last Updated: 4 June 2023
Real quick for those who don’t know what exempt means, here’s a quick explanation. In the United States, if you work more than forty hours in a work week on an hourly basis, you are paid one and a half times your normal hourly rate for the extra hours.
If you have a salary, you are exempt from overtime payments unless your employment agreement has some provision for overtime. This means your employer isn’t required to pay you for overtime.
Some say that the benefits of a salary is consistent pay and that there may be weeks you work less than 40 hours and it all balances out. Realistically, you won’t be working less than 40 hours a week on a regular basis without getting noticed and let go.
On the other hand, there will likely be plenty of weeks where you go over the 40 hours. Even if its just a couple of hours here and there, it all adds up.
How does this apply to software developers? If you are working as an hourly software developer you will get overtime pay. If you are working contract or doing freelance work, you will get paid for all the hours that your work but not necessarily get time and a half.
A lot of software developers do contract work for one company while technically employed by a recruiting company. In this case your are an employee of the recruiting company and you should get time and a half.
This was the case for one of my early positions.
Every other job I have worked at and every other offer I have received has been for salary. If you are a salaried software developer you won’t get time and a half.
Because of this, you need to be cautious in the companies you choose to work for. You might receive a salary offer that looks really good on paper but if everyone is working sixty hours a week, then it may not be so good. You might actually be making less than another lower offer at a company that only requires you to work 40 hours a week.
Always take your total compensation package and convert it into an hourly rate to compare. And always ask about the hours you are expected to work each week. If they dodge the question or a vague and awkward that is a red flag.
Here are some more red flags to watch out for in an interview.