GigZig: Career Paths of Real People

PayScale released a cool new tool today, GigZig. It lets you see the career paths of real people. GigZig is based on a simple question we ask during our salary survey: "what was your job 5 years ago?"

As a data guy, I just love the wealth of information. Together with our data on what a job pays, a person evaluating their current career choice, or investigating a new one, can get a pretty complete picture of both what other people have done in their careers, and what they are paid.

In this post, I will look at a web developer career path, explain a little bit about how GigZig, works, and ponder the Waitress/Waiter in everyone’s past.

No matter where you are going in your career, are you being paid what you are worth for where you are now? Find out with the PayScale Salary Survey.

Riding the Web: Web Developer Career Paths

With the rise of the Internet, developing for the Web has become a pretty attractive career path.

I looked at how people get to be Web Developers. Here is one common path through the web space:

  • Web Designer salary: $40,234
  • Webmaster salary: $43,990
  • Web Designer & Developer salary: $45,000
  • Senior Web Developer salary: $75,000
  • Senior Software Engineer: $90,800
  • Software Architect: $102,000

Of course, not every Web Designer becomes a Software Architect. Many perfect their craft, and are compensated at higher rates for their design skills.

This sequence is one of thousands; use GigZig to see more.

GigZig Features

Note a few features about how GigZig works:

  • GigZig only shows previous jobs. For entry level jobs, people will often have been students 5 years earlier, but we do not show this.
  • GigZig does not show the standard case: the most common job 5 years before is the current job. Accountants were Accountants five years ago.
  • The "Individuals Reporting" counts at the bottom of the list of job titles under both "5 Years Ago" and "5 Years From Now" give a feeling for whether a job is entry level (few have done another job before) or terminal (few do another job after)
  • All salaries are US median total annual cash compensation, which includes tips, salary, bonuses, commissions, etc.
  • Assumes hourly workers work ~2000 hours a year (full-time)
  • Salaries are for all levels of experience in our database

Clearly, there is a wide spread in pay depending on actual experience, skills, location, actual hours, responsibilities, etc. To understand these, use the PayScale salary survey 🙂

Waiter/Waitress in Your Past

What were people before they are Web Designers?

They were waiters or waitresses, salary: $17,700 🙂

Wait staff is a job in the past for every job. While the GigZig dataset has only ~30 waiters or waitresses that did a different job before, it has more than 1000 employees, doing other jobs, who were wait staff 5 years earlier.

Of course, the same can be said for other entry level jobs, like:

  • Food Service Worker, salary: $18,200 ($9 per hour; not usually full-time)
  • Babysitter, salary: $16,640 ($8 per hour)
  • Cashier, salary: $16,286 ($8 per hour)

I did all three of these jobs, but PayScale doesn’t have any data on my favorite entry level job: pickle factory worker. 🙂 Director of Quantitative Analysis is a future job for at least one former pickle factory worker.

Please give GigZig  ( a spin, and let me know what you think.

If you are interested in more than career paths, please check out the PayScale salary survey to investigate both what you should be earning now, and detailed information about what other people are paid to do what they do.


Al Lee