When I was in college and you told someone you were a web developer or programmer that meant you were paid handsomely. I remember seeing positions for “HTML Developers” paying upwards of $50K/year back in early 2000. Over time tools have improved the quality and process of how web developers worked however the demand from employers for these positions has increased in a fast evolving industry.

Recently I’ve noticed a small percentage of companies from startups to successful corporations posting jobs searching for highly experienced web developers knowledgeable in several areas (nothing wrong with this). However I was shocked when I saw what the salary expectations were for these positions that required years of education, experience and a need to constantly adapt.

On a recent search, I found a job posted on indeed.com that was looking for a web developers in Toronto with 5 years ore more experience and offering to pay a salary range of $11.25 – $25.00 /hour. This was just one of the many companies who looking to pay this once financially rewarding position almost the equivalent to a burger flipper.

I really hope some sad sap didn’t take that job or least accept it at the low end of the salary range. Of course some companies will try and play the “portfolio” card where they tell the candidate that this project/job will help build their resume (see my article called “Say No to Free Labor & Spec Work“). Unfortunately desperation in these economic times might force people to take these positions but surely their loyalty will run out eventually.

I have studied computer programming, graphic design and SEO/online marketing in an effort to be a web renaissance man. In some ways being very versatile was beneficial. Unfortunately I’ll never be as good as someone who spends there entire career focused on one area.  For instance, I might know how to use Adobe Photoshop but I can’t measure up to someone who spends 40 hours a week as a graphic designer. Trying to master several areas is almost an impossible feat.

Companies need to realize that if they want someone versatile in multiple areas with years of experience it’s is not going to come at a cheap price. Many of these same companies failing to provide adequate salaries are also typically clueless in what they are looking for on a quest for a golden unicorn.  The misunderstanding is simply because the person hiring has no idea what is typically involved in the position they are searching for. Personally, I’ve never met a single person who was highly skilled at web development, graphic design and internet marketing as much as someone who made it their career focus.

This is something that companies need to understand – there will always be a compromise. Employers posting lofty job descriptions are likely to be setup for disappointment as they will realize that their new employee isn’t as skilled in particular areas as they had hoped. On the flip-side, employees who accepted these positions may eventually feel frustrated with the unrealistic expectations.