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Operating-system monopolist Microsoft maintains a campus and a number of satellite offices here in the Valley, and competes voraciously with other local companies for talent from around the world. So what, exactly, do they pay foreign workers? One of the ways the company makes good on regulatory promises is by posting job listings internally. It's part of the government's PERM process to certify immigrants for H-1B and permanent-residency eligibility; companies must first show that they tried and failed to find local workers for the job. The listings provide a peek into the current going rate for different positions, from technical writer to program manager.

  • Program Manager: $86,000
  • Tester: $95,000
  • Developer: $110,000
  • Developer: $117,000
  • Technical Writer: $129,000

What's interesting is that the base, industry-average salary figure used by immigration officials hovered around $85,000 in all cases. Which should give you an idea of the relative worth of each position in today's job market. What surprised me is that Microsoft feels it has to import this talent. I can name experienced professionals fitting each job description who'd be happy to work for those wages, with or without the paltry equity Microsoft offers these days. Then again, maybe they know better than to join Team Redmond's corporate culture, which imposes a glass ceiling on anyone who doesn't have an MBA. And of course it doesn't include the underpaid service workers cleaning Valley bathrooms and undocumented employees in Valley kitchens. (Photo by Marc Smith)