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I have a friend who is a cloud architect at a big-4, he is making a little more than $300k in total comp in NY (base is lower, a lot of RSUs etc), but he is more than just an engineer.

He has a friend at another big-4 in NY, also a cloud architect, he is making $400k

I think that the $1 million package is incorrectly calculated. This is perhaps the total package for 2-3 years, including signing bonus (vested over a couple of years) and RSUs (vested over a couple of years)

Annual total compensation for any big-4 Sr software engineer with a lot of experience in SF I assume is around $300k and can get up to $500k if you are really good.

I don't know of anyone who is making $1 million a year, even senior directors at big-4s. Perhaps if you are a Phd who worked at Google cloud / AWS / Azure for 5 years, wrote their software, talk at cloud conferences, wrote "Cloud computing for experts" type of books and published a seminal paper on distributed computing, then perhaps you will get a total compensation nearing that.

If you are just a cloud architect at a big-4 I think the lower part makes sense in total comp, the upper bound sounds completely ridiculous. I have friends who got offers from Amazon and Google for very, very senior cloud positions, way more than "just a cloud engineer", and the total comp is around $300-$400. If the stock goes up though, then the RSUs might be worth much more.

If LinkedIn / Facebook are offering engineers an annual $1 million I'll be very surprised.




I know of 3 SD4/principal engineers at Amazon who are making $1m/year. I believe there are only about 150-200 engineers at this level in the entire company, so it's obviously a hard position to get. Anyone with experience building out cloud infrastructure has been a hot commodity given all of the companies that are entering the market. Remember that you don't just get a great engineer but you also get the years of experience that person has gained actually building out what you yourself want them to build out for you. Some other company paid for all of the mistakes, learnings, etc. No trade secrets or confidential information but just a ton of valuable experience that the new employer benefits from day 1.


I guess people who wrote a seminal paper on cloud computing, who do research on Xen OS and distributed computing, and generate Amazon savings / product offerings that make them billions, then they should definitely ask for more than a million.

We all know that there are actors who make a million dollar per episode, but most of them don't.

I think that unless you are in the "I wrote the Dremel paper for Google" or "I'm Doug Cutting and I wrote Hadoop" or "I invented MapReduce" or "I created the Xen hypervisor" then don't get your hopes up for a 1 million$ package from Google/Amazon/Microsoft.

In any profession you can find top notch people who are making a million dollar annual salary. But usually it's the very top.

If there are 200 engineers at this level at Amazon, let's say there are 200 like this at Google and 200 more at Microsoft Facebook and LinkedIn, e.g. there are ~1000 engineers who make 1 million dollars salaries.

Let's say there are between 1-3 million software engineers in the US (excluding managers) - sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_engineering_demograph..., http://www.infoq.com/news/2014/01/IDC-software-developers

so only 0.03 to 0.1% of Software Engineers make a million dollar salary. e.g. the 99.9 percentile or higher.

Now compare it with doctors, lawyers, brokers, and you'll see that this is nothing to be proud of.

There are about 100 actors who make more than a million dollar a year:

https://www.quora.com/How-many-actors-make-more-than-a-milli...

And about 60,000 employed actors in the US

http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes272011.htm

So about 0.166% of Actors make more than a million.

More likely to make a million$ a year as an employed actor than as a software engineer? I don't know, but it's not that different.

The main difference is obviously the width and height of the pyramid...

Bottom line, with even $300K total comp, even in SF, I don't think life is too bad.

But don't get your hopes high for much more than $500K unless you are really going to cost the company a lot if you leave to the competitors, or if you move up high into management.

If you really want to make tons of money, and can sell, then move to sales, (or even presales).


> If you really want to make tons of money, and can sell, then move to sales, (or even presales).

I know someone who is very successful. He was pushed into sales. After he sold his first CAT Scan machine (5% commission), he never looked back.

It all goes back to are you a cost on the balance sheet or bringing revenue in...


Quick question, who are the "Big-4"? I count Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft at a minimum.


I see "Big 4" on r/cscareerquestions a lot. It seems to have been invented by that sub as some kind of mythical club of golden programmer employers.

It came from accounting/consulting where there are four really big consulting giants: (KPMG, Earnst & Young, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and Deloitte). Interestingly enough, the above aren't known for being particularly nice employers.

On the sub the inclusion in the "big four" varies a bit, Google is the only one who's always in it. Others sometimes included are Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Adobe.


I honestly never hear anything about Adobe. MS seems strikingly average and Twitter seems like a place I wouldn't want to work.


Usually when I hear it people are talking about Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon [1], but in the last couple years it seems like Microsoft is getting back in gear.

[1] http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-sanity-check/schmidt-c...


I assumed he was talking about accounting firms: PWC, EY, Deloitte, & KPMG.


Me too - and that was the first hit on wikipedia as well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Four_%28audit_firms%29

However, if we look at the disambiguation, we find at the bottom of the subsection:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Four#Companies

"Big Four, the most influential international technology companies Amazon.com, Apple Inc, Facebook and Google".

So I'd say it's pretty ambiguous.


Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft originally (Or Apple instead of MS depends on who you ask) but this usually also included companies that are very competitive and pay a huge salary package, e.g. Apple, LinkedIn, Netflix, even Twitter although it is far from the same market cap as the others in the list. So I mean "top tech companies", sorry for the confusion!


FANG = FB, AMZN, NFLX, GOOG


Pricewater Coopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG


The "big 4" consulting giants, Google it.


I'm not sure you can equate "Big 4" compensation (especially at senior level given responsibilities for sales, market offerings, etc) with engineering roles at software / product companies. The comp structure is much different, and there are a lot of differences in expectations.


Interesting downvote. Having worked in software development at a Big 4 I can say there is a great deal of difference between the roles. Senior engineers will either move into direct management of teams and accounts or will have some sort of sales target for their core skills area. At a product company I would expect that while comp is tied to sales number they are not directly responsible for those numbers, and they may or may not be managing teams depending on their role in the company.


Who are the "big-4" that you're referring to?




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