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Ask HN: How much do you make at Amazon? Here is how much I make at Amazon
1213 points by boren_ave11 on Mar 18, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 690 comments
To people who work at Amazon, how much do you make? I work at Amazon, and my pay is below.

Discussing pay is awkward, so most people don't. But this creates an imbalance of power in salary talks. A person I trust who was recently promoted was offered in the range of $55K for their new role. However, I know of one or two people who were hired into the same role from outside the company who apparently started at $70K+.

I suspect that internal candidates have less leverage in pay negotiations than do external hires. I think most people probably won't decline a promotion, even if the raise is weak, because the alternative is no promotion and no raise. Transparency corrects this imbalance.


Position: Developer (not classified as SDE, do not manage ppl) Tenure: 2 years Job Level: 5 Base Pay: $73,000 Signing Bonus: $25k Year 1, $21k Year 2 2016 Stock Vest: 104 shares LY Review Score: Exceeds LY Pay Increase: 4%, plus 35 shares of AMZN Most Recent Promotion Increase/Stock Grant: N/A - no promotions Gender: M Native English Speaker: Yes

If you're wondering about Native English Speaker, I included it because I think it might be interesting.

I'm not aware of any Amazon policy which prohibits sharing one's own compensation, but I still made a throwaway. A shift of power is never welcomed by those whose authority is diminished.[2]

To non-Amazonians, perhaps you could start an "Ask HN: How much do you make at XYZ" for your own employer so you and your coworkers can share the same thing. Comparing compensation for different companies could also be interesting.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Tech_Employee_Antitrust_Litigation

[1] That isn't to suggest that I suspect Amazon of taking part in any illegal activity. I don't believe Bezos would even entertain the idea. I like Amazon, and overall I'm happy here. What I want is a more fair salary negotiation process.

[2] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/frederickd134371.html

I work at Amazon too. Last year I wanted to collect compensation information about tech industry professionals (software engineering or PM) in Seattle. I created an anonymous Google Form and sent it out among my circle of friends.

Here are the results: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/133LBigv7pOkgpTkA6bHH...

I was an System Engineer III at Amazon from 2001-2006. I got hired on at $70k and I think I was making roughly $90k when I left.

When I was hired I had to tell them "No" and hang up the phone (in the middle of the 2001 recession) to a $63k job offer. They called back the next day and bumped the offer to $70k. I later learned that I had one of the only "strong hires" ever given out by the bar raiser and the HR rep was told to hire me at all costs. HR played (and probably still plays) insanely hard hardball in negotiating salary.

Other SEIIIs hired at around the same time came on at $60-63k and were stuck there. Once the economy recovered in 2003/2004-ish we eventually started hiring SEIIIs at >$120k starting salary.

Gender: M Native English Speaker: Yes for myself and the other two or three employees I'm thinking of.

Staying anonymous is probably best but fwiw, policies which prohibit sharing one's own compensation violate federal law.


Also FWIW most states are at-will employment, and can fire you for no reason

Careful, they can fire you for NO reason, but they can't fire you for ANY reason.

So they can just fire you, have an escort and done?

Yes. Just as you can quit, walk out, and be done. For no reason. But they can't fire you for health reasons, personal reasons, etc.

They can fire you for health reasons, they just have to be very careful when doing so. Been there, done that. Pretty hard to sue when you have no proof except common sense.

> Yes. Just as you can quit, walk out, and be done.

What is the flip-side to at-will employment though? Without at-will employment, do employees become slaves that cannot quit their job? Or are there only a small list of "legal" reasons for you to quit your job.

I always see "well the employee can always leave at any time too," but is that really something that disappears in places without at-will employment?

> What is the flip-side to at-will employment though? Without at-will employment, do employees become slaves that cannot quit their job? Or are there only a small list of "legal" reasons for you to quit your job.

The following is true for a sizable part of Europe. The flip side(s!) are:

* I can't just walk out on a job, I have to give a 4-week notice (for any reason, though. It can be anything, from "I feel like I need a new challenge" to "I hate ever single one of you motherfuckers"), during which I'm expected to do my job more or less as usual. Everyone understands you're not as motivated, no one plans for major stuff to happen during someone's N-week notice.

* My employer has a small, but very open-ended list of reasons why he's allowed to fire me, which includes things like me underperforming (but he has to give proof that this actually happened -- i.e. he needs to have an actual evaluation process, has to warn me that I'm not performing as expected first and so on), shrinking clients base which means that they literally no longer need so many people and I drew the short stick and so on.

My employer is also required to give me a four-week notice, during which he has to pay me as usual, and he also has to pay for any vacation days I didn't take in this time (the idea being that I could have lounged in Belize instead of working my sorry ass at the office).

Furthermore, if I am being fired, my employer is also required to allow me to go to interviews during business hours (for obvious reasons).

Regulations vary from one country to another, but that's the gist of it. In general:

- Notices are typically 4 weeks for non-management positions and 6 weeks for management positions. The law around here allows these periods to be longer, but not shorter than this, and they're negotiated as part of the contract.

- However, they can be skipped by mutual agreement (i.e. if I want to leave right now and my employer doesn't have a problem with that, we sign an additional paper that says we both agree to leaving without a 4-week notice and I'm out).

- They don't apply for the duration of the test period at the beginning of an employment contract (if there is one). During that period (typically 3 months), both resignations and firings are effective immediately. I did it once, it' a very refreshing feeling :-).

I work for the European branch of a relatively small American company, which is how I've come to know all this. My colleagues from the US are mesmerized whenever they hear about these things.

In Costa Rica, which follows a similar system, you can also buyout your notice period, which I think is fair for all sides.

Basically, if your notice period is 1 month, you can opt to pay the company 1 month's salary instead of having to work that time. If a company wants you gone, they pay you the equivalent wages for the notice period you were required to provide.

I think it's fair because both sides have agreed that $X amount is a fair exchange for the employees services. If those services cannot be replaced with $X then that's really the company's problem for taking advantage of the worker.

This buyout is in addition to any other severance package the worker might be receiving.

Anyways, I think it's pretty nifty as it allows the flexibility of leaving immediately, but also puts in some structure into the situation.

Consider contract employment. You agree to work for me for x months. In exchange, I agree to pay you $y. The contract outlines reasons that I can fire you and reasons that you can quit. And, if either party violates the terms of the agreement, we can go to court.

Well, to be exact, you can always go to court and dispute the termination is illegal.

Norway is standard 3 months notice. So most Norwegian developers would be unable to apply for e.g. a remote work position the US without first quitting their old job. No hedging your bets, which means that you're in effect trapped in the Norwegian labor market.

The flip side of this is that it's very difficult to get fired, even if you're not very competent.

On the employee side, I think the alternative is Two week's notice. Not exactly "slaves," but with some structure for how to resign.

In Europe, a month is typical for junior, professional jobs, with this increasing to three months for senior positions.

You can, of course, not turn up to work. But that might well make you "unreliable" if you ask for a reference later. But it's not a problem, since a new employer giving a three month notice period will expect you to be on one at present.

(The notice period during the first 6 or 12 months is often less, eg 2-4 weeks.)

In Europe, it is much higher than a month in many countries.

E.g. in Norway it is near impossible to give less than 3 months notice for permanent positions without providing additional compensation, no matter how junior the position, except for a typically 6 month trial period.

Before I'd moved to the UK, I'd never even seen an employment contract with less than 3 months.

In practice, shorter notice is often mutually agreed on with or without compensation when both sides agree it suits them, but it's very common to serve out the full 3 months.

This is true of my position in Germany as well, but from what I understand it rarely works out like that. Unless you are leaving a company at a critical juncture they likely don't want to keep an unmotivated employer there for three months. I can mutually agree with my employer to leave early if necessary.

In Norway you can mutually agree to leave early, but the employer can generally not force you to leave to the extent that there have been cases where people have insisted on coming to work against the employers will because the saw it as problematic for their professional reputation if they were forced to leave. Generally courts would tend to be sympathetic to employee concerns in cases like that unless there are very compelling reasons to keep them out (e.g. lets say they were dismissed after a violent attack on another employee or after being found stealing secrets fro the employers).

That's right. "Thank you for all your hard work. We no longer need your services".

Can you imagine the fallout for firing an employee for discussing salary after the recent NyTimes article? It'd be PR suicide.

Now, your relationship with your manager might be strained, but hey, that's life.

What article?

He is referring to a scathing article that was published on NYT late last year: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-w...

Sparked a lot of controversy. It kinda made me not want to work at Amazon ever. Although I hear that the Amazon experience varies depending on team and location.

I don't think employees in (most?) at-will states can be terminated for violating pay secrecy rules.

(I think the only state with a meaningful divergence from at-will is Montana).

A company does not have to give reason to fire in an at-will state. If they don't say 'we fired you because you were discussing pay', then there is no means to prove that was the case.

No. It's nowhere nearly that simple; you can say exactly the same thing about firing someone because they're black, or because they complained about sexual harassment.

From experience (as a bystander), what really happens in a case like this is:

* Employee is terminated

* Employee believes they were terminated for a reason forbidden by state or federal law

* Employee retains an employment lawyer, who drafts a letter demanding compensation for the improper termination, citing specific claims of (say) sexual harassment, complaints articulated to superiors and to HR, and subsequent retaliatory firing.

* Employee does not necessarily prove those claims; they need only demonstrate sufficient facts and allegations to ensure that a lawsuit would not easily be dismissed.

* Employer almost invariably settles.

The two cases where employers don't settle:

* Employer is stupid, and believes that they will pay less to litigate a wrongful termination case than to settle.

* Employer is smart, and has an HR department that keeps excruciatingly careful records of things like sexual harassment complaints, alleged racially-tinged comments, ratio of black/white hires to black/white applications, &c, and is prepared to make it clear to employee's lawyer that the case will cost too much to pursue.

If you've ever wondered why smart employers go fucking apeshit when people make racially-tinged jokes, or why it's not necessarily in your best interests to bring your concerns to HR unless your game plan is to bring a wrongful termination complaint, there you go.

This is also the reason why, despite at-will status in basically every locale where you can hire people, "Performance Improvement Plan" is a euphemism for "slow-motion termination". The purpose of a PIP is to establish in the written record that an employee is a non-performer, so that when they're terminated, the employer can present evidence that there were reasons other than retaliation or discrimination.

There is another reason for a PIP: the employer thinks the employee has been doing their job badly but could do acceptably well. The PIP is the last available tool to get them back up to speed.

Most of the time, when your employer truly thinks that about you, they'll work on your improvement informally. I don't like saying this, but I think most people's best interests are served by the assumption that a PIP signals their employer's transition from "working to retain them" to "working to manage them out of the company".

In the places I've used PIP's we used them mainly on staff we hoped to get to a level where we could promote them. We didn't waste time on proper PIP's for people we wanted to manage out - for those people HR simply mandated no raises ever. They'd leave or gradually get cheap enough for what they delivered to be worth having around.

EDIT: It's worth noting that in these cases the staff in question also had clear evidence in the form of signed reviews rating them that they were performing well. E.g. the guy I spent most time on a performance improvement plan for was ranked "exceeds expectations" in every criteria three years in a row while I was there, and was given 15%+ raises each of those years. This was in Europe, but for a US company.

On the off-chance they're doing that because your performance is abysmal and you haven't improved enough from their informal intervention, if in PIP you managed to finally recover your performance, maybe they will let you stay a bit longer.

Sure. It's not a guarantee. But personally, I think if you get a PIP, your best next move is to start applying for other jobs.

I agree.

I was the recipient of a PIP at my last job, went through the improvement process, and at the end of it, my manager signed off that my performance had returned to acceptable levels. I left about a month later.

So why am I not still there? Well, in the process of going through the PIP and asking myself how I let things get to that point, I realized that I was quite capable of excelling at everything I was supposed to be doing, but I just didn't give a shit anymore. My subconscious had already checked out of that job and was telling me it was time to move on.

When I realized that, my reaction was to start looking for another job while bringing my performance back to a good level. We quit on good terms: they "hired" me back to consult on some problems that came up after I left; I helped someone transition into my old position and I have a job better suited to my personality.

By the way, you don't have to sign the PIP. In fact, you shouldn't, because if you do, you're basically admitting that, yes, your performance is indeed low and needs improvement. And that goes in your employee file.

The right thing to do is to take the paperwork and say, "thanks, can you give me a few days to review this?" and stall as much as possible while looking for another job.

If you're feeling especially ballsy (and very confident in your ability to find another job quickly) you can say, "I'm not familiar with these at all, and my grandpa (R.I.P) always told me to get everything reviewed by an attorney before signing it, so that's what want to do. Is that OK?"

Exactly. "Thank you for letting me know well in advance that you intend to let me go."

The PIP is paperwork to establish that you aren't being canned for a non-discriminatory reason. Period.

There is no self-improvement.

Once the PIP appears, improvement has already failed. If your peers and manager can't fix your performance problem, his could some arbitrary HR paperwork process?

because sometimes "Oh fuck this is real" works.

Yes it can (& did).

> then there is no means to prove that was the case.

It's called court. No provided reason does not imply a lack of reason, and (say) discussing pay on a public forum would certainly be relevant evidence, if highly circumstantial.

See, that's why at-will is a terrible end run around worker's rights.

How so? At-will cuts both ways. In countries like Finland as well as France it can be quite time-consuming to switch jobs due to the fact you have to give three months or more notice.

That's leaving aside entirely the issue of how at will employment gives companies confidence to hire since they know they can shed employees if things go south.

If you are looking for an end run try binding arbitration, which allows employers to opt out of the legal system.

> How so?

Because the employer is at a massive advantage. For an employee having gaps in employment is a major thing when it comes to future employment, and can have massive effects on personal finances. For the employer, losing an employee a bit earlier is rarely a major issue (and if it is, they can generally convince people to stay a bit longer by throwing cash at the problem).

It is less relevant in high-paid positions where employees generally have the ability to put aside more of a cushion, but for lower paid employees it can be dramatic.

There's a reason the long notice periods in large parts of Europe are a direct result of decades of union pressure.

> That's leaving aside entirely the issue of how at will employment gives companies confidence to hire since they know they can shed employees if things go south.

If this was a real concern, then we ought to see a persistent problem of high unemployment across the countries with long notice periods, but to my knowledge we don't.

> That's leaving aside entirely the issue of how at will employment gives companies confidence to hire since they know they can shed employees if things go south.

Maybe for unskilled jobs, but the idea that an employer will hire/fire employees at the whims of the market, and there is zero cost to this process does not apply everywhere. There can be significant cost to on-boarding people depending on the industry / position.

The issue is not on-boarding costs. It's statutory requirements or political issues that prevent companies from doing layoffs to respond to changing economic conditions. Layoffs are not impossible in countries like France but they are very hard to do and very expensive. France has a dearth of innovative small companies for this reason because you can't hire aggressively to try to get risky ideas to market.

The effect is that by protecting existing jobs you lose out on future ones. Over time this pretty much cuts you out of any industry where there are waves of creative destruction.

Employers have far more power in the situation. As I said, it's basically an end run around every worker's rights law there is. There might be some small benefits for workers, but, on the whole, it is terrible for them.

see, rights for any group are always an end run around rights somebody else would naturally have.


That's even better. You have a lawyer write a letter that it's because of your alcohol/sexual orientation/etc, and you'll end up with a settlement 6/10 times.

But not any reason.

At the same time, firing right after talking about salary is extremely suspicious.

The law they cite only seems to cover employees sharing pay with each other (and anything else involved in collective bargaining), but I can't see that it clearly authorizes publicly sharing pay.

It does protect publicly sharing pay. I can't find the specific case at the moment, but there was a case where workers who were striking had printed up a leaflet with a bunch of salary information and distributed it to other workers and general public. The company tried to terminate those employees for violating company policy and sharing "confidential" information with people in the public, but the court found this was a violation of their collective bargaining rights.

It is a tricky issue though. I am sure that a powerful enough company that wanted to throw resources at it could make all sorts of arguments about whether certain parts of the information (e.g. bonuses, vesting schedules, options grants, stock price discounts, relocation provisions) are allowed to be classified as confidential even if basic salary is not.

As a lowly employee, your only hope would be if some national labor union or pro bono legal institute took on your case, otherwise you'd never be able to afford the legal costs to defend your NLRB collective bargaining rights.

With pay secrecy, it's unfortunately still mostly a "might makes right" situation, where rich companies can sort of make up their own rules and at the very least bankrupt you with legal nonsense even if they don't ultimately win. So few people have the fortitude to endure that kind of legal harassment that it implicitly still does censor our ability to talk about pay, even if it's illegal that this is so.

Before this thread gets too stale, I did find a legal paper from Duke, 2006, talking about how certain kinds of blogging are likely protected by NLRA, "When is employee blogging protected by section 7 of the NLRA?" By Katherine Scott, < http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=... >.

It looks like one of the main criteria is that it has to be a part of a "concerted action" to benefit a collection of employees, and this had historically been broadly interpreted in support of employees with a very liberal understanding of what a concerted action is.

This whole HN thread about it, for example, would almost surely qualify (I am not a lawyer, of course, so that's not a professional opinion and not a form of advice for anyone here), since it is explicitly focused on the whole class of Amazon employees and encourages employees to share for themselves.

I wish I could find the older case about the leaflets. IIRC it was from the late 1970s.

I worked for Amazon (Audible.com) from 2011 to 2014.

1 - Full-time freelance audiobook editor.


2 - Post-Production Associate - Level 6/4


35 shares of AMZN per year for three years

3 - ACX Production Coordinator - Level 7/5


Additional 20 shares of AMZN per year for three years

I am no longer ashamed to write these figures out to the public because I now make more than twice the salary that I was making before I left the company. I found that my salary at Amazon was always far too low given what I did, and my job titles were not at all representative of the job I actually did (for the 2nd and 3rd jobs they were almost entirely software engineering jobs.)

NOTE: Audible and Amazon have different job levels - Audible's job levels are two points higher than the same Amazon job level.

Full-time freelance audiobook editor? I didn't realize that was a position. What exactly does this entail and how did you get started with it?

I got my education in audio engineering at a leading music conservatory, so moving into audiobook editing was a pretty easy sell for me.

An audiobook is made in four basic steps:

1. A voice actor records the narration for the book.

2. The editor takes the raw audio recordings and edits these files for pacing, flow, and aesthetic flavor. The editor also makes note of any errors in the narration which require a re-record.

3. After making all re-records and inserting the new audio, the audio is listened through one more time. They call this a "QC pass."

4. Finally, the QC'd audio is mastered and encoded for delivery.

I was the owner of step two for all Audible Studios productions.

I really enjoy when the voice actors do different voices for different characters. I've always wondered how they do the recording for that.

Do they read all of the dialogue for one character in a big chunk, then move on to the dialogue of the next character? Or do they read through the book naturally and switch voices? I would think that the latter would be very difficult.

Great question! :)

Narrators actually do switch all character voices in real-time. This does not commonly cause issues that require recording to stop, as the narrators are usually very experienced professionals that come from the Broadway stage or from other voice acting professions (cartoons and the like.) I've also recorded and edited my fair share of bad voice actors (for instance, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich narrated his book 'Beyond Outrage' even though he was told that it really wasn't a good idea.)

for instance, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich narrated his book 'Beyond Outrage' even though he was told that it really wasn't a good idea.

That's a very interesting aside. I could see how a non-professional narrator would struggle with the demands of the process. Would it not still have made sense for someone like Mr. Reich from a personal branding point of view? He is, after all, a somewhat well-known public figure and paid public speaker.

It isn't just the demands of the process that was the issue with Mr. Reich. Rather, to be polite, the tone of his voice is not universally recognized as being pleasant.

Audiobooks are a very intimate media, and the wrong voice can really put off the experience. With training I think he could do it, but to just give a public speaker the task of narrating a book he/she wrote without such training is usually a recipe for disaster.

The editing on Audible books is amazing, so thank you!

If you don't mind my asking, when people want to do their own reading and are willing to get training, how are they trained?

I ask because (like every geek) I sometimes think about doing a podcast some day, plus I just want to be a better public speaker, and there seems to be a lack of options between free/cheap resources focused on basic skills (like Toastmasters) and intensive training for people who want to do voiceover for a living.

I listened to Bill Bryson's self-narrated (and truncated) version of A Short History of Nearly Everything. It was my first time listening to an author self-narrating their book. It's probably one of my favorite narrations (I've got over 120 audiobooks under my belt now). Bryson set the bar pretty high.

Then I listened to Leonard Mlodinow's "The Upright Thinkers"; Oh god. Euclid's Window by Mlodinow was absolutely fantastic, and it was narrated by the slightly pompous-sounding -- but fitting -- Robert Blumenfield. Leonard had a somewhat slow, drawling voice, and he often stumbled over words. This was pretty disappointing because he seems like such a smart dude. He just shouldn't narrate his own books :)

The gold standard for this is Douglas Adams' readings of the HHGTG books. He was actually a really good narrator. I suppose his BBC Radio experience helped.

Simple question on a similar topic: how "real-time" is the source audio that you work with? I always imagined that voice actors would have arbitrary pauses between the delivery of every line, and it'd be the editor's job to tighten all of those up.

Wow. I love how curious folks are here about audiobook production! :)

The pauses between lines/phrases were often tightened up, yes, by pasting room tone over the pauses. This way, the near-silence of the room tone is consistent throughout each pause, which makes the narration easier to comprehend and allows the listener greater immersion into the experience.

The exact duration of room tone impacts the pacing of the narration. This is, in a way, the audiobook editor's "art." They can't over-edit because it would ruin the narrator's dramatic delivery - they need to be able to edit within the stylistic flow of the narrator. At the same time, if they are not careful enough to make the resulting delivery consistent, then the extraneous audio may distract listeners and lead to a lower quality result. That balance is acquired with experience.

The reason this all happens, really, is to ensure a clean "noise floor" - the background sounds heard in addition to the narrator's voice. The sound of the room and the gear, if you will. The narrators are such pros (my experience) - there are many who I could get away with not editing at all, if it weren't for the incredible need for near-silence throughout the entire finished production.

Hey what software are you using for this?

I was thinking I really wish there was a good app where you can listen to audio articles. It is partly solved in iOS as you can speak selected text, but problem is you cannot select all text easily and you don't wanna mess with it while driving.

Was wondering what would be a great UI for the transcriber and whether you could create p2p network to share the transcriptions.

The audiobook editors at Audible used SoundForge. I started out on SoundForge, but I led a real charge to get the department to switch to Wavelab. I was able to get Audible to buy me a license for Wavelab and I never really got anyone else to switch, but it made me super efficient. At that point though I was heading into a more dev role at the company so I was already drifting away from audiobook editing at that point.

Wavelab is so good – it's a shame it's not more commonly used.

I've thought about this too, but I'm not sure I've got the patience to listen to articles read in TTS voice.

Anyway, on iOS if you enable voiceover you can read the entire screen by swiping down from the top with two fingers (I think - check the Apple website for accessibility information if not!)

You have to use the Speech from accessibility menu, and turn Speak Screen on.

Another possibility i just realised is the possibility to pass texts from reader mode into 3rd party text-to-speech application. Will have to research some of them.

That's really interesting! And it also sounds really exhausting given the amount of material in a typical book. Thanks for sharing.

No problem :)

Honestly, though, it was a great job. It never felt exhausting. Not only was the pay rather good for a 21 year old fresh out of university - the job was really fun. I got to read medium-to-high quality novels and create the audiobook experience.

Later, I got to witness Audible's rise into the mainstream and evangelized producing audiobooks for ACX [1], bringing it to a new generation of actors and engineers.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHmtV1Pe1hA

I wish you'd blog or do an AMA or something; your responses in this thread are fascinating.

(I discovered a couple years ago that I really like audiobooks.)

If you don't mind me asking, how were you compensated for this? What was the model?

I worked 40hrs per week in the Audible HQ. I was paid at the rate listed above - $30/hr. So, I walked out of Audible's offices on Friday with a $1200 check in my hands. This is how it worked until Audible was sued for not providing health insurance benefits, and lost the case. So they had to hire us as full-time employees, and didn't allow two out of 8 to continue to work with us as they didn't "make the cut." (They both were African American women.)


We've banned this account for breaking the HN guidelines.

Microsoft employee, not Amazon, but these sort of discussions absolutely need to happen and I'd like to do my part.

Salary: $115k base, no regular bonus or stock, $50k offer in stock over 4 years if I remember correctly although I don't know offhand how many units that came out to.

Level: SWE1 (60 internally)

Tenure: 2 years internally, 7 in industry

Yearly pay increase: Averaged ~6k/y thus far.

Internal candidates have NO leverage. The only way to get a promo is to be in the right place at the right time, and have both high visibility and a manager who has proper political influence and will fight for you. If you want a salary boost, leave and come back a year or so later. "Performance" reviews, accomplishments, hours put in, is all moot unless you have the above, in which case it's a nice bit of ammo if your skip level has a lot of competition for his promo budget, but proper political clout can likely force through a promo without. (To add another tidbit that I've always wanted to clear up anonymously: Stack ranking absolutely still exists, if not in a formal process but as a necessity from how budgets are assigned and promos divvied up.)

I'm SDE II an earn just a little more base than you ($117K). Judging by conversations with team members about which tax brackets we fall in and how much we save/invest per year, I'm fairly sure I'm underpaid for my level.

There's a college hire PM in my team (not PM II, so he's either 59 or 60) who's single and in the 33% bracket. That means he's making at least $189K a year.

Edit: I should add, my PM coworker could be wrong about his tax bracket. I can't fathom how they would offer him that much in base salary + stock. But he did mention being in the 33% bracket.

I've seen some outliers, but mostly in terms of promotion velocity. I assume you know about the "bench program"? (Microsoft Fight Club) That could potentially explain it.

I really want to empathize with your underpaid for level statement, I certainly have a pile of stories, I'm just hesitant to tell them because they're rather identifying to anyone who knows me, so you'll have to trust when I say "A good number of us have gotten the short end of one stick or another, often beurocratic or political"

What's the "bench program"?

An internal "High Potential" program in which candidates get faster promo tracks, bigger promos, face to face access to higher level execs, and other perks. They are not supposed to talk about this program, as well, and it is invite only.

I had never heard of that. I'm fairly sure my team has two people in the "club". Both are quite young and are already principals.

It's really a shame how things like that that are handled, from where I stand. Turns it into the closest parallel to the cool kids table that used to exist in highschool that I've seen in the decades since then.

Also, if you're a 2 and only at a slightly higher base than I am, you're "somewhat on track" from the conversations I've had, as far as pay per level for us normals :) That being said, I really botched my negotiation when coming in and didn't push my position, which left me coming in at a 59 from an industry position with greater responsibility, and role seems almost harder to change than pay from what I've seen.

if it wasn't explicitly tied to his salary, he could also have income independent of his tenure there, either earned or inherited. it does happen.

What does 59/60 mean?

Internal level. 59 and 60 are SDE I, SDET I and PM I.

The most important thing you can do for your career is:

* Accept a job somewhere

* Get promoted (doesn't matter how)

* let yourself get hired away from your current company

Getting hired away from your current company is the only way to get a fair raise based on increased experience. Companies never give substantial raises to current employees.

This simply isn't true. I received a >$30,000 raise at one of my previous employers after they realized that I was being grossly underpaid for the work I was doing. Granted, I had to bring my managers' attention to this, but they were understanding & did right by me.

Your anecdote is the exception to the rule. I've been in the industry for 20 years and can affirm the rule: you don't get raises from your current employer. You get raises by changing employers.

I have overseen 25-30% increases for developers as part of a normal salary review process as recognition that their experience at the current company had grown them in to more senior developers.

No negotiation, no threats to leave, they weren't aware until we gave them the cash.

Which while cool, is not the norm. Anecdotes don't counter that.

Yeah, but the claim was:

> Companies never give substantial raises to current employees.

and a single counterexample is enough to counter it.

If you're being super pedantic, sure, but... as far as the typical developer/employee is concerned, it's not relevant.

Not to mention there seem to be several counter-examples in this thread

Not true, I pointed it out to my employer and they were like "oh dang, can't loose you, you get that raise" after I had already gotten a 17% raise.

I second his anecdote. Have received large raises twice, but had to negotiate hard for it, with offers from outside in hand.

Ah, the outside offer is an absolute game changer, which IMO puts it in the same league as actually changing jobs. Often you have to show that you are willing and able to leave for a much better salary to actually get the much better salary.

If you are just internally lobbying for a salary increase at your existing employer, regardless of how successful you may be, how much revenue you are bringing in, etc. I would say at the vast majority of companies you will not see nearly the same raise as either presenting a compelling outside offer, or actually taking an outside offer.

Another way of thinking of it is that a company cannot pay their employees an arbitrary amount, it has to be justified up the chain, and usually that justification is based on "grades" or "scales" of some kind or another. Most of these scales will include a fixed range for annual raises. By bringing an outside offer, you are providing the necessary documentation that your manager, HR, all the way up the chain is required to actually sign off on the raise. The outside offer means no one is sticking their neck out to justify an out-of-spec raise, or claim someone was being previously underpaid, it's just a simple equation -- the employee has an offer, and the company can make a counter-offer or not.

Of course the trick is if they decline to counter, or counter low, you have to consider if you then leave, or stay? You also probably can't come back year after year with new outside offers, it's a trick you can only turn to so often.

My opinion only, but if I had to bring an outside offer to get an inside raise, I'd take the offer. "We'll pay everyone what we can get away with, except the few who we need for the moment that make a stink." But then, I make too big a deal about personal relationships, and I forget that it's just bidness.

That said, I did get a raise once with an outside offer. But I left just inside a year later.

I agree and it can be personally very distressing when you know you are delivering tremendous value and are not getting nearly the financial reward for the value you bring.... and yet can't seem to convince the bosses to put up!

That's why I look at it now as a system that just needs the outside data point in order to properly process the request. It's not a person holding back the raise, more often the process which the outside offer fixes.

If there was such a thing as an "employee appraisal" service maybe you could do it without actually going to interview, which would be pretty cool!

Pretty much my experience too. My dad worked at one job for nearly 25 years of his life and I learned a couple years ago that I already make over twice what he did by the time he retired.

My dad was a little like Al Bundy though, he never really sought to improve himself like I do constantly and I'm sure almost everyone here does too.

I think the industry still has a lot of managers who think in terms of running a shoe store with employees that are improving themselves at a rapid pace.

Al Bundy invented a shoe with a built-in sock.

A previous employer of mine actually had a policy of never matching offers from other employers. I'm no longer there.

Depends who you are. I've always been ranked in the top tier of employees wherever I've worked, and worked my ass off to make myself indispensable. I've gotten multiple 15-20% raises, and even 30% bonuses without having to jump ship. Make sure you work on visible projects (front office, not back office), and that your managers are fearful of losing you because you're crucial.

Yep, if it's technical work that requires a large amount of learning and investment in employees, the company will typically move mountains to keep you if you are good.

I've experienced the same, but it doesn't mean the general rule is untrue. More specifically, if you are making market salary then the greatest raise will come from switching companies. If that's not true and your current employer will give you a substantial increase, then by definition you are not making market salary; the raise simply corrects your salary to the level they would have paid for a person of your experience.

Also had the same exact bump in salary while working for a media company after my managers manager realized my pay grade. However I do agree this is the exception to the rule.

Mind sharing what company this is? I'm 100% sure if I leave to go somewhere else and come back, I'll still make a lot more than sticking around. This is the unfortunate reality.

That was at MLB Advanced Media. Looking back I think MLBAM was the most solid employer I'd ever worked for.

Not true at all. You just need to find a company that values you and your work.

Our company intentionally hires juniors so that we can groom them as they grow. I was one of those juniors < 5 years ago and I've increased my salary > 100%.

You can't just dismiss their experience based on your experience. I, for one, have also found it to be very true, and I think most people would agree (insofar as it seems to be a bit of a meme).

The OP said Getting hired away from your current company is the _only_ way to get a fair raise (emphasis mine)

A single counter example is sufficient evidence to disprove such a universal claim.

Definitely not true, i have doubled my salary at my current employer through a combination of negotiation and normal pay raises. I never explicitly threatened to walk out, but i did point out when i was substantially below market rate, and that was enough.

I do think that overall switching employers makes it easier to get a raise, because a current employer is more likely to know your true market rate making it harder to convince them to pay you above that, or even at that rate (with them figuring you won't leave for a small difference).

You do have to be careful not to become a 'job hopper'. When i see a resume where somebody never stayed somewhere more than 18 months i'll figure we won't be any different and am less inclined to give a thumbs up to HR if that person needs a sizeable training investment from my part.

100% agree with you. I've been able to get 30-40% raises YoY by job hopping roughly every 1.5 years. It's enough time to get experience somewhere, but not enough to become complacent. YMMV

Do you move every 1.5 years? that must be fun ...

Actually I've moved every year for the last 9 years. Definitely can get tiring. The last 2 were cross-country!

Didn't that hurt your social relationships somewhat?

As normal, the true friends stay and the situational ones fall away.

There are plenty of job markets that support getting a new job without moving.

I've gone from making 65k to 90k at the same company in the past two years. Though someone trying to poach me from another team in the company probably contributed to that.

Same here. Always moved away and up, usually in the 20% range. Thus the importance of always being working on a portable skill.

yep. job hopping is the best way to increase pay. though top 10% can usually negotiate with current employer. everyone else should job hop.

I've been at Amazon for a bit over 5 years with 12 years total. Joined with about 7 years of prior experience. From the other post I see I did a very poor job of negotiating when I first joined with my experience. I've always saved the stock and considered it more retirement savings than spending cash.

Hired: 2011

- Level: SDE I (4)

- Location: San Francisco

- Salary: $96k base, $20k bonus, relocation, ~160 stock over 4 years.

- Average yearly total comp: ~ $150k

Promoted: 2013

- Level: SDE II (5)

- Location: San Francisco

- Salary: $110k base, 168 stock

- Average yearly total comp: ~ $170k

Relocated: 2015

- Level: SDE II (5)

- Location: Seattle

- Salary: $125 base, ~160 stock, relocation

- Average yearly total comp: ~ $190k

Wow, you got a bump in 2015 and went somewhere with lower cost of living (plus no state income tax). That's definitely a win-win.

Indeed big increase in revenue compared with cost of living. I'm surprised that you've decided to move to Seattle instead of switching to another company in SF. Can you please share the reasons why?

This is perfect timing as Google Seattle is hiring around 1000 devs and promotions are being revealed in April.

I used a throwaway account, but I'm sure I'm identifiable by this information if my manager sees this. I'm not too concerned. I think it's in Amazon's and the employees' best interest for this stuff to be transparent. Besides that, while I like my work, I can easily get an offer from Google, Facebook or pretty much anywhere else.

Position: SysDE 2 in AWS Tenure: 1.5 years Job Level: 5 Base: $120000 Stock: 140 RSU (granted at signing, almost none vested) Bonus: $20000 + relocation at signing, $15000 will come after 2 years Gender: M Native English: yes

I was hired at L4 as SE 1, moved to SE 2/L5 after a year, and now SysDE 2. There was no raise for SE2->SysDE2.

> 140 RSU (granted at signing, almost none vested)

Is it still the ridiculous 5-10% year 1, 5-10% year 2, and then the rest spread out over years 3-4?

Yes, it's something like 5% at 1st anniversary, 15% at 2nd anniversary, then 20% every 6 months over the next two years.

Why is it so ridiculous? Isn't it trying to serve as a retention incentive?

Obviously it can back-fire on the company. If the share price drops a lot then people that were planning on staying till the 6 monthly vesting may quit.

From what I heard from people who worked at Amazon during the especially rocky years, their share compensation is tied to a monetary value - if the share value tanks significantly, they'll issue shares to compensate. If you're into gambling, this can be a -very- good thing considering Amazon has gone on to double in value over very short time periods historically. Otherwise, its a fair concession on Amazon's part

Ex amazonian here, but in Ireland, I left (thankfully) at the end of 2015.

I was a systems engineer in Dublin and the only significant payraise I got was after I left the company for 4 months to then rejoin, my salary was bumped up 12k euros, for a total of 62k/yr, with 150 shares over 4 years (sorry I do not remember the vesting scheme).

The HR department in AMZN has the tendency to screw internal employees upon promotion. The way it was unofficially explained to me by a low-level buddy in HR is that there are salary ranges for each corporate level, and during a promotion you get just over the lower bound of the salary range for your new corp level, that's the policy, that's what happens.

New hires instead have negotiation margin and, while the hiring manager can't offer a salary higher than the approved salary range, more often than not the offer will end up in the upper bound of the range, to lure the candidate in.

Furthermore, there are huge differences between salary ranges in job roles, a Systems Engineer will always be paid 15 to 30% less than a Software Development Engineer at the same level, despite the fact that the skills and duties are not that much different, why? Again unofficially "because Amazon values more people that write software". Except the fact that in my ex-team, we all wrote software and the expectations were all the same regardless the job title (there was however a difference between levels).

So yeah, as internal promotion you have absolutely NO leverage regarding salary, if you want a salary increase and your organization is hungry for people but is having trouble in hiring (like it happens frequently in Dublin where the job market is quite competitive), I'd suggest you start looking around for a new job, accept the offer and then come back to your same team 4 months later. If you leave the company for less than 6 months and your position hasn't been filled in the meantime, the hiring manager is able to extend an offer without sending you through an interview loop, you'll get your old job back but with a nice pile of money on top.

I think it's true that the different engineering roles do similar work but the SDEs are paid better. This is why most people I know (including myself) who started as non-SDEs chose to first convince their manager to switch job roles.

Personally, this netted me a 10% base pay increase. More counting the performance stock bonus that came with the change.

In case any students are curious how much Amazon in Dublin offers (Undergraduate) students. I was offered: €25000.

Seems dickish toward the company you work at for 4 months though.

Were your offices by that famous Gaol? I thought it was interesting seeing a mix of the old and new so close together.

I was speaking with another company, but unforeseen family matters took precedence and I ended up not taking the job there. Another ex amazonian did accept an offer from the same company I was speaking with and in hindsight it was for the best, it did not work out exactly smoothly form him so...

And yes, the office was exacly in front of the Kilmainham Gaol, unfortunately the office was quite depressing, so much so that it was an inside joke that the Amazon office was 21st century Gaol.

Luckily they moved in a much better place now.

That's pretty harsh for not knowing any of the circumstances.

Who said he was at another company for those four months? And who's to say the company didn't just fold in that time or earn someone walking out on them?

> a Systems Engineer will always be paid 15 to 30% less than a Software Development Engineer at the same level, despite the fact that the skills and duties are not that much different, why?

In the past couple of months this was fixed by the creation of a new role called 'Systems Development Engineer'.

Pretty sure I know who this is and I'm happy to see you back in the role you deserved. Was your short leave to a German startup by any chance?

Admittedly I'm American and I've never worked for Amazon, so my situation might be different than yours.

But what? Returning to the employer you quit from seems like a terrible idea. If it was years later, maybe you could explain it away with interview BS like "changing direction" or "finding your place."

But months later makes you not much better than the guy who shows his boss an offer from another company to negotiate a raise. It might work in the short term, but then you're branded as a flight risk. The next time they need to lay someone off (or if you slip up and they have a legitimate reason to fire you) you'd be high up on their list of disposable employees, perhaps moreso because you're more expensive than you were before.

People leaving and rejoining Amazon is supercommon. That includes Principals. It feels like most people who have been at the company for 8+ years have been out of the company for some of the period. And you can even get the colored badge for tenure from non-consecutive employment.

Maybe in the past, but not in the future. People are much more aware of Amazon's "peculiar ways" thanks to the media. People in Seattle have far, far more options these days.

IMHO you're being underpaid quite a bit with that base salary in the Seattle area. Time to start interviewing at Microsoft, Google, etc. Those companies usually start fresh out of college developers with a base pay a bit over $100k, then bonuses, stock awards, etc. on top.

Are you taking stock into consideration? At current price, 104 shares of AMZN equals $57,408 which puts my total 2016 pay at $130,408.

Yeah that helps, but then the question is do you really want to work somewhere that directly ties your compensation to the company's share price? If Amazon has a few bad quarters and you lose 20% of your yearly income that's a major deal. In Seattle you probably want to be making around $120-160k/yr to live a solid middle class life, afford a house, etc. I would still look around at MS, Google, etc. where they give you more in cash compensation and less with the stock lottery ticket. Find a place that gives you around that as base pay, then all the bonuses etc. are just savings for house, retirement, toys, college, etc.

I find tying my income to stock highly motivating :)

Maybe in a small company, where your efforts can have a direct, meaningful impact on the company's net worth. For a company as large as Amazon, though... there's so much going on, and so much of it completely unrelated to your personal work, that I feel like it'd be kind of meaningless unless you were in a really high-level management position.

Yup, and it's even worse than that, because the stock price also depends on things beyond the scope of your company entirely.

Your compensation can fluctuate based on what Janet Yellen says in a speech.

I'll have to disagree with your exception as well. Data has shown that CEOs at giant corps have no impact on how things go down. It comes back to your statement of how much is going on. If all the goings on in the corp mesh perfectly with the goings on outside, success happens. A single human CEO can neither be credited for success nor blamed for failure in these cases.

I agree with your premise, but don't give too much credit to "the high level management". Most of them are groping in the dark.

You realize you have approximately 0 effect on the stock price, right? Why would this be motivating to a rational person?

If you're an executive pulling in over $500k, sure stock should absolutely be compensation and motivation. If you're rank and file and need $120k/yr to even afford to live, have kids, save for retirement, etc. in the area, then no stock should absolutely not be the primary means of compensation.

The best argument I've heard on this front is about diversifying risk. If your company tanks and you're rank and file, you're getting laid off and your stock holdings are tanking. Best to not be doubly exposed to the company's risk profile.

That's why I have autosale set up for my stock.

I don't see why it would be more motivating than just getting the current cash value of the stock, in a situation like Amazon's where you _maybe do, maybe don't_ really influence the stock price. Are you saying you write such influential code that you think you will manage to tip things in your favor on such a grand scale?

You get stock annually? Otherwise, you have to vest that over several years, severely reducing your annual. AND you're locked in for years just to cash out at maximum value.

Unless you get that kind of equity yearly—which is crazy, and brings up dilution questions—you're better off taking a higher salary and investing as much as possible.

But—adding X market value for equity vesting over Y years with 40% capital gains tax for the first 12 months of holding it leads to a 2016 pay of.... just your salary.

Oh, and you get equity every else in addition to that nice pay, and they don't strap your pager to your face.

Amazon's compensation model leans heavily on stock and tops out in the mid 100Ks for all job levels. It's not uncommon for senior roles to get more compensation from stock than salary, and at higher levels the majority of the compensation is in stock. For the majority of employees, once compensation RSUs kick in, vesting occurs on May 15th and November 15th. For L7 (IIRC) and higher, vesting occurs quarterly.

The annual and midyear review process takes this into account and attempts equalize total compensation depending on the value of the stock (basically, you want the stock to be down when the price is used to calculate your total comp at the end of January).

When I was there, it was somewhat difficult to recruit some higher level roles because they might only be offered $120-$150K salary and then 200 or so RSUs over the course of the first year. That doesn't always look as enticing to someone as $250K salary.

>>You get stock annually?

At my annual review last year I received more stock along with a pay increase. So, thus far, yes.

>>But—adding X market value for equity vesting over Y years with 40% capital gains tax for the first 12 months of holding it leads to a 2016 pay of.... just your salary.

Can you elaborate on this? I'm not following.

>>Oh, and you get equity every else in addition to that nice pay, and they don't strap your pager to your face.

What do you suggest I do?

> Can you elaborate on this? I'm not following.

Well, if you do get more stock it complicates things—but you have to distribute out the pay out over the vesting period. In other words, collecting the entire value of the equity into one pay period implies you'll get the same amount of money the next pay period—which is only true if you get that amount of equity annually. It sounds like this may be a possibility

Furthermore, it assumes you'll be at the company for the entire vesting period. Which you might not want to do.

Additionally, you can't cash out the equity you DO get in 2016 unless you want the government to take a sweet 40% off the top.

> What do you suggest I do?

Don't wait for the equity to vest fully, work hard for some good recommendations, and get out of that sweat shop. Amazon rewards ambitious workaholics. Everyone I've talked to who USED to work there (key point being these people left) has issues balancing work, pay, and a life.

To be clear—I'm not arguing anything but that other companies will use you a little more compassionately, and you might make a little more cash in the meantime. You're still doing very well for yourself, Amazon is far from the worst place to work, and you might be very happy there.

> At my annual review last year I received more stock along with a pay increase. So, thus far, yes.

Unless you do spectacularly poorly, you can expect that to continue

It's pretty interesting that so much of your compensation is in stock. After 2 years at MSFT and becoming a PM II, I was making ~$145k annually but $115k of that was in salary and $30k in stock. I think that's why everyone is surprised when they see the $70k.

Do they give you the stock as a bonus at the end of the year, or are you promised it at the beginning and it gets doled out during the year? If it's the former, be careful that they don't decide retroactively that you had a bad year and decide to cut your total compensation almost in half!

The stock is initially granted in the form of Restricted Stock Units (RSUs). RSUs vest according to a schedule. It looks roughly like this:

5% the first year

15% the second year

20% every six months thereafter

Compensation at Amazon typically is a combination of a base salary, a signing bonus (distributed over time), and a stock grant. The package is structured in such a way that the employee's total pay stays consistent over time, even though the pay comes in different forms. New hires will have their signing bonus structured over the first two years, and then it ends. At that point, the more significant stock vests begin to occur at six month intervals, so the total pay amount stays relatively the same after the bonus ends.

Wow that fucking sucks.

The standard (at GOOG & others) is:

25% on year 1 2.08 & 1/3rd every month thereafter (75% vested equally over the next 36 months)

Furthermore, there are other grants that vest quarterly for the first 18 months of employment (in addition to the normal 4 year).

Look, I used to work at Amazon. They are the worst paying big company out there. Complete with totally shitty vesting plans. My first vesting with Amazon was over 5 years. Yup, they really took advantage of us new grads.

Your definition of sucks is pretty skewed.

Anybody earning 6 figures is in the top few percentiles of society, especially if you are a new grad!

You are obviously free to take advantage of your employability but just remember that you pretty much are the 1% before saying that it sucks. :)

No, he's right, you just misread.

He is saying that Amazon's RSU vest schedule sucks compared to the standard used by Google and others. His income level has nothing to do with anything about that.

Nah, the stock goes up enough that they say you got a 10% raise. Meanwhile the money you actually get in your pocket has dropped by more than 10%.

Fair enough I guess, but I am not a fan.

Microsoft annual bonuses used to be a lot more stock and less cash, but in 2011 they shifted towards the current model of cash++, because the stock was low and nobody wanted it. (At the same time they did an across-the-board 10% raise - from memory, both these moves were made because Amazon Google Facebook were becoming much more serious competitors for Seattle employees. http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2011/04/microsofts-new-review-a...)

Doesn't matter, my friend who got an offer from Amazon fresh out of school back in 2008 was offered 80k a year. These days total comp for senior software engineers at Amazon is > 200k a year total.

Yes, back when I graduated (with a prior internship at a big tech company) my amazon offer was over 100k, similar sign-on bonus, 150k stock.

I ended up not accepting that offer because another company gave me a more interesting role. Also their stock vesting schedule is horrible (most of the money comes in year 4), and many people find amazon to be soul-sucking. You're likely to leave at the 2 year mark, thus losing out on most of the stock anyways. 4 years is a long time to be at Amazon (though if you're the right mix of "in-it-to-win-it" and "workaholic" you might thrive there)

Apple, Google, and Amazon will all make similar offers.

My initial offer from Google was $150k base, ~15% holiday bonus, and came with >$100k in stock vesting over four years, and they give another four-year stock grant each year. I have 7 years of industry experience and I interview well.

What year was this offer given to you? Also, was your 7 years of experience before you got the Google offer? Was all of the experience in US?

Are you deducting the taxes from that stock compensation?

No. I am also not deducting taxes from the part of my salary that comes in the form of base pay.

Unless you say otherwise, Morgan Stanley will deduct it for you, and IIRC, the don't take your exemptions into account - just 30% off the top. You get to decide if you want to take the tax liability or get the refund (assuming you're effective tax rate is not actually 30%).

Only on HN are these incredible compensation packages considered "underpaid".

In the real world (outside FaceGoogAmaWallstreet), the story for developers is quite different.

>>Only on HN are these incredible compensation packages considered "underpaid".

"Underpaid" and "overpaid" are relative terms. If you currently earn less than what you can expect to receive elsewhere for the same work, you are underpaid.

>>In the real world (outside FaceGoogAmaWallstreet), the story for developers is quite different.

Interestingly enough, this is precisely the sort of thing that this very thread is attempting to challenge. Have you noticed how many "wow I am seriously underpaid" comments have been posted?

All of this reminds me of a quote by Michael Corleone in The Godfather:

Never be embarrassed by your wealth. This recent contempt for money is still another trick of the rich to keep the poor without it.

In general I'd agree with you, but a ~$70k salary really is not that high for a decent developer with two years of experience, even with a signing bonus and stock options. I'm not in a major tech hub.

Keep in mind also that Amazon is not some tiny startup strapped for cash. It's a big player in the industry and their hiring standards are rigorous.

Amazon offers RSUs, not stock options. Once they vest, they are yours without having had to purchase them.

$70k is severely underpaid for final comp. The OP said in a follow up comment that his total comp is close to $130k which is a very good wage.

Good wage, yes. But remember the median price of a home in Seattle is well over $500k. You're looking at something at least $600-700k+ to be in an area without a crazy commute or other problems. Most people I know that are just starting a family have homes over $1M. $130k doesn't go super far when housing is that expensive.

Agreed, that's way under market. At Intuit's San Diego office in 2013, we were hiring college graduate software engineers for $75k base. Add another 15-20% for total comp (bonus, RSU, ESPP).

Outside of the actual software industry, sure. But rule #1 of getting paid well as a developer is to work for a software company.

It's not just the big few who pay really well. There are whole constellations of medium to small software companies you've never heard of that pay very well. The differentiator is that they see software as a strategic asset, not just a cost of doing business.

> In the real world (outside FaceGoogAmaWallstreet), the story for developers is quite different.

This package would be underpaid for pretty much any pure tech company on a coast.

70k salary is junior money in St.Louis. Absolutely average senior devs make 100-120. Good ones do long term consulting, and get closer to the 200k range. The best I have seen for a local company is about 250k a year, for truly shiny people.

Then I'm doing something seriously wrong, because I have been an engineer in Dallas for fourteen years (eight writing software full-time) and I have never made over $93k. Never had stock or a meaningful bonus, either.

Start interviewing and don't be afraid to push for double your current salary, or more. Maybe time to think about moving to a coast too.

On a related note, someone at Google started a spreadsheet about a year ago where people could post (anonymously or not) their salary and a few more interesting datapoints (gender, age, location, etc.) I'm not sure whether the spreadsheet did anything to highlight gender/ethnicity/visa-status disparities (the biggest disparities I remember seeing were based on location, but that's understandable) but it was a great tool to start a conversation about increased transparency in salaries.

I have to praise Google for the way the situation was handled: the company didn't force the spreadsheet to be taken down (in fact, it's still up as I write this), nobody that I know of was fired for it and it generated a healthy amount of internal discussion. After hearing some stories from the Amazon counter part, I wouldn't expect the reaction to be the same.

> I have to praise Google for the way the situation was handled: the company didn't force the spreadsheet to be taken down (in fact, it's still up as I write this), nobody that I know of was fired for it and it generated a healthy amount of internal discussion. After hearing some stories from the Amazon counter part, I wouldn't expect the reaction to be the same.

Taking action against this would've been a violation of US labor law with steep penalties.

Well you know how that goes. It's not like that has stopped companies from firing people in the past. This is an "at will" employment state, so if they really wanted to fire people they could've made any excuse up and fire them. Actually, they wouldn't even need to make anything up.

I wouldn't praise Google for that, considering they actively participated in suppressing tech workers' wages:


Can't I praise one thing without necessarily agreeing with another?

I'm not saying Google is this shining company without a single flaw, but I'm definitely impressed with the way they seem to take their employees as adults that have strong opinions that need to be addressed.

Far from trying to apologize for anyone related to that lawsuit, but in my opinion what happened was a set of people thought they could get away with certain stuff because "everyone in the industry is doing it". Kind of the same with making people sign NDAs which are, for all practical purposes, unenforceable in California. They tried it, got tested in court, failed miserably. Good for us, bad for them.

No, they did not fail at all - far from it. They collectively paid only a $400M settlement, which is likely only a small fraction of how much they got out of the scheme.

> I have to praise Google for the way the situation was handled

The original creator of the spreadsheet claimed that she was retaliated against in the form of her manager rejecting peer bonuses sent to her.

IIRC other Googlers chimed in on HN and said that it was normal practice that managers wouldn't allow someone to get multiple peer bonuses for the same piece of work.

And this is, in fact, both true and one of the few pieces of guidance around peer bonuses. The other is that you're not allowed to peer bonus someone who peer bonused you [in the same quarter], for obvious reasons.

This is for a new grad in 2014.

* Area: Seattle, WA

* Position: SDE

* Base Pay: $90k

* Signing Bonus: $20k immediately, then $17k paid in 12 monthly installments after you reach 1yr in employment.

* Stock Units: $53k (5% at 1yr mark, 15% at 2yr mark, then 20% every 6 months from then on) Note: this vesting schedule is AWFUL.

Needless to say, I rejected this offer and did not work for them. Best decision I ever made.

I think the vesting schedule is back loaded because they give you a pretty large sign on bonus in the first two years.

Your total comp in year one would have been 112.6k which seems about right. The stock price doubled last year, so you would have been looking at at least 125k in year two.

Given the competition, I don't think the sign-on bonus is that large. It only barely makes up for the difference in salary that you can get from a competitor.

E.g you can easily pull $100k to $110k in base pay from similar companies out of school (think LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, Uber). Even well respected startups pay more than $90k (and that's not including any additional bonuses they will surly pay)

What did you take instead?

Revealing that would reveal my identity so I can't say the company name.

I ended up going to a mid sized startup in SF (50-100 people) that was very very well funded and had a ton of potential along with one of the best teams I've seen. I'm still there and love every second of it and am being given amazing opportunities that I know I wouldn't have gotten at Amazon.

Ironically I got paid more on every single vector (base pay, equity, relocation, sane vesting schedule) from this startup than from Amazon. Just goes to show...

To be fair, SF is significantly more expensive to live in than Seattle. MSFT gives something like a blanket ~10% higher offer to SV-area employees for this reason.

Fair point! Though even Microsoft in Seattle pays $100k (source: former roommate).

While this doesn't have as much information as you listed, Glass Door (https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/index.htm) has information on job title/salaries at many companies. It's a "share your info and we'll let you see ours" set of rules, so be prepared to make a profile.

Funny that you mention this, because the character limit forced me to cut this out:

Sites like Glassdoor are useful, but what they don't provide is company-specific detail. I can view Amazon's average SDE salary, but is that figure for a job level 4 or job level 5? (At Amazon, pay is based on job levels. Two people can hold the same position but have different job levels. For example, Area Managers who are promoted from hourly positions start at level 4, but new hire AMs come in at L5).

Other things Glassdoor can't provide:

-Pay increase percentages for internal promotions

-Pay increases and stock award amounts for annual performance reviews based on performance grade

-Compensation data broken down by race, national origin, native language, etc.

-Differences in pay for positions based on team, department, geographic location, etc.

While it doesn't help for all of that, looking at H1B data on a site like http://visadoor.com/ helps fill out some of the picture. You can see specific numbers instead of just ranges while also adding some context about national origin.

Those are also deflated prices compared to americans with equivalent education and skills, though. Which is the entire point of the H1B.

What I don't like about that is most of the entries will be old. I'd love if it had a way to show me only information from the past year.

Given that compensation in the Valley can go up 10% a year, and a significant portion can come from stock and bonus, I find data on GlassDoor to be fairly useless. The h1b database is a good source on base pay, but doesn't show stock and bonus.

I created a throwaway just to pretend my salary isn't public record.

Location : Eugene, OR.

Position: Assistant Professor of Mathematics Tenure: 3 years Base pay (9 month) $72,000 in 2013, increased to about $75,000 in 2016. (minus union dues). Will increase to $82,000 when I make tenure.

Signing bonus: $0

Stock: $0

Pension : keeping my fingers crossed.

Experience when hire. Ph.D plus 5 years post-doc (at Princeton.)

Gender : M Native speaker: Yes.

This is exactly the reason I decided not to stay in academia after I got my Ph.D. I could not rationalize working 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, trying to teach, conduct research, scramble for funding, participate in department politics just to attain tenured position at an R1 school while making barely 75K starting.

I now work in a development position at a large tech company for which I'm overqualified. I work about 7 hours a day plus a couple of meetings. I never work weekends, have plenty of free time to conduct research on the side and make well into 6 figures.

Seattle Googler here (throwaway account).

Position: Senior Software Engineer (level 5)

Tenure: 4 years, no prior experience

Comp: $300K (160 salary, 40 bonus, 100 stock)

Male, native English speaker

P.S. We're hiring.

Just adding not all Googlers make that much. I have 7 years in industry, L4, and make 117 base with 40k of stock a year in San Francisco (was 30k at grant time). If you can convince Google you're worth more they will pay it but not all Googlers are making crazy cash (btw wish I was in Seattle given CoL difference).

I believe 117 base is low for SWE3.

Not SWE is the catch. Still primarily coding role though.


And not all Googlers make this little. I have the same position, in the bay area, and my pay structure is roughly:

$180k/year 15% bonus ~ $30k/year 600 RSUs in the first year = $440,000 400 RSUs in the second year = $280,000 200 RSUs in 3rd and 4th year (assuming no refreshers, and oh boy there will be refreshers!)

Male, native english speaker.

It helps that my prior job had a comp level around $480k/year and also I got hired when GOOG was $550/share.

BTW, the T-5 salary band ends at $180k. So you're pretty close. Its the RSUs that make all the difference.

But you received an abnormally huge initial RSU grant. It's uncommon for anyone to get more than 500-600 (outside of leadership) unless you're a strategic hire and they're compensating you for unvested stock at your current employer.

Indeed it's high, but also it just shows you what is possible.

I don't think I was a highly strategic hire, just a very solid engineer with a lot of experience, prior employment at Google (and Amazon), and a strong salary and stock compensation at my immediately prior job.

So they busted out the competitive offer, and I was very happy. Also the stock went up like $200 a share.

You get 100k per year or over 4 years?

That's what's vesting this year. It can fluctuate a bit (so far only upwards for me).

Upon hiring and usually each year thereafter we get grants that vest over the following 4 years, varying in sized based on budgets, level & performance scores.

Thank you for sharing!

I started a discussion for Google salaries here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11314449

If you have a chance, can you send the link to your colleagues at Google? (-:

For those of us in the midwest... This compensation package is about 210k$ in Austin. Obviously, outside of expensive cities like Austin/Dallas/Chicago, the equivalent number is lower.

If you're hiring, do you take college students for interviews? I've never been clear about the google hiring process and I've always heard mixed things from people who went through it.

Yes, we hire new grads, and we offer internships for those who are still studying. Successful interns get an easier path for converting to full-time than grads who apply cold.

Getting somebody you know at Google to refer you is the best way to secure an interview, but you can also apply online.


Well that's too bad, I don't know any people at google. I guess I need to hang around more coffee shops.

The hiring process is a bit hit and miss. I know people who had a really good experience, and I know people who said it was a shit show. About meeting Googlers: if you happen to come to the Bay Area, you can't throw a rock in any direction without hitting at least one Googler. Not saying throwing rocks is the way to go, but... you'll get someone's attention :P

I'm a poor college student on the other side of the country, no dice for now.

I've noticed that Google is better than most with online applications. I managed to interview 2 years in a row (intern, college student) having only applied online.

APPLY ONLINE. Seriously. If you don't have a referral, don't wait around trying to find one. Apply online.

If you get an interview, practice algorithms/data structures interview problems like crazy.

...really? I was under the impression everybody that reads HN would have been around the Google-or-similar hiring circuit at least once. I have twice and I'm not as experienced as you are.

Daily 10K I guess.

I'm interested in working at the Fremont office. Do you know any ex-Amazonians that are at Google now that I can talk to? I've put an e-mail alias in my profile.

every year they give you 100k in stock? or just at signing?

So, I'm graduating UW in June, where do I apply?

Any connections in the Cambridge, MA office?

Can you please specify which domain? tech stack used, programming language, technology etc.

Google does not care about this for entry level engineering positions.

He is not working at entry level engineering positions.He mentioned 4 years experience.

What I mean is, Google does not care about the specific technologies you've worked with if you're joining the company (as long as you've worked with some technologies). E.g. it doesn't matter what databases you've worked with, just that you've worked with databases in general.

Position: SDE III Tenure: almost 1 year Job level: 6 Base Pay: $150000 Signing bonus $50k year 1, $40k year 2 Stock: 450 shares, spread over 4 years, 5%/15%/40%/40% No promotions or reviews yet Gender: M Native English Speaker: Yes Location: Seattle

I'm a TPM III, 10 year experience in consulting before coming to Amazon, former developer and dev lead. Been at Amazon 18 months.

Base is $145k. Signing bonus $50k year 1, $40k year 2. Stock 350 shares over 4 years. 5%/15%/40%/40% No promotions or reviews yet.

In summary: about $200k total comp first two years, from then on variable based on stock. I expect about $225 to $250k in 2016.

Wow, nice. Is Level 6 pretty high? What was your experience coming into the job?

Level 6 is a senior engineer. Roughly 90th percentile of engineers. We have principal engineers, but not a lot of them.

I had 15+ years of experience before coming here.

So, to put things in perspective, Google TechLevel-5, which is "Senior Software Engineer" which is basically 1 level above Amazon's "SDE III" position.

Competitive pay offer: $180k /year $50k signing bonus 15% bonus per year 800 RSUs vested equally over 4 years (200/year) 600 RSUs vested in 100-chunks every quarter for the first 18 months.

Counting up, in the first 12 months, pay is about $670,000.

I gotta get seriously bumped at the end of 18 months to keep it up, otherwise my pay will slip to $350,000.

And that is what a competitive offer from a company that values their employees looks like.

I have friends who have totally gotten the $1m RSUs/year for 4 year offers from both Google, Facebook and others. These positions exist.

It helps to change jobs a bunch :-)

holy cow- and people still leave to do startups? They must be really crazy.

Do you mean that's 800 RSUs overall or 800+600=1400 RSUs over 4 years?

it's 800 over 4 years, and 600 over 18 months. So 1400 total.

Good to know. Thanks!

It's senior sde level. Not everyone is expected to make senior, and they only have something like 10-15% at that level or higher.

While traveling the world, I feel in love with Cape Town so much, that I decided to apply for a job at Amazon since their recruiters were constantly emailing me anyways. EC2 was started in Cape Town and that office does mainly AWS support tools, but not as much EC2 work any more.

I do not remember the details too much, but it was something like $84K for my first year, after stock and all that nonsense. The salary is not much compared to the US, but very good for South Africa. However, the offer was in Rands, which has since collapsed. I would have lost about 30% of my salary when converting to dollars.

I did not take the job for various reasons, with very few having to do with Amazon. The team itself was excellent and I regret not joining, but I am glad I did not partly because of collapse of the Rand.

I still miss Cape Town. One day I will return for another visit.

EDIT: I can provide more detailed numbers if people are interested. Would need to dig up the offer letter. Very few Americans must have applied like I did, so Amazon could very easily figure out who I am. Hey, I loved your team, it just was not meant to be!

Speaking as someone who just finished a 2-year rotation through Cape Town as an SDE - massive, core parts of EC2 are still there and aren't going anywhere. "not as much EC2 work" is definitely not accurate.

Perhaps what I meant to say is that "control" of EC2 went to Seattle, from what I understood.

Germany, Lead Engineer at a company with a couple of hundred employees, my role involves architecture, full-stack coding, cloud stuff: ~$81k (some part of that variable bonuses, depending on companies targets).

While the job market seems to be in favor of job seekers these days (it seems to be practically impossible to recruit developers for small/medium shops, you get pinged by recruiters all the time) the salary does not really reflect this. it's rising but pretty moderately. you get offered $100k jobs once a while, mostly in finance.

Also the air gets pretty thin in germany when you actually want to do technically interesting and challenging things. Most jobs on the market are quite dull and involve enterprisey and/or legacy things. Most developers I worked with, however, do not seem to mind the backwardsness, are happily married to their languages and tools, and tend not to be overly passionate about their work (which might just be the right attitude).

I worked for Amazon (2013-2014), fresh out of college.

Title : Software Development Engineer (SDE I)

Base : 98,000

Sign on : 50,000 (2 year period)

Relocation : 10,000 (2 year)

Stocks : worth $70,000 (4 years)

Above someone mentioned being SDEIII, what's the meaning of these levels ?

I is fresh grad, basically right out of school, II is mid level, III is basically senior engineer. at that point it goes onto principal and beyond.

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