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Ask HN: How much do you make at Google?
193 points by googsomeday on March 18, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 81 comments
I don't work for Google, but I would like to.

How much do senior software engineers make? What level are you? Do you work at Mountain View HQ, or elsewhere?

I don't have much to share, but I make $130K base at a Silicon Valley startup. Options aren't worth anything (yet), but from what I've read on HN, they probably won't be worth anything anyways. (-:

Thank you in advance for sharing!

This post was inspired by an earlier post by an Amazon Employee: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11312984

I was hired straight out of school in June 2013 in mountain view as a level 3 SET at 105K salary, 15% bonus target, and $100k of stock, vesting over 4 years.

The next year, I was promoted to level 4, and got a raise to $134k salary. I also got a $35000 year end bonus, and 5k of other bonuses.

This year, as a level 5 SWE, my gross income (unless Google's stock price changes significantly) will be $323k - 176k salary, my 42k year end bonus from 2015, and $105k of stock, most of which is vesting monthly.

SF and mountain view have the same compensation, I think.

Wow! This is almost more than twice what MSFT pays. Mind to share how much you are paying for rent?

I share a 1 bedroom apartment with my girlfriend and dog, in a very new building that's a 20 minute walk to the office. Rent and utilities sums to $3900 for the two of us.

In a nice neighborhood in sf, you're not going going to pay less than 1600 for a room in a shared apartment, or for half of a one bedroom place.

That is so insane. $3900 for a 1 bed. (I know it's normal in SF; I'm saying SF is insane.)

In most markets, you can get a pretty good 1 bedroom apartment for between $900 and $1000 per month. Thus, the cost of rent in SF is around 4x the cost of rent in a normal market. You'll pay an extra $36k per year to rent in SF v. a median rental market. CA also has a much higher state tax rate than most places.

Worth keeping this in mind when you're comparing SF salaries with real-world salaries. If Google hires someone right out of school to work in SF at $100-110k, it's really like getting hired right out of school to work in a normal market at $60-70k, which isn't nearly as rare (but still pretty good for a brand new guy; in positions where I used to do hiring, we'd usually hire these somewhere between 45-55k).

I think the best way for a programmer to maximize salary is to work remotely for an SF company, getting paid an SF salary, and living in an area with a reasonable COL and (preferably) low-to-zero state income tax.

Can I ask your working hours?

I work about 9:30 to 5:30.

That's pretty good - thought because of your salary it would mean working crazy hours. Do you think you are a very talented programmer or average?

SWE, L6, 11 years experience, hired at L4 225 base, 90k bonus, 260k stock (grant size has been going up each year).

Google gives fair increases on promo and even if initial salary was in the low end. Pretty common to get a high bump after a year if one negotiated badly.

What, pray tell, were you able to negotiate over? I tried, but it appeared to be company policy not to offer anything I was interested in. I don't know what "L4" means but the numbers you're quoting are considerably higher than the ones I remember from five years ago.

I really hate this whole "total compensation" idea that has taken over the computer industry. Just pay me, or shut up, don't wave magic money in my face along with the real stuff and pretend it's all the same.

In the case of Google stock, it's real money, not magic money. Google bonus is real money, not magic money.

Startup stock is imaginary money.

Startup stock is truly imaginary, yes, but even Google stock has the magical property that some amount of it stops existing when you leave, which everyone does eventually.

...unless they've stopped issuing stock with a vesting schedule attached since I was there, of course, but that seems improbable given the financial advantage it creates for them.

Okay, the stock in the 4-year stock grant is imaginary in the same sense that your future salary is imaginary. I mean, fine, call it imaginary if you want, but that's true of all pay.

The Google vesting schedule, AFAIK, is 1-year cliff and then quarterly vesting thereafter. Which means that, past the first year, at most 90 days of stock is money that might vanish if you leave. I agree it'd be a lot nicer if it vested daily, but it's completely silly to characterize this as imaginary. It would also be completely silly, supposing that you'd worked at Google for 17.9 months and gotten 15 months of stock vestiture, to describe the stock you get 3 days later as a "windfall".

The point of all this is that it is completely reasonable, when discussing how much Google paid a person, to sum up their base pay, plus their bonus, plus the value of the amount of stock that they vest in a year.

If you're choosing between an offer at Google, say with $110k plus 15% bonus target plus 4 years of stock currently valued at $180k (i.e. roughly $45k per annum, probably more by the time it vests), vs working at a startup offering a base pay of $150k (plus say 10% bonus target dependent on revene, and some joke amount of stock valued at some joke number), I think it's pretty obvious that purely from an expected-value-financial-benefit standpoint, you should go with El Goog. Because "total comp" is a real thing. (Not that any sane person thinks that's the most important aspect of such a choice.)

Look: I ran those numbers, I made that choice, and going to work for Google was one of the few career decisions I can clearly call a "mistake". The stock was almost entirely imaginary for me because I didn't stay long enough, and I didn't stay because I had no other way to get out of the pointless, demoralizing situation I was stuck in. So, who cares what it could potentially have been worth if the world had been different? The world is what it is, and the money was, in fact, nonexistent.

This has been true of "total compensation" across my whole career: base salary is real, but stock has never amounted to anything significant. The companies whose stock is measurably worth something have turned out to be terrible places to work, and none of the startups have panned out. (Real Networks managed to be both, during the dot com bubble; the expected future value of my options peaked somewhere north of $1.5 million, before the crash, but I ultimately cleared $0. And was so glad when I walked away from that miserable experience.) So, I consider the value of stock in a "total compensation" package to be $0, and make my decisions now on base salary alone.

If it so happens in the future that stock "money" becomes real money, well, that'll be great, but I'm going to think of that like winning the lottery. It has no incentive effect.

You didn't even stay 1 year? Honestly, if your normal experience is to leave your company in less than a year, I think you have some expectation issues to address. While I know google isn't the amazing dream land the news makes it out to be (I've worked there in the past), it's really not that bad. If you've quit that quickly -- and this has happened multiple times -- you should really try to re evaluate what it is you're looking for from your career and see why these jobs aren't working out for you.

To get back to the original point, treating the stock 4 year sum on the same scale as the salary doesn't make sense (though recruiters will pitch it like that). A more honest accounting is to look at the annual number, which is directly comparable to the annual salary and will give you the true picture of how much you make per year. 180k of stock really means 45k per year of stock compensation. For a company like google that's more or less equivalent to cash compensation.

I got close, but no, I didn't stay quite a full year, and of course that's not normal! I don't think my bad experience at Google was entirely normal, either - certainly not compared to the experiences of friends who worked there before, whose glowing reports were what convinced me to give the place a serious look, or to those of friends who are happily working there still.

And yet - my Google experience was pretty much the same as the experiences I've had at other large companies. The pattern is that I go in thinking that a big company means big reach, big resources, and consequently big opportunities, so it'll be a chance to dig in, learn from the obviously smart and competent people who built whatever it is that made these companies successful, do some serious work, and level up my skill set - only to find myself stuck on some backwater project nobody cares about with managers playing musical chairs and no way to get out until I've slogged my way through some term of drudgery proving that I'm worthy of better things. Well, fuck that: life is short and I'm not here to waste it. Besides, I've never managed to work productively for very long at all without some internal motivation, and trying to slog through pointless work simply so that I can hang on in hopes of doing meaningful work at some point in the future leaves me feeling stifled, frustrated, and ultimately depressed. (Especially when the work in question is full of tedious, inefficient process that has nothing to do with the actual engineering, which was fortunately less the case at Google than elsewhere.)

At this point I can't imagine what it would take to make me consider working for a large company again.

So the risk of accepting compensation in stock appears effectively constant: you can trade the risk that the company won't go anywhere against the risk that you'll be miserable, but you can't count on any significant return.

Google's vesting schedule is actually 1-year cliff then monthly vesting, but there are 4 blackout periods per year when you can't sell your stock (except on a monthly auto-sale program). Aside from that you're spot on.

260k stock vesting per year? That's an insane amount.

I just put in my promo packet from L5 to L6. This better be happening.

Wow, that is much higher than I made as a level 5 in seattle. 175-185. plus half that in stock.

Surely Seattle salaries are lower because no state income tax and cheaper housing than the bay area?

Amazingly, they're not (at the moment at least). Seattle is a really great place to be at Google in terms of gross vs. tax and cost of living.

Sorry one piece of clarification: Is the amount you quoted your current pay as an L6 or what you were paid when you were hired as an L4?

Not at google but MSFT.

SDEII. 7 Years of coding experience full time. Base: 110k Signing bonus: $0k cash, $6k in stocks.

On H1B visa so can't quit, but as soon as I get green card, I should definitely look around. Geez, you folks are making me feel really bad.

I was complaining on the other thread that as an SDE II I'm making just about the same as an SDE I who posted there. But you, my friend, are underpaid :(

You can switch to another company on H-1B, but if you've already started the Green Card progress, it will get reset.

BTW, I was hired as an SDE I even with 6 years experience.

I'll add my $.02 for LinkedIn. Sr Software Eng at LinkedIn in CA.

$165,000 Base

$25,000 Hiring Bonus

$300,000 Stock (25% 1st year, then quarterly for the remaining 75% over 3 years) ($300,000 at the time, now it's only about half that). 10% annual bonus.

Male. Native English Speaker.

I can also speak to a friend here all the stats are the same except he got a $35,000 moving stipend instead of a hiring bonus.

Same, but only ~3 years out of undergrad, 160k base, 15% bonus, 280k over 4 years (but this dropped by half with the latest LinkedIn stock plunge), and 40k signing. Expecting to get to staff (L4) in about a year based on feedback from my director, interested to see if it jumps or I get a stock refresher.

Would being a non-native English speaker result in a lower salary at LinkedIn?

1 year prior professional SWE experience at the time of hiring, CS undergrad degree from a state university

Female, mixed ethnicity, American/native English speaker

SWE II, L3, Mountain View

$110k base, ~$45k in stock, 15% target bonus ($172k total assuming stock price stays stable and I make said bonus)

Worth noting that I tried not to give my then-current pay to the recruiter during the hiring process and was (very politely) told that they'd cancel my application if I didn't give them a number. Also tried to negotiate this offer up (asked for $120k base) and again, got told to take it or leave it.

What's your vesting schedule for that stock? If that's a 4 year grant, it seems low.

From his calculations of what he will get this year, it seems like $45k is what he would be getting this year from stocks.

*she, but otherwise this is correct. :) ~$180k total over four years, $45k is just what I would expect to get in a year.

if you don't mind, what was your path from undergrad to your current position? what project(s) did you do in your undergrad? i'm currently in the middle of undergrad and still wondering what is the best to do. thanks.

Since I've already got this throwaway and already posted my numbers:


Thank you, Sir/Madam! I think it's interesting that you went the tax return route.


To save people one click:

I spent 5 years at Google. My AGI (as measured by the IRS) during my time there went $130K, $200K, $280K, $280K, $300K, $356K (for my last 5 months there...it also includes unexercised stock options for the last 5 years, though). The bump to $280K was upon promotion to senior SWE; the one to $200K was largely because of a generous stock refresh grant.

posted by user: throwaway_goog

I'm still a student so I don't know a lot about salaries, but is this kind of increase common? 130k to 280k in two years sounds extreme

It's possible; without getting into specifics of any given company's compensation policy, one common compensation scheme involves cash + equity where the equity doesn't begin to vest until some tenure has been reached with the company. Let's assume base cash comp stays more or less constant (or has a some small raise to adjust for inflation).

Now, consider an initial stock grant that is 800 shares vesting linearly and monthly but with a one year cliff. If you started in January 2015 you would have seen zero of those shares in 2015. In 2016, however, you'd see 200 shares in January plus roughly another 200 shares throughout the rest of 2016.

If you also assume that the company in question provides annual stock refreshes, that those begin vesting immediately, and that the stock is on an upward trend it becomes apparent how such a large increase is possible.

Other factors could include non-salary cash comp like bonuses, etc.

After 3.5 years at an enterprise software shop in Atlanta, I was making 80k. This was in 2010, and I'd been working there since graduation. My skills/value had advanced much faster than my comp. I left for a new role in NYC with a base salary of 150k and a bonus of 75k (225k total). Quite a bump overnight.

Hired at L4 SWE, ~4 years ago, 140k, 35k signing bonus, 200 RSUs vesting over 4 years. GOOG did very well since 2012, so that helped a lot.

Salary rose to 160k on promo to L5 SWE, also got stock refreshers for 90k and 190k in years 2 and 3 (vests monthly over 4 years).

Salary jumped to 182k when I talked to manager at last appraisal that I am underpaid w.r.t. salary. Found out because I was TLMing a team of size 12, and the L5s reporting to me had higher salaries. Btw, Googlers, MRP at L5 is about 190k.

Going for promo to L6 now, and expecting a salary hike, and hopefully a good stock refresher as well.

I work at a podunk Santa Clara, CA startup. 20+ years experience. Working remote from southeast U.S.A.

Tenure so far: 2.5 years

Salary: $150K

Stock: purportedly .75% of company 4 years 1-year cliff, with small follow-on grant later, don't know what recent dilution is, though I think more recent funding has been "debt" at low interest with preference

Not a regular VC situation, company funded through other means.

Outlook -- real uncertain, market has definite need, execution so far has been very mixed, company willing to re-do things the right way

Google Kirkland office, L4 (SWE III), 7 years of experience.

  $150k base salary
  $25k bonus this year
  $90k/year in stock at current share price, vesting monthly

Wow, how long have you been there and what was your experience going in?

Previous Salary Discussion:

Big Company vs. Startup Work and Compensation (danluu.com) 730 points


Also see PayScale:


I work in Google SF. 7 years in Industry since I got my CS degree. I'm at L4 and I'm at 117 base plus 40k stock a year (30k at grant time).

Here's how to get $20k in 5 minutes tip for you:

Step 1: wake up and walk to your manager's office on monday.

Step 2: Announce that you're "considering" leaving for personal reasons to "explore what's around"

Step 3: Invite your wife [girlfiend or whoever] to celebrate $20k boost in your salary by the end of the day.

That's kind of low for L4, many L3s make more than that.

Not a SWE is the catch, though my primary job responsibility is coding. Also messed up the job search and had no competing offers. Now trying to figure out if it's worth leaving Google and getting a job hopper stigma over the fact that I'm well paid but not as well paid as others.

There is no such thing as a job hopper stigma, there are many valid reasons to leave a company.

Considering the cost of living in bay area and how in demand good developers are, if a company like Google is underpaying you, it's a perfectly good reason to explore new opportunities.

Yeah, thanks for the support. I also like my job and consider the SF office a perk, but I may interview a few other places to get a feel for the market.

Consider doing a ladder transfer to SWE or SETI. If you're performing well, it will be a probably successful but bureaucratic process... But certainly less work and less risky than quitting and finding a new job.

Got to get a hiring manager on a team with head count to sponsor you, and its political because my manager won't want to lose his team etc. Honestly seems simpler to leave and come back.

Depending on your team/group, it can also be worth starting a conversation with your manager/HRBP about allowing SWEs in your org (vs TSCs or whatever). Other groups (GTS in GBO, for example) have done this successfully.

Are you a TSC?

Anyone care to share details on compensation and career progression (bumps in salary / stock) in London?

Also the bonuses quoted here sound a lot higher than the standard 15%.

Just curious, anyone know what kind of package I could get at Google or equiv? Or am I too old?

I'm a 36 year old associate professor in Statistics at a top 20 international university and I also have extensive coding experience (10+ years professional experience).

I currently make around $100K salary + $80-100K consulting on side. I also bring in more than $100K a year in grant money that I use to pay RAs, etc.

Are there people with similar backgrounds that have made the leap? I'm keen to hear from them.

I used to work at google. The offer depends on the office, and what role you have. Big expensive cities pay more (sf area, seattle, nyc are the highest pay; zurich pays even more). Google's interview bar is really high, a lot of prof software engineers can't make it. Also plenty of good people don't pass the interview bar.

They have real statisticians at google, doing stats stuff, like analyzing different options and combinations and strategies for charging.

I have a phd in cs, and 20 years as a dev, including some leadership times. I made about 175-185 at google in one of those big cities, plus half that in stock each year. you get a fixed bonus of 15% of salary times a company bonus rate.

Because you have experience but you might be a specialty area, it's harder to say. I'd guess 150k plus 150k payable over 4 years in stock, maybe a hire on bonus of 25k. and the typical 15% bonus.

>Are there people with similar backgrounds that have made the leap? I'm keen to hear from them.

One that I know of is Matt Welsh:


I never got successful as an academic (too lazy/multidisciplinary depending on how you look at it), but my experience is despite my fairly specialised skill set in software dev (a small amount of which is statistics related) that since I made the (semi-accidental) leap into software development things have been much better paid/more stable.

I met a physics associate prof from Stanford who took a job as a data scientist at Google a few months ago. I unfortunately don't know his previous or current comp, but I do know he was super-thrilled with the improvement.

Early engineer at a San Francisco unicorn

16 years of experience overall; 5 years with this firm

Male, H-1B from India

Title - Started out as Principal Engineer, now Sr. Engineering Manager

Current comp: 220K base, 150K/yr of (illiquid) stock

Some portion of the stock is in the form of options, some are RSUs. I took the price per share from the last funding round, deducted the strike price of the options and arrived at the dollar value.

How many people are in your org?

12 engineers report to me.

Hey, Googlers. I'm interested in working at Google and I'd like to talk to someone who left Amazon/AWS to there. I put an e-mail alias in my profile for anyone interested.

I don't work for Google either, but I write about and coach people on salary negotiations, so I keep an eye out for these threads (I learn a lot from them).

There's a very similar thread going for Amazon right now:


It's a mix of salary sharing and salary negotiation advice that could be very relevant to your bigger question of "How much do senior software engineers make [at the big tech companies]?"

Also relevant is this Salary Negotiation For Developers workshop I did last week in Orlando: http://bit.ly/21zFG5q

As I said over there: I love these threads and I hope more of them get started. The more people know about what they're worth, the more tools they have to get paid what they're worth.

Thanks for starting this thread!

Associate professor with tenure 50k euros. (Ph.D. in Maths) good ranking in Hackerrank. CS Engineer. Lisp, Clojure, Haskell, Python, Ruby, Javascript, R, numpy, machine learning. Lack of experience. Spanish working in Spain, not so young to be desirable. Able of very heavy weight lifting, steel strong, fast runner and swimmer. Dreamer, hard working, extremely lazy when required. Lovely father, loyal friend, dilettante but able to focus when reward is worthy. Irresistibly handsome at times living in a castle.

Reads like a dating profile.

Do you enjoy long walks on the beach ?


150k base, 40k signing bonus, ~27k yearly bonus, ~130k yearly stock

8 years prior experience before Google

Thank you. I'm interviewing there and was curious about this. When did you start there, and what was your initial salary, title?

Not at Google, but VMware. MTS SWE 1.5 years out of school. Base: 120k Stock: 20K/year Bonus: 20k/year

T7 engineer/TLM, > 20 years of experience, in a US premium-market Google office: roughly 280K in salary, 80K in bonus, 280K in annualized equity.

In 2011/2012, I was a senior sde (or equivalent, don't remember the specific title) at the Google office in Seattle (Fremont), and my salary was $140K.

Posted on the Amazon comp thread but wanted to share here too...

We went through both the Google and Amazon comp (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11312984) threads, and we added it all to this Google Sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11tyJW9KPcSiLZBBuf0Z1...

Feel free to share/add to this doc.

Here are the median comps by level for Amazon and Google, just based on the postings collected in the Google doc as of 3/22.

--Amazon -- New grad: $141K, SDE1: $146K, SDE2: $173K, SDE3: $250K, TPM3: $220K,

--Google-- Level 3: $170K, Level 4: $200K, Level 5: $312K, Level 6: $575K, T7: $640K, Tech Level 5: $660K

Just a few notes - Total comp includes bonus, signing bonus, relocation bonus, and stock. Bonuses and stock were all annualized straight-line. (I know this is not how Amazon stock comp is done, but we assumed this in our calcs.) Since we took postings from 2 different threads, it's possible that one person could have posted once in each thread, in which case that would show up twice in the Google doc. Also, there's a lot of variance particularly with bonuses which are lumped in, and some of the higher levels only have one data point, but you can look at the data in the Google doc if you want to dig in.

If it helps with comparison between Amazon and Google, here's how Amazon levels map to Google's (from Quora: https://www.quora.com/How-do-Amazons-engineering-levels-map-...) Amazon SDE 1 - roughly a Google T3 ("I") or T4 ("II"). Amazon SDE 2 - roughly a Google T4 ("III") Amazon SDE 3 - roughly a Google T5 ("Senior") or T6 ("Staff") Amazon Principal - roughly a Google T6 or T7 ("Senior Staff") Amazon Sr. Principal - roughly a Google T8 ("Principal") or T9 ("Distinguished").

Full disclosure - we're Step (http://www.step.com), and we're building a platform to help engineers and product managers anonymously crowdsource personalized salary and level estimates from decision makers and hiring experts at tech companies. This thread is especially interesting to us, because it shows the need/demand for more transparency around compensation and company feedback. Right now, we're working with ~10 NYC startups that will assign personalized salary/level estimates and other feedback to anonymous profiles, but our bigger vision is that as soon as someone signs up, they'll see how each and every company values them without having to interview/talk to recruiters.

Apparently this is taking off! come on people, show your colleagues what you are making!

It is more like "brag about your salary".

This is an unfair comment..

The thread is extremely useful for people both inside and outside the company.

While it may come across as a bragging, having worked at Amazon in a non tech role I can say that there was extremely little transparency on what someone should be paid at their level. As a result, there was a lot of variability in salaries at any level for a given role. People could be paid as much as 10-20% more purely because they joined a team after some change in salary policy - everyone else in the team would be at a lower salary. MBAs with 2 years work experience would be paid more than people who climbed up the company with 6 years internal experience.

Threads like this level the playing field for employees and would-be employees as they can negotiate with HR and know definitively what they should be paid.

It is not unfair in the slightest. Complaining that you earn 100k rather than 120k is, in my opinion, the height of silicon valley arrogance. You would not have accepted that salary if you did not think it was fair.

The values are irrelevant (although interesting for a nosy person).

Are you telling me that you don't think it's fair that people get paid equally for the same role / level of responsibility? Are you saying you wouldn't be pissed with your company if the guy next to you was earning 20% more than you despite your performance being comparable?

Please stop shaming people for being successful, whether by luck or skill these people are earning a lot of money but that doesn't make them any less human or any less deserving of earning equally amongst their peers.

Given that women have historically been less likely to negotiate on salary, these sorts of factual exposés are a constructive means of narrowing the gender pay gap.

At the end of the day, who cares what other people make. Whether you earn in the 0.1% bracket or only top 80% bracket, while you still earn a salary from a profit seeking company, you are seeing only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what the company makes. While we squabble over 20k with HR and brand each other "arrogant", the C suite are rolling around in their billions blasting hundreds of millions on moonshots like driverless cars, humanoid cars and quantum computing...

So as employees of companies we should all strive to eke out more from our employees because 99/100 you're getting paid significantly less than what you're adding to the business and they should value all of us better.

We are not all perfectly rational salary-maximizing skilled negotiators with complete information.

I accepted a job offer at Google straight out of college. I didn't do much research on what was fair compensation for a new grad SWE or have any intuition for how to value my skills; I didn't even have other offers to compare, since I hate interviews. I just trusted I would get a nice job and they would pay me something reasonable (defined as "what people similar to me earn" - how am I to know what is reasonable in an absolute sense? There are many jobs in other fields I would find much harder that pay much less.) This thread is useful to verify.

yeah, especially for all the guys who don't come from the US.

Check out Comparably.com they launched recently, it gives great data on salary compensation. I'm going to negotiate my salary now :)

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