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Ask HN: How much do you make at Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Netflix/Google/Microsoft?
156 points by 4k 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 150 comments
There was a proper discussion on it about two years ago. Recently a similar thread was posted, but not to many response.

I do not work at any of the above. I work at a fintech company and make 80k + Bonus (Europe) with no equity (12 years experience, senior dev).




For anyone reading this: contributing how much you make honestly empowers everyone in our field to bargain for themselves. The ability to bargain is orthogonal to the art of engineering afaict but is whats mostly responsible for how you are compensated for your labor.


Staff SWE, Google Seattle.

Total 2018 comp will be around 550k with a roughly 55/45 equity/cash split if GOOG shares remain constant. Historically they have typically gone up meaningfully over the course of any given year.

The cash component includes base salary and bonus.


I'm still a student, I have a few questions:

-What tech skills sets do you have? Do you need a MS/PhD at your level? If not, does it help?

In school we learn the standard algorithms/data structures material, but I want to expand my horizons and begin learning what is applicable to industry.

I am very curious to learn what someone at your level has skills in. I'd like to pick up something not taught in school and begin hacking away on a project that will help me... which leads to my next question

-What are good beginner resources/tutorials you recommend to learn these skill sets? Are there any good projects you can point me to?

-Just curious. Does "550k with a roughly 55/45 equity/cash split" mean you make ~247,000 base + ~302,500 in stock options? I am not too familiar with how compensation is broken down.


Not going to talk about my specific skills (throwaway account).

The algorithms stuff is useful. More useful than it seems. It comes up often in many engineering jobs. Perhaps more importantly at your stage in life, it will get you an internship.

Do internships. If you miss the one you really want, think hard about why, then try again. Internships are the best place to start into my next piece of advice.

Specialize in something valuable while you're in school or once you start into your career. Jobs I might look for if I were entering the work force today:

- Image processing or other noisy data handling.

- Robotics, especially something requiring interdisciplinary skills like control theory.

- Deep learning techniques are all the rage; you'll be much more useful if you understand how they work and can build novel topologies. Being taken seriously here will likely require a portfolio (maybe graduate work).

- Systems programming is an unending hellscape of horrible problems. Some people seem to enjoy it.

- If you have a knack for it, security. It takes a certain deviousness to think of new ways to misuse things. It takes a wizard to do something like Meltdown and Spectre.

It doesn't really matter what you become a domain expert in as long as it's valuable. It does matter that you don't treat "domain expert" as a fixed target.

In terms of extracurricular work, find an open source project that's got engagement from companies with lots of senior people (Kubernetes would be a good example, it has many very talented people working on it). Fix open bugs. Fix the onboarding experience. Start with trivial things and go from there. Don't get dismayed when you end up with hundreds of review comments, that's how you learn.

Regarding compensation, the split is approximate. The cash is both salary and an annual bonus paid out in January. The stock is actual stock, not options, so every month some number of Google shares show up in my brokerage.


Could you say more about why robotics today? It has always seemed very mature and saturated to me. I went into the automotive/manufacturing industry after getting graduate degrees in controls and recently shifted toward software and simulation work at the same company. What business problems are out there right now creating new demand for expertise in this area?


I think we're entering a new generation of controlled machines. Aerial drones, in particular, have found a staggering number of commercial and industrial uses, and many of them are operating under constraints that require bespoke platform designs to minimize weight while meeting requirements. Aquatic drones also seem to be coming into fashion. At the "that's a bit large to call it a robot" end of the spectrum, I'd put SpaceX and their auto-landing rockets in the same category (not to mention the drone ships that provide the stable landing platforms!)

It provides exposure to embedded systems, likely involves caring about communication protocols, sensors, etc. It might involve hard real-time constraints, and if you're really lucky it will also involve dealing with noisy data and maybe even a taste of applied machine learning.

That said, I could believe that all of the fun work is being tackled above the entry level.


Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Excellent advice.


Thanks for answering the previous person's questions; your answers were very helpful. Can you talk about how long it takes most people to reach staff level (or how long it took you)?

At what level do most engineers plateau at Google (meaning most people are unable to go past it)?


I came into Google as Senior with about six years experience at another large tech company (where I'd also made senior recently).

Senior (one level below Staff) is deemed "career level," and if you just want to build stuff it's a good place to stop. Staff involves a much more substantial leadership and coordination component, and that requires both the skill and desire to take on that sort of work.


Is Staff SWE different from regular SWE? What's the difference?


Iirc, staff SWE is Google's equivalent of Principal Engineer.


I think Google has principal engineers as well - a staff engineer at Google probably is equivalent to a principal engineer at most companies though.


For someone not working in tech, what is the difference between an engineer and a principal engineer?


It (staff) is a level, one past senior engineer.

The difference is that senior engineers do something resembling engineering. When not attending meetings, I turn coffee into emails and Google docs.


> The difference is that senior engineers do something resembling engineering. When not attending meetings, I turn coffee into emails and Google docs.

I like you.


The Principal has a very distinguished and widely-recognized track record of achievement.


What's interesting here is the social dimension of this. It's not enough that you are competent and have achievements. They key is that your achievements are recognized socially.


principal engineer is when you want to give someone more salary but they dont wanna be a manager


Hats off to you sir! half a mill in total compensation is amazing. That's doctor money for much less of the time in school.


Also usually comes with an entire childhood of learning in computers, whereas learning to be a doctor really doesn't start in earnest until med school.


i fail to really understand algorithms so i think support roles is all i will ever muster -- still gotta give kudos where it's due. And I agree, a lifetime spent in computing is what i did too, when kids were out playing i was building a 486.


how long have you been working in the industry already?


I have approximately 9 years of industry experience, following a BS and MS.


Everyone needs to quit complaining about the sample size and the like and bringing up things like Glassdoor and just answer the prompt. The lack of transparency in salaries keeps us all at a disadvantage


SWE II [1], Google Cambridge, MA. I was hired in 2016 with a little under 2 years of professional experience, with total compensation of about $150k and a roughly 75/25 cash/equity split. The equity has risen in value significantly, the cash only slightly.

[1]: I believe this is a relatively normal entry point for people either just out of school or with 1-2 years experience.


Do you mind if I ask where you went to school? I would very much like to work in Cambridge but my experience with interviewing in Camberville is that I end up talking to people from MIT and similar schools. Or I don’t even get an email back. Which makes me feel like I just don’t have the credentials. Do you just have an undergrad or do you have another degree?


My CS background before my first job was:

Grew up interested in computers, learned a little BASIC.

Took two intro CS courses during undergrad at an Ivy League school, but majored in the humanities.

Years later, attended a bootcamp.

None of this took place in MA.


Google does not have a degree requirement. Neither do most (all?) other tech companies. If you pass the Google interview, it doesn't matter one bit what school you went to, or if you went to school at all.


"Senior Fullstack Dev" in NY at a non-tech company.

Currently 100k + 5k (bonuses, i've gotten 20k bonuses here in the past but those days are gone). Roughly 35-40 hrs/week with only two week-long crunch times in about 3 years.

I currently have offers for 135k + worthless equity (startup) and 110k (non tech company). Waiting to hear back about a Systems Engineer role offering in the 100-125k range (hot tech company).

Part of changing gigs at the moment is to plan to take on additional work on the side to increase my compensation. Not possible in my current role.

I started off making 60k as a developer and not even that long ago...proving value added 40k on to my salary quickly, but honestly I negotiated poorly. I left at least 25k on the table starting.


If you are interested in compensation numbers and have thick skin (its anonymous so there is a lot of racism/sexism/bullshitters/negative hostility and more), I recommend getting the mobile app blind as there is a ton of this information there. I will regurgitate some of that information here for you though.

For level comparison at different companies, lots of people point to http://levels.fyi

Here is a compensation poll for amazon employees only based on job title and level with 161 responses: https://goo.gl/V9QKHh

The total compensation rages I have heard for Amazon are 145k for new grads, 170k-230k for SDE 2, 250k-350k for SDE 3, 400k-600k for principal engineers. There are 2 more levels after that but have not really seen any data for those levels.

Here are Facebook's total compensation numbers quoted from "fmwf":

E3: 107K-125 Salary, 40k stocks a year, 10% bonus.

E4: 140k-160k Salary, 70k stocks a year, 10% bonus.

E5: 170k-195k Salary, 120k stocks a year, 15% bonus.

E6: 200k-220k Salary, 200k stocks a year, 20% bonus.

All Facebook numbers assuming expected performance if you kill expectations you get more (25%-200% more shares).


$160k, $105k RSUs over 4 years, $15k signing bonus - started half a year ago, currently have a little more than 5 years of experience as a software engineer.


That package is with what firm?


> ApplThwaway100

Apple, probably


Yes. To clarify, I work in Cupertino, CA as well. Stock also had a nice bump too, jumped 10-20% since my vesting start date.

I was hired at one level above entry level.


what's the life/balance if any like? is it super high stress like is reported?


I can’t speak for everywhere in the company, but my job is fairly relaxed. Good work-life balance, most collaborative work environment I’ve been in, and lots of autonomy.

I did have a period of 2 months where I was working 80 hour weeks, but it was due to a very unique confluence of events including a reorg, and highly abnormal from my understanding, but I was rewarded for it by getting a couple of extra days off.


You probably can’t tell us but do you work on the mobile side of things or desktop or services or data science? Other?



There's a lot of posts on HN related to this, some with links to spreadsheets of anonymized data:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14538984

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15501158

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11331223


SWE III (One level above new grad) in Boulder, CO with 4 years at Google: ~$225k total comp with 60/40 cash [Salary+Bonus]/equity.

For reference, Google's ladder goes: SWE II -> SWE III -> Senior SWE -> Staff SWE -> Senior Staff SWE -> Principal -> Distinguished.


This seems wrong. Google's starting position for full time employees is SWE III.


There's a difference between the numerical levels and the job titles.


One request here, can people include a rough estimate of how many hours they work weekly to add some perspective?


W2 Contractor Senior Software Engineer, $85/hr, REACT/Rails Posting as anonymous. Regular HN user here. I work in Denver, Colorado at a TV company. I am a contractor through a local tech firm. I am making $85 an hour on a W2 open ended contract. Through my contracting company, I get access to 401k (no match), medical/dental/vision (company pays atleast 50%) and they send me to conferences/training.

I really dig the gig, they treat me like an employee but pay me like a contractor. I tend to take 5-6 weeks of time off (unpaid) so I tend to make $160,000-165,000 at the end of the year.

My background is about 10 years of tech experience. Working on React currently. CS degree.


I only work 40 hours a week


Recent new grad that joined Google in the past few months.

Total comp (base + bonus + stock + signing bonus amortized over 4 years) is 185k. Higher than expected because of recent stock increases & I negotiated with competing offers.

TC next year will be closer to 200k.

(throwaway account)


Denver, CO and not any of the big companies mentioned in the title.

34 years old, approx 7 years experience. MS stack.

$125k plus annual bonus of approx $9-10k. 2019 hoping annual salary pushes the $135k mark.


What about Stack Overflow's yearly survey? That's got a lot of people and has data for salaries by job and geography. It won't tell you where they're working, though. https://insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/2017#salary

ETA: 5yrs exp, Dev III in logistics; $95K/year, ~$6k in stock, insurance fully paid by company.


Glassdoor is the place you want to go for this kind of information. You're not going to get anywhere near a large enough sample from a few comments on HN.


I had a bad experience with glassdoor.

I wrote about my bad experience at one of the company I interned for. Some PR from the company comment on my review, I knew the PR guy cuz he goes around doing it to other reviews there and create fake reviews.

Anyway, I call him out on it said he's using ad hominem for one of his tactic in the comment. Other users comment and back my report up.

After a few week glassdoor deleted my comment and the comments that back me up, they left the PR guy comment up. I wish I could have screen shot it.

Eventually they did away with the comment system.

I don't trust them at all.

There are aggregate surveys from O'Reily and stackoverflow. I think it's pretty decent. O'Reily doesn't give raw data for their data science survey so I couldn't do any survey analysis to confirm it but they release their linear regression model.


> Eventually they did away with the comment system.

Sounds like that was a positive step, wasn't it? Getting rid of the system that allowed the company to comment on your review?


I liked the comment system we were able to have a discussion.

While the PR guy was shady, realizing other people having the same experience via rebuttal and affirming my comment via their experiences seem much better.

I usually like having a dialogue/discussion. Glassdoor is where you can give anonymous reviews, mind as well have people annoymously have a discussion about said company.


There is one major problem with glassdoor - the salaries that are collected today are grouped together with salaries that were collected 7 years ago. Which is why you always see lower salaries looking at the glassdoor.

This post is to get a (however small) current sample and it is purely to help me evaluate a couple of opportunities, no commercial interest whatsoever.


Your better bet is to post the data you're evaluating and asking for opinions. You won't collect enough data to be meaningful in a post like this, so if you're limited to anecdotes and opinions, you might as well get anecdotes and opinions that relate directly to your situation.

Here's what (I think) is important to know to help you -

Role

Your years of experience

Size/function of org, assuming you don't want to name the companies

Public, or Private (and what stage)

Base

RSU or Options w/ offer

Annual Bonus potential

I'm sure you don't want to entirely out yourself, but some of that info will help you get better answers.


Salaries I see on Glass Door for Amazon for Scottish jobs are fairly accurate.

A Developer will make anywhere between £35k and £50k depending on experience (this matches with what I saw when I was looking for a job a year ago)


Yeah, the serious money's in contracting in London. You can make anywhere from 400-600 per day.

Get yourself a solid year long stint somewhere & the pay will be £100k - £150k


If you contract in an Investment Bank in London, those day rates would be on the low side.


True. Got a friend who basically works as a contractor CTO. His day rate is around 2k. Which is insane.


Yeah. Programme managers can get around £1k+/day.

A good dev would be £700/day and up, depending on experience, business line, hotness of their tech skills etc.


Just curious: That seems disproportionately low compared to US salaries. Is cost of living proportionately lower in Scotland?


The cost of living where I live in Scotland is pretty small (IMO).

I make around £40k as a developer with 11 years experience, which seems about average for my city.

My total cost of living each month is around £930. That includes my mortgage.

The company where I was working before I made ~£29k as developer, some people in that company were on as low as £21k. The average was probably around £25k.

Contracting rates can be good, I regularly get calls about contracting jobs from recruiters with rates around £400-£450 a day for a 6 month contract. But then you have the hassle of looking for a new contract every 6 months or so. That hassle is just not worth it for me.

I get emails each day from a job place with jobs. Today the jobs are

C# .net developer - £30k - £45k

C# software developer - £28k - £35k

Senior python developer - £65k

PHP Developer - £35k - £42k

.NET Developer -£38,000 DOE

.NET full stack developer - £35 - £50k

Java Developer - Upto £65k

Javascript Developer - £30-£40k

These are all for positions with many years experience. I don't know where people are seeing £100k a year salaries?


Salaries that have been <£40k for the past few are starting to look really abysmal. UK inflation is currently 3.1%. In England we have above-inflation rail fare increases, inflated rents that keep going up, potentially 5.99%/year council tax rises and not to mention utility bills and food.

The effect of price rises (council tax, travel, utilities, rent etc) combined with your salary remaining stagnant is nothing short of devastating over a period of 10-20 years.

Companies pretending that inflation doesn't exists probably contributes quite a bit to job hopping


lower, but not proportionately lower

Edinburgh vs. SF (~1.8x) :

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...

Edinburgh vs. Seattle (~1.3x) :

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?cou...


Yes, yes it is. Unless it's Edinburgh in August due to the Fringe festival, where rents go past London levels.


Wow, that's shockingly low :(


European tech salaries are famously lower than US salaries.

Southern Europe is even worse. I was offered a role of Senior/Lead engineer (with over 10 years exp) for "maximum salary of 45k Euro". And was told by their recruiter that this is considered high for Spain.


I know, I live and work in UK and still the up to £50k in the company like Amazon sounds dirt low, I know devs working for DailyMail (!!) for ~£90k


£90k for a dev job isn't that low, even in London. Unless it's very senior, you'll be paid more than in most other sectors (probably same as in finance).


I'd need to be paid a lot more than that to work for them.


If you set aside the slow erosion of human decency that is the Daily Mail, their tech stack is very impressive.

From an engineering point of view they kill it, they're one of the most visited sites in the world.

https://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/dailymail.co.uk


Really depends on the location within Spain like other Euro countries like the UK. In Barcelona or Madrid a Lead engineer at the right firm will be hitting around 100-110k euros.


I would assume they are bright enough to apply some kind of inflation, and maybe weight recent salaries higher.


I only have a small sample set, but the companies I've worked for always had lower salaries on Glassdoor than me and my colleagues received. I think in part because when there is limited data or for anonymity, Glassdoor fudges the numbers a bit


I make 290k total comp as a SWE III at Google.

I would make around 240k if my initial stock grants hadn’t nearly doubled in value since I joined. I will probably actually make less money once my 4 year grant runs out, all things being equal.

5 years total experience.


Is there a way for an outsider to figure out which level they would be slotted into if they passed the interview process? For instance if you are a "senior engineer" at an average company, would Google only interview you for Senior+ roles or could you potentially interview for any available job and be evaluated and hired as say SWE II or something?


IBM, Austin, TX, band 10 (Senior Technical Staff Member)

Base salary: 190k / yr base salary, ~6k / yr performance bonus

Equity Grant: ~$125k stock grant, vesting twice in four years, so ~$31k/yr stock presuming I stay for all four years

So - total annual compensation (excluding healthcare benefits and our 6% 401k match) is about $216k annually.


You and the other poster at Google in Boulder have probably found the sweet spot between comp and cost of living. Nice work!


Something I’d love someone to explain: in USA as in UK contract developers seem to be paid around $600-1000 a day with a few exceptions. In the UK this is higher than at least 95% of the permanent jobs I see - which is what you’d expect given you’re hiring an expert who is taking on some risk.... But in the USA (if the data in this post is to be believed) I’m seeing even inexperienced graduates earn more than experienced contractor devs. Is that right?

Also, I’m curious; I read figures like $400-600k... Is that actual salary you see on your wage slip or wrapped up in that are things like healthcare that you never “see” normally?

I’m curious because these figures are astonishingly high and I’m wondering 1) how on earth do startups find devs 2) how on earth there’s any developers over 30 when you can become a millionaire and retire early.


I'm at a gigantic (50k+ employees), soul-sucking company that is mostly nontechnical business consulting, working remote as a Software Architect from a borderline-BFE city. $105k + 150%ish 401k match up to 5% of pay + decent benefits. Supposedly some kind of bonus next month.


London, 0 experience, have Phd. Google Research Scientist:90k£ base, 100k£ bonus and stock


How bad are the visa issues surrounding hiring of internationals who do Phd in the UK?

Do you have any idea if smaller companies and govt research labs sponsor?


Google, swe 2, 2y prior experience, didn't finish degree, Bay area.

205k total, 45k from stock


This might sound silly, but to get a position at Google is it mostly experience or just white boarding practice?

Is it possible to go from new grad -> first job -> Google? By that progression I mean what sort of background is required language/stack/etc aside from studying and practicing?


Check out https://www.transparentcareer.com you can filter by any function in the organization, educational background, years of experience, recency of data, etc. We tried to include as much granularity as possible to avoid the issues with glassdoor. After you sign up, navigate to the career explorer, you should be able to get the information you need without being required to add a ton of personal information. More information is required if you want to get to the highest levels of granularity.


Requiring the education section is kinda silly given the number of people that haven't gone to college in the industry.


It would be nice if HN had a system to allow new accounts to post in threads like this without getting the "you're posting too fast" message on the first comment.


155K + 15K signing bonus + 25k yearly bonus+ some equity (10% of base salary/4 years = vesting)- Boston, MA Sr SWE


SDE II Amazon Seattle, ~$200k total/y


You probably want to setup a form for this. You would get much more willingness to share anonymously.

Also, which country in EU?


Just not a Google form, lest they know which employees are discussing salaries


I don't know, information shared in a comment has more authenticity and can encompass more info (such as other types of comps/benefits) than spreadsheet/form.

And Ireland. :)


FB/Google figures here are mostly from the US, but can someone enlighten me on theirs UK offers? Particularly, Google/Dublin and Facebook/London - are they on the same level? Or 1.x less?



Anyone know of an open, semi-anonymized data sharing platform? Let's use that if so. If not exist, let's make.


Making about 320k/yr, with a 47:47:6 split between cash, stock, and bonus. 4 years with the company.


12.50 USD/hr.

Hi from Amazon's shit tier.


Is there anyone who wouldn't mind sharing salary from Intel?


Anyone who is reporting appreciated stock compensation is ruining the thread with inflated numbers. People who join today don't get a retroactive stock grant.


I was paid in bitcoin in 2011, total comp in the billions ;)


IBM Cloud network engineer 115k in Texas


Only slightly related. Since many google employees will be here: How can I plan to land a job with google in 2 years if I have a physics masters and 1.5 years of web development + little exp. with other software stacks? I am trying to figure out a strategy to make it happen and I am willing to do anything, even go back to school.

* How can I get an interview? It seems simply sending my resume through the online portal will not work because I don't have a stellar academic record or much experience.

* How can I figure out what to apply for? I have experience in UI but does google even do that? I want to work at google because I want to work with the people there who are just the smartest people around. But I don't really care what I work on.

* How and how long should I prepare for the interview? I am working through the Cormen's algorithms book but I don't really have a solid CS education. And I hear that they just want you to know everything. So should I just go back to school?

* I have heard that one way is to participate and excel in coding competitions. Should I then focus my entire energy on this front? Or will this be misguided?


Start here: https://github.com/jwasham/coding-interview-university

I wouldn't recommend going back to school. You already have a Master's in Physics, which should give you all the math background you need to understand CS algos. I'd even encourage you to start to "translate" your Physics knowledge into code.

Google, FB, Microsoft, et. al. are more concerned with your ability to explain CS concepts at a whiteboard than your degrees.

Have you considered SpaceX? http://www.spacex.com/careers/list

They are usually very interested in cross discipline candidates.


Others here would be in far better position to advice you, but from what I can say, having an awesome github portfolio will go a long way to compensate for the other handicaps you mentioned.

Once you are there, I'd say the best way would be to find someone in your network who works at google, and get referred. If you don't know anyone, make contacts through various channels.


Github portfolio might help one get the interview in the first place, but once you get your foot in the door, it is 99% useless. Hiring committee will only look at it if they are unable to give yes/no decision based on the data from the interviews. Preparing for interviews is much better strategy compared to creating stuff to post on Github.


> , having an awesome github portfolio will go a long way to compensate for the other handicaps you mentioned.

Is this you personal experience?

I know for a fact that almost no one I interviewed with bothered to look at github. Some even admitted that asking for github is just a formality and that they don't have time or resources to evaluate it objectively.


I concur with sibling commments that while a net positive a github profile is be unlikely to be given much weight at a FAANG company. Unless maybe it shows experience on something directly related to the particular team you're applying for. Performance in the interview is really what matters.

I also concur that getting a referral from an any employee that you might meet is the better than just blindly sending in your resume, though not as good as a strong referral (i.e. someone you've had direct experience working with before). You will get more attention from the HR side and the employee referring you will have a better idea of what teams will be relevant than the HR people will.


Google hires in UX roles: https://careers.google.com/fields-of-work/design/

If you think you have talent in that area you could spend the next two years working in that area, then apply


Thankyou. This helped.


Satire? Feels like something that would be a great fit for The Onion if it had a "job search" section. The fact that this account has only made a total of 2 posts makes me wonder if they're just trolling.

> I want to work at google because I want to work with the people there who are just the smartest people around

Be careful with that kool-aid, it's toxic in high doses.


Personal attacks are not allowed on Hacker News.

Considering how many times we've warned you before about posting comments that break the HN guidelines, I should probably ban your account for this. But we'll give you another chance. Please don't break the guidelines again, if you want to keep commenting here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


No I'm not trolling. But I will post this to job search too if you think that is a better place.


I don't feel like discussing my salary publicly. Have you considered checking glassdoor.com or other similar sources?


Why do people feel this way about their salaries. Always seemed to me that in the grand tottal we will be better off if we did discuss our salaries publicly. I make around 60k usd in a Scandinavian startup as a programmer with experience. What is so big deal about it


> I make around 60k usd in a Scandinavian startup as a programmer with experience

I'm still trying to wrap my head around why European developers earn significantly less than virtually all their American counterparts, even in high cost of living areas (like Scandinavia)

I do understand you specified you work for a startup, but even at one of the many established regional consultancies dev salaries tend to cap out at around $90K IME.

Is it the lack of lucrative VC funding, the prevailing sense of egalitarianism at all costs, the abundance of (comparatively) well paid middle managers, all of the above or something else entirely?

edit : changed wording


One big factor is growth potential.

US tech companies can scale into a ~$21 trillion economy between the US + Canada, with barely any adjustments for culture & language. From there they can then use their considerable footing to push into any number of other foreign markets and press the scale further.

Most software businesses benefit immensely from such scaling.

If you're a Scandinavian tech company, doing something like that is far, far more difficult. It caps the upside for most companies. That's not unique to Scandinavia of course, it's true about almost all other countries / areas, other than China. US & British cousin cultures have a slightly easier time as well in general, as they can often immediately tap right into the US as an early market. That's why eg Shopify was able to so quickly scale itself, despite the smaller size of Canada's economy, they're doing a monster business in the US. Tech companies that have pulled that off coming out of Scandinavia are still semi-rare, such as Mojang or Spotify (Mojang famously was able to use the global scaling to immensely reward its employees).


Excellent point


My perspective of it from the UK:

- $60k/year is a lot of money for most people. Median household income is £24k - and people are generally more worried about whether they're better or worse off than the people they know than in absolute terms. In the UK most good careers cap out at £50-60k - maybe £10k more in London. Growing up, I always considered 6 figure salaries to be out of reach. - It's not necessarily about being _content_ with earning that much. Unless you're willing to move to the US (most people aren't), you have to find someone who'll pay you more than that, whether for programming or for something else. If you're unable to get more money then it's better to be content with what you're getting! - A lot of people I know put a lot of value in work life balance. I have a friend who's under 25 but has already cut their hours to about 75% because they would prefer free time to extra salary. From limited experience this seems a bit at odds with US work culture. - Yes, I think in large part it's down to less VC funding pushing ludicrous amounts of money into the ecosystem. - The recent performance of the £ vs the $ has made a significant difference when comparing to the US.


> It's not necessarily about being _content_ with earning that much.

I think this was poor wording on my part, as it implicitly assigns blame on the employee. I've edited my comment to reflect that I'm more curious as to why the market as a whole compensates devs less.


* Basic supply and demand. As long as you manage to hire developers, why pay more?

* The job market is a lot more scattered than in the US, there are fewer hubs concentrating software jobs. This dilutes competition.

* The job market is typically less fluid. This translates into more job security, but also a certain complacency.

* Europe hasn't seen the birth of many very-high margins software companies, generating millions per developer (off the top of my head I can think of SAP maybe, but that's B2B).

* Consequently, there's also less recognition for software developers, and their perceived value is lower than that of mechanical engineers for instance.

* Also, outdated management style is still fairly prevalent as you noted.

* VCs have no reason to push for salaries higher than necessary. European startups pitch cheap engineering as an advantage compared to being based in the Bay area.

I don't think egalitarianism has anything to do with our salaries. We might see the value in higher taxes, stronger labor rights, and a narrower income inequality. But I've never met a software developer who thinks they should inherently be less paid than say, a lawyer.


I agree with all of your points, but want to add an observation :

> Basic supply and demand. As long as you manage to hire developers, why pay more?

I know of several companies (Norway) that are almost desperate for more talent - to the extent that they are turning down lucrative projects. Nonetheless, I am also not aware of any of them making significant changes to their compensation. I can only theorize as to why this is, but my sense is that it has to do both with a fairly static billing structure that doesn't scale with experience, and concern for parity within the organization.


> concern for parity within the organization.

That sounds a bit silly. If you're doing so well you need to turn down contracts, why not look further out for new talent, attract people with generous relocation/signing bonus, and then give everyone a raise once your marginal revenue is increasing?


I agree, but here's a counterpoint / devil's advocate argument -

It's broadly true that wages tend to be "sticky downwards", and that it's much easier to not give something than to give it and then take it away.

As you correctly noted, there's much higher job security in European markets relative to the US. This also means that companies might be reluctant to over-extend themselves in good times, for fear of having no effective way of regulating salaries downwards in a prolonged slump.


> why European developers appear to be content with earning significantly less than virtually all their American counterparts

It's what the market pays. If I say I want $120k, I won't get a job.


> If I say I want $120k, I won't get a job.

I do actually know devs who make this much with ~5 years of experience, but they made the conscious decision to forego the large consultancies for smaller shops with less overhead.

One observation I made in Scandinavia is that the billable rate for tech professionals (including designers) appears to be more or less static. Customers pay roughly the same hourly rate regardless of whether a dev / designer has 2 or 20 years experience, so the most consistent path to higher compensation is to drop layers of support / management (with freelance being the highest).


It's not universal. My friend started off his career in Denmark making pretty standard US tech salaries.

The tax rates are much higher there too.


> It's not universal. My friend started off his career in Denmark making pretty standard US tech salaries.

That's fair, and I'm aware there are always outliers. For added reference, starting tech salaries in Oslo, Norway are around $50k (cost of living comparable to Seattle or DC). Perhaps more importantly, there's much less upward potential - senior devs rarely earn 6 figures USD unless they're freelancing.


The people making a lot above average (because they negotiated well) generally don't want to share this publicly, because others will realise they are then being underpaid.

As an example: would you tell a colleague "on the same level" as you that you're making $300k, when he is making $50 or $100k? That's either 1) an excellent way to get fired, because now everyone wants $300k, or 2) an excellent way to piss off your colleagues. They will start looking for a new gig immediately.


It is technically illegal to fire you for discussing this, at least in the US.

I know at Google there's supposedly a big internal salary sharing doc started by Erica Baker, and she wasn't fired for it (although her manager was supposedly quite unhappy).


> It is technically illegal to fire you for discussing this, at least in the US.

Funny, I know of American corporation which operates low cost center over here while paying 30-40% of American salaries and forbidding the employee from sharing its salary for 10 years (sic!) in the employment contract.


If in the US, it is illegal for them to have that in the employment contract and they could be sued for that. I'm not sure how it works if it's not operating in the US, but if it's a US company, might still apply. My company abides by all US laws because they're headquartered in US, but have offices worldwide.

According to this law: https://www.nlrb.gov/resources/national-labor-relations-act employees can talk about things that matter to them, salary being one of them. And the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) includes pay secrecy language in contracts as illegal, and even if you sign an NDA, it is still your right to talk about your salary.

The consequences for violation aren't usually very serious, so companies aren't too worried about violating the law, unfortunately. They usually have to provide back pay to the employee and/or offer the employee their job back (if they were fired). Obama signed an executive order that increased penalties for companies contracting with the government: they can lose their contract.

This law doesn't include contractors, ag workers, employees of federal, state, or local gvmt, or those employed by interstate rail and airline companies.

It does cover you if you aren't in a union.

Violations should be reported to the NLRB and they'll investigate it.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2014/04/13/301989789/pay-secrecy-policie... and https://www.govdocs.com/can-employees-discuss-pay-salaries/


So the American company operates over here low cost center and exploits all legal means for this location to remain low cost... but hey! enjoy your "salary disclosure freedom".


If "over here" is outside of the US, then it's in a different legal jurisdiction, and the laws are going to be different.


People come and go based on technicalities at this company all the time. It's really easy.


Technically, yes. But you might also technically be passed over for promotion, or getting a raise. :)


If your employment is at-will, they can fire you for no reason at all.


At-will states still have to abide by wrongful termination laws. They can't just do whatever they would like, even though that is the case some of the time.


> They will start looking for a new gig immediately

The response to this should be: "Good for them! They should look for somewhere that will pay them what they think they are worth."

I believe that is the whole point behind sharing salaries, to help level the playing field and help people who got low-balled on their offer to realize this.


As an (hypothetical) employer I now know that, ceteris paribus, I only need to offer you around 65k USD to come and work for me, even if I was prepared to offer you 90k USD.

I agree though that we would, on average, be better off if all of us agreed to share salaries publicly.


If other employees of yours also publicly share what they earn, you won't be able to do that, as you noted. Besides, other employers will see that you under pay and offer him more and you'll need to compete on price or you will use talented employees and left with lemons.


It's not quite that easy though. Let's assume sharing salaries is common. I see that you make 60k USD and your colleagues are on 70k USD each. As another potential employer, do I assume you are undervalued or just perform worse than your colleagues making 10k USD more?

We seem to be caught up in an uncomfortable hybrid world where salaries are sort of related to performance, but not really. If we just chose one way or another, that would sort out a lot of problems immediately.


I live in a country where income is public information.

It´s not really a problem as far as I know - and at any rate it definitely benefits employees.


There are two reasons.

First: because it is socially unacceptable.

In the US culture, talking about one's salary is taboo. It is rather as if someone were to post naked pictures. Sure, you are an enlightened person and you probably wouldn't hold it against them. Much. But you'd find it a bit weird. Americans try hard to hold to the illusion of a classless society and treating everyone equally, and hiding salary is an important way to do this. It also allows people to not feel cheated, if they don't realize that others are making more than they are.

Secondly: because my company might not like it.

US labor law actually REQUIRES that employees be permitted to discuss their salary with each other, which is why companies do not forbid discussing it, and to be clear: my company does NOT have any policy against discussing salary. But it is to the company's advantage to be a bit vague about salaries. Cynically one could say that this permits them to pay each individual the minimum they can get away with without having to deal with a sense that this is unfair. As a representative of my company, they would probably prefer that I talk about work conditions and company culture rather than specific numbers about the salary we pay.


It’s a very common concern here in the US and I find it very strange. Lots and lots of people work in jobs where salary is either public or easily determined. Further discussing pay is one of the few bedrock employee protections we have here. Yet it’s a taboo subject.

If I were a more suspicious person I’d chalk it up to a cabal of employers trying to suppress wages...


Well, for one, my contract explicitly prohibits me from disclosing my salary publicly - I am protected by law to discuss it with my colleagues, but (technically) I cannot post it online. I know in some countries(Sweden) salaries are literally a matter of public record, but that's not the case everywhere.


Is "I earn between $61k and $63k" disclosing your salary?


I can think of a few reasons; probably the same why you shouldn't brag about being rich or winning the lottery.

* Avoiding jealousy from people that might know the poster * Avoiding becoming a target for scammers or kidnappers

Also why does HN not support basic formatting?


> Also why does HN not support basic formatting?

It does, for a suitable basic definition of “basic” (it supports italics and preformatted monospace code blocks).

I think it's largely an aesthetic preference to focus on text content rather than distracting formatting that results in not supporting more. Aside from a decent formatting option for distinguishing block quotes, I don't really see any more formatting as being desirable, and even that is more to avoid people being tempted into using code blocks for blockquotes than because there aren't tolerable ways to present them without special formatting.


> Also why does HN not support basic formatting?

I've always chalked it up to HN's unchanging, simple aesthetic and interface (or, "ain't broke, not fixing")

You can block format with 4 spaces, but this isn't always ideal since it doesn't line wrap


I have. Like I said in the other comment, glassdoor (and similar sites) lump together salaries that were collected for as long as the site exists, while in reality the salaries have changed a lot over last 10 years.

I respect your decision not wanting to discuss your salary publicly. May I suggest a throwaway? :)


Make a throwaway then, same result as if you'd posted to Glassdoor




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