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Compare career levels across companies (levels.fyi)
832 points by kposehn on Oct 31, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 411 comments

Huge fan of this site, for two reasons:

- It lets “outsiders” to the tech scene understand salary and levels at big companies. If you went to MIT you probably already have frat brothers/sorority sisters or an alumni network that consists of senior engineers at these big companies that know the promotion and compensation schemes well. But if you were an equally smart student who went to a non target school, many of these organizational “open secrets” are hidden and must be earned through work experience, which costs time and career opportunity.

- Even if you do have some access to a network, these schemes evolve over time. Salary especially (levels not so much). Having up to date data is huge for assessing options during a job search or even planning for one.

The site isn’t perfect— a lot of the leveling data is subjective AFAICT and not based on cross company moves, and the comp info seems a bit skewed for some companies and more senior roles. But its a huge step in the right direction towards empowering employees.

Also a huge fan. When I got my first full time engineering job at $50k I thought that was amazing. It literally allowed me to leapfrog my entire family and secured what I thought of as a middle class existence.

Then I got a salary adjustment to $70k because my new manager knew (although I didn't) that they'd lose me quickly.

And then I picked up the phone and talked to a recruiter and all the sudden I had a counteroffer for six figures. Can you believe that!? Never in my life thought I'd amount to anything especially after dropping out of college. A 6 figure job made me feel like I had made it.

Stayed close to that number for several years. Then I went remote for a big company with a high base and great RSUs. Now I'm a one percenter. My mom was a drug addicted waitress with an 8th grade education. I will own my beautiful home free and clear in my 30s. I have the means to travel the world limited only by my time. I will be able to retire in my 30s.

It's all so amazing, but I also took nearly a decade to wander into that final band of compensation that many are introduced to right out of the gate at top companies. Open information like this site is very valuable to people like me who come from a non-traditional background and live in a flyover state.

How did you make the switch to working remotely for a big company in combination with a salary increase?

Somehow it seems that remote jobs offer less compensation here in Europe.

I was directly recruited, for 2 remote jobs at once. The first one was because I hung out in an IRC channel for an open source project. The CTO of that company just offered me a job.

At the same time a recruiter from a fortune 500 just directly reached out to me and it was a great fit. I ended up going with the big established company because:

1. Better offer 2. Long term product area I was more interested in.

This was about 4 years ago and it turns out that although I'm no household name in the community, I am one of the relatively few people who's been doing Go in production since pre-go1.0.

Company 1 was in New York, Company 2 was multi-national but main engineering offices are in the Bay Area.

Very cool, thanks for sharing.

Congrats on your achievements. Could you detail a bit more on your studies and the jobs you had? I'd like to take a similar path.

Dropped out of college. I had an intro programming class once.

In terms of education, I'd probably say my highest achievements are just knocking out all the undergrad math for engineering and taking a few grad level classes. I really loved math and Linear Algebra and ODE specifically.

Job-wise I went from: Student web dev -> Mediumish Ecommerce -> a couple startups doing some fun distributed computing -> Ad-tech -> platform level proxy/loadbalancing/edge compute for a big company.

Title at most jobs was either software engineer maybe senior. Held a couple director jobs that were glorified team leads. Currently, have a Principal title.

There are two problems with these:

1) If you aren't at one of these companies, it's not a fair comparison. It's really difficult to find a pre-IPO company who is going to compensate you like these, if for no other reason than that options are just not something you can easily stick a dollar value on.

2) It's kind of depressing. It's very easy to find people at similar experience levels as you making FAR more money (perhaps 50%, or even double), because you aren't at a FAANG company (or whatever we're calling them now). It can really make you feel like you haven't learned/grown/accomplished anything in your career when you see people starting at a similar comp to what you get for a decade+ of experience.

Some people act as though these companies are an easy alternative for anyone, but the reality is that there are only a handful of them. For me, with a ruby background(+), I'm not particularly interesting to any of them, and I know I'm not the only one.

It's neat that between Facebook/Apple/Google you can compare apples to apples, but for a lot of people, it's really an apples to oranges comparison, and a frustrating one.

Also, I imagine it's that much worse for people outside the Bay Area.

(+: While I'm happy to learn new languages on the job and not tied to any stack, it's still not easy. For instance, a Google recruiter once told me to spend a few months becoming a Python expert, and then they'd interview me (in Python); another time a Microsoft recruiter insisted that I do the interview in Java and then got frustrated when I struggled with syntax I hadn't touched in 5 years.)

So what you're saying is that this tool is bad because it makes you sad ?. Information is empowering use it to make informed choices about your career. If you're taking less money, make sure there is some trade off you're happy with.

Also, most Google jobs are language agnostic. You can code in pretty much one of C/C++, Java, Python, Google hires for generalists. Your Ruby experience is not what's holding you back, so don't get bogged down.

It makes me "sad" too, kind-of, until I realize that...

* This all about a relatively small number of companies, all large, mostly trendy, mostly webby.

* mostly Bay area and their satellite campuses in a few other places.

* base salaries are higher than what I'm used to but not crazy higher unless one counts stock grants. When danluu casually drops numbers like 400K he's really talking about senior/principal folks in very elite job-tracks WITH very high stock grants.

* the data comes from people who have had "career trajectories" that brought them to this salary escalator. Career-changers, those of us with weird and varied backgrounds and those with rough starts are, generally-speaking, excluded from these kinds of salary expectations.

Right now, Google wants to interview me as a front end dev (I have an on site in a couple weeks). Thing is, I'm not; I'm a backend/ infrastructure person. But of their languages I knew Javascript the best. So they gave me a phone screen in that, which I passed; but can I handle an on site in something I haven't really touched in 5 years?

Will I read as senior even if I pass?

The interview is mostly algorithms. It's not gonna be front end trivia.

The front-end interviews at Google are about half algorithms and half details about how web front-ends should work, be structured, web technology problems, browser performance, etc. It's an entirely different interview track from General SWE.

How hard is it to ask them to switch me to something more backend? Is it impossible unless I know Another one of their languages?

Tell the recruiter you're a backend developer, and are interested in one of those positions instead.

The backend interview lets you choose whatever language you want. You'll be asked algorithms, distributed design, code quality, and data-structure questions.

Generally speaking, if you focus too much on a programming language / stack, it comes off as a sign that you're not a good fit, since you emphasize programmer skills, but they're looking for engineers. Except for particular roles, like front-end dev, where they're looking for programmers with experience in the technology stack itself.

Good to know!

The hiring committee will not hold JS as the reason to keep you from being hired as a senior. Language is not a factor in hiring let alone level calibration.

It does sound like, per the other poster, I'll get asked a lot of front end dev questions , the kind that will be hard to answer since I have no recent front end experience (and the experience I did have was full stack anyway)

Says google is code agnostic.

Provides list of the three languages you specifically need to code in.

Perhaps agnostic means something different in my language :p

I think code agnostic in this case means they don’t hire based on a language, but they still work with a limited set.

It makes sense if you think about it. A small startup with 5 Python engineers can’t afford to hire one with heavy experience in Ruby and who knows a thing or two about Python.

First, it may be the case that this person can actually transfer their knowledge and do a good job with Python, but there’s also a chance they can’t and that will disturb the entire operation for a team that small, that’s a big risk.

Also, this person is not going to be paid as a Jr. Python because they have the options to be paid as a Sr. Ruby somewhere else, so the startup need to step up their pay game, now that’s a big and expensive risk.

A big company like Google, on the other hand, can afford to have that risk. If everything goes right, they end up with a great Ruby and Python engineer, if things goes wrong, Google is so big they probably have some other projects somewhere that can use a good Rubyst, and in the worst case scenario, if the person really can’t fit anywhere, a company like Google can still afford to let them go and eat the costs of a wrong hire.

Everything you said is not wrong. But it still seems to me that agnostic is the wrong word to use here, and code agnostic is the wrong phrase.

edit: mav3rick has clarified below, it does indeed seem code agnostic.

Those are the 3 big ones. You can code in pretty much whatever as long as you're interviewer can understand your logic. Please post here when employees in your company understand all languages possible. Op maybe an outlier but many employees go above and beyond to not make language a factor.

I work at another BigCorp and am involved with interviews. There are a ton of languages I just don't know enough of to interview you in, but a popular functional language (python) plus a choice of a structural language (c/c++ or java) covers a large range of candidates. If the only language you're comfortable in is Scala or Go and you really are uncomfortable with C , python and java, clearly you must realize a lot of the industry will have trouble hiring you.

You also must realize that I don't actually use much python, c, or java. Those are just languages I can generally expect candidates to be comfortable with.

Those three are just the ones that will get you quickest interview scheduled. If you want to do something not listed it'll just take a little longer to find someone to interview you

Ouch, Go not included in languages Google commonly uses.

Go not included in languages Google expects candidates to be comfortable in.

I wouldn't exactly call these problems.

For (1), I agree that you might have trouble getting startups (if that's what you mean by pre-IPO) to equal the total comp that big tech offers, if for no other reason that startup equity just isn't as close to cash as big tech equity is.

For (2), I'd say that depends on your mindset.

For both of your points, the argument is basically how does this sort of transparency affect things? While salary can always be a touchy subject, I'm generally always in favor of transparency.

Having this information can make it easier for one to decide whether it's worth the effort to pursue getting a job at a big tech company, and also allow you to spot BS when some other company's recruiter says that they pay "top of market" for software engineers.

So again, I wouldn't see these as problems.

As for 1) I literally meant pre-IPO. Companies that are not publicly traded. Even very very large ones(e.g. Uber) tend to issue options instead of RSUs. When you get hired, the value of those options is a big 0 - that's where they set the strike price. You can't really compare options to RSUs. You can't assume the stock will go up 50% in value or anything in particular. So they are hard to value as anything other than 0 (I'd love to hear other ways you think about it)

Transparency is good. I'm not exactly against this information. I mostly wish it were available in a way that applies to the rest of us.

Also, I wish it didn't make me feel bad. Call it mindset but salary discussions tend to.

> For instance, a Google recruiter once told me to spend a few months becoming a Python expert, and then they'd interview me (in Python);

Most SWE hires are generalists at Google, not tied to a specific language.

Unless you're being hired for a specialist role, you should absolutely be able to interview in the language of your choice. It's sometimes harder to put together an interview slate for a less popular language, but that definitely shouldn't make your recruiter force Python.

> Also, I imagine it's that much worse for people outside the Bay Area.

Actually, FAANG companies are some of the only ones with strong compensation in offices all over the country and globe.

> you should absolutely be able to interview in the language of your choice.

Except the choice is between Java, C++ and Python. They are very clear about that, asking what your preference is during the scheduling phase.

I went through the interview process this year, and even tried to ask my interviewers if it was ok to do Kotlin instead of Java. It wasn't.

Google SWE interviewer here. You can absolutely interview in Ruby. I have it listed on my language interviewing skills page. It is harder to schedule for more obscure languages because we have to find 4 people with that language who are available.

This is the key insight. The company seems to be language agnostic - the pool of interviewers isn’t.

I was told I could use C# as that is the language I use the most. Thing is, I'm going to use Python anyway. If they're going to whiteboard me, I want a language that is easy to write on a whiteboard and, to me, Python would be that language. Besides, I'm over C#. Would love to program Python for a while.

I have interviewed with Google 7-8 times over the past 3-4 years (Google has mostly rejected me, but last time I cancelled the process with an onsite scheduled due to personal reasons) - every single time, Google has let me interview with JavaScript.

why do you keep re-interviewing? Is it for different roles?

Dude really wants there.

Google offers are some of the best for putting pressure on other companies.

I am currently at another FAANG though, and may not leave my company ever, even if it would likely up my compensation.

I interviewed and passed at google. Through 6 interviews I used JS, C, Go, and Swift. One of the tougher Qs was to make a pretty full-featured promise library from scratch in whatever language I wanted in one of those interviews. Chose Swift because I'm a fan of the syntax for blocks (esp when whiteboarding). Feedback was that was my best interview of the day. My experience - they wanted to know I could program, didn't care about language.

You wrote a promise library in Swift on a whiteboard? What?

How large was this whiteboard?

What is a promise library? Sounds rather complex, how does that even fit on a whiteboard?

It’s a js async idiom.

I interviewed in JavaScript, so that's not strictly true. And if you're interviewing for an iOS role, Objective-C is obviously going to be a hard requirement. But if you say Python then write Ruby in the actual interview, would they really care that much? (any Google interviewers care to answer this?) I gave JS as my primary language but did one of my interviews in Python because I felt like it - the interviewer was fine with it.

I just did an interview in Go. I think people have done javascript too.

Sounds like a miscommunication happened somewhere. You should provide feedback to your recruiter.

Maybe that's your experience, but there are a number of people that didn't have that experience. I mean, you think Google isn't going to let you use a language they invented in an interview? Maybe your interviewer was a jerk, or maybe this was for a very specific role in which only those languages are applicable, but almost all jobs at Google are generalists.

Finance pays similar rates as this in lots of places (Chicago, New York, Austin, Houston, Dallas).

These are just jobs I know of in my network. I’ve heard that these pay band exists in other industries as well (consulting, specialist niche, etc).

Most finance roles don't anymore. There's a large supply of candidates looking for roles across finance in e.g. NYC, but the industry is also shrinking in many areas, leading to compensation compression. I'm particularly thinking of sell-side roles.

This is true, I’ve recieved a number of offers in finance that were good but underwhelming.

I'll take a finance software engineering job in NYC at these rates. It'll mean relocating, but for a 50% salary hike, I can manage.

There are a lot of companies that will pay like this, even outside of California. Be aggressive with your negotiating. Companies that make millions/billions off of software will pay high salaries, but you have to negotiate well.

I'm not particularly interested either; I like to think I'm in the top x % of developers in my country, but that's not enough. For Google I'd need to pass (iirc) some CS tests, which I'm just not good in (I couldn't remember what bubblesort is let alone how to implement it, mostly because it's not relevant / important in my day to day job).

Second reason is that I'd have to relocate abroad. No thanks.

Third reason, politics. I doubt I'd be able to climb up the proverbial ladder - or be promoted / paid more based on merit alone - without playing the game. I heard something about getting commendations or something? Just as easily you can get shafted by the mob who push their own people up the ladder.

> It's really difficult to find a pre-IPO company who is going to compensate you like these,

huh? that's not the point. It's difficult because there are zero startups or pre-IPO companies that will pay you like this.

> if for no other reason than that options are just not something you can easily stick a dollar value on

it's very easy. dollar value of options = $0.

I wholly disagree. Even if the results are depressing (and they can be depressing for people at those companies who see the ranges that others at their same level make -- maybe even more depressing), it's so important to have information when negotiating for a raise or for a new position.

Information is power and it is in companies of all sizes best-interest for workers not to discuss wages. That's fine -- I understand why from a business perspective, the corporation doesn't want to share this information.

But for workers, this information is extremely important and it should be discussed. Sadly, it often isn't because of cultural/social norms that deem talking about money "rude" and because plenty of people are embarrassed to admit they make more/less than their peers.

But it's important we know this information. This is even more true for underrepresented groups, who historically are worse at negotiating and get paid less as a result -- and may not have the networks to know what they should be asking for/expecting.

When I worked in media (where the pay is considerably different than tech), I used to ask more junior co-workers that I had a good rapport with what they made -- not to be nosey -- but to help them negotiate better. It took me a long time to figure out my own worth and ask for it.

AND STILL, even knowing this, I fucked up when I switched careers because I knew how much I was worth in my old career, but not in the new career. Glassdoor only goes so far and until you're in the system, you don't understand the intricacies. I stupidly didn't negotiate my offer -- in part because it was substantially more than I made in my old career -- but I'm underpaid -- compared to my team members at my same level and got a shittier sign-on/stock package as a result. That sucks for me (and it's 100% my fault. I don't blame the recruiter in the slightest), but the more data I can gather about what the mean -- or even median -- is for my company/position, the better I can negotiate in the future, either at my current employer or somewhere else.

Knowledge is power and having resources like this -- even if they carry an implied asterisk because of things that charts like this can't necessarily account for (division of a company, demand for certain skillsets, area of expertise, etc.), I'm glad stuff like this exists.

It's certainly better than looking at Blind, where most of the posters are quasi-sociopaths and liars with negative intentions.

I absolutely agree that it's useful to have this information in general, especially so if you work at one of those companies.

However, I wanted to point out that having a big set of apples to compare to when you're looking through oranges isn't useful, and can be harmful, mentally speaking. I think it's a net positive, I just wanted to point out how it can be hard for some of us. Seeing numbers like those make me really wonder what I can do to get myself in that position, but most people (especially on somewhere like Blind) act like that is a trivial thing to accomplish.

I'd also love to see what performance is expected at what levels, and what gets you promoted to other levels. It is of course very possible to be performing the job several levels above where you are, and not get promoted there because you are in one of those underrepresented groups, or bureaucracy, or any number of any other causes.

When I last worked at companies large enough for that sort of thing to matter, the levels were actually the important part. Your boss would typically say he couldn't promote or give you a raise above a single digit percent, even though your work was amazing, because of levels and salary bands and slots he had open and so on. That was your queue to go work across the street for a couple years at the higher level, and then switch back to the original company at a much higher level. It was basically the only way to advance and increase your salary.

And you'd never know if it you didn't realize you were outperforming your level. It's also the easiest way to take advantage of an underrepresented person (keeping them at a low level, versus underpaying them within a level)

I agree that there are tiers of companies when it comes to compensation, and this site tends to skew towards recording datas for higher tiers (but many of the companies this site provides levels for do NOT pay as much as FAANG - as more salary data is added this will become clearer). And this can certainly be frustrating/depressing when comparing with individual compensation. It should be noted that the pay differential between top paying companies and those below comes from two factors:

- Geography. US based companies in the Bay Area will almost always pay more than companies anywhere else in the world. Many companies have different compensation bands for different regions of the world, even within the US.

- Equity. The base salary for an entry level developer position at a top company will pay somewhere in the range of 110-130k. I've seen many entry level dev jobs at startups in the bay area paying in the 80-110k range (I can't speak to hard data that supports this though, because open salary information is hard to come across!). So, the salary differential when comparing upper/lower bands between top companies and median companies exists but isn't outlandish (between 20-40% more). The difference is, entry level devs at Google & FB will also get a 50k/yr equity grant. Based on my experiences, this is an order of magnitude more than the median company (where lottery tickets or 1-5k/yr grants are common).

So my personal advice for optimizing compensation would be:

1) Move to the US (Bay Area/NYC/Seattle) or work for a US (Bay Area/NYC/Seattle) company remotely or at a satellite office in another city. Obviously, everyone has personal restrictions so this may not possible.

2) Work for a company who you believe will have equity growth. There is a wide spectrum here between 5 person startup lottery tickets and established behemoth that have 0.5% YoY growth stocks. A good recent example of this is Square, which gave out equity grants that were something like 50% lower in cash value than the equivalent role's offer from a FAANG company (this is based off of personal anecdata). However, Square's stock exploded over the past year and that equity today outcompetes many of the equivalent FAANG-level offers. Of course, the opposite could have also been the case -- I've heard stories of underwater options being granted pre-IPO by Square. Sure, a few years later they're worth a lot, but at the time, employees weren't happy.

The world is wider than FAANG and tiny startups, and each company has its own set of hiring criteria (e.g. both Twitter and Square started as Rails shops so your Ruby experience would be more valuable to them than Google or FB). You can't predict the market, but if the choice is between 20 year old Company A that gives you 3k/yr in equity or a recently IPO'd Company B that gives you 1k/yr in equity, I would on average take the gamble with Company B (in practice taking into account team strength, product vision/market fit, & company direction after interviewing).

> 2) Work for a company who you believe will have equity growth. There is a wide spectrum here between 5 person startup lottery tickets and established behemoth that have 0.5% YoY growth stocks. A good recent example of this is Square, which gave out equity grants that were something like 50% lower in cash value than the equivalent role's offer from a FAANG company (this is based off of personal anecdata). However, Square's stock exploded over the past year and that equity today outcompetes many of the equivalent FAANG-level offers. Of course, the opposite could have also been the case -- I've heard stories of underwater options being granted pre-IPO by Square. Sure, a few years later they're worth a lot, but at the time, employees weren't happy.

If you can already tell ahead of time which company's stocks are going up, just take more cash and use it to buy those stocks.

You can probably figure out why telling people to pick a single winning stock isn't good repeatable advice.

When you do get equity, sell your shares as soon as you're allowed. Don't bet on a single company more than you have to -- you're already staking a large chunk of your salary and career on them.

I agree with what you've written, and the phrasing I used was unclear. I was mainly making a note about joining a mid to late stage pre-IPO startup (series B or later) vs joining a large, low growth public company. You can't easily invest in most pre-IPO companies today (though with secondary markets growing in popularity this might change in 5 years). In the case of choosing between two large public companies, sure, take the cash & liquidate your positions as soon as you vest so you can stick them in SPY or vanguard.

I'm curious, how often do post-IPO companies give options versus RSUs? I am used to thinking all public companies issue RSUs, but the last one I worked at didn't. My strike was at a relatively brief high point, and the value declined to about 2/3s of that before the company got acquired, but obviously those options were worthless - they wouldn't have been if they were RSUs.

Related: https://blog.wealthfront.com/sell-employee-stock/

TLDR: "When should you sell company stock? As soon as possible."

I agree in general with your comment, but..

> If you can already tell ahead of time which company's stocks are going up, just take more cash and use it to buy those stocks.

These are pre-IPO companies so you can't easily buy their shares.

According to this thing if I had a similar level job at google I’d be making $150k more a year in total comp than i’m making now but I’m like 90% sure I can’t get that job at google.

That’s a pretty defeatist attitude

That's a funny way of spelling "realistic".

These companies want The Right Stuff, and it's easy to tell if you yourself aren't it.

These companies have hired 10s of thousands of engineers just like you.

And yes, exactly, it's easy to tell yourself you aren't the right stuff and thus never try. That's defeatism, not realism.

i assume you don't actually know anyone at FAANG. There are plenty, believe me plenty, of average people. Of course there are superstars, and superstars gravitate there for the high pay as well as the chance to work with and learn from other superstars. but when you employ this many people, you also bring along many, many average joes.

I’ve written extensive ruby at 2 of the companies listed on this site (including my current job which is 100% ruby)

Which? I've had conversations worth Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon that all got weird about Ruby. If there are hidden Ruby jobs, I'd love a referral to them

Would rather not say, they're not FAANG but they're on the website and you've heard of both of them.

I've never spoke w/ Microsoft or Amazon in any depth - but have gone through interview processes w/ Google and FB, neither were too concerned about seeing Ruby on my resume. Curious what "getting all weird" means?

Typically, the recruiter asks me to do a simple challenge in e.g. a google doc. I'm then strongly pressured to do it in one of their preferred languages, or if I do it in Ruby, I have to explain all of the syntax and it takes a lot of time and mental focus away from the actual task.

For instance, in a recent interview, I couldn't remember the substr() function in Javascript, which Google insisted I do the challenge in. Instead I wound up using the ruby [range] operator and explaining ranges and what that operator meant.

To Google's credit and my moderate surprise, I passed that round of the interview. But I have definitely had interviews where the result is a mash of languages that nobody can really understand. Or they let me do it in ruby and I have to explain every line of the syntax (for instance, how ruby does iteration).

There have also definitely been times where they flat out told me that they want a specific language and I should contact them again when I've gotten skill in it.

Alternately, if languages don't match, they'll focus the interview on a skill that they need for whatever position, but for which I only have limited expertise. Take SQL. I know what indexes are, I can open a console to identify long running queries, but I mostly work with it through an ORM. But if they hear I have some SQL experience they'll decide to grill me on details of how Postgres handles things like logging and persistence and maintaining multiple versions of rows in memory and what are tuples and so on.

I'm not a DBA and will do only mediocre in such interviews. I always mix up the different types of joins, because I hardly ever write join queries and usually look it up when I need it.

I'm fairly certain they'd have given me Java questions if I knew Java, but the thing I had experience in that the recruiter knew was SQL.

Amazon has definitely got ruby code. Their somewhat new continuous deployment/infrastructure automation/configuration tools are all ruby which means every team actually ends up writing some ruby since everyone has infrastructure they need to set up. There are also some other scattering of teams that use it.

I agree that it is a great site. This is the kind of thing the Internet was, or at least should be, made for. I would also encourage people who like this kind of thing to think, or take it, one step further. Because even in countries where salaries (tax returns really) are public information getting a decent, or even predictable, salary remains a problem.

Some of this is that there is a difference between data and information. Even though you have the data, the information asymmetry remains. After all your interests are often at odds with people whose job it is to look after the company's interests and sometimes with other people in the job market as well. But maybe most of all it is a practical problem. And it isn't usually information that solves practical problems, but what you do with the information you have.

> a lot of the leveling data is subjective AFAICT and not based on cross company moves

eh? the leveling data is local to each company. within each company, of course it's subjective because ladder criteria are subjective. but AFAICT it's accurate. in general "senior" is 5 years at any company. senior means you have a 4 year degree and adequate work experience to have applied your book learning to a professional environment and so you are now adept at basic skills, advanced and current platform/framework/library/environment knowledge, know how to use many modern toolsets, have delivered software that has made it to the maintenance and maybe replacement part of the lifecycle. beyond that, some companies have more grades and some have fewer which represent larger org structures and so more people and bigger deployments, and more money.

> comp info seems a bit skewed for some companies and more senior roles

what do you mean, skewed?

> the leveling data is local to each company.

No, it's not. They explicitly try to match up levels across companies. You can see this in action if you go to the page for submitting leveling data for a company: https://www.levels.fyi/create.html.

Agreed. This has been an eye opener for me as someone who has worked mainly in smaller companies whose job levels didn't go beyond junior, mid-level, senior/lead in my profession. Granted, the concept of target schools still adds some bias to candidate hiring, but it's better than in many non-technical careers.

And to the "outsiders" from outside US, it should be written that 40-45 percent is taken away as taxes. So, if someone is making a total comp of 200k, it is basically 120k. This should be written in bold on this website.

Actually i would say, instead of having these charts which compare total comp, its better to have a survey on how much people save after rent, taxes, and basic living expenses (not including loans etc.)

> it should be written that 40-45 percent is taken away as taxes. So, if someone is making a total comp of 200k, it is basically 120k.

Are you confident about this? My experience as a single guy in that total comp range is closer to 25 percent taxation. The marginal rate is that high, but only a small chunk of a 200k income is taxed at that rate. In fact, Social Security caps out before there. And if you're married, it's even lower.

But my impression was that Europeans are taxed at an even higher rate; is there some reason listing pretax salaries would be deceptively high?

> Are you confident about this? My experience as a single guy in that total comp range is closer to 25 percent taxation. The marginal rate is that high, but only a small chunk of a 200k income is taxed at that rate. In fact, Social Security caps out before there. And if you're married, it's even lower.

What state are you in? My experience is more similar to the parent post; bonuses which are part of your total comp get taxed slightly higher than base pay. After CA income tax, etc etc effective tax rate is easily 40%+.

> What state are you in?


> After CA income tax, etc etc effective tax rate is easily 40%+.

The marginal rate is that high yes. Pretty easy breakdown at 200k:

CA Disability: 0.00% (phased out at $114k) Social Security: 0.00% (phased out at $128k) Medicare/Medicaid: 2.35% California Tax: 9.30% Federal Tax: 32.00%

So that's around 40 percent of every _extra_ dollar, emphasis on "extra". The average rate rate is far lower, around 18% federal, 9% cali.

> My experience is more similar to the parent post; bonuses which are part of your total comp get taxed slightly higher than base pay.

Your experience with bonuses is misleading. They're taxed as normal income, but the withholding formulas for paychecks are calculated independently per paycheck, as if you earned that much every paycheck. So if you have one biweekly paycheck with a 15 percent of salary bonus, that's taxed as if you made 5x as much. End result: you are withheld as though in the top tax bracket for the bonus paycheck, and your refund will be larger than expected.

tl;dr: don't look at your pay stubs, look at the actual tax returns you file instead for effective tax rates.

> bonuses which are part of your total comp get taxed slightly higher than base pay

This is incorrect. The taxes withheld when the bonus is paid may be different, but for annual tax calculation all that matters is the total income (bonus or not).


"Remember, taxes may be withheld from your bonus at a higher tax rate at payout, but when you file your taxes at tax time your actual tax rate is based on your total taxable income and overall actual tax rate (...) you may get some of the money withheld back in the form of a tax refund."

> After CA income tax, etc etc effective tax rate is easily 40%+.

For a sufficiently high income, sure. In 2018, a single person living in California with no deductions, no contribution to retirement accounts (401k, IRA) or HSA and earning $364k would pay $145,602 in federal+state+FICA taxes, which is 40% effective rate up to 4 significant digits:


This is the worst case (high state income tax, no deductions, no pre-tax retirement contributions, single) - change any of those factors and you're paying less than 40% effective rate.

If I had to guess, very few people around the world will be shocked to learn that someone earning $364k in California will net only $220k after paying taxes. In most of Western Europe they'd be surprised your effective tax rate is so low while earning 20x the minimum wage.

Where do you live that doesn’t have taxes? Also 40-45% is extremely high for the US. Perhaps you’re misunderstanding how marginal tax rates work?

Some of these reported salaries would come close to that, if you include social security and medicare:

For a $500k income in CA

    29.59% Federal Income Tax
  + 10.48% CA Income Tax
  +  1.59% Social Security
  +  1.99% Medicate
  = 43.65% total tax rate.
(Source: https://smartasset.com/taxes/california-paycheck-calculator)

The California tax rate is off - you get taxed certain percentages up to a certain amount (progressive tax). The effective tax rate for $500k in California should be about 9.44% pre-deductions (should be effectively lower than this).

Should be roughly 42% pre-deductions/writeoffs.

...But in truth, if you're making around the $500k ballpark, you're doing pretty well financially.

People not understanding marginal tax need to get educated and not spread misinformation like claiming you pay nearly 45% taxes. You pay that on the top half of your income.

Also yes; just pay the tax, and then some. It helps everyone. If the country is sane in terms of politics of course, and doesn't have the military as its biggest expense. That makes it clear they're more concerned with international affairs than their own people.

I mean... the parent post is right, the site I linked seems to be calculating CA state tax incorrectly.

But: 42% is the effective tax rate (not marginal, average). And this is pretty close to 45%. For a hypothetical person making $500k or more as regular income in CA (as many of the posted salaries above would be), they would indeed pay about $210k in taxes plus Medicare plus Social Security.

You forgot sales taxes, additional health insurance fees, and 401k contributions.

40-45% is not extremely high for California for someone unmarried with a mid-6-figures income.

For lower income levels than that, or if you're married, or live in a state with lower state taxes, the numbers look much better.

You forget that many of these compensation numbers include a large portion of equity that many people hold for 1yr to get long term capital gains tax of just 15%.

Many of these equity packages include components that can top 6 figures a year. $100k in equity every year for 4 years is not an unreasonable equity package for a mid-senior engineers (5+yrs exp).

> You forget that many of these compensation numbers include a large portion of equity that many people hold for 1yr to get long term capital gains tax of just 15%.

Actually for RSUs you are taxed at vest, so it's your pay tax rate (probably in the realm of 35%+). What's taxed at 15% after a year is any additional gain from vest time. So if you get 4 google stock at $1000 a piece, they sell 2 to cover your tax liability, refund you the difference between $2000 and .35*4000, and you get 2 stocks you've just paid full taxes on. If in a year they're worth $1200 a piece, you can pay additional taxes of only 15% on the $400 you just made by holding onto them.

That's brutal is the not any CGT allowance? Looks like we are getting an EMI option scheme her in the Uk and the EU.

This is the one where employees do not have to pay the income tax that would normally be charged on the market value of any shares or options granted to them.

If employees are given options under an approved EMI, they are only charged capital gains tax at 10% on the increase in value over what they pay for the shares (the option's 'exercise price'), so long as that price is at or above the market valuation of the shares on the date of granting the options.

Options and rsus are different. I don't buy my rsus, the company just gives them to me, so I pay tax on any shares they give me, because they're income.

If I purchased them as options, different things would apply. But I'm happy paying tax on income of it means I get the shares for free.

The change in price if the shares is taxed as capital gains though.

You’re right, thanks for jumping in and clarifying my hastily written comment!

Stock gain does account for a significant portion of comp the past couple of years though so it’s not a small thing.

Options (vs RSUs) also have slightly different mechanics.

But the stock gain that accounts for a significant portion of comp is between grant and vest, and thus is still taxed at normal income tax rates.

Gains after vest can't really be counted as comp, since anyone else could have bought those same shares and made those same gains. That's just investment income; attributing it to your employer/employee relationship is silly.

Maker here, posting this as a top-level comment for visibility. Lots of folks are interested in the salary information alone. We have a dedicated page for compensation information: https://www.levels.fyi/comp.html

There's also a short url: http://www.comp.fyi :)

Edit: You can also contribute by adding your comp here: https://www.levels.fyi/addcomp.html

Very interesting, thanks for putting this together.

One thing that I'd like to see - on compensation, can you clarify whether the stock grants are valued at time of grant or at time of vesting?

If they are valued at time of vesting then the numbers will be much harder to (a) compare against one another, and (b) extrapolate into the future.

Right now the submission form is ambiguous, which I worry is muddying your dataset. I highly recommend picking one and clarifying that on the submission form.

The submission form [1] asks explicitly for what would appear on your W2 (ex. vested value). Part of the reason why comp packages have been so high in last 1-2 years is that stock grants that were given to employees 2-4 years ago have shot up in value via a bull run stock market. To attract these employees, companies have to outbid their current expected take-home pay. Thus the vested value is actually most relevant when you are comparing your current compensation and new offers.

[1] https://www.levels.fyi/addcomp.html

This is really true. A lot of people ask “what kind of a developer makes $300-400k per year?”.

The answer is one working for a company with equity that is increasing in value rapidly.

Take that away and it’s more typical to get $150-200k base plus another $50k in equity.

This is pretty critical information that, imo, you should communicate more prominently. I was a little shocked at the value of some of these grants for the level, but this makes more sense.

Thank you for the response and the explanation.

With compensation like that, I have to reconsider my drive to be an entrepreneur. If you can make a million bucks working for someone else, why work for yourself?

Statistically if you can get into a tier 1 company you’ll be better off. You get 10-20 years at $200-$400k by default, so $2-8 million. You have to weigh that against the exit success chance and size of a 5-10 year (as typical) startup run to an exit.

It’s not all about money of course, and if you can run your own place you can probably get into into a tier 1 tech company.

I worry if I'm missing out on the opportunity to get into a Tier-1 company while I'm busy going on my own. The chance of a $5-10M exit is slimmer than the chance of getting into a Tier-1 company.

I've got a couple of feature requests:

- Allow me to select more than three companies on the homepage. Or if that's not possible, let me toggle a specific one in and out. Right now I try to keep my current company on the screen, but as toggling a new company in drops an old one (seemingly lifo) it's a bit of a juggle - On comp.html the tooltip over the graphs only shows 2/3 of the values. So I can see: * Base salary + Total * Base salary + Stock * Stock + Bonus but not all 4 at the same time. It'd be a lot more useful if I could.

I don't see a way to search within a company. Like salary of software engineers at level E5 at Facebook.

Ah yes this is a common feature request. We'll get to it soon! For now searching the company name in textbox + clicking on column sort may help.

Really cool website!

One thing that seem to be missing is the signing bonus.

It's different from the yearly bonus since it's a one time event, but it can be significant.

Averaging it per year would only make sense if a person leaves the company and divides the signing bonus by the number of years worked

Where is the data sourced from? Is it all self-reported?

Yup, you can add your own here: https://www.levels.fyi/addcomp.html

I work for a company that was marked as "New" but there was no compensation. The levels were correct (close enough). Was wondering where you get the levels data from? Job postings? Or someone submitted levels w/o submitting compensation.

Levels can be submitted here: https://www.levels.fyi/create.html

Compensation we get separately through this form: https://www.levels.fyi/addcomp.html

Love this! Would love to see it expanded to include the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

Here's a slightly related open question: Are Engineers in the US just much richer than in the UK?

For perspective, I started my career with an MEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering as a Hardware Design Engineer at £35k (I out-earned most of my fellow graduates). It seems like these salaries are just comically disjointed from my entire experience of life. Can anyone here speak to the differences? Everything I've seen points me to Californians just living an incredibly well-off lifestyle, but everything I read also indicates the people who have those lifestyles do not feel well-off?

As a hiring manager (not at Google) I would say yes, and significantly so. EU employees make far less than equivalent USA colleagues when factoring in job title and location. It costs a lot to employ someone in the EU and the workers are well protected. I can not easily terminate an employee in the EU like I can in the USA. Taxes paid to employ someone in the EU are significantly higher than in the USA.

This cuts both ways as you can see. You'll make far less in the EU generally but you have better job protection and the additional taxes we pay to hire an EU employee hopefully go to government programs you like. However, if you're an in-demand employee who does good work you're going to make significantly more money in the USA generally speaking.

The good news is the UK is compensated better than most EU countries in my experience. But still significantly lower than USA employees in the same role.

However, you get health care out of that and can retire early with a lowered risk in terms of health issues.

> However, you get health care out of that and can retire early with a lowered risk in terms of health issues.

I’m not aware of any major tech company in the US that doesn’t offer excellent health insurance and retirement plans. And the quality and availability of healthcare in the US is arguably the best in the world, if you are insured (that’s the ‘catch’ I suppose).

Modern American tech firms only offer insurance while you work for them, it is not a lifetime benefit. As a result, you stop working, you need to go hunting and paying for your own healthcare.

If you decide to retire early (say 50), before medicare kicks in (at 65), then you are on the hook to buy insurance yourself. That's maybe the difference between US and Europe that the above commenter refers to.

You still have to factor in the cost of medications, doctor's visits, etc. etc., which can run pretty high even with a good plan.

I moved from the UK to the US six years ago. The short answer is yes, but the nuances are interesting.

The US has higher income variance, if you're on the 90th percentile of the income distribution you're going to be earning a higher multiple of the median than in the UK (about 2.6 in US vs 2.0 in UK, source as below.)

Software engineers in the US are also higher up the income distribution than in the UK. In the UK in 2017, the [1] median salary for full time 'Programmers and software development professionals' was £41,314 vs £28,759 for full time employees. In the US [2] it was $97,770 for full time 'Software Developers and Programmers' vs $37,690 for full time employees. This puts UK software developers just above the 75th percentile and US software developers just above the 90th percentile.

Then there's another step up when looking at big Silicon Valley tech companies, particularly for senior engineer roles and especially the post-senior engineer roles which don't really exist outside of the the big tech companies.

Another big difference is that the GBP has depreciated significantly against the USD over the past 10 years. It went over 2.0 in 2007 and is now down to 1.3. Working at a big tech company in Silicon Valley now feels a little like working for a bank in London before the 2008 crash.

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwor...

[2] https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

The UK is just very skewed, due to finance. I studied in the UK, and there was a 6 month placement internship programme.

Engineering firm (industrial measurement) wanted to pay me $11K to be an engineer. Marketing department at a major semiconductor said £15K. So I took it. My friend at Goldmans got £37K.

So guess what I did after uni. I even met loads of people in finance with engineering degrees who said they were now earning multiples of what their previous bosses in engineering were earning.

Anyway, if you do have tech skills, finance is after that. Particularly right now as all the trading is going full auto. Amazingly there are still places that don't have straight through processing in place, so plenty of work. At the fun end there's a lot of demand for people who can write trading algos, which I did for a long time.

This is after years of IT people in finance being second class citizens.

My understanding of finance as vaguely magical makes this easy to believe. Buy why does does engineering pay so low in UK?

Mystery to me as well. The only people I know from the course who do it live far from London. Even then I'm not sure how it makes sense when you could get a remote job.

UK software salaries are a joke.

I get a lot of feelers from agents looking for 5-10 years experienced, capable software guys and looking to pay in the range of your grad salary for them. The embedded world seems particularly bad for this but it's rife throughout. The US, Canada and Australia all pay far better, often multiples of what's on offer at home.

The only way I've found to come close to the pay I could get overseas is to become a contractor and try to land work in or around finance. Even then it's hard outside of London.

The problem in the UK is, AFAICT, that managers and company owners see software guys as grunts, floor staff, no different to hiring other generic office staff. They pay poorly, they have low expectations and they get people in who are broadly in line with that - demotivated, poorly skilled, unproductive. It's a viciius circle of low expectations and low rewards.

Agree with everything you have said (have worked in London as both perm and later as a contractor for above stated reasons).

But to be completely fair, UK (or London, to be specific) is still the best place in whole Europe for software engineers. Nowhere in Europe you can make close to what a skilled and capable contractor in London can make.

It's not comparable to Bay Area but it's not that bad actually compared to rest of Europe. You can at least make a decent salary, although it's all cash and no stocks/RSUs... But you can invest the cash you make as a contractor into equities of companies you believe in.

Plus the flexibility of contracting is very nice. I doubt Bay Area engineers can just decide to take 2 month break and go to Bali to relax. As a contractor in London, you can easily finish your contract, take couple months off, then come back and start a new contract. That sort of flexibility is pretty nice.

That is true.

It's not a bad life :)

I moved to the Pacific Northwest from the Netherlands, and I'm obviously observing the world around me with similar questions.

First, you need to factor a cost of living adjustment. Oregon seems a bit more expensive than the Netherlands. Bay Area is a lot more expensive than Oregon.

I think the big kicker is still the bigger range of salaries. People in the proverbial mail room make a lot less here than they do in the Netherlands. CEOs and board members make many times more here than they do in the Netherlands. Software folk are probably on a similar relative position on that spectrum between here and the Netherlands. Hence making more here than in the Netherlands.

Since you're still looking at the people below and above you in similar ways, you don't always perceive the difference with the mother country much. But I do get self-conscious when talking to some of the people "back home".

>First, you need to factor a cost of living adjustment. Oregon seems a bit more expensive than the Netherlands. Bay Area is a lot more expensive than Oregon.

This doesn't gel with my experience at all and the numbers don't bear that out either[1]. Cost of living in Portland is significantly cheaper than the Amsterdam, granted that San Francisco is quite a bit more expensive than Amsterdam.

From my experience it's still no comparison, you get paid much more in the US than anywhere in Europe, so much so in fact that sometimes I balk when I hear salaries from Europe. Huge perk you guys get is vacation time, you get much more guaranteed time off than even most highly compensated people in the US. Some better benefits too, e.g. maternity/paternity leave, but you have significantly lower salaries even before taking into account taxes.


I didn't live in Amsterdam. Unfortunately that site doesn't let me take the average for the Netherlands. Amsterdam is the capital, perhaps fairer to compare it with New York. If you compare Eindhoven with Portland, the numbers seem more in support of what I was saying. But I should have specified that better. Nice site, I'll be using that in the future. "Anecdotally", it's attractive to compare Eindhoven and Portland, because they're both "small big cities" (relevant in their own right, without being the large token cities that define their respective countries).

To answer your question, yes, pay in SF/CA/USA definitely outweighs the increased cost of living. Software engineers here are paid more than anywhere else in the world.

It makes sense though since the wealthiest tech companies in the world are here, the most talented engineers gather here for that reason, and companies can afford to pay high compensation packages in order to get the best talent.

I don't expect other parts of the world to increase software engineer comp until they start producing much more billion dollar tech companies.

The reason it doesn't make sense to me is that there are clearly engineers in the UK who are as talented as the average engineer in silicon valley and are unwilling to move to the other side of the world. There are also many many many companies in the US that have offices in the UK. Given that UK engineers appear to earn no where near their US equivalent I would have thought there would be a strong incentive to hire more in the UK and therefore drive up wages rather than continually pump money back in silicon valley.

Clearly, a talented engineer in the UK might be just as smart and experienced as a principal engineer at a big tech company in the US.

But, this doesn't have to make sense for it to be true. It's simple supply and demand economics. There is a greater demand for top-tier talent in the SF Bay Area because most of the technical leadership is there and they want their best engineers working closely with them. It's not hard to understand.

I read once that the single most significant indicator of where a large company will locate its headquarters is the CEO's home address. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that if the CEO lives in the bay area, so will his top leadership, and so will their top employees.

Yes, I think they're more well off in general. The UK in particular pays developers very poorly.

That being said housing costs in California are no joke, although you can find some analogies in London. Not sure how devs can afford to live there tbh.

It makes sense that they would get paid this much, and quite frankly I think even the FAANG devs are drastically underpaid. The companies are printing cash and almost entirely powered by developers. The salaries sound high but execs are grabbing the vast amount of the real money.

I mean, the engineers can leave and start their own companies. This is the whole thing about SV...

Those 3 companies pay significantly higher than your average software engineer as far as I can tell. I make close to 80k in Southern California and I don't stress about money but I'm also not retiring early.

I've been struggling with a similar question lately (only Poland instead of the UK and... the UK instead of the US) and here's what I've come up with:

It's not about being paid poorly/well - it's about serving a specific market segment.

To give an example: I work for a company based in Poland so I get to do "Tier 3" stuff, namely churn out apps with a Java back-end and an Angular/React/Vue/whatever front-end. I make considerably less than your junior salary. 90% of job opportunities here look like this.

What about the other 10%? Sure, they're more interesting, but they're usually paid less. And I'm not even talking about startups - just regular companies who happened to gain the trust of an overseas client.

> churn out apps with a Java back-end and an Angular/React/Vue/whatever front-end

That's basically what all of us product engineers at FB do, it's just that there's so much competition for engineers here that they have to pay us well.

I have to ask: how is all that not outsourced for half the price already?

I think some companies tried to outsource stuff like this (Oracle, IBM) but they are slowly finding that there are real costs associated with outsourcing tech and it might be actually cheaper for the company to hire expensive developers in San Francisco but have them sitting in the same building as top management so the communication can happen in real time and engineers can fully understand business requirements rather than try to manage remote outsourced teams on the other side of the globe who have no idea what's happening at the HQ.

The work of a developer at Google is more valuable than at other companies, especially in Europe. Because they create more value with the same skillset and doing similar work, Google can pay more.

Of course, the company doesn't need to pay you for what value you're able to create - they pay you what the labour market clears at, and pocket the difference.

> Here's a slightly related open question: Are Engineers in the US just much richer than in the UK?

On average/median, a big richer (a bit more than the higher GDP per capita would imply)

The dramatic difference will be comparing the 90th percentiles (top 10% of engineers).

The target companies pay new grads $120-150k total compensation (across salary, annual bonus, and equity). If you change jobs after 2 years, you're looking at $250k total compensation.

I worked for Google in London and SF, the was a significant salary difference but also some personal growth. Still it could be at least 2-3x

Right, I get the salary is 2-3x, but does that translate to a much bigger house? Better schools for your kids? Holidays to St Moritz?

Or is it more like, 2-3x most of which goes into rent, health insurance and local taxes?

At least in Google they pay almost all of the health insurance. Taxes are slightly lower. So yes you can save a lot. It is very suburban so you will have a larger house then London, but it is not a city. Prices for apartments/houses are high, but you can find something that doesn't eat the whole salary and if you buy a house you hopefully can sell it for more later.

I was a bit shocked at first how dated silicon valley looks at least compared to the price. And the commute is soul killing. Public transport is worse then British trains, with the added problem that the stations are in useless places.

But the weather is great and the job opportunities for software engineers are fantastic. Dating also sucks I have heard.

All the top tech companies will cover the health insurance bill. This does not come out of your compensation. You do not get taxed on this benefit.

Taxes in California are high, though not higher than in the UK.

Bigger house? Better schools for kids? Not really. Maybe if you're in the top 5% of engineers.

Holidays? You can do pretty much anything you want anywhere you want for holiday. Almost everywhere in the world is cheap compared to living costs in the Bay Area.

It depends on the level you're talking about. At the lower levels, then the difference might be spent on rent. (Although it's not like London is a cheap place to live.) At the higher levels, this is obviously going to be totally swamped by the absolute differences. If you take home $300k/y and a holiday in St Moritz is a priority, it is certainly affordable. (Although honestly it's not that great of a ski resort, even if it is posh. Come check out Colorado and Utah.)

A lot goes to rent/mortgage and taxes (US salaries are quoted pre-tax, in the income bands under discussion the marginal tax rate is around 50%), but especially for two-income households there's plenty left over for nice vacations. I prefer Zermatt, personally.

As sibling notes, all of these firms pay nearly all insurance costs for the employee. Employee contribution will be a few tens of dollars per month typically.

A 6-figure salary, + bonus, + options / RSUs is quite achievable for an above-average software engineer in London.

It's much easier to do as a contractor / consultant. If you are looking to be hired as a senior engineer, it's hard to get an offer much over 85k, but that number is even easier to get to.

London is not northern CA. Depending on whether you value outdoors or culture, it might be better or worse. I far prefer London, and proximity to the continent. CA is fantastic if you like outdoor stuff though.

Probably. I started out at 120k total compensation 2.5 years ago out of college and now make 210k after a recent job switch. My net worth according to mint is already at 100k (Note: that includes 401k and I didn't have any college loans which helps) and I pay 100% of my nice apartment, all food, and even buy stuff for my GF who is in grad school (we have lived together since we graduated but I pay for almost everything because she is in grad school).

Most likely, I've read the other day a new grad that signed a $200k bonus / stock over 3 years in the bay area. It's just insane.

Why is it insane? You should be happy that a member of the middle class is doing well. We should expect this in our society, unfortunately programmers from lower class get happy much earlier.

Either I was: 1) seriously underpaid at Google, 2) things have changed a lot in the past half year or 3) the stats do not reflect real averages.

Keep in mind that new hire salaries at the same level are typically higher than folks internally who have been at that level for some time. The market rate has actually gone up significantly in last 1-2 years.

I have 16 years of engineering experience and Google has made me two offers (original and revised) for a T4 position in NY that are well below the numbers reported on Levels (in fact, below the average on the site). So, either I am getting low balled like hell or there is skew in the numbers.

Edit: there is skew in the numbers, not some in the numbers.

Did you have strong competing offers? From the discussions on Blind most folks get strong offers from Google only if they have another really strong offer. Keep in mind most of our data presented right now is Bay Area-centric. We're working on filtering all views of data by location still.

There was a sheet shared around in Seattle some time ago with salary information. Some interesting points that came out of that were that salaries for women and minority engineers were significantly lower. Also, there were clearly a lot of misreported numbers (some exorbitantly so).

There are actually multiple sheets. Here's one: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-CqO6Px-0yA2421OOtJo...

There is an incentive to overstate one's salary and no down side. In fact everyone should just double their salary when self-reporting that information to anyone that won't keep it in confidence.

What's "Blind"?

https://www.teamblind.com. An anonymous cross industry social network with per company discussion boards. People share interview advice, salary information, (TC or GTFO is a blind meme...), "dissenting" political thoughts and bad dating advice mostly. It can be good and terrible like most anonymous platforms. It's pretty shallow compared to HN (almost no technical discussion, business discussion, shallow poltical discussion).

It's just like the old app "Secret" -- except huge tech companies are on it, meaning its only slightly less toxic than /pol.

My company is allegedly aligned with Google’s levels here, and people routinely make Senior within 4 years. Spending more than 2 years at Eng I or Eng II is considered a cause for serious concern.

So T4 after 16 years is very surprising. Something is off.

It is not especially unusual for industry hires (even those with plenty of experience) to come in at T4 for Google. Being productive and effective within Google is an additional skill which is not identical to the outside, so it's a risk avoidance measure on both sides.

Assuming your experience translates well, people frequently go for promo within a year or two.

> Being productive and effective within Google is an additional skill which is not identical to the outside

I don't buy that. I get that Google has a whole lot of proprietary stuff they have built their business on, but being in that situation is not unique to Google.

> Assuming your experience translates well, people frequently go for promo within a year or two.

If that's the case, I'm not going to feel bad rejecting this offer.

If you don't work at one of a small list of companies (I've said elsewhere that "Facebook" would be a decent approximation, but Amazon or MS could count in some cases), you'll be downleveled when joining Google.

>Spending more than 2 years at Eng I or Eng II is considered a cause for serious concern.

Is this just for within Google or also from Google's perspective of hires from elsewhere? Because I have to admit I have not been past mid-level (which I guess is the Eng II equivalent) for over five years.

I have 10 years experience in my career and never held a senior position, officially. Do I miss out a lot in seniority by just being a permatemp and contractor for small shops?

I thought it happens quite regularly. I mean, I have about 16 years of experience and am still a Level 3 (but not a FAANG)

Please keep in mind, the compensation numbers are from employees that have typically worked for a couple years, have stock grants that have appreciated significantly, and that is a significant portion of their total compensation.

If you want to compare your offer, look at GOOG, AAPL, FB and what their stock value was in 2016. Use that share price to figure out what the employees that were hired in 2016 were offered in terms of stock, and compare your offer.

There is no magic to it. HR is just taking what they think they need to offer to be competitive, assuming a 10-20% annual increase in stock value, and making the offer. The primary reason why you see such high total compensation numbers is that tech stocks have done extremely well recently, which has put employees above their target compensation.

Are you accounting for annual refreshes? It's likely that the data posted represents employees that not only have had their grant value increase, but have had reasonable annual refreshes. The initial offer would naturally be much lower by comparison.

surprised google made you an offer at all. 16 years experience and only slotting in at T4 is a rejection.

This uhh isn't normally the case at Google. There are almost no cases where a new grad will make more in base salary than an existing employee. And relatively few where a new grad will make more in tc than an existing employee, although that does happen.

New hire != new grad

While that's true, experienced offers are influenced by tons of factors (and arent, as a rule, better than current employee offers ). There's not really enough data to draw any conclusion.

That's true, but it's also counterbalanced by strong equity growth over the past few years. A $100k/yr GOOG grant from 2014 is now almost $200k/yr (even ignoring refresh and raises).

Agreed that market rates have gone up significantly in the past 2 years

I'm not surprised. From personal and friends experiences, Google will lowball you if you don't have any competing offers.

As they should. It isn't a charity. A candidate without competing offers also represents a greater risk, because you don't have that additional signal of "somebody else wants this person too." But compensation ramps up quite quickly if you are good, likable, and not too unlucky.

I found that there was extreme variance at the lower levels and that would persist as people moved up through the ranks. A lot of that came down to negotiation or previous salary at the company they were leaving. I'd also say that the Zurich office throws the salary average much higher. The real strat was to get hired at Zurich, lock in the big RSU package and then take a nugatory salary cut and move to LA or Boulder.

This matches up with what I was paid at Google, even a little under, at the T3 level. I didn't have any competing offers. And I didn't negotiate. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Maybe T3 level is accurate because they're new hires, but higher levels are skewed by how much the value of stock grants have increased.

I'm inclined to think a combination of 3) and 1). For example the jump in base salary for Google from T5 (171k) to T6 (260k) seemed suspiciously high. So I looked at the page for T6, and it has 15 entries, most around 200k-220k, but one 550k. That's probably wrong. I think the reporter switched salary and stock (which shows 200k).

Not just you. These numbers are seriously inflated. I think it's for a few reasons:

1) Selection bias - people with larger comp packages are more likely to report their earnings.

2) Ego - people tend to embellish their reported wages.

3) People are reporting capital gains on their stock grants as income. If you started as a L4 3 years ago, I don't doubt you are making 250k with the growth Alphabet has experienced. If you start as an L4 today I guarantee the average is below 200k.

Are you comfortable posting your previous level/salary?

It was a little under 200k/yr total in Mountain View for T4.

I think the stats reported are probably inflated because of equity. If it includes people who had equity packages hired five years ago, that equity income is now worth twice as much as opposed to the equity someone would get if hired today.

People should be reporting the dollar values they were awarded, not what the shares are worth when they added their comp.

But refreshes and new offers are matching the current stock value not the original

$60k worth of stock is $60k worth of stock. Initial and refresh awards are converted to shares from a dollar amount. If new grants were $200k six years ago and are still $200k now, what the stock price has done in the interim is irrelevant.

Google grants RSUs. So $60k is 12 RSUs for someone hired in 2014.

In 2018, RSUs are worth twice as much as 2014, so people hired for the same role in 2018 get 6 RSUs ($60k) while the people hired in 2014 are still getting [at least] 12 RSUs ($120k).

This is what I'm talking about with regards to stat inflation on this reporting.

This is evidently false. Stock has pulled total numbers comp up significantly. Employer is not going to give an engineer refresh that brings tc lower (in $ value) than the year before unless it wants to lose that engineer.

This is false - employers do give less. My own FAANG stock for my initial compensation when I joined my company was at $105k in RSUs, and they jumped up about 35% (was even higher, but the market is a little volatile currently). My refresh grant after a little over a year was $125k in RSUs, which turned out to be less stock by a not insignificant percentage compared to my first grant!

My read of the numbers floating around the internet suggests my refresh grant was for outperforming and my TC is high for my band. Whether my new TC is less than my first year, who knows. I'm happy with my work, and while the comp could be better (I should be at the next band but promotions are slower to come by in FAANG), I don't know if I'll ever even leave my company given that my total comp for a mid-level software engineer (at my employer) is already over $300k.

Is the stock posted here a full package (vesting over several years) or yearly vest amount?

Full package vesting over 4 years - you typically get annual refresh grants, which are new 4 year grants that stack on top of your existing grant.

There’s no T-ladder for a while now. That does sound kinda low. I was payed slightly more as L3 more than 5 years ago.

I was L4. I was just sticking to the nomenclature of the website.

(not parent, of course)

IIRC: T4 (it wasn't called that internally. it was the "SWE III" smaller text on the box), 100k/yr salary + ~15k stock / yr, don't remember bonus, in 2011. ~$114k adjusted for inflation.

It could also be you didn't negotiate your pay well.

It happens to all of us.

Is glassdoor information more in line?

Glassdoor will be significantly off as it doesn’t discount older data

Hi, I'm one the makers of Levels.fyi. Happy to answer any questions and would love to hear feedback! We have a lot of features in the coming months that we think folks will love!

I've been using levels.fyi and really liking it. It provides much more useful data than paysa. I strongly believe the economy needs a functioning free labor market, and price discovery is crucial to any free market.

The main feature I'd like to see is information on typical refreshers. Also useful would be a way to just get a list of companies sorted by comp at a given approximate level. Additionally, information about refreshers and career trajectories at different companies would be nice too, for evaluating medium-long term prospects of working at any given company (e.g. I've read anecdotes that Apple offers more generous refreshers than most companies).

I'd also like to see data on equity aggregated across small-medium startups, perhaps as a function of valuation, employee number, employee experience and time since last valuation. AngelList has some data about listed equity but it's very broad, and I'd like for some actual data of the sort that startups privately share with each other but keep secret from employees / job-seekers.

Edit: It would also be cool if you guys can get some companies to post job ads with compensation ranges included for the posted levels. It would be useful for everyone involved; it would help candidates avoid needlessly applying to companies that can't match their desired comp, help out companies that offer competitive comp in sourcing candidates, and add more revenue for you guys as well.

Thanks for the feedback! We've been currently been heads down working on adding account functionality so that folks can start reviewing companies / teams within companies. As soon as that's out (next few weeks) we're hoping to work on more granular compensation information as well!

Consider adding non-binary genders to the comp reporting. Something as simple as 'other' or 'non-binary' would be nice. The challenges that non-binary folks face can sometimes be different, and it might be nice to see that reflected in the comp tool.

Edit: I wouldn't ask, except that the tool already asks for gender. If you are already asking for a gender, you should consider include options beyond male/female.

Curious about the downvotes without responses. Tech has people who are non-binary, whose salary negotiations may be impacted by that, and who may struggle to find data that represents them.

Good feedback, we'll get this added shortly. We added gender recently based on feedback to highlight the gender wage gap. Agree that non-binary folks may experience another set of challenges and will be good to see the data.

Thanks, who knows if enough non-binary folks will report, but I appreciate you taking the feedback!

There's barely enough data to make statistic over the whole population in his website i'm not sure it would make sense to isolate specific minority who would have like 1% of the already little data...

i'd be more into removing the male / female distinction overall in the website


I've downvoted this because it seems like you're trying to be insulting to this person on the basis of an assumption about their gender. That doesn't seem worthy of HN.

Hi and thanks for the info. A couple of things if I may. Please don’t hijack the browser history, played around with some companies and levels and when I tried coming back to HN the history was full ;-) Also it would be good if you could include some extra details about each level (e.g. education, years of experience). I think I’ll give Triplebyte a try, reminds me of HackerRank.

Good feedback. The browser history was a bug introduced from recent change in last few days. We're on it.

Regarding additional details on each level, although there is some correlation between years of experience and level, it actually isn't very strong. A better indication is typically responsibilities / scope of impact which we are working on defining more clearly. Thanks for the feedback!

Update: fixed!

Clicking around on the page adds to the tab's history. I had to click back 10x to go back to this thread. Seems kind of pointless to record state in this usecase?

Re Browser history hijack: this was bug introduced with a recent change. We're on it - apologies for the inconvenience!

Update: Fixed!

I added my comp at one of the listed companies a couple weeks back and it never showed up in your list. I'm not sure if there are bugs in your front end or lots of false negatives in your spam filtering or what. I'm happy to contribute to such an effort but not to the point where I have to figure out how to game your submission process.

Apologies - this shouldn't happen. Are you sure it never made it on the site? The comp page takes ~5 minutes to refresh new submissions.

Thanks for putting this site together! Two pieces of feedback:

1. It would be valuable to ask for years at company and years in industry along with the reported compensation.

2. When reporting my compensation, how should I account for additional bonuses/RSUs due to being promoted? (E.g. climbing a level). I historically receive an additional 100k grant when I’ve been promoted, but I don’t anticipate that 100k on non-promotion years.

1. We actually do ask for this - it's toward the end of the form. :) Click the '+' on the left side of the row to show it.

2. The main Total Compensation field is per-year and the simplest way is to look at your W2. For RSUs / bonus we recommend taking the average amount you receive per year

Do you believe that self-reported salary data will be biased either high or low? Do you attempt to measure bias? How do you account for the difference between the salaries reported on your site and the averages/medians published by salary.com and glassdoor.com? Is it that your site only focuses on outlier (top) companies?

Any plans to add "Project Manager" role?

Why don’t the numbers always add up? A Tesla P3 engineer lists his or her base as $130k, stock grant as $150k and TC is listed as as $168,000?

Does it not check whether the numbers make sense?

Stock grant over 4 years, TC is per year.

Interesting site - it's nice to have such straightforward compensation numbers.

Worth mentioning, though - several tech companies intentionally and transparently attempt to pay more for some locations. My company, for instance, pays way more if you're in Silicon Valley than pretty much anywhere else.

It'd be nice aggregate, summarize, and compare companies based on a single location.

We're working on ability to filter by location more easily. More of a UX challenge than data challenge since we have data for other regions already. Still need to think through how to present this cleanly without over cluttering the site. Thanks for the feedback!

Hi, thanks for making such a helpful site! My feedback would be:

* Would love to see the salary numbers without clicking for easy comparison

* I don't like how clicking around fills my browser history and adds back button clicks

We have a dedicated page for compensation information: https://www.levels.fyi/comp.html

There's also a short url: www.comp.fyi :)

Oh, great! It's nice to see them all side by side like that.

Adobe is missing

Does anyone know of similar data but for EU countries? As was already mentioned in this thread, salaries differ from the US quite a bit, but it would still be nice to know what the norm is.

I'm considering moving to Germany and have no idea what salary I should be asking for in interviews for a senior software engineer, nor do I know where to find out this information.

glassdoor? Or check expat forums in germany for the same question (I am sure they will be annoyed to hear it a millionth time, but you should find useful info)

Glassdoor is a good starting point but it would be nice to know of a community-gathered data source. Any pointers to specific expat forums?

Sites like this are recruiter-bait. (Notice that Triplebyte is a recruiter). They purport to have real salary info from the richest companies in the world to unsettle employees. (With no claim to even be telling the truth). This inspires people to be job flippers when they are closer to the average salaries that pay well but don’t compete at the high end.

Changing jobs every year might get you quick raises early but actually achieving meaningful results takes time and gets you bigger raises/satisfaction in the long run. Don’t let recruiter-bait push you into someone who hops around out of envy and never really commits to anything.

> actually achieving meaningful results takes time and gets you bigger raises

Do you have evidence this is true? I agree with your point about satisfaction, but I've seen a lot of people who believed this about salary and got totally screwed as a result.

Amazonian here. Can anyone else from Amazon speak to whether you think these numbers look accurate?

I'm sitting here in almost disbelief at how little I apparently make at AMZN. I don't think I have anyone to ask that would know and would be willing to give any kind of answer.

I've been fairly content at Amazon. I've done good work, and have been a resource to others on my team. But if these numbers are right, I don't think I can stay much longer.

I've been an L5, L6, L7 and L8 at Amazon over the last 10 years. My experience is that once you've been here a while the total comp is a rollercoaster that follows the stock price. I haven't had a salary increase since I was L6 (and don't want one!) ... so for me it all comes down to when I got stock and how it performed over the next few years. Personally I've done very well that way, as it's nearly always outperformed expectations. I think that tenured people like me skew the comp distribution because of that factor.

In general though, although it's human and natural, I wouldn't focus on what I make vs my colleagues or try to measure worth quite like that. It's simpler to think about it terms of "What would I make elsewhere and would I really be willing to leave and go through the disruption and risk of a change in jobs for that".

Is the reason you haven't received a salary increase since L6 because you reached the max base pay?

Why do you say you don't want a salary increase?

Regarding your last point, my focus is actually not on what I make vs my colleagues, but rather what I make vs what I could potentially be making elsewhere. You're of course right about the risk of a job change, but I wouldn't leave unless I felt confident that I found a good fit.

I'm not at the max base pay ... though I have gotten to the point where the majority of my comp is in stock anyway. It's always a gamble, but I have enough confidence in Amazon for the long term that given a certain total comp target, I'd prefer as much of the comp as possible be in RSUs. Then again, I have enough financial security that I can also afford to lose that bet.

My understanding was that large run ups (or downs!) in AMZN stock would result in adjustments, such that your total comp stays on target. Is that a simplistic description?

It's true ... but I think apart from 2008/2009, the stock price has exceeded its target every year, by quite a margin, so total comp has too.

I work at Amazon too. The numbers seem accurate and represent mid-range of the band from everyone I've talked to.

Of course, this is only from what I've seen.

The numbers seem to be a pretty tight grouping overall so I'm curious what your TC is like if you're in disbelief.

I noticed the tight grouping as well. I'm in the very low end...of the job level below me.

L5? Which location? When did you join?

Did you receiver refreshers? Your stock growth alone should push you into upper bands if you stayed long.

I've been here 4 years. I'm sorry, I'd rather not divulge much more than that.

Stock growth did result in a higher than expected TC, but the number of shares I have vesting will drop substantially over the next 2-3 years. If you're curious, every year I've been here my manager has given me great annual reviews. My base pay is substantially lower than the others on the list.

What are refreshers? Perhaps it's something I know by another term?

Location matters a lot, for all tech companies. Cost of living in Bay Area for example is really high, and salaries reflect that. The exact same position in two different cities can vary by 20% or more depending on location, and that's true for any company.

At Amazon in particular it is standardized such that there are only 2 different regions, 1 for SFBA/NYC and 1 for everywhere else in the US.

Amazon operates in countries other than the US.

It's basically understood at this point that tech salaries are going to be orders of magnitude lower outside of the US, no matter the company, country, or cost of living or economic health of the country.

Are you an SDE?

Btw, which office you’re in can make a gigantic difference. Amazon employees in India make a LOT less than in Seattle, for example.

Being given more stock during annual appraisal

There could be issues around how to interpret this data, especially around stock. Those with a few years of experience are probably reporting a significant vested stock as part of the comp. Alternatively, there could also be cases where folks added the whole stock options that they were granted, even if they've not vested. The package that I got at Amazon as a fresh grad school graduate more than 5 years ago would've been $360K if I added everything... but that was not my ANNUAL comp. When I talk to folks at Amazon, they typically don't report the annual number, which is lower.

I ran into this site before from all the compensation discussions on https://www.teamblind.com

I don't think I'd want an activation email sent to my work account.

You can always send activation emails to random people at your workplace as well.

or even everyone

Wow, I'm 40 year old director at big fortune company... and I find this mildly depressing lol.

Why is this so different than Glassdoor?

Glassdoor is heavily skewed towards older data points and hence underestimates significantly given the sharp rise in comp in the last few years.

> Why is this so different than Glassdoor?

Not sure about this, but IIRC Glassdoor is not systematically gathered, and so doesn't support generalization to any population other than “people who choose to provide info to Glassdoor.”

Glassdoor is radically out of line with systematically gathered data like BLS data.

Glassdoor doesn’t look at stock grants as income.

They have started collecting that data.

The real issue is they don't seem to properly weight responses to get accurate current year numbers. The estimated total comp for my position is about 1/3 low on Glassdoor, it's about 1/30 low on levels


Missing stock grants and RSUs, which make up a majority of Big 4 total comp.

This, faang stocks

I suspect Glassdoor mostly gets money from employers so it reflects what they like to see =)

Spot on. Glassdoor is paid by companies so it's not surprising it became very biased towards low salaries.

Yeah sort of like every shithole on yelp is at least three stars and often four.

One reason is that Glassdoor doesnt deprecate old data (or at least gross it up by CPI)

Probably because glassdoor averages out compensation over all years despite tech wages continually growing and thus they are weighted down by old data.

IIRC Glassdoor is salary, not total comp.

They have fields for additional compensation.

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