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How much do these so-called high-paid software engineers really make? Well, two recent college graduates Zuhayeer Musa and Zaheer Mohiuddin wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery—and that’s just what they did, creating the website Levels.FYI to crowdsource Silicon Valley salary data from workers at big tech companies and share their findings with the world.
It isn’t just a rumor that software engineers straight out of college often make six-figure salaries, not counting equity compensation; it’s a fact. But there’s a big difference between low six-figures and high six-figures. Meanwhile, some senior coders make millions of dollars per year. It turns out that that salary often depends on a single number, called a “level,” reports CNBC.
Musa and Mohiuddin did their research and found out that at Google entry-level engineers start at Level 3. Meanwhile, Apple has five levels for engineers, ICT2 to ICT6. Microsoft starts at 59 for a software development engineer, but goes all the way up to 80 for a leader position called “technical fellow.” The higher your level, the higher your compensation.
But with the “levels” comes a lot of questions, which is where levels.fyi comes in.
“In this new age where churn rates are very high, people are hopping around much more than they used to be. It’s useful to know about levels if you’re going to Facebook to Microsoft to Amazon to Google, you want to know where you’re coming in and what your level is,” said Musa.
Explaining why they created the website, Mohiuddin said, “It’s personal for me. I was going through a job transition myself, I had only 2 years experience but had gotten promoted.”
“We both decided why not build a simple, visual tool, showing levels across the different companies?” Musa added.
It may come as no surprise to hear that the crowdsourced data on levels.fyi shows that software engineers at companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft get paid very well.
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According to the website, Level 3/entry-level engineer at Google should make $189,000 in total compensation, which breaks down to about $124,000 in salary and $43,000 in stock compensation, reports CNBC.
At Facebook, an E3/entry-level “software engineer 3” would make $166,000 per year total, according to the levels.fyi’s estimate.
But of course, this can change quickly. A Google Level 7, considered the top level, can make $608,000, according to levels.fyi, reports CNBC. Google and Facebook run things pretty similarly in regards to their levels.
However, there are some differences in the companies naming systems. Apple’s levels are called ICT, for “individual contributor tech.” Salesforce’s levels are called MTS, for member of technical staff.
Of course, levels.fyi is crowdsourced, which means that the date may be unreliable and self-selecting, raises several risks that the data may be unreliable, including a self-selecting population. But the founders of levels.fyi say their data has proven true and they remove any outlier/unreliable data.
Meanwhile, the levels.fyi founders aren’t just settling with demystifying the pay structure of the tech world. The tech money men are collecting data from different fields, and realizing that other professions have their own monetary ladders and rungs to climb as well.