Compensation Growth in Finance vs. Technology

Compensation is always being something highly emphasized about financial services industry and probably one of its main attractions but I never realized that the pay in tech and IT was so comparable and better on the entry level.

So I think some of the younger readers here shouldn't be too tunnel visioned about finance like I was in a way and really explore other options because compensation wise they might be just as good.

Comparing Wages Between Finance and Technology

A frequent discussion on Wall Street Oasis revolves around the difference between careers in tech and finance and which path offers better wages and better work life balances.

Starting wages between the two fields are largely comparable. Tech may actually edge out starting position wages on Wall Street considering that tech firms often offer stock-based compensation bonuses. However, our users point out that often times wage growth will be substantially larger for those that continue in careers on Wall Street.

Our users highlight that programmers and developers typically start out and top out between $150 - $300 K for wages.

However, in finance roles, particularly on the buyside, workers will likely surpass these levels once you are in the industry for a while.

Read more about Wall Street compensation with the Wall Street Oasis Investment Banking Industry report which offers details about salary and bonus figures all across the experience spectrum. Check out the 2018 Investment Banking Industry Report here.

You can find out more about the talent war between Silicon Valley and Wall Street in the video below.

Read More About Tech vs. Wall Street on WSO

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Comments (160)

Mar 17, 2012 - 11:10pm
lime1945, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The problem is that in tech, the compensation won't grow as high as in finance. Your friends will probably cosistantly get 150k-ish salaries for the rest of their lives, maybe a few will reach 200k. In finance, you'll have a larger percentage that reach higher levels of compensation. The kicker is the lifestyle/perks. If that is taken into consideration then tech is definitely a contender for finance, depending on how much you value lifestyle.

Mar 17, 2012 - 11:30pm
Flake, what's your opinion? Comment below:
lime1945:
The problem is that in tech, the compensation won't grow as high as in finance. Your friends will probably cosistantly get 150k-ish salaries for the rest of their lives, maybe a few will reach 200k. In finance, you'll have a larger percentage that reach higher levels of compensation. The kicker is the lifestyle/perks. If that is taken into consideration then tech is definitely a contender for finance, depending on how much you value lifestyle.

This is probably the consensus.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.
  • 1
Mar 17, 2012 - 11:42pm
atomic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What lime said is by and large true. I know a couple of developers (well, technically they're developers/pseudo-managers) in their late 20's/early 30's making in the $300,000-ish range, but compensation isn't likely to grow significantly past that particular juncture. It's hard to add significantly more value than that unless you get involved in the more "Product Management" type roles.

The main point, though, is that they're absolutely okay with that. The people who work at these companies eat/sleep/breathe programming and software engineering. They wouldn't want to do anything else. Hell, the guys I mentioned in my introductory paragraph hate their part-time role as "management" and would much rather spend all their time in the trenches, developing solutions to the problems they and their clients are facing.

That's why I would caution anyone against pursuing Tech (or any other career path) simply for the dollars. Plus, by the time this generation of coders has reached maturity, who's to say The Tech Boom 2.0 will still be booming quite so hard? We've seen how quickly things can change in Finance, at least as far as compensation is concerned. Chasing the money -- without significant emphasis as to what you true passion is -- is a great way to end up a day late and a dollar short.

Also, assuming you're after that illusive $1,000,000+ pay day, then finance is still probably where you want to be.

Mar 17, 2012 - 11:49pm
melvvvar, what's your opinion? Comment below:

yes but finance has more of this thing called presteej.

Mar 17, 2012 - 11:56pm
lime1945, what's your opinion? Comment below:
melvvvar:
yes but finance has more of this thing called presteej.

Not so much. There's more prestige in working with Google than working with Goldman Sachs.

Mar 18, 2012 - 12:46am
jpmoranmonkeysachs, what's your opinion? Comment below:
lime1945:
melvvvar:
yes but finance has more of this thing called presteej.

Not so much. There's more prestige in working with Google than working with Goldman Sachs.

This is true. Was recently talking to some 'higher up' at a BB and he did note that there was a very very very slight change in applicants. For a lot people Google really does fit with their personality and they love coming into work.

Mar 18, 2012 - 2:39am
BTbanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:
lime1945:
melvvvar:
yes but finance has more of this thing called presteej.

Not so much. There's more prestige in working with Google than working with Goldman Sachs.

Google is and advertising company... not in a million years would I choose Google over GS. People in general tend to hate what Wall Street stands for, but Silicon Valley people aren't exactly saints. Facebook is taking over people's lives just to make some money through ads. At least Microsoft and Apple created something tangible that changed the world.
Mar 18, 2012 - 3:08pm
Flake, what's your opinion? Comment below:
leveredarb:
people srsly need to stop obsessing about starting salary, its irrelevant.

comp 5-10 years down the line is what starts to matter

Thank you.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.
Mar 31, 2012 - 7:25pm
Chazz Reinhold, what's your opinion? Comment below:
leveredarb:
people srsly need to stop obsessing about starting salary, its irrelevant.

comp 5-10 years down the line is what starts to matter

Comp 5-10 years down the line will probably be whats most important (you're more likely to have kids and stuff) but when choosing a degree/career most people tend to look to starting salary because: 1. 5 years is pretty far down the line for a 21 year old. 2. They will probably have student loans to payback.

Damn you Rodger!
My WSO Blog
Mar 19, 2012 - 2:42am
-.-, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Stop obsessing over salary period. Being a trader / ibd analyst is completely different than from what a lot of my friends do at msft / fb / goog / etc. Sure the entry level salary is on par. But there's a big difference between being a non quant finance worker and being a software developer. Culture and day to day work. If you're thinking about career attractiveness solely based on compensation, I would say you're just doing it wrong period.

Mar 19, 2012 - 6:01am
Eddie Braverman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

Mar 19, 2012 - 8:15am
mongoose, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

My thoughts exactly.

Mar 19, 2012 - 1:32pm
IamObama, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

Very well said

Mar 19, 2012 - 1:35pm
justin88, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

I agree with your general sentiment, but you're seriously underestimating the amount of tech savvy in HFT/quant finance.

Mar 19, 2012 - 7:02pm
Bondarb, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

Different jobs take different skills. I dont disagree that the average silicon valley 27 year old blows away the average wall street 27 year old in terms of IQ, but I disagree with your statement that the silicon valley dude could just drop onto a trading desk and be good at trading, making markets, or running the desk. You said HFT specifically and I have never worked in that particular discpline of trading but I have worked with quite a few quants whose actual brain power dwarfed mine and I wouldnt trust them to do anything that required any qualitative judgement which includes running any type of trading desk. I am sure there are many exceptions I am just saying that just because someone is smarter doesnt mean they would be better at every job...

Mar 19, 2012 - 7:15pm
Ravenous, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Bondarb:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

Different jobs take different skills. I dont disagree that the average silicon valley 27 year old blows away the average wall street 27 year old in terms of IQ, but I disagree with your statement that the silicon valley dude could just drop onto a trading desk and be good at trading, making markets, or running the desk. You said HFT specifically and I have never worked in that particular discpline of trading but I have worked with quite a few quants whose actual brain power dwarfed mine and I wouldnt trust them to do anything that required any qualitative judgement which includes running any type of trading desk. I am sure there are many exceptions I am just saying that just because someone is smarter doesnt mean they would be better at every job...

Second this. It's not even a fair comparison. Being a great trader / investor requires a high degree of social savvy and qualitative judgment about some pretty sophisticated trends, events and business models. No doubt these people could not do what the geeks in Silicon Valley do, but it goes both ways. In general, the really good investors I've met are far smarter than anyone else I've ever come across -- but it's smarter in a more wholistic way, like "yeah, this is how shit actually works in real life, and here's how we can profit from that." You need to have both incredible breadth and depth to be a really skilled generalist investor across asset classes.

Mar 19, 2012 - 11:42pm
FlakieBear, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

Silver!!for you sir

Power and Money do not change men; they only unmask them
Mar 23, 2012 - 12:27pm
INSIDERINFO, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

Touche, sir. This is nowhere near correct. Over the past 3 years, I have presented dozens of talented people from Google, Amazon, Facebook, nVidia, MS, etc, to clients in the HFT space, with very little success. These are not run of the mill candidates either. Many of them were "top performers" in their respective companies; some being lauded with founder's awards, etc. Google is a huge company. HFT desks around the globe to not add up to 20% of the people there.

Contact me for further information. www.wwfirs.com OR bhughes (at) wwfirs dot com

Mar 23, 2012 - 12:27pm
INSIDERINFO, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

Touche, sir. This is nowhere near correct. Over the past 3 years, I have presented dozens of talented people from Google, Amazon, Facebook, nVidia, MS, etc, to clients in the HFT space, with very little success. These are not run of the mill candidates either. Many of them were "top performers" in their respective companies; some being lauded with founder's awards, etc. Google is a huge company. HFT desks around the globe to not add up to 20% of the people there.

Contact me for further information. www.wwfirs.com OR bhughes (at) wwfirs dot com

Mar 24, 2012 - 6:09am
lunatic, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.
What a retarded comment. I worked at both Google and Goldman Sachs in S&T. The intellectual caliber of the people is similar.

You may have been a broker in the 90's or something, but I don't think you have any clue what trading floors are like nowadays.

Mar 24, 2012 - 9:38am
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:
lunatic:
What a retarded comment. I worked at both Google and Goldman Sachs in S&T. The intellectual caliber of the people is similar.

You may have been a broker in the 90's or something, but I don't think you have any clue what trading floors are like nowadays.

The average trader in instittutional broker dealerage is about as smart as the average college graduate. VIX traders? MBS traders? Maybe corporate bonds and more complex stuff? Ok, add another 20 IQ points.

Move over to developers in algo trading and you start to see more brainpower. But you don't find that brilliant creative spark that can take some new idea out of nowhere like you see in a lot of kids at google.

Most of the people that I knew who went to Google for software engineering roles were much smarter than all of that. If you worked on the business side at Google, I'm not sure that's what Eddie was referring to.

Mar 31, 2012 - 9:58pm
ZHeyd7, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Edmundo Braverman:
The biggest difference is that it actually takes brains and talent to land a job in Silicon Valley vs. connections and a lambskin from the right school to land a job on Wall Street. Your average banker wouldn't last five minutes at Google, but a Google engineer could easily run an HFT desk at Goldman.

I agree, but I still think that going to work at Goldman is still a tangible choice if that is what you want for your life.

Mar 19, 2012 - 7:59am
brooksbrotha, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In addition to all this wonderful information, I know plenty of programmers in their upper 20s lower 30s that sometimes pull 90-100 hours/week to meet deadlines for projects. Sound familiar? I think it's a matter of doing what you love. The computer science guys are probably on some computer science forum right now talking about how they'd do anything to get into an Nvidia architecture design program or work at Activision/Blizzard.

Same thing that we see people do here, just a different industry. And someone hit the nail in the head above regarding compensation. You start out with a lot and get to, roughly, the 300k point and it slows down tremendously. Most people, including myself, wouldn't mind a compensation package of that magnitude, but finance will by and far always be the area with more upside in compensation throughout your career.

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Mar 19, 2012 - 8:49am
Ravenous, what's your opinion? Comment below:
IlliniProgrammer:
Actually, I think the tails in tech are much fatter. The top 0.05% of programmers go on to make billions- generally enjoying an extra 0 over their wealthy counterparts in finance. The problem is that the top 1% does not go on to make tens of millions like in finance.

This, but I was too lazy to write it.

The average comp, excluding the 0.05%, is higher more or less across the board in finance as well.

But the bottom line is that if you enjoy tech, do tech, and if you enjoy finance, do that instead. If you hate what you do, you are not going to be the top anything.

And if you're a high roller in finance, you might have a chance to participate in some fat tail tech investments. Just don't be like my boss who passed up a chance to cut a check to Google pre-IPO. He is not a tech investor but met "the Google guys" at an event and they asked for money -- he fumbled the ball badly on that one: "Hasn't search already been done?" OOPS.

Mar 19, 2012 - 11:00am
justin88, what's your opinion? Comment below:
IlliniProgrammer:
Actually, I think the tails in tech are much fatter. The top 0.05% of programmers go on to make billions- generally enjoying an extra 0 over their wealthy counterparts in finance. The problem is that the top 1% does not go on to make tens of millions like in finance.

1 in 2000 programmers make billions? Lol no.

People getting hired into Google now will never get rich there, even if they max out their equity-based comp and GOOG stock beats the market. They'll have to leave to start their own thing. It's all about equity.

Mar 19, 2012 - 8:39am
ReadLine, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The minute someone said the word "prestige" I blanked out of this discussion. Assuming you're self-secure, Interest in your work and the mullah is what matters.

Besides, the most prestigious thing is actually never the best option long term (at least in terms of $$)- usually its the 3rd or 4th. Although I admit it's hard predicting the 1st and 2nd.

Mar 19, 2012 - 10:38am
Twigga, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Eddie B nailed it. I was a comp sci major in undergrad and can tell you that if you are a rockstar in the financial world, you're a pretty smart person with decent interpersonal skills and good connections. If you're a rockstar in engineering/computer science, you're usually an effing genius. You might be as socially functional as Rainman, but if you can stand out in intellect among the other tech geeks, these companies know you're worth the investment because there aren't many people that can do the things you can do. To give you an idea, Sergey Brin was my classmate's math TA for Calc 2. The man was nailing double integrals in his head. If you're one of these rockstar geeks and can communicate effectively, you're worth every penny of that starting salary.

There are obviously a few brilliant people in finance, as well, but they are usually well rounded and do not possess the same freakish genius that the best of the sciences can offer. Nothing wrong with that. At the end of the day, do what makes you happy. If you're good at what you do, you'll get paid...so long as you're not good at non profit work.

Mar 19, 2012 - 11:04am
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

^^^ Given that 1% of the country is actually trained in software engineering, this works out to about 1 in 200,000 people for the entire country, leaving room for 600 people on the Forbes 1000. Given that about 60% of major IPOs these days are from the tech sector, I believe my number is fairly accurate.

You'll never get rich at Google, but you'll get rich at the startup you go onto afterwards. The same principal works in banking.

4 years in banking -> PE -> $$

4 years at Google/MSFT/IBM/Facebook -> Startup -> $$$

Mar 19, 2012 - 11:58am
justin88, what's your opinion? Comment below:
IlliniProgrammer:
^^^ Given that 1% of the country is actually trained in software engineering, this works out to about 1 in 200,000 people for the entire country, leaving room for 600 people on the Forbes 1000. Given that about 60% of major IPOs these days are from the tech sector, I believe my number is fairly accurate.

You'll never get rich at Google, but you'll get rich at the startup you go onto afterwards. The same principal works in banking.

4 years in banking -> PE -> $$

4 years at Google/MSFT/IBM/Facebook -> Startup -> $$$

You switched from "programmer" to "trained in software engineering", different sets. Even so I think your numbers are still optimistic.

Expectation at a PE firm is way higher than at a startup. Even if you have a successful startup, billions are very rarely in the cards. Also, most startups go to zero, zeroing out equity and also one's invested capital.

I agree with you re: fatter tails though; a startup is much riskier (more leptokurtic) than finance.

Mar 19, 2012 - 12:12pm
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:
dabanobo:
You switched from "programmer" to "trained in software engineering", different sets. Even so I think your numbers are still optimistic.

Expectation at a PE firm is way higher than at a startup.

If that's the case, why do people drop out of Harvard, Stanford, etc etc to do startups? These are some of the most rational people on the planet who are also expecting $500K/year out of their CS PhD program at a hedge fund.
Even if you have a successful startup, billions are very rarely in the cards. Also, most startups go to zero, zeroing out equity and also one's invested capital.
Maybe, but most of that capital is work. If you are a programmer, there are few cash costs to doing a startup, especially with the advent of cloud computing services. You spend $100 on the domain name and hosting (you no longer have to spend thousands on servers), you start coding, you tell your friends, and it either spreads like wildfire or it doesn't. Worst comes to worst, you're out six or twelve months of paychecks. This is similar to starting a hedge fund or PE shop, only there you have to spend $30K/year on Bloomberg terminals, Capital IQ subscriptions, tradestation terminals, colo with the exchange (for high frequency trading), and the like.

Java is free, Eclipse is free, MySQL is free, PHP is free; even the servers are free until you have enough operating profits to easily pay for them. The analogous stuff that costs hedge funds tens of thousands is all open source to developers these days.

Mar 19, 2012 - 11:07am
FreedayFF, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I talked to a MD, head of S&T for one of the Big5 in Canada, who was also an engineer pre-MBA. He said that any job where you receive salaries is never gonna make you rich. Another founder of a major graphic card company here said that, someone who earns 100,000 and works 10 hours/week is probably richer than someone who earns 1,000,000 and work 100 hours/week.

Long story short, engineer or banker, you are never truly rich unless you OWN the money machine, regardless of its size.

Mar 19, 2012 - 11:30am
IRSPB, what's your opinion? Comment below:
FreedayFF:
I talked to a MD, head of S&T for one of the Big5 in Canada, who was also an engineer pre-MBA. He said that any job where you receive salaries is never gonna make you rich. Another founder of a major graphic card company here said that, someone who earns 100,000 and works 10 hours/week is probably richer than someone who earns 1,000,000 and work 100 hours/week.

Long story short, engineer or banker, you are never truly rich unless you OWN the money machine, regardless of its size.

Hence the allure of PE/VC/HF. (At the higher levels) You are an owner, not merely an employee.

Mar 19, 2012 - 2:17pm
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:
1. Those of us that speak math know that a distribution's kurtosis can be positive but not leptokurtic.
Of course, and those of us who speak sales and trading know that leptokurtic just means higher kurtosis than the normal distribution. We choose to use simple words that do not make us look bombastic.

Leptokurtic? Seriously??? :D

Of course, but we're talking about the distribution, not the outliers.
Most people here, rightly or wrongly, assume they are in the 0.01%, so that really doesn't matter to them.
Mar 19, 2012 - 2:45pm
lambertoscar, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Lets put it this way, your friends who are making 95K + and got offers from these great Tech companies are also really really smart. They are most likely really passionate about technology and have spent tireless amount of hours intelligently designing code. The depth and complexity of what top undergrad CS students undertake is beyond many other majors and you can't develop an acumen in it unless you are truly passionate about it. These kids are problem solvers, and you must realize that the range of salaries for CS students is quite broad. It can range from 55K to 100K, even at relatively good schools.

Why? Because the top coders are a dime a dozen, and years of experience may not be able to provide you with that problem-solving intellect. Since they are a scarce commodity, top companies are willing to pay that much for a top fresh grad (top 1 percentile of all CS undergrads in the nation... so as you can guess they come in different forms... it could mean top 80 percentile at MIT/Harvard/Caltech... to top 10 percentile at UT Austin/Purdue... to top student of Kansas State U).

Breadth based intelligence is often different from depth based intelligence. Breadth based would be a sorta well rounded individual, and depth based is the Asperger's type person. I think there are more breadth based people in the world than depth based, hence the value to society of both are debatable. Breadth based folk are worth their money in Finance (IB, S&T, PE, etc.) and depth based excel in the Tech sector.

Bottomline, do not become a programmer unless you know who you are!

The masked avenger par sexellence
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Mar 20, 2012 - 5:54pm
thurnis haley, what's your opinion? Comment below:
lambertoscar:
Why? Because the top coders are a dime a dozen, and years of experience may not be able to provide you with that problem-solving intellect. Since they are a scarce commodity, top companies are willing to pay that much for a top fresh grad (top 1 percentile of all CS undergrads in the nation... so as you can guess they come in different forms... it could mean top 80 percentile at MIT/Harvard/Caltech... to top 10 percentile at UT Austin/Purdue... to top student of Kansas State U).
Whoooaaaa. Harvard CS is not in the same league as MIT, CalTech, and UT Austin. No seriously. You're confusing the school overall with the specific department.
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Mar 19, 2012 - 2:51pm
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Why? Because the top coders are a dime a dozen, and years of experience may not be able to provide you with that problem-solving intellect. Since they are a scarce commodity, top companies are willing to pay that much for a top fresh grad (top 1 percentile of all CS undergrads in the nation... so as you can guess they come in different forms... it could mean top 80 percentile at MIT/Harvard/Caltech... to top 10 percentile at UT Austin/Purdue... to top student of Kansas State U).
Actually, coders' problem solving intellect is pretty tough for generic admissions committees at top schools to figure out. It's actually something you deduce in a 30 minute interview.

At the bank I work for, we've found that it's more like top 5% at Rutgers= top 15% at MIT. We don't really need to go lower on the value chain than that. We've also found a strong correlation between grades in algorithms and problem-solving ability. Of course, we're also looking for clean coding and skill in software engineering- the ability to develop one solid architecture once and for all that will survive the Jenga-like game of changing markets. So we usually follow up with a project of some sort.

The rare commodity is a programmer with strong business sense.

Mar 20, 2012 - 3:20pm
PetEng, what's your opinion? Comment below:
urmomgostocollege:
As an engineer who went from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, all I can say is best decision of my life so far.

Also, engineers aren't as smart as you guys seem to think. There is no way I (or any of my classmates) could run a HFT desk.

Are you a proper engineer (ie: not CS)? I didn't think the smartest guys coming out of high school (the last time our peer group was reasonably close to a standard population distribution) went into engineering. I always thought the smartest dudes went into math or physics.

I doubt engineers that go to the street and work IB are more/less smart than the normal hires. The only difference might be initial numeracy advantage.

Mar 20, 2012 - 10:50pm
urmomgostocollege, what's your opinion? Comment below:
PetEng:
urmomgostocollege:
As an engineer who went from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, all I can say is best decision of my life so far.

Also, engineers aren't as smart as you guys seem to think. There is no way I (or any of my classmates) could run a HFT desk.

Are you a proper engineer (ie: not CS)? I didn't think the smartest guys coming out of high school (the last time our peer group was reasonably close to a standard population distribution) went into engineering. I always thought the smartest dudes went into math or physics.

I doubt engineers that go to the street and work IB are more/less smart than the normal hires. The only difference might be initial numeracy advantage.

I'd say the math/physics people seem smarter when you initially talk to them (probably because they are more passionate about their fields of study), but after taking classes with people from various math/science/engineering majors I realized they are pretty much all the same.

Mar 20, 2012 - 1:47am
G Spread, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Why is everyone arguing? Both are great career paths. I still feel like adding my 2 cents though. Simply put, you make more money in high finance in the long run, but you provide more value to society as an engineer or software developer and the intrinsic nature of your job is more exciting... unless you're a code monkey, but even that's probably better than building models day in and day out. Mind you, models don't bother me. Speaking of models, whoever made that "models and bottles" comment either made a bad joke or is oblivious to the actual lifestyle of an investment banker.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm double-majoring in computer science and finance lols

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Mar 20, 2012 - 1:48am
G Spread, what's your opinion? Comment below:

how do you delete double posts?

Mar 20, 2012 - 11:59am
atomic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

For a finance community, I think WSO has a tendency to hype up the glory of software engineering a tad too much. Many of the smartest engineers I know -- had they chosen finance -- would simply be very smart finance people. Similarly, many of the smartest finance people I know -- had they chosen engineering -- would be very smart engineers.

Am I going to argue that the intelligence ceiling required of a Google developer is lower than that required to work in IBD (in terms of actually doing the work -- getting the job could feasibly be a different story)? Of course not; I don't think that anyone would make that claim. That said, what if we compare some high end software engineering jobs to being a hedge fund portfolio manager -- a job that most of the entry-level investment banking monkeys will never even touch, having gone corporate or PE years ago? Or either of those jobs to Pure Mathematics Research? There, I think the comparison starts to make a little more sense. (Although the type of intelligence required is probably quite different in each case).

Anyway, my main point is: Do the thing that your want to be doing, or else you're going to wish you'd done a different thing. There's plenty of exceedingly smart people in Software Engineering . There's also plenty of exceedingly smart people in Psychology Research, Medicine, and, yes, even Finance*.

*Amazingly, there's still been no documented sighting of an exceedingly smart person working in government.

Also: Edmundo, assuming you read my post, I know you mentioned having a subscription to lynda.com. Would you say it's been worth it? I want to bite the bullet so that I can have a good resource for learning Ruby on Rails, but I'm not sure which service (or individual course) I should go with.

Mar 28, 2012 - 11:42pm
D M, what's your opinion? Comment below:
atomic:
*Amazingly, there's still been no documented sighting of an exceedingly smart person working in government.

Very astute observation, atomic, +1 for you sir.

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer "Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee
  • 1
Apr 2, 2012 - 1:41am
lime1945, what's your opinion? Comment below:
atomic:
*Amazingly, there's still been no documented sighting of an exceedingly smart person working in government.

Actually that's quite wrong. James Simon of Renaissance Technologies as well as other scientists worked for the DoD

Apr 2, 2012 - 1:43am
melvvvar, what's your opinion? Comment below:
lime1945:
atomic:
*Amazingly, there's still been no documented sighting of an exceedingly smart person working in government.

Actually that's quite wrong. James Simon of Renaissance Technologies as well as other scientists worked for the DoD

it was a contractor position so he was never in gubmint. and he didn't stay long owing to said stupidity levels of guvvies in general.

Mar 20, 2012 - 12:25pm
Eddie Braverman, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I do enjoy lynda and I have learned a lot. It's only $25 a month, so it has been worth it to me.

That said, if you want to get the most out of it, you really need a premium membership which includes all the class files, and I think that goes for $37.50 a month. Still not a whole lot for what you get, but I'm a really casual user so I'm not sure it would be worth the money for me (though it probably would).

There is a ton of Rails stuff out there, and much of it is free. I don't know much about Rails so I can't point you towards anything that just kicks ass (because I don't know what I'm looking at). But to answer your question, yes lynda has been worth it. You actually caught me in the middle of a lesson right now.

Mar 20, 2012 - 1:20pm
ivedtara, what's your opinion? Comment below:

tech firms pay really high and if you have offers, they can fight to get you. so, you can have a offer war between companies and bump your salary.

Mar 20, 2012 - 3:51pm
Chocobo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Engineers aren't exactly always smart...most of the students are cheating & there literally was this entire network of zip files that had answers to all homework & exam problems floating around. There are only a few genuinely smart people in engineering & they do the work & get the answers, which spreads around. Not saying cheating doesn't happen in other majors, but seriously, don't build up engineers to be super smart or something. Half the time, we have no idea what we're coding and just hope it compiles & runs haha. Of the few who are incredibly smart, only a few would go into start ups cause not many want to take the risk or have a business sense.

And business people...they're smart as well in a different sense. It's one thing to learn business but it's another to actually have a good business sense. To do well in business, it takes a different set of skills.

You can't really say one is smarter than the other..

Mar 20, 2012 - 8:39pm
FreedayFF, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Moni:
Engineers aren't exactly always smart...most of the students are cheating & there literally was this entire network of zip files that had answers to all homework & exam problems floating around. There are only a few genuinely smart people in engineering & they do the work & get the answers, which spreads around. Not saying cheating doesn't happen in other majors, but seriously, don't build up engineers to be super smart or something. Half the time, we have no idea what we're coding and just hope it compiles & runs haha. Of the few who are incredibly smart, only a few would go into start ups cause not many want to take the risk or have a business sense.

And business people...they're smart as well in a different sense. It's one thing to learn business but it's another to actually have a good business sense. To do well in business, it takes a different set of skills.

You can't really say one is smarter than the other..

I was thinking the exact same thing. Everyone thinks coding = engineer = smart (what does "smart" even mean??). It's one thing to be able to code, it's another thing to be able to build a complete program with solid structure from codes. And it's an entirely different thing to be a problem-solver, who can design efficient algorithms to solve customer's problem. Not to mention another aspect is to have an eye for business/arts/marketing to design a marketable user-friendly interface. Not many engineers have all these qualities. And to be honest, those who possess them often do not end up doing engineering stuffs.

Mar 21, 2012 - 12:27am
vitaminc, what's your opinion? Comment below:
FreedayFF:
Moni:
Engineers aren't exactly always smart...most of the students are cheating & there literally was this entire network of zip files that had answers to all homework & exam problems floating around. There are only a few genuinely smart people in engineering & they do the work & get the answers, which spreads around. Not saying cheating doesn't happen in other majors, but seriously, don't build up engineers to be super smart or something. Half the time, we have no idea what we're coding and just hope it compiles & runs haha. Of the few who are incredibly smart, only a few would go into start ups cause not many want to take the risk or have a business sense.

And business people...they're smart as well in a different sense. It's one thing to learn business but it's another to actually have a good business sense. To do well in business, it takes a different set of skills.

You can't really say one is smarter than the other..

I was thinking the exact same thing. Everyone thinks coding = engineer = smart (what does "smart" even mean??). It's one thing to be able to code, it's another thing to be able to build a complete program with solid structure from codes. And it's an entirely different thing to be a problem-solver, who can design efficient algorithms to solve customer's problem. Not to mention another aspect is to have an eye for business/arts/marketing to design a marketable user-friendly interface. Not many engineers have all these qualities. And to be honest, those who possess them often do not end up doing engineering stuffs.

complete program? what are you smoking? are you still living in 1980s? With so many software platforms having an API, the barrier to entry is significantly lower than before. Building an Oracle style program from the ground up is not easy, but writing an iOS APP does not take much effort...

Mar 20, 2012 - 6:38pm
PetEng, what's your opinion? Comment below:

We aren't talking graduate students here. At the undergrad level the median CS graduate at Harvard is better than at UT-Austin.

Mar 21, 2012 - 12:22am
vitaminc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Pay in tech is much better than in finance. Just look at the 40 under 40 or Forbe's top 40 list and count the # of newly minted billionaires.

With a very active angel investor market and low capital intensity, software startups are much easier to be funded, profitable and exited compare to starting up a hedge fund. And every time your creations fail, your chances of being funded increases dramatically.

Mar 21, 2012 - 1:14pm
plb13, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you want to learn ruby, I can rep http://ruby.railstutorial.org. It's free online, but you can buy screencasts and pdf's.

To the topic at hand, this post by Steve Hsu is pretty much spot on regarding tech comp, though I don't know about finance: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/04/banker-pay.html

Relevant snippets:

startup / tech

mid: ~$200k/yr, no hits, stuck working for big company as VP, no early retirement

90th: small hit, makes a few million, still working as above

99th: big hit, makes >$10 million, retires early, maybe rinse and repeat

99.9th: big, big hit, $100M payoff, livin' large :-)

finance:

mid: ~$400k/yr, lives in NJ, can't retire

90th: ~$2M/yr for 10 years (mid-career), retires at 45-50 with $7-10M put away

99th: same as above but with several times higher net worth and earlier exit.

Mar 23, 2012 - 12:12am
Paper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

People here have a big misconception on salaries in the valley.

I am a lil over a year out of college working in a business role at one of the big names and I'll have cash comp of ~120K this year (not including many other benefits)

My boss, who is director level, will earn a little more than 1M all in (salary, bonus, stock)

Its not finance money, buts its damn good, and most would agree the job is more enjoyable.

Just remember you gotta put in those 10 years in finance before you make it big .... It may be worth it for some but its a lot to give up for "retirement".

plb13:
If you want to learn ruby, I can rep http://ruby.railstutorial.org. It's free online, but you can buy screencasts and pdf's.

To the topic at hand, this post by Steve Hsu is pretty much spot on regarding tech comp, though I don't know about finance: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/04/banker-pay.html

Relevant snippets:

startup / tech

mid: ~$200k/yr, no hits, stuck working for big company as VP, no early retirement

90th: small hit, makes a few million, still working as above

99th: big hit, makes >$10 million, retires early, maybe rinse and repeat

99.9th: big, big hit, $100M payoff, livin' large :-)

finance:

mid: ~$400k/yr, lives in NJ, can't retire

90th: ~$2M/yr for 10 years (mid-career), retires at 45-50 with $7-10M put away

99th: same as above but with several times higher net worth and earlier exit.

Mar 23, 2012 - 12:29am
plb13, what's your opinion? Comment below:

o rly?

then glassdoor.com is lowballing the fuck out of everything. along with recruiter comp reports from robert half and bluewolf. and all the recruiters i talk to. and all my other friends in tech. and basically reality.

a mil a year at the director level? plz. maybe (maybe!) he is doing that, but then hes the exception, not the rule. other exceptions-not-rules: partner at BIGLAW or MBB, MD at BB, a "best doctor" titty surgeon, the next facespacetube founder, nobel prize winner, celebrity, (male) porn star, and lottery winner.

Mar 23, 2012 - 12:36am
Paper, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm not lying; I have no reason to. And he is not the exception -- keep in mind that director-level positions at these companies are filled with HIGHLY pedigreed and accomplished people. Do a quick linkedin search for director-level people at facebook/google/ect..

Their comp is heavily weighted toward stock and bonus, which doesn't come out in some online sources. Moreover, its not like any numbers on glassdoor are every right, so I wouldn't site that as the definitive source of anything.

plb13:
o rly?

then glassdoor.com is lowballing the fuck out of everything. along with recruiter comp reports from robert half and bluewolf. and all the recruiters i talk to. and all my other friends in tech. and basically reality.

a mil a year at the director level? plz. maybe (maybe!) he is doing that, but then hes the exception, not the rule. other exceptions-not-rules: partner at BIGLAW or MBB, MD at BB, a "best doctor" titty surgeon, the next facespacetube founder, nobel prize winner, celebrity, (male) porn star, and lottery winner.

Mar 23, 2012 - 1:21am
plb13, what's your opinion? Comment below:

so what? hopkins is filled with highly accomplished/pedigreed people. docs there still mostly make 150-350, and usually on the lower end since academic medicine pays less than private medicine (call it the presteej premium). clearly, being highly accomplished/pedigreed does not guarantee a mil a year, ipso facto.

why would you lie? i dunno. youre a troll? your misinformed? you are trying to convince yourself of your own prospects? you are in denial about just how hard finance comp rapes tech comp? hell, who says youre lying? youre probably just wrong. people are wrong for lots of reasons.

you might note that i cited more than glassdoor.

finally, if what youre trying to say is "but my director is sooooo exceptional," well, great. being extremely exceptional at a revenue generating function is usually a pretty good way to make a lot of money. but most people arent extremely exceptional!

oh, so you went to harvard? well, def selective, only 5% get in. but then, you paid for the privilege. meanwhile, .1% of applicants get into google, and they pay you around 80k as a new engineer based on glassdoor and the friends, the friends i have who work there, and my own experience with the recruiting dept. of course, if youre suuuuuper exceptional...

you know, if we're all just gonna fantasize that we can be awesome at anything, why the FUCK aim for google? ill take rockstar over code monkey or pitch book bitch anyway.

oh. right. bayes. priors. etc.

Mar 23, 2012 - 3:53am
vitalogist, what's your opinion? Comment below:

At least in the tech industry, you get to innovate products. Once you have a good useful product, those finance guys will invest in you and you have the luxury of building your own company.

www.purechecks.com
Mar 23, 2012 - 2:02pm
shingge, what's your opinion? Comment below:

i think total starting compensation is better at top tech firms than ibd. but down the road...it all depends on the individual's hardwork and luck.

(my friend interned at JPL, google, then microsoft, his FT offer with microsoft was 90k with 50k stock options, not bad for a 22 year old)

Someone mentioned harvard's CS with MIT and Caltech......sureeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Mar 23, 2012 - 4:24pm
harvardgrad08, what's your opinion? Comment below:

as some of you know I work in corpdev at one of these types of tech companies (goog, msft, yhoo, facebook, etc.)...overall comp is very very competitive at the entry level and it does scale significantly but not as fast as it does in banking. However, the big difference is that most of these places aren't up or out like in finance...if you stick around long enough you will still reach a pretty decent comp level. An average ibd analyst may make it to associate but will likely cap out there and be shown the door and will probably have the same happen at MM PE firms, etc. At a place like GOOG, etc. even average employees will move up slowly but surely to the point that maybe 15 years out of college they've capped out at a director level making $300-500K all in...from a risk adjusted perspective comp in tech is very good...not to mention the fact that you are working 50-60 hours / week.

Where I work here is what comp looks like as you move up (all-in across base, bonus, and stock):

  • C-Executive Level: total comp $5M+/year (top 20 people or so)
  • VP Level : total comp ~$2-5M/year (next 1-2% of total employees)
  • Partner Level: ~$500K-$2M/year (next 2-3% of total employees)
  • Director Level: ~$300-500K/year (next 20%)
  • Manager Level: $150-300K/year (next 50%)
  • Entry Level: $100-150K/year (bottom 25%)
Mar 23, 2012 - 5:04pm
plb13, what's your opinion? Comment below:

harvardgrad is spot on. ill add that those are top market figures, i.e. sf, nyc, la, sv. in a secondary market youre probably making half that at each level, but your cost of living is also way lower, as are your barriers to entry - you also work 40 hours, and have less job security.

  • Principal in HF - Event
Mar 24, 2012 - 7:43am

There is actually substantial movement between top-skilled people at GOOG/FB/AMZN and quanting at top BBs and HFs. The pay/hours/benefits/career growth (let's call this total comp) go with the person, not the industry (assuming the skill set is similar, which it is). If the total comp was substantially better in one area than the other, people would move until it wasn't.

Mar 24, 2012 - 3:19pm
lunatic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Do you work there? No. Let me rephrase then: a rates trader at GS is intellectually comparable to a Google engineer.

And what is this big dick contest anyway? I'll let you losers debate the merits of tomatos vs. tomatoes - I'm out of here.

Mar 24, 2012 - 4:47pm
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:
lunatic:
Do you work there? No. Let me rephrase then: a rates trader at GS is intellectually comparable to a Google engineer.

And what is this big dick contest anyway? I'll let you losers debate the merits of tomatos vs. tomatoes - I'm out of here.

Well, I do work there (see certified user status).

And no, a rates trader at GS isn't.

Mar 24, 2012 - 5:42pm
bfin, what's your opinion? Comment below:
IlliniProgrammer:
lunatic:
Do you work there? No. Let me rephrase then: a rates trader at GS is intellectually comparable to a Google engineer.

And what is this big dick contest anyway? I'll let you losers debate the merits of tomatos vs. tomatoes - I'm out of here.

Well, I do work there (see certified user status).

And no, a rates trader at GS isn't.

You work at "The Goldman Sachs" cue "the goldman sachs video"

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

Mar 25, 2012 - 1:41am
plb13, what's your opinion? Comment below:

The unfunny hilarity in all this is that tech outsiders are probably afflicted with the worst case of "grass is greener" known to man. This isn't particular to this forum, just the world at large. Right now, tech is hot - at least for the most talented 10% in the world. It's a run of the mill pseudo-blue-collar job for everyone else. And for those who are living high on the hog, well, shit gon change.

"Social" is an obvious bubble. There is a lot of legitimate work being done in tech, but the social bubble is inflating wages - when it pops, wages are going to fall. This - in combination with H-1B visas, off-shoring, and the "any 13 year old can download Visual Studio and get crunkin" effect - will continue the 30 year decline of tech salaries.

I understand tech looks hot right now. Really, I do. I'm in tech, and I decided to get into it when I was 13, right in the middle of the bubble years. Of course, back then, when you adjust for inflation, you can double all the numbers that harvardgrad posted. And if you go back 30 years, you can double them again. So that does that look like going in the other direction? Hmm...

My take on typical mid-career salaries for software engineers over the years, expressed in present dollars-- 60's: $50k-$500k (so new that there really is no reasonable comp standard) 70's: $200k-$300k (back when parents hoped their daughter married a "doctor, lawyer, or engineer," and not a "doctor, lawyer, or banker") 80's: $400k-$600k (this was the actual golden era for engineers...) 90's: $200k-$300k (...whereas the bubble was great for MBA's, tech mags, and lottery winners, but the beginning of the end for engineers thanks to a growing labor pool enabled by offshoring, h-1b's, and lower barriers to self-teaching as a result of the internet and open source software) 00's: $50k-$75k (OMG bubble pops SUCK) 10's: $100k-$150k (so how hot does this look now?)

Now that said, the tech business can be a great one to get into... if you get into it as a business. Buy for one, sell for two - sure, it's a bit more complicated than sneakers or crack, but winning at this game in the long run hinges on business acumen, not tech acumen. But a career in engineering? If you want to learn a skill that you can rely on for a comfortable six figure salary for life, go to med school or dental school. Don't delude yourself about the long term prospects of codemonkeys, who face a similar career trajectory as professional guitarists.

This also isn't sour grapes. I'm one of the people #winning at engineering, with a low six fig salary in my mid twenties, zero debt, and an absurdly low-stress work week - and I already have one leg in the business side, and am in the process of completing that switch. So tech has been good to me (and maybe it would be good to you too). But I'm having a crisis of conscience, because I realize that it was luck that gave me the genetic profile (borderline aspergers, basically) and early exposure to programming necessary to have my current level of success - the blanket advice to "yah tech because awesome career!" that I used to hand out like every other jackass has probably fucked up my karma for life.

Again, if you're not in the top 10% of tech talent in the world, prepare for severe long-term butt-hurt if you jump into this field. To learn what life is like for the other 90% - especially as they age - start reading here: http://techtalk.dice.com/t5/Tech-Career-Advice-Archive/The-ACTUAL-reality-of-the-future-of-IT/td-p/241238

I have no finance experience, but from what I can tell, when you adjust comp on an hourly basis, there appear to be a lot of parallels between engineering and banking when you stop naievely assuming that you will always win, every step of the way, period, THANK YOU TONY ROBBINS.

Mar 25, 2012 - 9:18pm
valleybandar, what's your opinion? Comment below:
plb13:
The unfunny hilarity in all this is that tech outsiders are probably afflicted with the worst case of "grass is greener" known to man. This isn't particular to this forum, just the world at large. Right now, tech is hot - at least for the most talented 10% in the world. It's a run of the mill pseudo-blue-collar job for everyone else. And for those who are living high on the hog, well, shit gon change.

"Social" is an obvious bubble. There is a lot of legitimate work being done in tech, but the social bubble is inflating wages - when it pops, wages are going to fall. This - in combination with H-1B visas, off-shoring, and the "any 13 year old can download Visual Studio and get crunkin" effect - will continue the 30 year decline of tech salaries.

I understand tech looks hot right now. Really, I do. I'm in tech, and I decided to get into it when I was 13, right in the middle of the bubble years. Of course, back then, when you adjust for inflation, you can double all the numbers that harvardgrad posted. And if you go back 30 years, you can double them again. So that does that look like going in the other direction? Hmm...

My take on typical mid-career salaries for software engineers over the years, expressed in present dollars-- 60's: $50k-$500k (so new that there really is no reasonable comp standard) 70's: $200k-$300k (back when parents hoped their daughter married a "doctor, lawyer, or engineer," and not a "doctor, lawyer, or banker") 80's: $400k-$600k (this was the actual golden era for engineers...) 90's: $200k-$300k (...whereas the bubble was great for MBA's, tech mags, and lottery winners, but the beginning of the end for engineers thanks to a growing labor pool enabled by offshoring, h-1b's, and lower barriers to self-teaching as a result of the internet and open source software) 00's: $50k-$75k (OMG bubble pops SUCK) 10's: $100k-$150k (so how hot does this look now?)

Now that said, the tech business can be a great one to get into... if you get into it as a business. Buy for one, sell for two - sure, it's a bit more complicated than sneakers or crack, but winning at this game in the long run hinges on business acumen, not tech acumen. But a career in engineering? If you want to learn a skill that you can rely on for a comfortable six figure salary for life, go to med school or dental school. Don't delude yourself about the long term prospects of codemonkeys, who face a similar career trajectory as professional guitarists.

This also isn't sour grapes. I'm one of the people #winning at engineering, with a low six fig salary in my mid twenties, zero debt, and an absurdly low-stress work week - and I already have one leg in the business side, and am in the process of completing that switch. So tech has been good to me (and maybe it would be good to you too). But I'm having a crisis of conscience, because I realize that it was luck that gave me the genetic profile (borderline aspergers, basically) and early exposure to programming necessary to have my current level of success - the blanket advice to "yah tech because awesome career!" that I used to hand out like every other jackass has probably fucked up my karma for life.

Again, if you're not in the top 10% of tech talent in the world, prepare for severe long-term butt-hurt if you jump into this field. To learn what life is like for the other 90% - especially as they age - start reading here: http://techtalk.dice.com/t5/Tech-Career-Advice-Archive/The-ACTUAL-reality-of-the-future-of-IT/td-p/241238

I have no finance experience, but from what I can tell, when you adjust comp on an hourly basis, there appear to be a lot of parallels between engineering and banking when you stop naievely assuming that you will always win, every step of the way, period, THANK YOU TONY ROBBINS.

Exactly.

Mar 27, 2012 - 9:35am
s5s, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Wow... My eyes and especially my brain started to hurt from the ignorance of the majority of posters in this thread. There are a few guys who seem to know what the h3ck they are talking about. No wonder Wall Street caused such a mess - when you have people (like this) who take action without gathering information first...

Fact is most of today's finance workers go in for the money. Most people join a bank for the money. Unfortunately there are very few people who go into finance because that's what they want to do and that's a fact. That's why most of the topics (by most I mean 99.99%) either start with or quickly turn into (and by quickly I mean the second post) "how much money am I making".

Now my take on Engineering vs Banking:

  1. Banking...a lot of the positions in a bank are dead boring and offer little personal/skill development.

  2. Job security as an engineer is rock solid. Through the crisis tech companies were having trouble finding good engineers and were hiring all the time. After a 2-3 years working as an engineer your company almost can't fire you because you created a lot of the current products and it's v. easy to move to another company.

  3. Salary...Most of today's rich people made their wealth from technology. Weather it's Bill Gates, Google guys, Jobs, Zimmerman, the Twitter guys, Amazon, paypal, ebay, entrepreneurs and many many more. Actually finance people are the losers here - they work their ass of doing something which is boring (yes v. boring especially as you start) only to miserably accumulate 50 million by the time they are 50 (if they are lucky, smart and work like h3ll). Meanwhile a tech entrepreneur can do something enjoyable and let the business work for him (e.g. facebook, twitter, ebay, amazon...need I go on?).

  4. And the worst part...Above a certain salary size money really doesn't bring much more quality or joy in your life. What matters then is what you do during the 10 h/day you spend at work. Are you doing something you like or something which turns your every day into a living hell. There's enough money out there to buy each and every one of your lives. Whether you're prepared to trade life time for cash is your choice.

  5. To the idiots who say "Oh, oh right now technology is booming but wait another 10 years...". Technology has been booming since 1600. Your comment is idiotic. It's only growing faster and faster. That has become more and more evident in the past...lets see 40 years. If you haven't seen it then you must get a guide dog or a cane to let us know of your condition. Technology creates technology...It's self accelerating almost. I'm coming from the university that's fighting with MIT for the #1 spot for engineering. There's a lot that's boiling in the pot and is going to be out on the market in 5-10 years time.

  6. And stop looking at the self taught developers who make $300K a year. They are stuck there forever. Look at the engineers, engineering consultants, mathematicians, physicists who have the knowledge to create a spin-off of their former employer and start a new business which becomes a market leader in a new market that has just appeared as technology developed.

  7. Technology != software development. And your understanding of software development seems quite limited. A developer in a bank has to learn Visual Studio or Java. Something which I mastered in a week and so will every well trained engineer. A software engineer usually has to know electronics (dig and ana), computer architecture (how is the CPU designed, the memory), the design and internal details of the OS, several programming languages, the details of the main compiler used, know the libraries used, algorithms and how and when to apply them and of course the pros/cons of each and of course a lot of mathematics. These topics have both theoretical side and then you need to know a practical implementation as well. Also you have to think and work fast. In addition a software engineer has to know how to create new algorithms and other things which do not exist. Even stupid people given enough time will learn something but not everybody can create new things out of thin air.

That's only software engineering. There is civil/structural, mechanical, electrical, computer, aerospace, control, ...list is endless and not every job allows you to say "Yes, I put a machine on Mars." or "Yes, I built that bridge" and have your name stamped on it for the ages. Not every job allows you to have a law/equation/algorithm/theorem etc named after you. Engineering does.

Mar 27, 2012 - 9:05am
happypantsmcgee, what's your opinion? Comment below:
s5s:
Wow... My eyes and especially my brain started to hurt from the ignorance of the majority of posters in this thread. There are a few guys who seem to know what the h3ck they are talking about.

Who throws a number into the word heck? Are you worried about saying naughty words?

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
  • 1
Mar 27, 2012 - 1:04pm
s5s, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Also a lot (especially the IEEE range) of engineering companies give you stock from day 1. That's one of the benefits of the package. Flexible working hours is standard too (some people work 13:00 to evening). Also most don't have a fixed working hours - you don't have to be in the office 40 h/week as long as you do the work that you've taken. I know for ambitious and hard working people that's at the bottom of the list but remember - you're doing that for the next 50 years. The ability to get some slack can improve your quality of life much better than spending $20K on a dinner for 3. That's just my take on it.

EDIT: You might see that I stress job satisfaction a lot because in general you spend 1/2 of your time working. That's 1/2 of your life (or at least the good years). Some people like their work so much they don't want to retire (even rich people). For example the facebook guy can easily relax and retire now but he's working because he enjoys it.

Also how you're treated at work matters. I would most certainly prefer being at a position in which I don't have to behave like a cockroach in front of anyone slightly superior just so that I won't get fired or I won't get the next promotion. There is very little of this in engineering. Your manager is more like the person who deals with timetables so that you wouldn't have to bother - the person who takes care of the details around and you take care of the main work. From what I've experienced relations between managers and engineers are more like relations between equals. That's not the case in banking (based on my experience).

Also in certain departments in banking, people tend to be very doggy and sleazy. I don't know why they do that but that's the culture and unfortunately they have to be like that just because everyone else from their department is like that.

All these things sum up to a big thing which makes working in a bank much less enjoyable (usually) than working in a tech company. I've met people who seem to enjoy their work in a bank and I've met people who went into banking because of the work, not the money but such people are few.

And to the people who say "Not all engineers are smart.". Of course! Same is true for any profession - medicine, law, economics, finance, philosophy. We need such people. Less intelligent people usually advance slower (if at all above a certain point), work slower and in general cannot solve the complex problems. There are many such job descriptions in tech, medicine, finance, banking. However, in general the level of intelligence in science is higher. Take the average engineer and compare him/her to the average historian. Engineer is smarter. It takes a lot more brainpower to understand physics and mathematics at a higher level than to understand history or philosophy or ethics or economics, finance. And the problem in science is that you not only have to understand it theoretically but understand what it means in the real world and be able to apply it. You also need to know a lot (in terms of quantity) and from different disciplines and be able to connect information across disciplines. I have also found that science theory is harder to remember in the long run - you will constantly forget details and even a small detail can prevent you from solving an equation. Humanitarian subjects are easier to remember and retain that information in the long run.

Of course it depends how you define intelligence but if you consider creativity, speed of learning, abstract thinking, memory to be important and essential components of intelligence then engineers are on average more intelligent than non-science subjects. In some degrees (e.g. history, English literature, sociology etc...) there isn't the element of you not understanding something - such a thing cannot happen. You just need to read the damn book and make sure you retain the information. In science some people have hard time understanding concepts and equations and how they work. Even if they read it 1000 times and memorize it, they still don't understand it and they still don't know how to use it. This element is present mostly in science. Eventually they probably will but that's why science is hard. After all we are all given limited time to learn something.

Mar 27, 2012 - 1:52pm
manbearpig, what's your opinion? Comment below:
s5s:
Also a lot (especially the IEEE range) of engineering companies give you stock from day 1. That's one of the benefits of the package. Flexible working hours is standard too (some people work 13:00 to evening). Also most don't have a fixed working hours - you don't have to be in the office 40 h/week as long as you do the work that you've taken. I know for ambitious and hard working people that's at the bottom of the list but remember - you're doing that for the next 50 years. The ability to get some slack can improve your quality of life much better than spending $20K on a dinner for 3. That's just my take on it.

EDIT: You might see that I stress job satisfaction a lot because in general you spend 1/2 of your time working. That's 1/2 of your life (or at least the good years). Some people like their work so much they don't want to retire (even rich people). For example the facebook guy can easily relax and retire now but he's working because he enjoys it.

Also how you're treated at work matters. I would most certainly prefer being at a position in which I don't have to behave like a cockroach in front of anyone slightly superior just so that I won't get fired or I won't get the next promotion. There is very little of this in engineering. Your manager is more like the person who deals with timetables so that you wouldn't have to bother - the person who takes care of the details around and you take care of the main work. From what I've experienced relations between managers and engineers are more like relations between equals. That's not the case in banking (based on my experience).

Also in certain departments in banking, people tend to be very doggy and sleazy. I don't know why they do that but that's the culture and unfortunately they have to be like that just because everyone else from their department is like that.

All these things sum up to a big thing which makes working in a bank much less enjoyable (usually) than working in a tech company. I've met people who seem to enjoy their work in a bank and I've met people who went into banking because of the work, not the money but such people are few.

And to the people who say "Not all engineers are smart.". Of course! Same is true for any profession - medicine, law, economics, finance, philosophy. We need such people. Less intelligent people usually advance slower (if at all above a certain point), work slower and in general cannot solve the complex problems. There are many such job descriptions in tech, medicine, finance, banking. However, in general the level of intelligence in science is higher. Take the average engineer and compare him/her to the average historian. Engineer is smarter. It takes a lot more brainpower to understand physics and mathematics at a higher level than to understand history or philosophy or ethics or economics, finance. And the problem in science is that you not only have to understand it theoretically but understand what it means in the real world and be able to apply it. You also need to know a lot (in terms of quantity) and from different disciplines and be able to connect information across disciplines. I have also found that science theory is harder to remember in the long run - you will constantly forget details and even a small detail can prevent you from solving an equation. Humanitarian subjects are easier to remember and retain that information in the long run.

Lol, dude, the level of mathematics and physics undergraduate engineering students need to study is extremely low. Also, the average engineering student is dumber than the average philosophy student. They both have the same amount of ego though.
-MBP
  • 2
Mar 27, 2012 - 6:23pm
s5s, what's your opinion? Comment below:
manbearpig:
Lol, dude, the level of mathematics and physics undergraduate engineering students need to study is extremely low. Also, the average engineering student is dumber than the average philosophy student. They both have the same amount of ego though.

I wasn't talking about undergrad but in general I suppose the ratio of general intelligence of students/content difficulty is constant across universities. Very few people occupy themselves with the course alone. Usually science students do many extra-curriculum projects (not rewarded in terms of marks). Many also have to read several times the course contents of extra material if they want to emerge as hireable engineers. Later in life (if you want to be a good engineer) you would need to learn quickly and work quickly.

Then again depends on which university you went to. Some are BS (maybe you went to such a uni). There are very few good universities for science that prepare you properly. Most suffice but the really good ones are few.

Lol philosophy majors are not smart at all. Every time I meet some of them they amaze me with their insecurity of their own intelligence. Philosophy is the soft and easy side of science. Have you ever read a book on philosophy? I suggest you read some before writing such comments.

Mar 27, 2012 - 8:57pm
FreezePops, what's your opinion? Comment below:
s5s:
There are a lot more that nobody has heard but they own a couple of billion :O (e.g. Mark Shuttleworth). I heard of that guy who wrote a stupid game for mobiles (which takes a week in total and probably few days if you push it) and makes a killing from this simple stupid thing. .

The ironic thing is that Shuttleworth was a finance major....

It is clear from your posts that you've never designed any sort of smartphone app. Anything, even remotely complex takes hell of a lot longer than a few days to create, even if you know what you're doing. Here's an article describing the process behind creating angry birds: http://www.pcworld.com/article/206831/the_origins_of_angry_birds.html

I'm really not sure you're in a position to call anyone ignorant.

On a side note, I don't really understand the basis behind this whole discussion. Are there really that many people trying to decide between a tech startup and investment banking? They seem like polar opposites to me.

Mar 28, 2012 - 6:39am
s5s, what's your opinion? Comment below:
FreezePops:
s5s:
There are a lot more that nobody has heard but they own a couple of billion :O (e.g. Mark Shuttleworth). I heard of that guy who wrote a stupid game for mobiles (which takes a week in total and probably few days if you push it) and makes a killing from this simple stupid thing. .

The ironic thing is that Shuttleworth was a finance major....

It is clear from your posts that you've never designed any sort of smartphone app. Anything, even remotely complex takes hell of a lot longer than a few days to create, even if you know what you're doing. Here's an article describing the process behind creating angry birds: http://www.pcworld.com/article/206831/the_origins_of_angry_birds.html

I'm really not sure you're in a position to call anyone ignorant.

On a side note, I don't really understand the basis behind this whole discussion. Are there really that many people trying to decide between a tech startup and investment banking? They seem like polar opposites to me.

Yeah you got me. I've never desinged a smart phone app. The apps I design tend to be written in C, C++ or asm and usually interface directly with the system and kernel via sys calls and usually have very tight constraints on speed, size and dev. time.

Designing a smartphone app...is a rather pointless expression (design what? The arts? The algorithms? The general code structure? The levels? The strategy and gameplay?). You sound like a toddler saying something like "Oh yeah, well you've probably never counted to 20." No, I've never designed one because it's a waste of time. It's not a tech challenge - it's a business challenge to popularize it. I can create one tomorrow which doesn't mean that it's going to be successful or interesting for that mater.

Mar 27, 2012 - 7:36pm
bfin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Leave it to WSO to turn everything into a how big is your E-Dick contest.

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee

WSO is not your personal search function.

Mar 27, 2012 - 8:29pm
Chillguy, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Lol philosophy majors are not smart at all. Every time I meet some of them they amaze me with their insecurity of their own intelligence. Philosophy is the soft and easy side of science. Have you ever read a book on philosophy? I suggest you read some before writing such comments.

I don't know, Mathematicians and Philosophers are probably the smartest academics at a University. There has to be a reason why the smartest people in history were masters of both.

Mar 28, 2012 - 7:12am
s5s, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Chillguy:
Lol philosophy majors are not smart at all. Every time I meet some of them they amaze me with their insecurity of their own intelligence. Philosophy is the soft and easy side of science. Have you ever read a book on philosophy? I suggest you read some before writing such comments.

I don't know, Mathematicians and Philosophers are probably the smartest academics at a University. There has to be a reason why the smartest people in history were masters of both.

Some philosophers are smart very smart. There are numerous non-science people who seem v. intelligent (Chomsky, Hitchens, Dawkins etc). However, Dawkins studied zoology (which is I suppose a science but it's not that hard core) and chomsky has been doing some things which are fundamental to computer science (in the compiler design area of CS). Mathematicians are a lot smarter and unfortunately for philosophers mathematicians (and many other scientists) take and interest in philosophy and usually outperform the philosophers. After a course in Mathematics you're in a position to be a much better philosopher.

I would personally say that Physicists are also very smart. In general I've found it harder to understand what mathematics means in the real world. Understanding the maths itself is a piece of cake. Knowing what it means and how to apply it isn't.

Mar 29, 2012 - 11:33am
leveredarb, what's your opinion? Comment below:

mbp wins.

Id still say philosophy has alot of pseudo intellectual chicks that are dumb as shit.

some of the guys studying it are very very fkin smart of course.

the worst in terms of intelligence and ego are M&A bankers, they all think they are rly smart which is just not the case

Jul 30, 2020 - 10:59pm
Zlar Vixen, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A philosophy undergrad is a joke, a PhD is something on entirely different level however.

Mar 29, 2012 - 7:36pm
PetEng, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Chillguy:
I think what he means is that Engineering students never have to take a proof-based math course. Learning the intuition behind the concepts and applying them is one thing, reading Rudin is something else entirely.
And they are both 'math' so I guess I'm not really sure what his point is.
Mar 30, 2012 - 9:13am
manbearpig, what's your opinion? Comment below:
PetEng:
Chillguy:
I think what he means is that Engineering students never have to take a proof-based math course. Learning the intuition behind the concepts and applying them is one thing, reading Rudin is something else entirely.
And they are both 'math' so I guess I'm not really sure what his point is.
Wrong, the classification 'math' doesn't mean anything in itself. The approach to the subject matter determines whether something can be classified as mathematics or some application or bastardization of it. By your logic, carpenters also do math when they're measuring angles for their joints etc.
-MBP
  • 1
Mar 29, 2012 - 9:35pm
Bondarb, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I dont understand the point of this argument. Who cares if tech people are smarter then finance guys? You dont need to be a genius to make alot of money on wall st, you really need a base-line level of inteligence and alot of desire/scrappiness. If you are a genius then to be honest you shouldnt even be in this business because you are over-qualified. It has always been this way. In the 80s I am pretty sure that your average bond trader who hadnt even graduated college didnt quite test out as well as the average guy working at Bell Labs...but they still did pretty well for themselves.

So yes, all the tech guys on this board, you probably have a higher IQ then me....congrats!

Mar 30, 2012 - 10:31am
OhYeah, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Bondarb:
I dont understand the point of this argument. Who cares if tech people are smarter then finance guys? You dont need to be a genius to make alot of money on wall st, you really need a base-line level of inteligence and alot of desire/scrappiness. If you are a genius then to be honest you shouldnt even be in this business because you are over-qualified. It has always been this way. In the 80s I am pretty sure that your average bond trader who hadnt even graduated college didnt quite test out as well as the average guy working at Bell Labs...but they still did pretty well for themselves.

So yes, all the tech guys on this board, you probably have a higher IQ then me....congrats!

and what does "smart" mean anyway? There are so many definitions of smart that it can't really be measured.
"Sincerity is an overrated virtue" - Milton Friedman
  • 1
Mar 29, 2012 - 10:56pm
FreedayFF, what's your opinion? Comment below:

s5s does make a good point that all arguments on WSO will just eventually turn into "The more money the better". It's funny because bankers only think about money, but engineers think about how much their work will impact the society and how much they enjoy their work. Those who don't either become entrepreneurs or bankers haha..

Mar 29, 2012 - 11:31pm
thurnis haley, what's your opinion? Comment below:
FreedayFF:
s5s does make a good point that all arguments on WSO will just eventually turn into "The more money the better". It's funny because bankers only think about money, but engineers think about how much their work will impact the society and how much they enjoy their work. Those who don't either become entrepreneurs or bankers haha..
....what? Engineers think about money too. Try to get an engineer to design something for you for free and see what they say.
  • 1
Jul 30, 2020 - 10:58pm
Zlar Vixen, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In my experience, engineers tend to have less empathy than bankers. They might take pride in their work for being beneficial to society, but that in itself causes a lack of emotional intelligence.

An engineer can say "I designed that plane that flies in the sky". What can a banker say?

Mar 30, 2012 - 4:25pm
IlliniProgrammer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Technically, I am a CS major, making me just a pseudo-engineer along with Materials folks.

Both applied math and pure math are great, highly technical disciplines. CS majors wish we could do proofs to the standards of pure math. Our sufficiency/completeness and runtime proofs tend to make a lot of assumptions, and 90% of the time revolve around a couple of sloppy proofs by induction or contradiction.

Everyone needs to stop arguing. It is like debating whether utilities are a stronger backbone of the economy or the oil industry is more important. Bottom line is that everything shuts down if you get rid of one of the industries, but life would still chug along without Apple.

Mar 30, 2012 - 5:00pm
melvvvar, what's your opinion? Comment below:

IP doesn't troll much, but when he does, he does it like a champ. You are truly a renaissance man.

"A Mathematician's Apology" by Hardy should be read by anyone who wants to know what MBP's talking about.

Mar 30, 2012 - 6:29pm
manbearpig, what's your opinion? Comment below:
melvvvar:
IP doesn't troll much, but when he does, he does it like a champ. You are truly a renaissance man.

"A Mathematician's Apology" by Hardy should be read by anyone who wants to know what MBP's talking about.

Excellent essay!
-MBP
Mar 30, 2012 - 5:43pm
thurnis haley, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Chill on the applied math hate. Applied mathematicians do proofs as well.

Mar 30, 2012 - 6:34pm
manbearpig, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Thurnis Haley:
Chill on the applied math hate. Applied mathematicians do proofs as well.
Applied math is every bit as rigorous as pure math. It just focuses on problems that have an application in sight.
-MBP
Mar 31, 2012 - 10:51pm
melvvvar, what's your opinion? Comment below:

as a mathematician who has worked with smart engineers, i would say that the mathematics in engineering is very primitive but that doesn't make engineering easier than math, and it is not like every mathematician can hack engineering as if were slumming down intellectually. it takes a very different kind of mind to solve engineering problems because unlike math you have to make hundreds of decisions as to what is important and what is not, what you can estimate and what you have to nail down throughout the course of a serious project. the central concepts of real math are incredibly difficult to understand and that's the barrier to entry. good judgment on multiple scales of complexity is the barrier to entry for being a good engineer.

Apr 7, 2012 - 12:08pm
novorua, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What is finance anyways? Any company with a decent amount of cash can start a financial/investment company, even a tech company. But the other way around is a lot tougher. What is the basic breakdown of finance? Sales & Math/Logic, but majority of it is sales(which consist of high emotional intelligence). Engineering? Math/Science/Logic, a lot more than the average finance guy handles. I hate to compare industries because lets get real - No one can deny that the tech industry is making the financial industry much more efficient, which usually means less jobs for the average monkey. You can become an investment banker with a masters in computer science, but you can not become a programmer with a masters in finance. That's all I really need to say.

"Time is the class in which we learn, time is the fire in which be burn."
  • 1
Sep 14, 2014 - 4:12am
Coconut1983, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I think a lot of people are missing the point about the 0.01% tech startup companies that constitute the fat tail. Most of these companies are not built around some out of this world technology/algorithm but rather a relatively easy to grasp concept.

We are not talking quantum computing here or time travel, more like a combination of risktaking/timing/funding/good execution of people that know how things work.

I am sure that dozens if not hundreds/thousands of people would be able to create a snapchat like company.

The tech fat tail is definitely not only built around some "effing geniuses."

Sep 14, 2014 - 10:09am
jargon223, what's your opinion? Comment below:

So much insecurity in people on this thread. So funny to see children say "oh but your upside in finance as you get more senior is so much larger". No, it's not. The higher-up jobs in tech pay pretty similarly to finance - stock options make up a lot of the compensation. So sick of seeing this "WSO Syndrome" of everybody will just work and they'll be a partner or a managing director or whatever - it shows how old a lot of the people are who write on this site. Once you actually get into a job, you may find that other things like bureaucracy, social interaction, and just plain being at the right place at the right time play a large role in moving up the corporate ladder to a high level.

Some people may find they like finance, some people may just enjoy coding/other tech stuff - you can't say either one is truly higher paid (other than if you're dumb enough to argue about pay being marginally higher in one as opposed to the other). Those guys who are high up in tech companies can make some serious, serious money...and those people high up in finance can also make a lot of money, but it's not way more in finance, and in some cases can be less. Just as it's not way more in tech, as opposed to finance.

As an interesting addition, I know someone who worked in the back office of an FCM (systems administration), knows all their systems like the back of his hand, and now travels the world and works from wherever. Nice salary + go wherever the hell you want = pretty fucking badass job

Sep 14, 2014 - 6:11pm
SSits, what's your opinion? Comment below:

(old thread, but the argument is always current)

@jargon223 has good points.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, post threads about how to do it on WSO.
  • 1
Dec 7, 2014 - 5:04pm
LWZ, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What is the general consensus now about working in finance or strategy/operations at Linkedin/Google vs. IB?

Oct 4, 2016 - 3:56pm
Joejohnsonpo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Oct 4, 2016 - 5:16pm
ellizabeth, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Jul 30, 2020 - 10:54pm
Zlar Vixen, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Oct 20, 2020 - 5:58pm
someusername, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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