Software Engineering vs. Private Equity - Carreer

Hi everyone, and thank you for reading my post. I am currently debating different career paths, and trying to figure out what is the best path forward for me (I am already a "successful" software engineer). This may sound naive, but my goal is that I want to be making $500,000 - $1,000,000, let's say in the next 10 years, the sooner the better, and of course the higher the better.


I see the homes in Beverly Hill and Beverly Hills adjacent, and they all start at $2,000,000 and up (and this on the low end) so obviously you need to be making quite a bit to support this mortgage and property taxes to live around this area. I would rather not rely on a spouse for dual income support either. Ideally, I want to be able to afford property like this myself, alone. A goal of mine is to live somewhere in West LA where nice properties are this much and that's on the very low end.


I make a strong income now, but it is going to be very difficult to keep growing/climbing from here. Please read on.

Current Options

    option 1

I have two options. I can stay in software engineering, and continue to grow there, and perhaps go into quantitative development for a high frequency trading firm. I have always been interested in finance. My current annual total comp (bundled with a few other income streams I've managed to build up) is around $225K. Even with this amount of money, I am nowhere close to being able to afford a decent single family home in West LA.

A couple important points to note:

  • I am already fairly high on the totem pole in my career, so it is going to be difficult to keep pushing my salary up. Therein lies the problem.

  • I do want to mention that I currently have a nice work-life-balance and an enjoyable lifestyle.

    option 2

The other option is to try and go into private equity. I have taken various finance courses online and am a strong modeler (mostly for Real Estate PE), and understand financial concepts, and I very much enjoy this. I have heard that a starting PE associate can make around $150k base with a 60% bonus, which totals to $240K, and already beats what I'm earning. Not to mention, that a PE associate is at the beginning of their career, and as they grow, I think they can make a lot more. The career trajectory seems to be "to the moon", where as my current career trajectory feels as if it has already hit the ceiling. Please correct me if I am wrong about this!

  • I also do not really want to move to Chicago, or NYC, I am pretty happy in LA, but who knows!

  • I have considered enrolling in a part-time MBA, but I feel from my own studies and online coursework, that my finance and modeling skills are already fairly strong, and I do not want to waste any time or money.

Please Advise

I would greatly appreciate some career advice here. I feel stuck at a crossroads, and want to be able to keep growing. I don't want to be stuck at $225K/year forever. I want to get to the $500K/year mark, but ideally $1M/year mark within 10 years, and preferably way less!

Can anyone give me some advice or some things I should think about?

Are my PE salary expectations realistic?

Should I just go back to law school? (I'm not kidding)

Thank you so much.

Comments (7)

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Cov

225k per years seems low for a swe, that is what ppl at FAcebook or google make 1 year out of college

Why not try lateraling

Most Helpful
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Restr

Not to sound too harsh, but you're simply not going to be hired at a decent private equity firm as an associate by applying online and explaining that you have taken online finance courses. These jobs are very competitive, and PE firms generally look for candidates with the right background. Your best shot is to work your butt off to get a strong GMAT score, get into a very strong traditional MBA program, and network into/apply for roles while there. Unless you are considered an absolute expert in your specific field of tech or you have some sort of crazy family connection, a halfway decent PE firm is very unlikely going to hire you from your current job.

  • 3
FlyingBoat, what's your opinion? Comment below:

PE is extremely strict about applicants. They only take people from IB or from target MBA ( top 14 ). Getting into target MBA is small chance. Even if you get into one, there's too much opportunity cost ( 2 years of time & money )

The only realistic way is HFT developer. It would be a shortcut to mountain TC. Your SWE background helps. If you have FAANG backgrounds then you'll have very decent chance at Citadel NXT program.

  • 1
tech_and_finance_guy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I see, thank you for your response? What about Top 20 MBA programs? Do they have a chance?

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs

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