Do New Grads In Tech Really Make $250K+ Straight Out Of Undergrad?

As a disclaimer, I go to a highly ranked school, so I'm sure there's some inherent selection bias here.

Still though, one of my roommates who graduates this year and is doing Applied Math just told me he closed down a $275k offer from Google. $125k base, $400k stock/4 years, $50k signing bonus. Are these actually legit numbers?

If so, wtf. I took exactly the same classes as this guy, did basically all the same math/statistics. Shit, I even mostly use Python because Excel is a pain in the ass. I thought my offer was really good, getting into a top tier IB division with a clean $120k plus basically guaranteed year-end bonus. I'm pretty sure my offer is within the top 1% for starting salaries. But apparently top 1% of finance is less than half what you can get in tech? If that's actually true, then fuck finance. I'll be a tech bro all day and wear my pajamas to work.

More seriously though, does anyone know what the salary distributions are in tech? What percentile is a $275k offer in? Do people regularly get these kinds offers from FAANG style companies?

Comments (59)

Jun 20, 2019

That sounds about standard for STEM graduates of top tier CS schools (MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, CMU), or Ivy League level schools. Lower ranked schools' graduates might get the same salary/bonus but less stock. It's all about locking in the kids so other firms don't poach them.

This is why GS now pays their Technology graduates $125K + $xx,000 bonus - to recruit those students who otherwise would have gone to FAANG

The big carrot here is the $400k stock. However, just looking at that is short-sighted.

Things are not so easy to compare once you are higher up the ranks. There are very few positions in Tech which will pay at the level of IBD ED/MD (and even VP-in-a-good-year). Most people will cap out at $250k-300k base and the bonuses are not nearly as lucrative as in banking. $300k is senior VP base salary. The absolute # of people in Tech making above this is much fewer than the # of ED/MD in IBD divisions (there are many, many of them!)

Of course if you talk about lifestyle and $$ vs hours worked you cannot compare these two industries.

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Jun 20, 2019

Spot on. The pay in tech is crazy high to begin with, but its very likely you will cap out extremely quickly.

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Jun 21, 2019

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Most Helpful
Jun 21, 2019

Tech guy chiming in. I would say $150K is more of the norm. Generally, to get those top tier compensation, you need to receive multiple top offers and negotiate up. Which is a feat itself because you need to time your interview timeline.

Let's be honest here. How many IB analysts actually even get to ED/MD level? I know it sounds comforting to feel that you have a "higher" ceiling but it's much more difficult to get there then you would think. These high tier tech guys are earnings associate level compensation without busting their ass doing 80+ hours/week. Keep that in mind.

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Jun 21, 2019

This is a great point, people in IB often justify by pointing out the higher ceiling but making it to MD is the tech equivalent of making it to senior manager or director levels which pay 800k-1M+ https://www.levels.fyi/?compare=Google&track=Softw...

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Jun 22, 2019
kerny:

Lower ranked schools' graduates might get the same salary/bonus but less stock.

Doesn't work that way at all.

If you meet the interview bar you get a standard offer no matter what school you come from - there is a bit of delta if you have competing offers and negotiate but that's it. It's more of a correlation of more people from top schools being interviewed in the first place and more of them hitting the interview bar for top companies.

Companies do generally fall into different "tiers" though when it comes to comp. The likes of FB, GOOG, Linkedin, Snap, Dropbox etc all pay a lot higher than say a Zillow, Expedia, Yelp, Adobe, Yahoo etc. So depending on which tier the company is in offer wise will also determine any differences.

Cost of equivalent labour in the specific market is also a factor.

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Funniest
Jun 24, 2019

FAANG is LAAME. The real growth industry in tech is PORNHUB.COM

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Jul 10, 2019

OP's roommate's offer seems like an extreme case 150-200k is more common among top tech companies for entry level (L3 in google's case). But this notion that 250-300k is the "cap" is silly. Managers at Google bring in 400-500k easily. Senior Managers over 700-800k. Directors/Principal Eng are pulling 1M+ VP comp varies wildly. The point is, if you really want to, it's very possible to hit MD comp at big tech. Most people just want to work 40/hr weeks. The idea that IBD pay isn't capped relies on the idea that everyone can make MD. That's untrue. The difference is that, generally, the up or out in tech lasts only a few years so at face value it seems like most people cap out at senior engineer. However, if you're dedicated and willing to put in the work the "cap" is much higher than 300k.

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Controversial
Jun 20, 2019

Tech pay can scale very well. Just keep in mind being a good enterprise app dev does not make you a good manager which is why a lot of people cap out.

...and yes a lot of people that used to go IB/finance are going tech because hours and pay are better plus geo distribution is a bit better.

Also you don't really even need to be that good to make good money in tech tbh. Seen some seriously stupid hires because founders raise cash and then hire without real knowledge.

Jun 21, 2019

There are many students who do clear 250k+ in tech out of undergrad though those offers are a bit rarer. Most offers from the large tech companies are around 150-200k. The highest offers come from people in quant/quant dev and can clear 400k in the first year (300k/year + 100-150k signing).

The comment above is right in that there aren't too many positions in tech that pay at IBD MD levels. Senior engineers (6-7ish years of experience) at Google/Facebook make 400-500k. That's the terminal level and so many people do in fact top off around there if they stay there forever. However if you climb up the management ladder or go higher up as an individual contributor you can hit 800k-1M after 10-15 years. He's also right that if you look at $/hour tech is significantly better at 40-50 hours/week. Typically though with new grads joining the big tech companies they will stay until senior and then get a high level position at upcoming startups or start their own company.

The highest expected value for people in tech is again to be a quant/quant dev at a top prop shop like Jane Street, Jump Trading, or HRT where top performers hit 1M+ after 5-6 years. Pure quants are a bit more volatile though have the highest payouts.

My friends that have the largest comp out of school simply joined a startup at a lucky time and their stock 5x-10x with a single year and are earning 800k+ now 1-2 years out of school though their comp will drop when their initial stock grant passes after the 4 year mark. This is the most volatile path though with the highest payout. I know two people that exited left spent 4 years after graduating at a lucky startup and exited with 15-20M.

EDIT: Another comment above makes a great point that comparing senior engineering comp vs MD comp isn't a great comparison as the chances of making MD are quite slim to begin with. The top people in tech can also climb the management ladder or join a high growth, but risky, startup both of which come with large payouts.

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Jun 21, 2019

At this point in time, tech is a better place to be in than finance.

If you want to get those insane compensation package, you generally need to get multiple offers + negotiate. To get those offers, nobody gives a shit about your tech stack. Its all about crushing the coding interview.

Do yourself a favour and replace your 400 QS book with CTCI/Leetcode.

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Jun 25, 2019

While I have been working at an AM company in a more Hybrid Tech/Fin MO position. I have been focusing on staying fully in the tech department after looking at everything from pay (its the same), job market, and work life balance). The only upside you have in the FO right now is becoming a rain maker PM and good luck with that.

With tech I can more easily start a company, a side gig, live in almost any economically growing city with a compensation enough above average to ensure a good QoL.

Also work less than 40 hours a week which gives me time to flip my house.
Long story short I work smarter not harder.

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Jun 21, 2019

I'm surprised by the stock number that he's quoting but the base and bonus are definitely normal. 100k stock over four years is probably more typical.

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Jun 21, 2019

Depends on the industry within tech you go towards to. Friends who worked for years at Apple/Google so far had maxed out at around $200-$250k. Chip companies such as Apple, Intel, Qualcomm - engineers start out at $80-120k + bonuses right out of undergrad. Hours (depending on the group) varies - but the +$120k jobs typically are comparable ranging around 60-80 hours a week (test team - I worked with these folks directly). Comp Eng/Elec Eng. majors are leading the salaries for these companies.

Managers will break the $200k+ salary (after a MS/PhD), but typically will remain a low-level manager until the group restructures and layoffs occur. Rarely will they get above unless they get a MBA from a top school.

No pain no game.

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Jun 21, 2019

This isn't accurate, just by looking at https://www.levels.fyi/ the average pay for senior engineers at Google and Facebook E5/L5 are paid ~350k/year. All engineers are expected to make senior engineer within a certain timeframe or else they are let go. After you become senior, it is possible that you don't get anymore promotions.

Managers are one level higher (L6/M1) and make about 400-500k https://www.levels.fyi/?compare=Google,Facebook&tr.... You definitely don't need an MS/PhD to become a manager. You can become a manager by simply performing well as an engineer.

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Jun 22, 2019

this is all inaccurate info

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Jun 30, 2019

No, this is completely inaccurate assuming you're talking about FANG (so: Silicon Valley). Source: decade+ in Silicon Valley, PhD CS, know hundreds of CS grads, dozens closely.

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Jun 21, 2019

There is more to life than starting salary. The 80/20 of your career earnings potential is in your 40's-50's. As such you should pick a career path that you believe you will enjoy most and be successful at a senior level.

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Jun 21, 2019

Given the time value of money and accessibility of early financial independence with these comp levels, yes, earning big in your 20s does matter.

"Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry."

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Jun 21, 2019

Insane. That's still a purely money-based argument when you're talking about your entire life. Coding and finance are not real substitutes. Which of those do you actually want to do with your life?

If you're purely talking about the best path to "FIRE" and backpacking for 20 years in your 30's off of passive income, of course the tech -> startup is the easiest path. I think a lot of people will find that's not realistic or even desired in practice.

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Jun 21, 2019

I have been feeling the same lately. Recent grad, with an offer in Finance that puts me right at 6 figures for the first year. A friend of mine has taken 2 years off of college (one right after high school and one in between sophomore -> Junior year). Even in the midst of this 2nd break he was able to secure an internship as a SDE with a FAANG company where he is on a prorated salary of 144k for the summer...as a sophomore year Intern. I found this ridiculous and did more research. Websites like Blind is the equivalent to WSO for tech ppl...and I was shocked at how high these guys are getting paid. 250k All in as a first year is definitely possible for FAANG companies as well as unicorns. As a good SWE you are looking to make 500k+ within 10 years, if you are at a top company, and that's working your typical 9-5. LOL

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Jun 22, 2019

Don't be fooled by what you see on blind. To receive top tier compensation, you need to be at the "right" company + geographical location + negotiations. Being at Google in Montreal isn't going to cut it.

The people that post on Blind are not the norms. Obviously, the ones who are posting is self-selecting.

The preparation to crush those interviews is way beyond investment banking. I would say I could learn all the finance/accounting concept in 1 week from no knowledge and "pass" finance interview.

It will take 2 months to do the same for the coding interviews. And that's already assuming you're logically inclined.

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Jun 22, 2019

People like to chase the dream of SWE because they will assume they get the same comp they see online, when in fact, they will not in all actuality.

No pain no game.

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Jul 25, 2019

Blind definitely does help with interview prep/negotiation advice. Totally possible to reach the salary levers listed there if you're sharp.

Jun 22, 2019

The number in the title is a) inaccurate and b) over-sensationalised.

New grad total comp rarely gets to $250k for anyone going into tech hub (SFBA/SEA/NYC etc)-esque tech companies. More typical of top tier offers is about $150-190k all-in + a signing bonus. Something like $105-120 base + 10-15% bonus + $30-60+ vesting stock each year (for public companies this is basically just a bonus but in stock form because of performance based stock refreshers and overlapping tranches of awards).

Signing bonus doesn't count because it's not recurring hence it's not a measure of total comp

For reference, my company pays about ~$130-135 all-in which is closer to tier 2 offers (c.$120-150k) that you'll see thrown around. You'll be hard pressed to find established tech hub style techCos paying <$115 all-in.

The only time you see offers like your friend's are when you're talking about niche research roles or someone starting with a PhD (they start one level higher than UG/MSc). That RSU award is waaay out of band for a new UG/MSc grad L3.

Also note these are only for core (Data Science/Analytics, Product Management, Design, Engineering, Research) roles, most other roles get a pretty significant discount on the RSU awards (and thus on the total sum of vesting stock tranches each year) hence lower total comp.

But yes, this is all normal and has been normal for the past 6+ years. For context, see the progression charts on levels: https://www.levels.fyi/charts.html
startups and privates are largely similar but the stock isn't liquid so there's an acute risk of netting only cash comp.

source: interviewed across most of the notable tech cos (inc. GOOG APM), have friends who live this every day and currently interning in product at one.

EDIT: a cool thing to mention are the discretionary RSU awards that high performers get. so on top of the refresher awards, some companies grant additional RSU awards to artificially push up total comp.

EDIT2: these numbers are for tier 1 talent markets as well (the ones listed above). other markets where cost of labour is less have a discount of some sort depending on what competitors (i.e. at X%ile) in that area pay in total comp. e.g. FB L5 might be c.$350k all-in in SFBA but only GBP150k in London (fewer tech companies, less aggressive hiring environment, cost of living etc)

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Jun 24, 2019

Research roles are nice, but lower pay compared to what capacity you are working in.

No pain no game.

Jun 22, 2019

You'll make more in Finance after 5-6 years if you are good.
In tech you have added benefit of potentially joining the next unicorn.

If you are not that good you won't get anywhere in either of the fields.

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Jul 10, 2019

How much do you expect to be making in 5-6 years doing finance. This is a common fallback when tech salaries are brought up. Start high, cap low. The numbers just don't support this. Top tech people, for the most part, work less and get paid more. It's just the state of the market currently.

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Jul 10, 2019
Work is fun sometimes:

How much do you expect to be making in 5-6 years doing finance. This is a common fallback when tech salaries are brought up. Start high, cap low. The numbers just don't support this. Top tech people, for the most part, work less and get paid more. It's just the state of the market currently.

400-600 if you are good / make money without being a big outlier. With still room to get to 700-900 2-3 years later as you get more responsibilities and still more room again...
You can be higher at the right hedge funds or the likes of Jane Street & co.

These are not some stupid outlier numbers. There is a fair amount of directors in banks around 700k that are not really managing big teams, just doing their thing.
In tech you can't really get to these levels without going fairly high in management.

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Jun 22, 2019

First of all the title is 100% clickbait, highly exaggerated. But yeah, they make more and work less. But if you think that you can get a SWE job at a FAANG company just because you have a good degree, you're wrong. Most SWE hires have been coding since high school, not to mention the months of programming 4/5 hours daily on leetcode to practice for interviews. IB interviews are a piece of cake compared to those.

Plus, due to software engineering requiring more base intelligence, it's much easier to stand out and have an impact in a junior role than as an IB analyst.

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Jun 23, 2019

Definitely not true about coding since high school. It does help and the real value of coding early is that you know if it's something you want to pursue instead of figuring that out in college. FAANG don't hire the best talent but the ones who were "smart" enough to play the game and prep enough.

Jun 23, 2019

What's your background? I'm a CS student from a random European country and every good programmer I ever worked with had been programming since high school. Would seem highly unlikely that's not the case in SF at FAANG where the best SWEs work.

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Jun 26, 2019

You gotta normalize those those numbers. Even if NYC is expensive, SF is heads above, and going up steadily.

Furthermore, like in IB, devs. don't really work long at top tech companies, most only last 2-4 years...google is on the longer side, but the average worker there still moves on to something else after 3-4 years.

Some of these companies (Amazon, for example) will also work you to the bone, not unlike what you see in IB. And as with IB, Engineers use these companies as springboards / CV fodder to better career prospects.

Say you're done with a 4 year stint at Google, and feel like doing something else. What's next? Maybe MBA - but that's if you want to pivot to leadership roles. Lots of engineers want to keep on doing engineering stuff, and will absolutely not spend hundreds of thousands on a prestigious MBA.

So you're pretty much stuck with the following options:
- Top tech companies at expensive tech hubs (High salary / high COL / medium risk)
- Startups around top tech hubs (High salary / high COL / high risk)
- Tech at F500 companies (Lower salary / lower COL / low risk)
- Regular tech companies (Lower salary / low col / low risk)

Truth be told, there's a ton of FAANG alumni out there, earning $150k, because they decided not to continue the rat race, and move somewhere cheaper. If you want to keep earning more money, you either stay in the race, create your own startup, or pivot to some other industry with equally much work.

Going into tech just for the money is a bit stupid, I would say. The work simply requires more personal interest, and you're competing against tons of (actually) deeply, deeply passionate people. IB and tech are two very different animals.

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Jun 29, 2019

That's not true. People hop from company to company because that's how they increase their compensation. The chance of lasting 7 years at FAANG is way higher than 7 years at GS/MS/JPM.

This is equivalent to getting a promotion in IB. In tech, the 'game' is to recruit every year. This will give you 2 options:

  1. Use the new offer to increase your current compensation
  2. Jump ship to a higher compensation.
Jun 29, 2019

Yes, job hopping is the norm in tech, at least for your first years. Much more than any other industry - I worked at 3 different companies during the first 4 years of my career (tech). My experience is that workers tend to settle after year 5 or so, as that's when you get your "senior" title.

But my point was that if you're aiming for very high compensation in tech, you're pretty much bound to stay in high COL areas. Junior Engineers make more in the bay area than people with 20 years of experience out in nowhere.

Jun 28, 2019

People have finally realized this -- tech salaries are much much higher than investment banking or even Associate / VP level PE jobs.

Jun 29, 2019

Yep they are at the start.
I work in trading at one of the top banks.
After 6-7y i am significantly above pretty much all tech employee i know that didn't hit it big in a startup with still margin to double in the next 5-6 years, more if i become head of desk.

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Jul 10, 2019
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Nov 14, 2019