Big Tech vs Wall Street Total Comp

I've seen an infinite amount of posts on this site claiming that the compensation for software engineers at tech shops is the same as most careers on Wall Street.

I understand the work-life-balance at tech is likely incredibly better but I am confused as to how comp is similar in most cases.

After doing a few Google and Glassdoor searches, it appears that 90% of software engineers' total comp caps at $200 - $250 k, which is definitely exceptional in life but seems low compared to most mid-level/senior roles on Wall Street (even outside IB/PE). I know that some SWE, like 10%, get % of equity in their firm but it seems more rare than the status-quo.

Love to hear more explanations into comp and if these numbers are accurate for tech.

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Comments (150)

Jul 19, 2021 - 3:12pm

The equity has gone up tremendously especially with the vesting schedule. Trust me you are right the avg banker probably does better than the avg programmer but some of these guys are getting paid millions to be machine learning quants and engin

Jul 19, 2021 - 3:50pm

the comparison of a SWE to a non-technical role on the street is not a good one. the proper comparison would be quant v quant v quant

that said, I have a little familiarity with tech comp as most of my clients are in tech, here's what a late 30s/early 40s non-technical/non executive person can expect

175-250k base, 25-50% target bonus depending on if role is sales and company performance, 50-75% target stock award

hypothetical

$200k base

$50k cash bonus

$150k stock award (grant, not vesting)

however, if you've been with the company for years and the stock's compounded at 20%/yr like many of these tech names, your vestings will likely be in the $150-250k so total W2 assuming no deferred comp is in the $4-600k/yr range

on the executive side, expect 50-200% more cash comp (obvi depends on level) and much more equity

on the SWE side, for a high performer the stock awards and bonus can be significantly higher

if you're at AMZN however, your cash comp will never be more than $175k, they make up for it BIGLY with equity

Jul 19, 2021 - 4:17pm

Single data point from an ex-GF, data is ~3 years old at this point, so at the time I believe street was $85k base.  

My ex was an entry-level SWE at a unicorn consumer tech firm (since has gone public and has current market cap over $20 BN).  Her starting comp package was: 

$110k base
~$15k cash bonus
$25k equity grant, 2 year vesting

So total comp of ~$150k, and this wasn't FAANG.  N

The curve post entry level is definitely steeper in IB, but not by as much as you'd think.  

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  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Jul 21, 2021 - 9:40am

Masterz57

Single data point from an ex-GF, data is ~3 years old at this point, so at the time I believe street was $85k base.  

My ex was an entry-level SWE at a unicorn consumer tech firm (since has gone public and has current market cap over $20 BN).  Her starting comp package was: 

$110k base
~$15k cash bonus
$25k equity grant, 2 year vesting

So total comp of ~$150k, and this wasn't FAANG.  N

The curve post entry level is definitely steeper in IB, but not by as much as you'd think.  

Similar hard datapoint for Google APM offer 2 years ago. Note that APM pays slightly less equity than SWE

$120k base

~20k cash bonus

$25k equity per year ($100k total, 4 year vesting)

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Jul 19, 2021 - 5:20pm

Levels has all the info you need: https://www.levels.fyi/company/Google/salaries/Software-Engineer/https://www.levels.fyi/company/Facebook/salaries/Software-Engineer/https://www.levels.fyi/company/Microsoft/salaries/Software-Engineer/

Generally tech companies 'cluster' around each other based on their comp strategy. The best paying shops are the likes of Google, FB, Snap, Airbnb, Netflix, Uber etc, then one tier down w/ Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, Yahoo, eBay etc. Then the likes of Expedia, Wayfair, Autodesk, etc and lastly Cisco, Oracle (non-OCI), Intel, etc. And comp is largely driven by level in the org - usually denoted by 'L' and some number but they can be whatever structure the company has termed it to be.

Most folks in 'core roles' (Product Management, Engineering, Design, UX Research, Data Science / Analytics, Technical Program Management, Design Program Management, Product Marketing) don't make it past the equivalent of Google's L5 or L6 but the few (let's say top 5% or so) that make it past that rake in a fair haul of cash (e.g. L8 at Google: https://www.levels.fyi/company/Google/salaries/Software-Engineer/L8/) - i.e. high six figs to low seven. And if you make it to the exec level.. well, that's a whole different story. Levels past L5 tend to be leadership roles either technical or management and require evidence of various levels of impact - you usually need excellent social and leadership skills to get to those levels. Worth noting, however, is that if you're 'really good' in tech, your promotion timeline could be truncated significantly and you could blitz past levels. 

As for the crux of the question.. most reasonably achievable levels (accounting for probably 95% of people) for ICs in core roles at tech companies will make ~$250-500k a year at the top companies and more like ~$150-250k at lower paying companies. New grads will make anywhere from $130k to $200k+ total comp. Structure is typically: base salary, annual bonus (if applicable) and value of stock vesting every year. Netflix is a bit of outlier in that they pay entirely in base with the option to exchange part of your base for discounted options. Amazon has an annual cash offset for your first 2 years of tenure due to their backloaded vesting schedule for on-hire grants (5% Y1, 15% Y2, 40% Y3, 40% Y4) then it's just base (w/ a low cap of $160-185k depending on where you're based) and value of annual vesting stock. 

Annual vesting stock is either derived from the vesting schedule of on-hire grants or stacked vesting tranches of refresher grants (awarded every year) or both (hence the 'cliff' you experience in total comp after year 4 of working at a company).

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Jul 19, 2021 - 5:32pm

princepieman

Levels has all the info you need: https://www.levels.fyi/company/Google/salaries/Software-Engineer/https://www.levels.fyi/company/Facebook/salaries/Software-Engineer/https://www.levels.fyi/company/Microsoft/salaries/Software-Engineer/

Generally tech companies 'cluster' around each other based on their comp strategy. The best paying shops are the likes of Google, FB, Snap, Airbnb, Netflix, Uber etc, then one tier down w/ Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce, Yahoo, eBay etc. Then the likes of Expedia, Wayfair, Autodesk, etc and lastly Cisco, Oracle (non-OCI), Intel, etc. And comp is largely driven by level in the org - usually denoted by 'L' and some number but they can be whatever structure the company has termed it to be.

Most folks in 'core roles' (Product, Engineering, Design, Technical Program Management, UX Research, Data Science / Analytics) don't make it past the equivalent of Google's L5 or L6 but the few (let's say top 5% or so) that make it past that rake in a fair haul of cash (e.g. L8 at Google: https://www.levels.fyi/company/Google/salaries/Software-Engineer/L8/) - i.e. high six figs to low seven. And if you make it to the exec level.. well, that's a whole different story. Levels past L5 tend to be leadership roles either technical or management and require evidence of various levels of impact - you usually need excellent social and leadership skills to get to those levels. Worth noting, however, is that if you're 'really good' in tech, your promotion timeline could be truncated significantly and you could blitz past levels. 

As for the crux of the question.. most reasonably achievable levels (accounting for probably 95% of people) for ICs in core roles at tech companies will make ~$250-500k a year at the top companies and more like ~$150-250k at lower paying companies. New grads will make anywhere from $130k to $200k+ total comp. Structure is typically: base salary, annual bonus (if applicable) and value of stock vesting every year. Netflix is a bit of outlier in that they pay entirely in base with the option to exchange part of your base for discounted options. Amazon has an annual cash offset for your first 2 years of tenure due to their backloaded vesting schedule for on-hire grants (5% Y1, 15% Y2, 40% Y3, 40% Y4\0 then it's just base (w/ a low cap of $160-185k depending on where you're based) and value of annual vesting stock. 

This, and basically there's a shit ton of money in tech.

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Jul 19, 2021 - 5:48pm

Yeah definitely for how many folks that work in core roles (and, tbh, not just core roles - corporate functions + product marketing get comped very well too, not to mention sales which has a very high ceiling) at these companies that exist (easily on the order of ~100-150k people in the US - most at GAFAM) it is very impressive that most of them are making 1.5-2 handle to 5 handle six figures (with additional upside from stock appreciation). And a small chunk of that group pulling down mid-high six figs to low seven.

For how well paying high finance is.. there just isn't as much headcount. How many ibankers, s&ters, sellside research, investment consulting, private capital advisory, prop trading shop, prime brokerage, inter-dealer brokerage folks at decent firms are there really in the US? Maybe 15-20k? How many professionals in VC, HF, PE, GE, PrivDebt, Secondaries, GP Stakes, Infra Funds, Transport Funds, Impact Funds, LO AM, CLO Managers, Asset Owners, CRE investment shops, etc at decent firms are there? Even less. 

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Jul 19, 2021 - 6:13pm

The equity and stock vesting schedule at large tech companies has gone through the roof. No one on this site realizes it -- likely in denial. I grew up and live in SF. It's basically the only thing tech bro's talk about nowadays. 

I'm also referring to tip top tech SWE roles. Think Stanford / Berkley CS / Math double majors. Multiple offers and hops from say a google to an FB after 2 yrs.

500K would be below market in a good vesting year (which has basically been every year for past 4 years). Don't even ask about what the Airbnb guys pulled after the IPO. Makes MD's look like sht.

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Jul 19, 2021 - 6:39pm

Bankerconsu

The equity and stock vesting schedule at large tech companies has gone through the roof. No one on this site realizes it -- likely in denial. I grew up and live in SF. It's basically the only thing tech bro's talk about nowadays. 

I'm also referring to tip top tech SWE roles. Think Stanford / Berkley CS / Math double majors. Multiple offers and hops from say a google to an FB after 2 yrs.

500K would be below market in a good vesting year (which has basically been every year for past 4 years). Don't even ask about what the Airbnb guys pulled after the IPO. Makes MD's look like sht.

Exactly. I think a lot of people don't realize how good the past few years have been for people. I know over 5 people that made over 500k TC at Snapchat the last few years that are only ~3-4 years out of college

Tech actually has a faster pay progression for the first ~5 years at least if you job hop (e.g., Google to FB). Think starting TC of ~160k TC, and by 3 YOE they are double that

Jul 19, 2021 - 7:06pm

Exactly. I don't blame them. Bankers have a totally different mindset. They think of bonus / comp in all cash and don't realize what it means to join a company like AirBNB 4 years ago and then have stocks vest after an IPO

The difference is in an equity versus cash mindset. Not a big deal though.... the datapoints I'm comparing are literally the tip top of the tech world. These kids went through olympiad math contests and breezed through them in high school. Not exactly your classic wharton undergrad major 

  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Jul 20, 2021 - 3:50pm

Get the fuck out with your tech comp bullshit

I also know people working at the likes of FB and guess what they don't earn as much. This is MY data point, which obviously goes against yours so now we have two different data points already. What does it mean however? Well quite possibly it means that not everyone in tech earn as much as you say but then the same story goes for banking. 
 

Now if we start comparing top dogs in banking and PE vs top dogs in tech (excluding founders), I can name people who brought deals and earned % fees, which brought them millions. 
 

Top dogs in PEs constantly re-invest their money and earn millions as well. 
 

So get the fuck out. We are definitely not in denial but I'm sure there is a comfy chair waiting for you in SF with your name on it.

Jul 20, 2021 - 3:53pm

I live in SF. Are you dumb? LOL.

Think for a quick moment on how tech comp gets structured. It's in stock options so the pay is variable to EXACTLY how your fucking stock is doing when granted and then at time of vest. 

Just fucking pull back a tech ETF, any of them for 3 years. I'm not saying this will continue forever. But the last 3-5 years in tech have been like wall street pre -08. 

I did IB. I know what i'm talking about. Calm yourself. The pay raise literally just hit across st for bankers because of the very fact that other industry pay has outpaced finance at the junior level. 

Jul 20, 2021 - 5:55pm

Why the aggro? All of these comp numbers are widely available and you can confirm with anyone at these companies (there's usually a community spreadsheet of comp data points across the company). Also FWIW median total compensation at FB is like $200-250k so not sure what to tell you there. 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jul 20, 2021 - 9:15pm

you're incorrect. the top cs kids aren't going to FAANG, they're going to high-growth startups / unicorns. jobs at the big tech cos are considered pretty avg for smart kids. as above mentioned, those data points can be accurate for the cream of the crop

Jul 19, 2021 - 6:54pm

When you make your money in tech, will you be able to invest as well as the guy that was in PE?

Definitely not.

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Jul 20, 2021 - 9:46pm

Except for the fact that their stock bonuses have been averaging 20% returns... 

I know right? Has anyone looked at QQQ recently? Lmao

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Jul 22, 2021 - 11:19am

You can average a lot more than that with your own money. But I don't think anyone replying to this has deployed much so YMMV.

Jul 20, 2021 - 10:11am

This is data point from best friend that does recruiting for Tik Tok. SWE with 1-2 years of experience gets $150k base with $200k worth of RSU in $x.x valuation vested over 4 years. Base salary is increase $25k a year and they give you more RSU every year on top of the $200k that gets vested for another 4 years. However, since he joined 1.5 years ago, tik tok valuation is 2.5x. You do the math. On the senior level, it varies much more. Because most staff engineers can choose a pre IPO company and get a shit load of equity if the company goes IPO.

Jul 20, 2021 - 4:09pm

As someone who once worked for a private Chinese company (which TikTok is), I would be SUPER curious to know what exactly those SWE are getting equity in and how they will ever see a liquidity event.  Ownership structures for Chinese private companies are incredibly opaque.  

Jul 20, 2021 - 6:14pm

No different to any other pre-IPO company. You get stock (well the promise of stock since they're private, double trigger RSUs) in the company itself. 

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Jul 20, 2021 - 2:43pm

A lot of posts already cover this, but the short story is this.

  • Entry level = a tad under 200k (but could >200k with stock appreciation)
  • Mid Level (where most people plateau)  = 400-600k
  • Executive level (very hard, similar to MD/Partner) = >1M+

The best part about the tech rat race is that it's not up or out. It's much easier to chug along and hit 400-600k comp than it is to reach that in Finance/Law/Consulting. At the same time, if you're really good you can earn >1M+ similar to all of the tougher professions. Also, the potential upside is just as high, if not higher. Big tech c-suite massively outearns wall street c-suite.

  • Associate 1 in IB - Ind
Jul 20, 2021 - 4:01pm

I'm so tired of this tech bullshit. I can say that I earn millions at associate level but that wouldn't be true. 
 

I know a ton of people working tech who earn slightly above average wage with little stock comp.

people you are referring to are a small % of all people working in tech. On top a lot of the time they will earn a million or so at exit and then they will continue working on  the basic salary + bonus wondering  what the fuck to do with the money because their financial literacy is close to zero.

let's then compare top people in finance with top people in tech. will top people in tech work leas? It may be the case but from my own experience ANY PERSON WHO EARNS A LOT HAD TO SACRIFICE A TON OF THEIR FREE TIME. There is no such thing as earning a shit ton of money doing fuck all. Stop trying to sell this bullshit idea that people who earn a lot don't work their asses off for it.

Now if we look at top finance people, they will be making close to 200k at associate level (post covid pay rise) and ~100% bonus or more, which is already =$400k. Didn't you say it's not achievable? Guess what , thats what fucking associates make in their first year.

You say exec people make >1mil in tech? I'm sure you will be surprised how much money partners in PE firms print and that number will have 6 zeros but it won't be even close to 1mil

I don't even want to continue this conversation. Go to SF and don't come back to this forum.

Jul 20, 2021 - 9:41pm

My tech friends don't work no where near as hard as finance bros, and they live a very good WLB.

They may not earn as much as PE / HF, but they are doing better than 90%+ of the population and can enjoy and fuck women.

Ins't that why were all doing IB anyways? To chase pussy? 

What did the banker say to the instagram model "my balance sheet balances, bitch"

Instagram model: "huh?"

But then the tech guy says "i work 35 hours a week, clear $200K"

Instagram model: "nice, let me drop my panties"

See the difference? Tech > Finance. Lesson of the story. Don't be a finance twat, if you do become a rainmaker making >$300K, otherwise go tech.

Jul 22, 2021 - 6:30pm

Hate to tell you this but a typical Google work week is like 6 hours a day. People joke in the bay joke that the worst day at Google is when the ice cream machine is broken. These SWEs pull in 400k easily with about 5 years of experience if they interview well (ie memorize about 300 brain teaser questions).

Stop telling people the only way to get paid well is if you overwork. That is some toxic corporate drone mindset.

Jul 23, 2021 - 2:48pm

FAANG to BB IB/MF PE is apples to apples. You can't compare all of tech to just high finance, and if you compare all of finance to all of tech, tech wins easily when CS grads are making 80k+ out of Podunk State compared to their finance peers selling life insurance to their buddies

  • Associate 2 in IB-M&A
Jul 20, 2021 - 5:37pm

Reading through this thread, it's hilarious how insecure finance professionals can be. Some of them (mostly undergrads and interns) seem unable to handle the fact that their peers may out-earn them, regardless of how specific the circumstances may need to be for that to happen (being a good programmer, grinding on code all day, and having a relatively narrower set of job duties vs. finance where the whole point is to think big picture). I'm sure that insecurity is because these undergrads and interns still seek approval from Mom and Dad...don't worry undergrads, you'll always be their special little overachiever.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 20, 2021 - 6:12pm

Keep in mind that this forum forgets that 95% of software engineers are not working for the Big Tech FAANG companies or unicorn startups. Sure, I'd bet that SWEs at FAANG have the potential to clear more than an MD at Goldman in their careers, but that's only because they are the best in their respective industry that has grown exponentially in size the past decade. Anyone who had a good amount of equity in those companies would in theory out earn at least half of Wall Street.

My point is that, either way, to surpass the Wall Street comp, a software engineer needs equity (which is the only way to get to the stratosphere); otherwise they're capped at a $200k salary range with modest bonus. Not to mention, many software engineers are hired as independent contractors for non-tech firms so you know they aren't clearing Big Tech money.

Personally, I feel that software engineering does offer a better work-life balance/compensation than virtually all Wall Street careers. There is more luck involved with the sky-high comp for tech than there is with Analyst->MD or IB->PE but the work might be more meaningful for some and you're still clearing a killing. I like to think that besides the day-to-day and background, Software Engineering is most similar to Corporate Development. Both offer a similar salary and work-life-balance, and then the real meat is in the equity options you get.

Jul 20, 2021 - 6:24pm

I mean, we're talking about the tech industry here aren't we? What's the point in mentioning SWEs working outside of tech? Even then, there are pockets outside of tech that still pay well like tech divisions of Wall Street firms, quant shops and even Walmart is dishing out some juicy numbers for their tech division. 

I'd caveat your points by saying that since it's already extremely hard to break into and succeed in high finance anyway the floor is already way higher than just getting a job at a tech company. I'd posit that those who have the gumption to stick around in the high finance track to senior roles / those who exit to corp from high finance and make Exec roles are probably equivalent to those who make it to the L7 / L8 / Exec levels in tech and those who plateau in tech are similar to those who plateau in a ~Director role in Corp Dev / Corp Fin (be it for lifestyle reasons or not). 

Re: independent contractors.. (like legit ones not the ones working for body shops) they can make solid coin. Maybe not millions but a solid $200k+ is very achievable. 

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Jul 21, 2021 - 6:49am

I have no college degree and work in tech. I earned 400k without stock appreciation at 6 YOE before getting off the hedonic treadmill. Any average SWE can hit 400k before appreciation with about 5 YOE if they put in the work.

You don't need to be a genius to get there either. Like any industry, SWE is about soft skills and leadership. Nerds don't do that well in tech either because social skills are always important, even amongst other nerds. The main reasons why people don't reach the target above are 1) not everyone studies for the obscure technical interview 2) not everyone realizes the importance of soft skills 3) not willing to job hop

Keep in mind SWEs are a much larger, more diverse set of people than in high finance. Many people have lives outside of work and aren't willing to pour their youth into chasing money and prestige while living in an HCOL city. In my case, I was willing to grind and got into FAANG pretty easily. FAANG of course is not where the real superstars go.

When you consider stock appreciation and apply the same level of career ambition and educational background bankers have, it's pretty reasonable to out-earn some financiers stuck in MM IB, S&T, ER, AM, LMM PE etc.

Jul 21, 2021 - 10:02am

The ceiling for AM (without going into management) and LMM PE is way, way higher than even an L8 at G / FB. 

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Jul 21, 2021 - 9:06am

The honest answer here is that big tech wins - you get a way easier lifestyle (dog at the office, snacks, video games / ping pong, sleep pods, other perks), mental health is way better as you know your firm actually cares about your well-being, still you have to work hard and there are large expectations, average cash / bonus pay is lower than finance but taking into account stock and vesting schedule historically you would be filthy rich. Obviously this argument is regarding big tech (Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc.) compared to Wall Street so apples to apples comparing the top 1% of tech to the top 1% of finance. And you get to work remotely too. This hybrid work environment will likely go away the minute company performance declines. If you want to compare IB to working at a startup, or mature tech company like IBM, then sure IB wins hands down and you can feel superior to them. 

Jul 21, 2021 - 10:07am

It's really funny how people only mention like 3-5 companies as if they're the only ones that make up the tech industry. There's easily over 50-100+ places (and likely more) that all pay decently well in tech. GAFAM are just the biggest, not the most prestigious just the biggest. Netflix really should not be in the acronym as they belong with all the smaller elite tech companies like Lyft, Airbnb, Uber, Dropbox, etc. 

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Jul 21, 2021 - 10:42am

Yeah, same. I did CS, hated the idea of becoming an engineer so I went into product. Day is largely PPT / excel, meetings, email, chat, shitty design mock-ups, drafting docs and some light data analysis. I leave the technical stuff to people who are actually good at it / like it. 

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Jul 21, 2021 - 10:40am

A lot of people have done this and it is very possible to make the transition especially if you studied a hard science at undergrad (though, I question why bankers wouldn't just become product managers instead of engineers… skill set aligns better) but it's not "easy" at all. If your brain isn't wired to solve abstract logical problems or you don't have the patience to debug thousands of lines of code I don't see you succeeding. 

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  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Jul 21, 2021 - 11:46am

princepieman

A lot of people have done this and it is very possible to make the transition especially if you studied a hard science at undergrad (though, I question why bankers wouldn't just become product managers instead of engineers… skill set aligns better) but it's not "easy" at all. If your brain isn't wired to solve abstract logical problems or you don't have the patience to debug thousands of lines of code I don't see you succeeding. 

I'm assuming you're talking about engineering here because as a fellow PM, I surely don't have access to the codebase, and definitely am not thinking about data structures (though understand them and the various tradeoffs)

  • Prospect in IB-M&A
Jul 21, 2021 - 2:01pm

I knew investment bankers were insecure but didn't know they were this insecure LOL

Jul 21, 2021 - 1:29pm

Try it out for yourself. Go through CS50 or MIT's 6.00. Try going through some tutorials. Build some pet projects. Grab a copy of Cracking the Coding Interview then head over to leetcode / hackerrank and try out some technical interview questions. If you end up liking it might be worth investing in a reputable boot camp or online degree. 

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  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 21, 2021 - 4:25pm

I studied CS and did a sophomore internship in SWE and have lots of friends in tech, so here's my 2 cents.

Like other people have mentioned, comparing the average finance salary to what someone at Stripe makes is stupid. At that point, compare it to Centerview or whatever the highest paying finance firm is. I'm not sure why there's this conception that everyone who wants to do SWE lands at Google/FB, but its the same as banking- the best SWEs have tons of doors open but it's still not an easy industry to break into. At a more middle of the road SWE gig, you're looking at like 100-120k all in for a fresh grad, and this can be even lower. After bonus, I came in basically right in the middle of my SWE friends for my first year out of college income- definitely knew a few at big startups/FAANG that cleared closer to 200k, but my ~150k definitely beat out a few of my friends at less prestigious companies.

The other thing that's been mentioned a bit in this thread is that you're probably at the whims of your stock price more than most finance gigs, and, at least in my opinion, it feels very out of control. I interned at a series C startup and just felt like my contribution (or even the contribution of a fulltime SWE) just doesn't feel like it has enough impact on the trajectory of the business- CEO/fundraising/etc is what is likely going to ultimately determine if the company goes public and those stock options make you rich or if they end up worthless. At least in something like PE/IB there's still firm-wide carry but it feels like your bonus is more determined by your own work (at the senior level).

Also, not sure why everyone here thinks its so easy to go from FAANG -> hot startup to get big equity -> IPO and you get rich. if you're joining a startup with any amount of substantial equity, it's going to be pretty early stage. There's an enormous risk of failure. To counter some of the stories of the filthy rich SWEs you see on this thread, I've also met my fair share of 50 year old SWEs that left great companies in their 20s, ended up jumping to startups that ultimately became sinking ships (typically through no fault of their own), and now they're stuck making <200k a year trying to avoid getting fired because there's a serious stigma in the SWE industry against older workers who don't have serious historical successes. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 21, 2021 - 6:32pm

Completely agree with the point above. I think tech likely has a greater risk/reward dynamic than finance, which many aren't considering. Here's 5 main reasons:

1. Like others covered above, your comp is more tied to equity (which could catapult you or burn you depending how your firm does)

2. Since tech is always rapidly evolving, your long-term career is greatly more at risk than banking. Survey online shows that 30% of SWE are afraid that their jobs will get replaced by AI. It appears that you will constantly have to improve your skill set or else you might fall behind

3. Knowing you have to continue to learn new codes/machine software, I'd bet it be a lot harder to successfully do this at 50 when your learning ability slows down (and the fact that you have other priorities, family, etc.). Just by nature, the best and brightest SWE tend to be younger and more open to new ideas.

4. FAANG: there's no question tech is the best right now but it's highly unlikely that these companies will continue to return 20% per year over the course of your career. At some point, they should fall into the law of large numbers and become stalwarts. When this happens, you can expect that equity comp to look more on par with traditional cash comp (or worse if they happen to vest during a broader recession).

5. Startups: also no question that some of the richest people alive today were the ones who worked for the Facebook's pre-IPO. However, there is a HEAVY saturation in the tech world right now were most users are only interacting with a few apps (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Netflix, Spotify). I know that consumer-facing software isn't the only thing but its likely that we see fewer startups disrupt the market like we have before. Not saying it won't happen, but it should slow down a bit.

TLDR: If you're thinking about doing SWE, you're work-life-balance might not be 40hrs per week when you start spending time after work learning new tech so AI doesn't kill your job. Your comp should revert back to the equilibrium of a mature, normal-growth industry

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Ind
Jul 22, 2021 - 12:37am

Are you the guy with whom I was having a conversation about Japanese porn? 150 hour in NYC might be a bit cheap. Although if you know where the gold (or GOAT) is, lmk plz. 

Jul 22, 2021 - 1:22pm

Unpopular opinion - you don't have to be very smart to be a banker. If you think that you're going to be a successful enough software engineer to earn comp comparable to an associate/VP at a BB you better know your shit, and know it well. You need to have a very inquisitive mind as well. Unlike banking, where no one is really trying to reinvent the wheel, the best programmers make their bread attempting to do just that.

If you are interested in an SWE position that has you maintaining systems every day, say for example JP Morgan's retail banking system or UPS's logistical systems that's a different story. But speaking from experience as someone who has friends who do exactly this and are routinely trying to break into the aforementioned category of inquisitive and talented software engineers, its not easy even with years of experience. 

  • Analyst 1 in Consulting
Jul 22, 2021 - 1:28pm

Lvl99Bankstanding

Unpopular opinion - you don't have to be very smart to be a banker. If you think that you're going to be a successful enough software engineer to earn comp comparable to an associate/VP at a BB you better know your shit, and know it well. You need to have a very inquisitive mind as well. Unlike banking, where no one is really trying to reinvent the wheel, the best programmers make their bread attempting to do just that.

If you are interested in an SWE position that has you maintaining systems every day, say for example JP Morgan's retail banking system or UPS's logistical systems that's a different story. But speaking from experience as someone who has friends who do exactly this and are routinely trying to break into the aforementioned category of inquisitive and talented software engineers, its not easy even with years of experience. 

Exactly. The difference between a good and great SWE is much much much larger than the difference between a good and great banker. Hence why there's such a race for talent. I hate the term so much, but there really is something true behind the phrase "10x engineers" (e.g., engineers that are 10x better than other engineers) 

Jul 22, 2021 - 1:39pm

What's funny as well is that the employers of these talented software engineers know how talented they are so they lock them into very oppressive IP contracts. If you think that you are talented enough to be a data scientist or UI programmer at Google or Apple, you would be better off spending your valuable time trying to create your own software and applications. 

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
Jul 22, 2021 - 2:59pm

"Unpopular opinion - you don't have to be very smart to be a banker."

Please that is one of the most popular opinions out there lmao... everyone knows you don't need to be smart to be a banker

Jul 22, 2021 - 5:29pm

SWE isn't that hard too, at least at the FAANG level. I made 400k+ without a college degree in FAANG and that is a pretty common situation these days. I suppose learning to code is a bit harder than prepping IB technicals but considering kids can code these days, it's really not that hard. Most FAANG SWEs complain about never using their brain to do anything impactful. Usually, the ones who have an ability to push the needle join a good startup instead of navigating the politics beyond senior SWE FAANG roles.

Jul 22, 2021 - 2:36pm

this thread is hilarious to observe you dorks argue who gets paid more. you're all risk-averse cucks in any case. 

  • 1
Jul 22, 2021 - 10:30pm

All of these people (including me) suffer from a psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias. We chose Finance so we have to justify it to ourselves that if was the best decision. In reality tech is the way to go. Studies just show people are happier. 

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