Median Salaries at Biggest Tech Companies: Officially Insane

In news that will probably come as a shock to nobody, the median income at some of the world’s largest tech companies is eye-wateringly high, according to new data crunched by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Facebook topped this particular list, with median employee pay hitting $240,430. Alphabet (the parent company of Google) also doled out similarly generous salaries, with a median of $192,274. Also on the list: Netflix ($183,304), Salesforce ($155,284), and eBay ($122,891). Although Nvidia’s median salary reached $147,640—comparable to other tech firms—rival chipmaker Intel “only” paid out a median of $102,100. (And keep in mind that ‘median’ means roughly half of employees are making less; even at Alphabet or Facebook, not everyone is pulling down a cool six figures a year.)

The CEOs at all these firms made millions, of course, with the exception of Alphabet CEO Larry Page, who takes a salary of $1 (while sitting atop approximately $48.6 billion in wealth, the bulk of it in Alphabet stock). At Salesforce and Facebook, the CEO-to-employee pay ratio is “only” 30-to-1 and 37-to-1, respectively, thanks to a combination of high median salaries and relatively low CEO pay; contrast that to Wells Fargo, where the median employee pay stands at $60,446 while the CEO pulls down $17 million—a ratio of 291-to-1.

The gap between employee and CEO pay has grown over the past several decades; in the mid-1960s, it sat at 20-to-1. In mid-2017, the Economic Policy Institute estimated the ratio at 271-to-1. In addition to huge salaries and lots of stock options, many CEOs also enjoy luxurious perks such as private jets and security teams.

In tech, several factors elevate the median salary for many tech firms. For starters, highly specialized tech pros pull down extraordinary paychecks, dragging the salary line upward; if you have 100 A.I. experts in your company who make over a million dollars a year, that’s going to have an effect on the bottom line. And although hardware-centric firms may utilize huge factories and warehouses where workers earn just over minimum wage, software and Web companies tend to have a higher ratio of highly paid employees.

According to the most recent Dice Salary Survey, the average tech salary stood at $92,712 last year, well above the U.S. median household income but beneath the median pay at the aforementioned companies. Of course, income rises based on seniority, specialization, and location; if you want to see how much your skills and experience can potentially earn, check out the Dice Salary Calculator.


17 Responses to “Median Salaries at Biggest Tech Companies: Officially Insane”

  1. If you have that ability to earn that salary, more power to you. However, the majority of us do not get salaries like that. Most of us are lucky if we make 6 figures.

  2. Get real, this is a factor of the San Francisco real estate market. The bicycles in front of Google are for the employees who are too house poor to afford a car.
    Personally, I have no respect for a company built on click fraud, that is beholden to the NSA as a domestic surveillance tool.

  3. Bill Smith

    As others have mentioned, those median salaries are an anomaly. The salaries are based on the cost of living within a 50-mile radius of San Francisco. If you do the analysis, you’ll find that those median salaries of $240K are probably equal in purchasing power to someone earning about $100K in the rest of the country.

    • Frank K

      Agreed. And one will find that these companies pay much less outside of places like the Bay Area or Seattle. I know of companies that pay entry level engineers more in the bay area than they pay senior or even principal engineers in flyover.

  4. JIm Bailey

    A relative of mine works for Facebook. When you buy a house in San Francisco you have to bid ABOVE the asking price. The highest bidder wins, of course. She paid $1 million for a 2 bedroom row house that had to be refurbished before moving in. I hope she’s making $240K.

  5. Trey Grant

    These salaries are great. Why does no one look at the salaries for the average worker that is not able to pay his mortgage or save anything. What do they get for a bonus. How do they work three or 4 jobs. Take care of the people working for you CEOs. Get them what they need. Offer legitamate training to get them the skills you need to fill.

    • Jason

      Trey, I respect your comment. However in my experience the people that make these salaries don’t wait for their CEO to train them. They have passion for their work / career, they take initiative to go get trained, they seek out and learn as much as they can from the experts, they excel at their jobs, they work hard to be the “go to” person, and they earn more money by having highly valuable skills and experience to their company. By that I mean the company doesn’t have to take the time to train them, they are valuable because they are already trained or learn very quickly because they are hungry for knowledge. They BECOME the experts and assume that inspiring and helping to train others is part of their responsibility. If more people did that they would make high salaries as well.

  6. Robert

    What is not mentioned is that housing anywhere near these big tech companies in California is astronomical – a two bedroom wooden shack will cost you at least $500,000. Same goes for housing in the Washington DC area, which is why many government workers in DC commute 100+ miles every day.

  7. This pattern started in the 90’s when the tech boom was in full force. Investors were hiring engineers to start up a new company with there funding in hope of hitting it big when the company went public. These engineers were drawn to this by the amount of money offered to leave their position with a company they worked with for more then 10 years in some cases. Today in Silicon Valley, few people stay with one company for 10 years unless they are running the company.

  8. Why is it insane ?
    Please read “The New Geography of Jobs” from Enrico Moretti. The high income levels are expected levels given that science and technology are the number one driver of the US economy. Nobody would call it insane when a lawyer or a MD takes home such salaries yet it is insane to pay such salaries to techies ? Tons of new jobs with higher income levels in pretty much all corners of society are only available due to better and easier availability of technology. Many functions would be much more expensive if said technology would not be available. So why should the inventors of such technology not reap the highest possible rewards ? It is ok to pay the patent lawyer more than the inventor. That in my opinion is insane to pay the person who puts the invention into a certain legal format more than the inventor. It is engineers and scientists who provide the MD with the latest and greatest tools. Also Wall Street as we know it today would not work at all without software yet the drivers of wall street are looked upon as ‘just the IT guy’. Anyway I am always happy when techies earn ‘insane’ income levels. That is where it is supposed to go. Please again these are not only my ideas as I am referring to the above stated book. Here is another argument: If those earnings would not be paid out in form of salaries then even more would go to the investors in form of dividends. Those investors which are typically the 1%.