Microsoft has enjoyed something of a comeback in recent years. Even though it lost out on the chance to dominate the mobile arena to Google and Apple, it’s regained its swagger as a provider of cloud services to businesses and the enterprise—one-stop shopping for everything from storage to games.
Thanks to those multiple lines of business, Microsoft is almost always in a hiring mood. For tech pros who have just graduated school, and who want to specialize in building software and working with the cloud, it’s worth comparing Microsoft’s starting salaries for software engineers to those of other big firms.
For the purposes of this mini-study, we drew data from this magnificent Reddit thread in which new hires posted their offer data for various tech firms, and matched it with developer-salary info from levels.fyi. Just to keep things interesting, we also threw in data-points from Glassdoor.
All of that data is—you guessed it—self-reported, so there’s always the chance that the individual data-points are skewed somewhat by developers either inflating or shrinking their actual salary numbers. However, if we treat this data as truthful, we can draw some interesting conclusions. Let’s look at the chart first:
Some things to call out here: Those candidates self-reporting on Reddit all claimed their starting salary came to $109,000, while their signing bonuses and four-year stock grants varied wildly (in general, bonuses stuck to a range of $19,000-$25,000, while stock grants veered wildly between $70,000 and $150,000).
On Levels.fyi, meanwhile, things were a little more granular: candidates who accepted an SDE position (basically, the kind of engineering role you land right out of college) reported average salaries of $105,774, with signing bonuses of $21,623 and four-year stock options totaling $28,944.
Again using the Levels.fyi data, those who joined Microsoft as an SDE II (basically, those with some years of experience under their belts and/or some graduate-school experience) could make quite a bit more to start: $130,287 as a base salary, supplemented with a $16,824 average signing bonus and four-year stock options totaling $25,902.
And on Glassdoor, Microsoft employees have reported the salary for software development engineers as $121,155 (on average). Of course, this includes engineers with several years of experience, in addition to those who just arrived from college.
How does Microsoft’s salary data compare to that at other large tech firms? Facebook pays its newbies an average base salary of $111,250, a bonus of $67,000, and stock options worth $116,875; entry-level Amazon recruits, meanwhile, pull down an average salary of $108,000, combined with a bonus of $51,142 and stock options of $70,000.
Then you have Google, which pays entry-level engineers an average of $115,000, combined with a $44,000 signing bonus, stock options worth $139,000, and an annual bonus of $22,000.
And over at Apple, the ICT2 roles (i.e., the lowest rung of the software engineering ladder) pay an average of $118,810 in base salary, along with annual stock options worth roughly $27,119, and a bonus of $14,619. Check out this chart:
In other words, Microsoft’s salaries for neophyte engineers and developers are roughly level with its competitors. If you’re aiming for a job with the biggest of the big tech companies, it’s good to know that the potential compensation range is pretty narrow.