Uber vs. Lyft: Which Pays Software Engineers Better?

Uber and Lyft have been locked in a vicious battle for years, with each trying to seize as much of the growing rideshare market as possible. To some extent, the outcome of this war hinges on the skill and experience of each company’s software engineers, who must build and maintain the core ridesharing (and meal delivery) apps. With that in mind, how much are Uber and Lyft paying their software engineers?

The short answer: quite a bit. The following chart relies on crowdsourced compensation data from levels.fyi, and it shows that even entry-level software engineers can pull down six-figure salaries along with hefty stock options and bonuses. Specifically, we compared Uber’s Software Engineer I (its lowermost rung) with Lyft’s T3 (the equivalent):

Those who come into Uber or Lyft with a good deal more experience can make lots more money, as evidenced by a breakdown of more senior software engineer salaries. In this chart, we compare Uber’s Senior Software Engineer II position (near the top of the engineering pecking order) to Lyft’s T6 (same):

According to Glassdoor, which also crowdsources its compensation data, software engineers at Uber pull down an average base pay of $124,301 per year, along with stock options worth $41,230 and a cash bonus of $13,550.

Glassdoor also estimates Lyft’s average software engineer salary at $148,044, accompanied by an annual cash bonus of $10,772 and stock bonus of $76,867. Yes, that’s substantially higher than Uber—but it’s worth keeping in mind that crowdsourced data isn’t the most scientific, especially if the sample size is relatively low.

Nonetheless, these sources suggest that Lyft pays a bit more than Uber. If you’re a software engineer who wants to work in the ridesharing industry, and you care about compensation more than any other factors (such as company reputation, affinity toward a particular brand, etc.), it seems that Lyft would be your best bet.

Compare Uber and Lyft salaries to those to Microsoft, where engineers who climb to level 69—making them a full-fledged “partner”—can earn $270,000, with a stock grant of $500,000 and a bonus of $140,000 (although the levels.fyi database only has data from a single respondent at that level). At level 67 (just below), Microsoft engineers make around $222,714 in salary, along with $226,000 per year in stock options, and a bonus of $73,143.

Over at Google, meanwhile, software engineers who ascend to full-on director (L8) can enjoy total compensation of roughly $800,000 (but as with Microsoft level 69, there are few L8 respondents to levels.fyi, making it harder to get an accurate grasp of salaries at this level). The level below, L7 (roughly equivalent to Microsoft’s level 67) can earn $256,059 in annual salary, $286,176 in stock, and a bonus of $83,294.

Among the biggest tech firms, in other words, it’s a good time to be a senior software engineer.