Goldman Sachs vs. Google: Which Offers Better Pay?

Over the past several quarters, Goldman Sachs has been competing hard against Google, Facebook, and other tech giants for the best technology talent. For example, Google ramped up its recruitment for cloud architects in New York City just as Goldman Sachs began pursuing those same candidates for its Marcus retail bank and software engineering platform.

That sort of rivalry is great news for technologists with the right skills who want to work for either company. As with so many things in life, though, candidates’ ultimate decision often comes down to compensation—which company pays more?

Fortunately, we have levels.fyi, which anonymously crowdsources salary data, to give us a very general idea of how people are compensated at each firm. Here’s Goldman Sachs:

In addition, Goldman Sachs is reportedly distributing its technology staff to more cities than just New York City and London. “We’re… migrating more of our efforts to locations like Bengaluru, Warsaw, Dallas and Salt Lake City,” said CFO Stephen Scherr in the firm’s first-quarter investor call. Compensation in smaller cities obviously goes much further; for the price of a junior one-bedroom in Manhattan with an awesome view of an airshaft, for example, you could land a five-bedroom spread in Salt Lake City with an actual backyard.

Meanwhile, software engineers at Google continue to land huge compensation, including sizable bonuses and stock options:

Of course, levels.fyi’s data doesn’t provide the full picture. Those technologists with highly specialized skills and lots of experience—cloud architects with a decade or two of building out complex systems, for example, or machine-learning specialists who know their way around massive models—can rack up salary numbers at any company that would put levels.fyi’s baseline numbers to shame.

Indeed, quants with specialized finance knowledge can earn a million dollars per year. At a bank or hedge fund, data scientists who can meet with C-suite executives and understand the portfolio construction process can also land sizable paychecks. “That pool of candidates gets limited very, very quickly,” Richard Pook, an executive search consultant at Dore Partnership who specializes in machine learning and artificial intelligence (A.I.), is quoted as saying in eFinancialCareers. Tech companies, meanwhile, are willing to match some of these salary numbers if it means landing a rare specialist in cutting-edge tech.

In other words, we should regard this levels.fyi data as more of a rough estimate than an on-the-nose indicator. Even so, it’s clear that Google and Goldman Sachs both pay handsomely (as you might expect); if you’re in the running for a job at either firm, it might come down to important factors such as whether you like the team, the tools you’ll get to play with, and so on.