Microsoft: What It Pays Top Tech Talent

How much can top software engineers earn at Microsoft? That’s an important question for hiring managers and recruiters who need to determine where to set their own companies’ salaries for all-star talent.

According to, which crowd-sources salary information, Microsoft pays its engineers who hit level 67 (i.e., principal software development engineer) roughly $222,714 in salary, along with $226,000 per year in stock options, and a bonus of $73,143.

Those at Microsoft who climb to level 69—making them a full-fledged “partner”—can make $270,000, with a stock grant of $500,000 and a bonus of $140,000 (although the database only has data from a single respondent at that level).

Compare that to Google, where software engineers at the L7 level (a senior manager role; roughly equivalent to Microsoft’s level 67) can expect to pull down $256,059 in annual salary, $286,176 in stock, and a bonus of $83,294. Those who ascend yet another level 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, making it difficult to get an accurate grasp of salaries at this level).

Once employees climb to this height, of course, they’re likely more of a manager than a developer or engineer. Some tech professionals might not like this if all they want to do is build and code. For others, though, there’s nothing better than managing a team that knows exactly what it’s doing, and has significant challenges to overcome.

Have a look at this chart that breaks down their salaries:


Salary-wise, level 67 is a pretty steep upgrade from a Microsoft SDE, which is the software-engineering position that candidates would land right after graduating college; they’re paid $130,287 as a base salary, supplemented with a $16,824 average signing bonus and four-year stock options totaling $25,902.

Google, by comparison, 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.

Of course, specializing in certain in-demand skills will boost salaries still higher, even for senior engineers making quite a bit of money. Artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning (ML) expertise, for instance, can result in multi-million-dollar paychecks, for instance, once you factor in perks and benefits such as stock bonuses.

It’s no surprise that tech giants like Microsoft pay their top software engineers a lot of money. And, for some tech pros, salary is the most important factor when looking for their next opportunity. Others, however, may find mega corporations to be a little too rigid, and would opt for a lower salary if it means taking on projects they find both challenging and fulfilling.

For more information on attracting in-demand tech professionals, check out Dice’s What Tech Talent Wants eBook.