How much do Software Engineers at Amazon make?

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Amazon isn’t just some online bookseller anymore. Can you believe this is what the site looked like in July 1995, when Amazon first launched?

Image result for amazon early

You can buy almost anything from Amazon now, from electronics to clothing, ebooks, streaming TV shows and movies, and even web services like servers and distributed databases. How much do the Software Engineers who help build and make the “everything store” make?

Base salary by experience

Let’s break down base salary first by experience level. Amazon titles its Software Engineers differently per level. That mapping is as follows, where SDE stands for “Software Development Engineer”:

TitleLevel
SDE IL4
SDE IIL5
SDE IIIL6
Principal SDEL7

The base salary ranges and medians for each level are (note there isn’t enough data for Amazon Level 7 Software Engineers on the Salary Project yet):

LevelRangeMedian
L4$106,000 – $130,000$119,750
L5$118,000 – $175,000$144,500
L6$150,000 – $181,000$160,000

The overall median base salary for Amazon Software Engineers is about $145,000 a year. You can see that there’s a clear base salary progression as you “level up”, but also that the salary ranges overlap. This is the case at most companies.

Total compensation by experience

Here’s what total compensation looks like when broken out by level.

LevelRangeMedian
L4$135,000 – $206,000$157,500
L5$140,000 – $310,000$215,500
L6$275,000 – $625,000$315,000

What’s interesting here is the upper bound of the range for a L6 engineer: someone makes $625,000 a year in total compensation! Digging into this data point a little more, it looks like this person earns more than $400,000 a year in stock grants, which isn’t completely unrealistic given the fact that an L6 engineer likely joined the company early and got a lot of cheap Amazon stock that has grown a lot in value.

Additional compensation types

Looking at the different types of additional compensation shows that most Amazon Software Engineers earn stock, whereas only some have an annual bonus.

Compensation typeMedianRangeDistribution
Annual Bonus$0 / year$0K – $192K / yr
Stock/RSU Grant Value$48,000 / yr$0K – $444K / yr

Looking at the histograms, and the median, is more informative than looking at the range here because there is one outlier that has a super high annual bonus and stock RSU grant value. This could be a data error, or it could just be a high earner. Regardless, the histograms show that most Amazon Software Engineers don’t earn (or didn’t report earning) an annual bonus, whereas the value of the stock RSU grant they earn every year is more variable. You can hover over the additional salary histograms to see more data on each Salary Project company role page.

Salary by years of experience

Using the data visualizations on the Salary Project, we can estimate about how many years of experience (not just at the company, but overall) it’ll take to get to the next level as a Software Engineer at Amazon. This is just a rough estimate, because your actual level depends on many other factors like your skills, performance, location, even sometimes the relationship you have with your manager.

LevelMedian Years of Experience
L40
L56
L610

There seems to be a pretty large gap in years of experience between L4 and L5 Amazon Software Engineers. Looking at percentiles (25% and 75%) illustrates this gap even more:

The gray bars represent the span between the 25th and 75th percentile of years of experience (for that level), or 50% of the submissions. So, for L4, 50% of the salary submissions reported having between 0 and 1 years of experience: these are likely new graduates. 50% of the submissions for L5 reported having between 4 and 9 years of experience.

There’s a small overlap in years of experience of L5 and L6 Amazon Software Engineers: the individuals with 8-9 years of experience at L5 may be close to getting promoted to the next level.

Closing remarks

There are many other interesting trends you can see on the Salary Project for a particular role at a particular company, like Software Engineers at Amazon. Potentially even more interesting is comparing the salaries of one company against another.

The goal of the Salary Project is to give employees (or future employees) useful and valuable information that helps them make better career decisions. Taking one of the examples above, you can imagine an Amazon L5 Software Engineer with 9 years of experience visiting the Salary Project and seeing that she’s close to the L6 “lower bound” in terms of years of experience, which could help her decide to ask for a promotion and raise. This is just one example of how the data and analysis on the Salary Project can help.

We have more interesting analyses and features planned for the Salary Project, so stay tuned!

Want to see more interesting analyses on how companies pay their employees? Submit your salary data anonymously to the Salary Project and share our site with others!

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