Which one of the ride-sharing rivals pays its Software Engineers more: Uber or Lyft?

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Uber and Lyft are the behemoths that dominate the ride-sharing market today. Both rely heavily on software and data to make sure their riders (or food, in the case of UberEats) are able to get to their destination easily.

If you had to guess, which one would you say pays its Software Engineers more?

Median base salary and total compensation

Looking at the overall median pay from Salary Project data, in terms of base salary and total compensation, we see that at first glance, Lyft seems to pay more than Uber:

CompanyBase SalaryTotal Compensation
Uber logo$150,000$258,000
Lyft logo$175,000$310,000

When median additional compensation (stock RSU grant value, annual bonus) is broken down between the two companies, we see that:

  1. Lyft does not seem to give an annual bonus, only stock RSU grants. There were a few Lyft compensation data points that specified an annual bonus amount, but those users were likely reporting their sign-on bonus.
  2. The median value of Lyft’s stock RSU grants are worth more than Uber’s.
  3. At an overall level, both companies seem to give similar additional compensation, summing both median stock RSU value and median annual bonus.
CompanyAnnual 
Bonus
Annualized
Stock RSU 
Grant Value
Uber logo$20,000$87,000
Lyft logo~ $0$105,000

Let’s dig into the data to better understand what might be going on!

What is the level and pay progression, by years of experience?

We just launched a new feature on the Salary Project: a level progression graph. This graph shows you the number of years of experience employees (or those that have submitted their data to the Salary Project) tend to have at the different levels of the career ladder. This can give you an idea of how many years of experience you might need before you attain a certain level. Below is an example level progression graph for Uber (the actual graph is in the middle of this page):

For Uber, we can see that submissions for the entry level role, Software Engineer I, have a median years of experience of 0, and a 75th percentile of 1 year. Or in other words, 75% of the Uber Software Engineer I data submissions are from employees with 1 year of experience or less.

Let’s summarize the level progression data for Uber and Lyft, along with the median pay at each level, to get a sense of how long it might take a Software Engineer to reach a certain level or pay range.

Uber Software Engineer level and pay progression

LevelBase SalaryTotal
Compensation
Median Years
of Experience
Software
Engineer I
$110,000 –
$131,000
$140,000 –
$223,000
0
Software
Engineer II
$133,000 –
$155,000
$200,000 –
$333,000
4
Senior Software
Engineer
$165,000 –
$200,000
$350,000 –
$530,000
8
Senior Software
Engineer II
$192,000 –
$213,000
$370,000 –
$527,000
8

Lyft Software Engineer level and pay progression

LevelBase SalaryTotal CompensationMedian Years
of Experience
T3$130,000 –
$147,000
$200,012 –
$236,000
0
T4$130,000 –
$192,000
$210,000 –
$370,000
5
T5$165,000 –
$205,000
$352,000 –
$480,000
5
T6$190,000 –
$210,000
$210,000 –
$492,000
8

Entry level Software Engineers at Lyft seem to make a good amount more than those at Uber: $130,000 – $147,000, vs. $110,000 – $131,000 just comparing base salary, respectively.

After that / at the higher levels, it looks like base salary and even total compensation are roughly comparable between Lyft and Uber.

It also looks like obtaining the level one step up from entry level might require one or two more years of experience at Lyft than at Uber. So, while an entry level Software Engineer at Lyft makes more than one at Uber, he/she may have to stay at that level longer before getting promoted and moving up to the next pay band.

Conclusion

Uber and Lyft’s pay for Software Engineers seems comparable, after breaking down pay by level / years of experience, as well as base salary vs. total compensation (which includes things like bonuses and stock grants). The two do seem to differ a little in their pay strategy for Software Engineers: Uber gives more bonus, a lower entry level salary, but slightly faster progression to the next level (at least from entry level); and Lyft gives more stock for additional compensation, and a higher entry level salary.

Both companies are competing fiercely for the same markets, and thus the same talent, and their competitive and similar pay structures for Software Engineers is evident of that.

Submit your salary data anonymously to the Salary Project and share our site with others to help power more analysis on how companies pay!

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