While entry-level software engineer jobs at top tech companies like Google, Microsoft, or Amazon are highly prized, leveling up is even better. So, what do you have to do to advance in such companies? What is the secret to continued success as a software engineer?
Promotable Technical Skill Sets
In a recent Paysa blog, the skills needed for becoming a software engineer were discussed in detail. Engineers must be able to code in multiple languages, understand design patterns and frameworks, have refactoring capabilities, and have a passion for code. According to recent job postings, the major tech companies expect their software engineers to be proficient with:
- Java: 62 percent
- Agile Methodologies: 46 percent
- Software Development: 41 percent
- SQL: 40 percent
- C#: 38 percent
While these are basic requirements for entry-level positions, there are some additional technical skills needed for promotion. For instance, familiarity with the ins and outs of multiple operating systems is important for higher level software engineers. As the scope of your projects expands, you will need to be able to troubleshoot technical issues on more than one OS. A solid understanding of networking with TCP/IP is also very useful as you venture into expanded projects.
As far as technical skills go, however, it is generally understood that management tends to view an ability to learn as more important than any particular skill. This makes sense, considering that the world of software engineering is in a constant state of flux as new methodologies are rapidly developed.
Promotable Intellectual Skills and Work Habits
One of the most useful skills you can develop, then, is the ability to troubleshoot issues that inherently arise in software engineering projects. Many of your fellow software engineers may be experts in one aspect of the job, but may be basically fish out of water when it comes to anything beyond their familiar skill set. The more agile you can be in solving thorny issues for the team, the more valuable you become to the organization.
To this end, it is wise to understand how your particular project fits into the overall architecture. Acquiring a deep understanding of your own project and team and how that team fits into the larger organizational picture helps you to identify areas where you can distinguish yourself from the rank and file.
Of course, before you start thinking about the big picture, it is essential to be sure you are mastering the project directly in front of you. As with any career, a mental framework for continued success includes:
- Good time management skills
- The ability to consistently deliver an accurate, clean work product
- Reliability and punctuality
- The willingness to take complete responsibility for your work product
- The willingness to help others on your team and beyond to succeed
- A sincere desire to promote the success of your company
- The ability to handle stressful situations with a cool, calm demeanor
- Great professional communication skills
- Evidence of leadership ability as well as ability to work completely independently when needed
Avoiding Some Roadblocks to Promotion
It is true that the work atmosphere for software engineers in top tech companies is somewhat different from your dad's standard office. However, there are some basic rules of professional etiquette that are not likely to change any time soon. Do not trash your chances for promotion by:
- Dressing inappropriately
- Sharing sensitive company information with others
- Missing project deadlines
- Speaking disrespectfully about other company employees at any level
- Using profanity
- Losing your professionalism with co-workers or clients
- Producing a poor work product
Common Career Advancement Paths for Software Engineer Jobs
The common path to promotion for software engineers at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Yahoo! is:
- Software Engineer 2
- Software Engineer 3
- Senior Software Engineer
Beyond these job titles, career advancement at these tech companies diverges widely based on organizational needs and professional development initiatives.
Software Engineer 2
At this level, it is expected that you will still need some guidance from senior engineers. At Google, this might be the entry-level position for recent graduates.
Market Salary for Software Engineer 2 positions by company are as follows:
Google: Average of $163K per year, which includes $106K base salary, $17K annual bonus, and $40K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.2 years.
Microsoft: Average of $246K per year, which includes $160K base salary, $36K annual bonus, and $50K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.3 years.
Amazon: Average of $206K per year, which includes $140K base salary, $25K annual bonus, and $41.4K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 2.7 years.
Apple: Average of $162K per year, which includes $125K base salary, $17.5K annual bonus, and $19.4K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.4 years.
Yahoo!: Average of $145K per year, which includes $112K base salary, $15K annual bonus, and $18K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 2.3 years.
Software Engineer 3
At this level, you are largely self-directed and need little supervision. At Google, being able to craft a design document, work with the appropriate teams to launch it, and write well-structured code independent of supervision is a skill set that would be expected.
Market Salary for Software Engineer 3 positions by company are as follows:
Google: Average of $194K per year, which includes $117K base salary, $21K annual bonus, and $56K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.3 years.
Microsoft: Average of $254K per year, which includes $165K base salary, $37K annual bonus, and $52K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.4 years.
Amazon: Average of $222K per year, which includes $144K base salary, $29K annual bonus, and $49K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 2.8 years.
Apple: Average of $180K per year, which includes $135K base salary, $20K annual bonus, and $25K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.5 years.
Yahoo!: Average of $172K per year, which includes $123K base salary, $19K annual bonus, and $29K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 2.4 years.
Senior Software Engineer
It is at this level that strong leadership ability comes into play. Projects at this level involve much more technical complexity or a larger scope. At Google, when you are ready for this level, you already have industry experience under your belt, and you have likely already been team lead of at least a team of 3-5 members.
Market Salary for Senior Software Engineer positions by company are as follows:
Google: Average of $223K per year, which includes $136K base salary, $22K annual bonus, and $65K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.5 years.
Microsoft: Average of $286K per year, which includes $187K base salary, $40K annual bonus, and $58K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.7 years.
Amazon: Average of $235K per year, which includes $160K base salary, $27K annual bonus, and $47K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3 years.
Apple: Average of $220K per year, which includes $161K base salary, $22K annual bonus, and $37K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 3.8 years.
Yahoo!: Average of $180K per year, which includes $135K base salary, $17.3K annual bonus, and $28.1K annual equity. Average time to promotion: 2.6 years.
Tools to Help You Negotiate a Promotion
Just as you need technical skills and intellectual skills to advance with a top tech company, you also need the proper tools to effectively negotiate a promotion or a raise in pay. Paysa provides market intelligence with which you can negotiate with confidence, knowing that your expectations are in line with industry and organizational standards.
Furthermore, Paysa can be personalized for your particular skill set, educational background, and job history. This level of personalization means that you can more precisely evaluate your own worth in the current job market. Paysa also provides recommendations as to next steps for advancement in your chosen career path. Sign up to personalize Paysa for you today.