America is screwed by the hardware/software pay gap

Google e60de
Aug 8 22 Comments

Hardware is one of the easiest fields to switch to software because of the skill set overlap. There is mass exodus of young people from hardware companies to software, me included. Literally no one is interested in hardware courses in school. I went to a top engineering school and CS majors outnumbered EE majors 10-to-1, while most those few EE majors were taking CS courses while only meeting the minimum requirements for EE.
The TC gap is so discouraging. My friend, who is probably smarter than me, studied EE and went to a top chip design company. 3 years down the road, his TC is only 135k while mine is 320.
The funny thing is, software/Internet is a service, not a concrete product. They can be easily reproduced as long as you have enough smart people. Hardware, however, is hard to replicate as they need a supply chain as well as manufacturing. That’s what used to give America an edge over China, and now it’s fading alway. In China, software is also getting paid higher than hardware, but only moderately. With the number of university grads in China, there is enough talent to design new hardware products, unlike America, where the talent is all in FAANG.

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TOP 22 Comments
  • Well, this is a good thing for hardware people. With much less supply, pay should increase significantly.
    Aug 8 2
    • ConocoPhillips fisshy
      He is saying the companies will leave the US as China creates better hardware, and therefore US hardware people will have nowhere to go.
      Aug 8
    • Intel D’s🥜
      What will happen is American hardware companies just outsource everything design-wise. It’s basically going to end up being a lot of companies making product requirements while contracting 90% of Design&Test&Manufacture to Pegatron / Foxconn / Sercomm / etc
      Aug 8
  • Apple nnsqqp
    They treat employees like shit in hw (semiconductors) like Total shit. Im 6yoe and switching now. Bump from 200k to 400k, so glad im out of that piece of shit industry. All the management is macho style stuck in the 90s.
    Aug 8 1
    • Intel Kitten420
      Good move. Not all places treat their employees like shit. What was your role ?
      Aug 8
  • Square SL2007
    there isn’t a conspiracy to make this happen. its just that software companies make tons of money and so software people get commensurately paid a ton of money.
    Aug 8 2
    • Microsoft / Eng
      GJss66

      Microsoft Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      GJss66more
      Ya, not to mention hardware is generic now such that with the same hardware, you can do 100 different business applications with it, so the proportions make complete sense.
      Aug 8
    • Intel Kitten420
      What hardware is generic ? You are probably referring to just one space, i.e processors or GPUs. Many companies trying to create breakthrough solutions are seriously looking at custom hardware that vertically integrates with their software stack.
      Aug 8
  • Facebook public2
    Hardware doesn't make money, software does. Easy.
    Aug 8 2
    • Reliable Software / Eng YonkoKaido
      Mark my words. One who controls the hardware controls the world. Software can be replicated easily. Hardware not so. Growth is aws is one such example. Oracle is another example. We are unable to see the power of hardware coz it's shared between multiple companies.

      Ps. I don't what the hell I am speaking 😂
      Aug 8
    • Facebook public2
      Sure but until hardware sales translate to money...
      Aug 8
  • Goldman Sachs fake engineer
    The market has demonstrated more economic value is in software, so this makes sense. You'd expect an exodus of hardware people to software until the pay gap decreases.

    Honestly it's just like quants or data scientists. There's too many PhD people looking for those jobs now, while companies actually need more SWEs building infrastructure. Doesn't matter if "you need to be smarter" to do those other jobs.
    Aug 8 0
  • Intel Kitten420
    Yup, it does suck for HW. On the bright side, some of the faangs have pushed up wages with their search for hardware and current TC is so much better compared to even 5-6 years ago.
    Aug 8 2
    • Google e60de
      OP
      Did FAANG help drive up the TC in Intel, Qualcomm, etc? My friend said his company didn’t increase the comp even with the poaching from FAANG
      Aug 8
    • Intel Kitten420
      Intel is lagging for sure. But when they needed talent, for eg AI hardware, 5G, edge servers etc. , their pay was much better than the rest of company. Qualcomm / Broadcom have also been much more generous with their stock recently. Samsung gives reasonably strong all cash offers. Startups in AI / wireless have been offering nearly 3x TC vs about 8 years ago. If you are a long timer in any company, they are not going to magically increase pay. Need to job hop a bit.
      Aug 8
  • Snapchat `-😮-'
    There are hardware positions in FAANG. Why doesn't your friend join one of those companies?
    Aug 8 1
    • Google e60de
      OP
      Because they aren’t actually hardware companies. They hire hw engineers specifically for certain business needs. Therefore they only hire very senior ones because those people can immediately start to contribute. They don’t have the same mentorship/career growth path for hw engineers as for their sw engineers.
      Aug 8
  • Kaiser Permanente QqOm60
    But how many EE vs CS find jobs after college? Startup culture won’t last and when it ends EE will find it easier
    Aug 8 1
    • New dnb
      Why do you think it won't last? I can see it slowing down but not disappearing. Once you've built the shell of something there are so many applications that that single shell can be molded into and that's why I think software will always be more in demand than hardware.
      Aug 8
  • Flex / Manufacturing 2stone
    Incremental cost of manufacturing one more widget is vastly higher vs a software product (which in many cases another user on a system is almost 0). The end customer will only pay so much for the value provided and thus software products have the potential for hockey stick profitability while hardware is fairly linear.

    I'm in manufacturing and switched from software to hardware because I like to make "real" products :)
    Aug 8 0
  • Veritas dogyear
    First of all I still believe you do what you love. Not for the money.
    Aug 8 0
  • Amazon / Eng batou
    i guess that's why Chinese phones are doing better and better compared to apple. see oneplus, huawei, and many more.
    Aug 8 0

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