Pay difference in technical roles

Amazon / Eng
nice_guy

Amazon Eng

PRE
Amazon
BIO
Solutions architect
nice_guymore
Jun 2, 2018 30 Comments

I joined AWS a year ago as a solutions architect(pre sales role. Same as cse at gcp) L5, TC 200k,12 yoe from a non FANG consulting background. Work is good. I get to work on fun technology, write code (on things that I want - not just anything that company wants me to like developers), build things, see most diverse use of technologies, get a much better perspective on overall tech, help customers achieve their goals by building right architecture... I find the work to be good and it makes me happy. Work involves helping customers build good cost efficient and secure architectures. Amount of work can be high depending on certain factors but is mostly manageable. Also doing work is about studying most of the time on various technologies and learning and then applying that... 40% work, 60% study.

I was happy with the pay. Fast forward... I join blind... I see developers get much better pay... 300k+ TC is normal. I consider myself to be very technical and we solve difficult problems. However looks like writing code is regarded as more difficult task and hence gets higher TC. Frankly speaking I don't believe writing code to be very difficult which I do almost regularly(JavaScript, python, go), and am thinking if that is what pays more then why not change roles. I would have to do some leetcode though before applying...

Additionally I don't have to deal with my manager everyday. Though he is happy with my work and if all goes well then I might get to L6 in a year. customers are happy, my sales reps are happy. I am well respected among my colleagues and am regularly consulted by peers. Work environment is good. Politics does not matter as everyone does their own work and have their own customers. I can work 5 days a week from home if I like unless I have in person customer meetings. Most meetings are remote. Most SAs regularly work from home. I go to office anyways...

Appreciate views from community here... Is life as a developer good? Do guys/gals here like it? Are you happy?

If answers to above are yes then can anyone refer me...

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TOP 30 Comments
  • Morgan Stanley ninja007
    Following

    Do you know what TC numbers would be for you in the same role as an L6/L7?
    Jun 2, 2018 4
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      L6:250-350k, L7: 300-400k
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Morgan Stanley ninja007
      In that case - work on getting promoted and get paid more doing what you are and loving.

      I feel like the additional 20% on the SWE side isn’t worth it - if you enjoy your current role so much. Also - it’s very easy to be an average developer, pay your dues and move 1-2 levels. But to get to L7/L8 ok the developer side, you’ll have to be exceptional and you can’t do that if you’re in it only for the money. Because on the SWE side - you’re looking at becoming a PE or a distinguished engineer as a long term goal.

      As an SA - you can learn a lot more about the bigger picture and the right experience can potentially lead to very senior roles in smaller companies if you have the right technical bend.

      Think long term.
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon max9chars
      Ditto. 200k TC will be around the median for SDE2 (new offers, or newly promoted, not old timers with stock vests). Day-to-day work as an SWE isn't something you can be excited about for long. I think you are in a good spot. Make the most of it.
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Thanks Ninja and Max. This is helpful...
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Amazon 4amazonian
    First, don’t believe everything you see in Blind. $300+ is either an L6 SDE or and L5 who has been here long enough to have an inflated comp due to stock appreciation the last few years. $300k is well beyond the L5 range. The difference is not really that much from what you’re making since $200 is about avg or mid range. It sounds like you enjoy what you’re doing and your compensated well, so you shouldn’t worry so much about what others are making.
    Jun 2, 2018 2
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Yeah, I certainly enjoy what I am doing... Thanks for your inputs...
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon Jexx
      There are also wildly different pay results for people who’ve been here a while, given appreciation. If someone got a big grant, it has an outsized impact on their total comp and they are well above their target.
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Amazon
    3headed🐒

    Amazon

    PRE
    Microsoft
    3headed🐒more
    In my role I work with a lot of SAs to get customer feedbacks and common issues and align roadmaps with PM. I train them sometimes. So I know a bunch of SAs personally.

    Being said that, I'd recommend you to go for promo. Work life balance is much much better considering slightly more pay (very little) for SDE, at that same time you have less liability, literally no politics. And the gap gets narrower when you higher up within SA role.

    PE here.
    Jun 2, 2018 5
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Thanks mate. This is helpful...
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon
      3headed🐒

      Amazon

      PRE
      Microsoft
      3headed🐒more
      Also research specialist SA role, I heard they get better pay
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Yeah, have been thinking about that too for a while... Any specialist SAs here on blind who can confirm this...
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon
      3headed🐒

      Amazon

      PRE
      Microsoft
      3headed🐒more
      Hard to find on Blind coz there are only a few specialist SA...
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Agree on that... Still hopeful...
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng benzosJ
    From an SDE pov. I used to think that writing code is easy but I don't think writing code as an SDE is that easy. You have to maintain it. You have to write unit tests/integration tests.. You have to think about how you are going to run test locally without depending on your cloud dependencies. Create different stages of your environments. Dealing with Pipeline. Doing systems design. Debugging distributed systems sounds very sexy buy sometimes could be frustrating. On call....

    I think SDE is not only about writing code. Writing code is about 40% of your time. The rest is being dynamic and solving challenging problems.
    Jun 2, 2018 2
    • Amazon / Eng
      Fakk2

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Nintendo
      Fakk2more
      This.

      Huge differences between sdes in development and sdes supporting live products/services. *cough* tech debt*cough*
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon max9chars
      "You have to write unit tests/integration tests.. You have to think about how you are going to run test locally without depending on your cloud dependencies. Create different stages of your environments. Dealing with Pipeline. Doing systems design. Debugging distributed systems sounds very sexy buy sometimes could be frustrating. On call...."
      This is the part you won't stay excited about for long. Unless you are changing teams too often, most problems fall into one of a few categories with clearly defined action items. Thereafter, excitement drains out fast.
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Amazon KenWins
    200k for L5 solution architect is very good. Many sde2's are paid less than 200k at l5. Only older ones with large vesting makes higher. Delete blind and enjoy your work.
    Jun 2, 2018 1
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Delete blind!! Seems like a good idea....
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Research Now / Eng Hooohaaa
    I have worked in consulting and I have also worked in dev. The problem with consulting is that you don’t stay to see the real consequences of your actions. If you are a consultant you can throw the latest and sexiest tech out there and complete your 2 week engagement with flying colors. Same is not true for developers.

    That said, as a consultant you can earn a lot if you blow away your utilization targets and win big sales deals.
    Jun 2, 2018 5
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Don't get commission on sales... Not sure if that would be good. Today 50% of the customers I meet, I end up reducing their operating cost by optimizing their architecture. I like this role because I am genuinely helping customers. Having sales commission come into picture will change the incentives and make our role less honest...
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Research Now / Eng Hooohaaa
      What is your utilization target and how are you rewarded if you exceed your utilization quota? In my consulting days I got 100% bonus for 75% utilization and 200% bonus for 110% utilization. My company stopped paying after 200% because they didn’t want consultants to try to exceed 110% utilization.
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      It works differently at AWS. We don't have concept of utilization. We have multiple goals. Helping customers is just one of them. We are also kind of evangelists too (actually there are designated roles for that) . We are supposed to be participating in speaking events, write blogs, build solutions, etc... While it is more of presales role, but we engage with customers at all stages. I will with customers who have been AWS for many years and need help review their architecture, or are embarking on a new project and need guidance. I also work with customers for whom something they have implemented is not working well and I do a deep dive and hello then design a better solution...
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Research Now / Eng Hooohaaa
      So you 2 choices either get promoted inside Amazon or take up a very senior architect or even a managerial position at a client.

      Now don’t do this with an immediate client because that creates conflict of interest. Find some client with whom you engaged couple of years ago and he thought very highly of you.

      With the skills you explained above I’m pretty sure you can land a 300K job at a client since they already know you and trust you.
      Jun 2, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng
      nice_guy

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      BIO
      Solutions architect
      nice_guymore
      OP
      Yeah, moving out to clients is certainly an option. I know of few SAs who have done that... I think I will focus on getting promoted for now...
      Jun 2, 2018
  • Lyft sunkcosts
    Being a dev has nothing to do with writing code. As you have discovered writing code easy unless you are dumb.
    As a dev you will be forced to work with lots of such dumb people. And people who don't know anything technically, like some managers and PMs. And you will be judged on your impact not code or smartness. Additionally some devs are not dumb but have no social skills whatsoever. And some devs are not dumb but get strung up in the 'craft' of coding.

    Good luck delivering impact quickly!
    Since you're basically a one (or two if you get lucky! And have a good teammate) show and are pulling the weight of everyone else on your team and also support the entire tech management pyramid weight by being the person who actually pushes the buttons that brings the $$$ in, you are worth your weight in gold.

    Instead you are paid pennies on the dollar of the value you make because that's how paychecks work
    Jun 2, 2018 0
  • BBDO sxYo02
    Have you looked into the Facebook Solutions Engineer role? It's client facing but 50% coding.
    Jun 13 0
  • Following.
    Have you compared Google’s equivalent position you mentioned in your first sentence? You could work on getting promoted but could also look at Google. Tech reasons apart, your overall exposure in this arena, over the course of a few years, will render you very capable of leading strategic cloud initiatives for other companies. Just a thought.

    That said, do let me know if you’ve checked Google out. Am thinking of switching to SA role in AWS or Google.

    Thanks! And good luck! Learnt a lot from what you wrote!
    Jun 2, 2018 0
  • Amazon / Sales LYFL12
    Following
    Jun 2, 2018 0
  • Amazon Spideysens
    Following
    Jun 2, 2018 0