RANT - Underpaid hardware guys

Uber Compss
Jul 17, 2018 46 Comments

Hardware folks (Mechanical/Electrical/Supply Chain etc) - Can I rant about how underpaid we are?? we build physical tangible goods.. and yet companies are not willing to give us a fraction of what software people make. For gods sake STOP UNDERSELLING YOURSELF.

Software people have done a phenomenal job in hacking the term "engineering" and using it to get s**t tonnes of money. and hats off to them for doing this!

Try outsourcing mechanical/quality/supply chain work and see how well that works out for you. And yet we undercut oursleves by selling oursleves short and accept a 100K salary as if it were a blessing where as a S/W guy makes 2-3 times that with same YOE. Recruiters end the conversation if you ask for what you are truly worth because there is some HW guy who will suck up and accept the position for less.

You are the very core of any company that makes physical goods. ACT LIKE IT.

Stand up for yourself and ask for what you are worth because lord knows everybody else does.

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TOP 46 Comments
  • Amazon / Eng Benny Lava
    I feel you, that's why I switched to all software now.
    Jul 17, 2018 1
  • Nextdoor / Sales EmanresuyM
    It wasn’t always like this. Somewhere within the past 8-10 years it shifted. HW folks used to get paid pretty well. Not sure what happened.
    Jul 17, 2018 3
    • Amazon hLED85
      cloud?
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Oracle malkovic
      All HW vendors were brought down by commodity, free software (least common denominator?) and similar thinking for HW. Other than for graphics processors, all HW research seems to have stalled. Consumers have invested in huge volumes of cheap HW, making it harder to go back to proprietary HW.
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Facebook AsEB37
      Yep, story of Sun Microsystems. That’s all you need to understand it.
      Jul 17, 2018
  • Broadcom Ltd. poopeee
    Agree
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • Dell robr
    Just leetcode and switch to software then.
    Jul 17, 2018 8
    • Apple magikarp16
      And do something I don't like? Nope.
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Dell robr
      For 2-3x salary, why not?
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Apple magikarp16
      No. I rather not compromise on either. Also, it's not 2-3x.
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng Benny Lava
      Unlikely 2x right off the bat, 1.5x likely
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Oracle Santraadmi
      Then probably u can invent something and earn more money and be ur own boss .. its the tech change people have to adapt too
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Uber Compss
      OP
      No thanks
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Oracle Santraadmi
      No point complaining then
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Amazon hsl44428q
      I'm sure there's teachers that would love your salary and not have to "compromise" on their jobs either. Suck it up and pick one.
      Jul 17, 2018
  • Amazon / Eng Benny Lava
    Once upon a time every chip company has to build its own fab and semiconductor equipment companies make all the money. Eventually it cost too much to build fab and the industry evolve into a foundry model. All these equipment companies consolidated and now not much gone on.

    Then the profit is at fabless chip companies and they hire verlog guys. They had a good decade until it too face the high risk and low margin problem of equipment companies. It didn't really happened until everything is commoditised and integrated. Then virtualization happen and most of the wasted capacity are utilized, sales dropped, few survived as everyone is good enough.

    Then cloud computing started and everyone decided to migrate, result in a shortage of software guys but surplus of hardware guys. Also not helping is the biggest cost in hardware being development risk than chip die size. So most new hardware companies are just building arm core plus accelerator (some not even that) and IO, then make everything software defined. They can afford to make half of what Cisco and Juniper charge with a quarter of the risk and cost, while still being a great bargain for customers.

    Two decades ago HW guys were paid like 20% more than software, and losers who won't cut it for EE end up switching to CS as a semi drop out.
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • Avegant / Eng
    Cryptozoid

    Avegant Eng

    PRE
    Qualcomm, Nokia, Apple
    BIO
    Hardware Tinkerer, Software Engineer, Musician, Painter, Moving Helper
    Cryptozoidmore
    I have posted about this in the past. I feel the pain and I switched from doing HW/Systems to FW and then SW. Finally making some decent numbers. The prime reasons :
    1) HW is risky in terms of success and requires expensive lab equipment/space. The HR+Finance factor it in when considering overall Cost of hiring an Engr
    2) Too many veterans in HW domain. There are folks with 20+ YOE with their homes paid for, their kids off to college and basically need a fun place to hang out and tell their stories of times when Woz used to hang out at some Irish bar in Sunnyvale. They would work for 100k coz for them it is FU money
    3) Ground up HW engineering is outsourced way too often to China, Taiwan, S Korea. In US they only need folks who can integrate shit together
    4) Nothing much new happening in HW land. Chip design , mask layout, verification is all incremental. On SW land, they roll out a new version of JS every third month and call it a revolution.
    5) there is hope still. DARPA is pumping 1.5 bill this year. XCOM is formed. Quantum computing is picking up. Real Systems/HW work will come back, nevertheless not in SF bay area - rather in Austin, Boulder areas
    TLDR: gloom and doom and cool kids stole our shrooms, however we are gonna bounce back (see pics)
    Jul 17, 2018 3
    • Google lqtm
      Sorry to digress, but what hardware companies are in Boulder?
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Avegant / Eng
      Cryptozoid

      Avegant Eng

      PRE
      Qualcomm, Nokia, Apple
      BIO
      Hardware Tinkerer, Software Engineer, Musician, Painter, Moving Helper
      Cryptozoidmore
      Lockheed Martin, Microsemi, Qualcomm
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Avegant / Eng
      Cryptozoid

      Avegant Eng

      PRE
      Qualcomm, Nokia, Apple
      BIO
      Hardware Tinkerer, Software Engineer, Musician, Painter, Moving Helper
      Cryptozoidmore
      Some Optics firms
      Jul 17, 2018
  • eBay tfBP83
    I have much respect for hardware folks. Keep doing what you love and do some cool stuff.
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • Apple magikarp16
    fuck yeah!
    Jul 17, 2018 5
    • Facebook AsEB37
      Uber doesn’t make hardware, OP. What’s your point?
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Qualcomm Then what
      Yeah the self driving car will assemble and run automatically?
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Facebook AsEB37
      They contract and buy cars, not build them.
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Qualcomm Then what
      Technically they don’t make cars but they need hardware engineers for the design, process, validation, testing. Hope you get the point now.
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Facebook Corgii
      That’s superficial work, not core to the product- why would it require high pay?
      Would a graphics/poster printing company pay a 6-figure salary to an engineer because they need to keep their software updated, machines secure and manage cloud storage APIs?
      Jul 18, 2018
  • Prosper
    anotherBro

    Prosper

    BIO
    Tall white dude
    anotherBromore
    I agree... if you don’t value yourself nobody else will
    Jul 17, 2018 1
    • Lazard fin/tech
      The market values you.. You can only lay out an ask, if there's no bid to go with your ask you aren't going to be valued
      Jul 18, 2018
  • TI IOlOl0
    Hardware has too much capital costs which forces companies to pay us less. Software the people are their capital costs so they just spend all the money there
    Jul 17, 2018 2
    • Oracle malkovic
      And the capital costs have only shifted to software - they didn't disappear!
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Amazon / Eng Benny Lava
      It is the risk, not capital cost
      Jul 17, 2018
  • OSIsoft Zq
    I feel the pain but not sure what will change that besides time.

    Looking at money, everyone will choose software and over the period there will be a high demand for hardware guys again. Just my two cents.
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • eBay sudo
    Yeah, I decided to just give up with the leetcode style of interviews and get job where it offers more flexibility. I can not see myself old and grey and still being code monkey
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • Capital One / Eng
    spaceforce

    Capital One Eng

    BIO
    death by onions and peppers
    spaceforcemore
    For those of us,
    Whose wares are soft,
    I say it isn't fair.

    To pay us more,
    It's not as hard,
    As those who write hardware.
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • Amazon / Eng n0v
    Supply & demand
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • Citadel / Other Punter
    It's sad and unfortunate that HW engineers get paid a lot less.

    However, 'valuing yourself' is BS. The market places a value on your skill set, based on supply and demand. You can't change that by 'standing up for yourself'. Unless you unionize.

    You can choose to do different work. I did a PhD in Computer Architecture and decided to quit the semiconductor industry partly because of this.
    Jul 17, 2018 3
    • Qualcomm
      Kimjeller

      Qualcomm

      PRE
      Qualcomm, AMD
      Kimjellermore
      I also did a Phd in comp arch from a T2-T3 school. I currently work at one of the big semicon. Can you share your TC and location? I always wanted to move to finance doing core C++. I tried interviewing in one firm (broadway tech) but couldn’t crack it.
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Citadel / Other Punter
      I'm in Chicago. PM me for TC.
      Jul 17, 2018
    • Apple Lionel!
      Citadel had amazing annual bonus
      Jul 17, 2018
  • Google Milk Steak
    Unless you work for Apple, where Apple hardware makes all the decisions and get the best pay.
    Jul 17, 2018 1
    • Uber Compss
      OP
      Apple hardware comp is miserably capped as opposed to software.
      Jul 17, 2018
  • Lazard fin/tech
    Hardware is CapEx intensive so even top companies in that space have to keep pay relatively low (unless they have big fuck off revenues like Oil&Gas companies).

    Software only requires people, some workstations and a building. It's an industry with pretty high margins but low overall costs - like finance, like consulting. The premium then is in the people you hire - that's the major differentiator. If you want to hire the best people, you have to pay them very well.
    Jul 18, 2018 0
  • Amazon / Product AxGj47
    Jul 17, 2018 0
  • Oracle / Eng Madmaxf
    Pbm is the whole Silicon Valley culture.
    Jul 17, 2018 0

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