SDE 2 at Amazon earning 210K and 39 years old. Next move?

Amazon / Eng bada
Sep 30, 2017 102 Comments

Stay at Amazon and aim for L6 SDE? Or leave for another company?
Location Seattle.
Career goals - remain technical but transition to software manager.
Currently in AWS. 14 years of total experience in software development with 2 years in Amazon AWS.

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TOP 102 Comments
  • Oracle Saw
    Jump from the roof? Eat a free banana?
    Sep 30, 2017 10
    • Oracle Saw
      Somehow amazon people still applying at oracle in lines.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng
      DEADB33F

      SEVENROOMS Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      DEADB33Fmore
      You know it's bad when you think Oracle is a better choice.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Oracle Saw
      If you make 200k at amazon and 350 at oracle, it's an easy choice.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      ikr!?

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Expeditors
      ikr!?more
      If you make 200k at Oracle and 350 at amazon, it's and easy choice.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng $123.47
      I heard Oracle indeed offer more $, not good in culture though
      Oct 1, 2017
  • Airbnb Sankara
    Why haven’t you gotten above SDE2 in 14yrs? I would expect you to be at least SDE3 by now. What is lacking at review time?
    Sep 30, 2017 7
    • Amazon / Eng $123.47
      L5 is not entry lvl. L4 is
      Oct 1, 2017
    • Amazon banray
      I meant entry level for people with a lot of experience. They only give L4 to recent grads and/or people with very small experience. For everyone else it's L5. You could have been the fucking CEO of your previous company, but if you're coming as an Individual Contributor you will be placed in L5. You need to be a fucking genius with proven track record or coming from another high profile company to get an L6.
      Oct 1, 2017
    • eBay whitman
      I know someone with 10 years of experience joining Amazon as sde1
      Oct 3, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      mUqi08

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      mUqi08more
      Down level from external hire.

      My observation is if you are not a principal engineer from another company you will be down leveled to L5 and stay there. Until you becomes the lead of your team, unlikely to happen unless you got a new Greenfield project and join as the founding team.

      If you are not happy with it and can afford to lose the unvested stocks, leave.
      Oct 3, 2017
    • Amazon Owlexa
      A greenfield project is indeed an excellent way to get a promo, lets you show off your skills. Getting hired at L6 is very hard but getting promotion to L6 just requires smarts and ambition and understanding Deliver-the-mother-loving-results and Own-that-shit and the other LPs. The difference between a great L5 and an L6 is really in the LPs not in technical skills.
      Oct 5, 2017
  • Microsoft
    Probably

    Microsoft

    PRE
    Accenture
    Probablymore
    Come at ms for 330k (base plus bonus).
    Only problem you can receive a nice layoff message every now & then
    Sep 30, 2017 9
    • Microsoft / Eng Harmar
      210K is a little high but achievable at L63. It's typical at L64.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Microsoft / Eng
      Tashai

      Microsoft Eng

      PRE
      Google, Amazon
      Tashaimore
      It really depends. 210 to 250k is about the norm for 63 when you have your joining bonus stocks still vesting.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Airbnb Sankara
      330k is L66 comp at MS
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Microsoft / Eng Harmar
      True, there's a substantial disconnect between sign-on comp and steady state. Clearly they want us to leave and come back...
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Microsoft yMcg47
      Usually you have to get promoted about 3 levels to match your sign on comp. that is why people usually leave after 4 years. 3 level is ok if you join at lower levels, but imagine joining at 65. Getting partner in 4 years? It's possible but you really have to pull some serious strings.
      Sep 30, 2017
  • LinkedIn lWRc20
    At the age of 39 you are the best person to know the answer.
    Sep 30, 2017 0
  • LinkedIn rmdir
    Jump every few years to move up
    Sep 30, 2017 5
    • LinkedIn lWRc20
      After more than 10 years of exp, that is the right recipe not to get hired into any serous position.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • LinkedIn rmdir
      What levels are the "serious" ? all below VP levels are easily acquired through standard interview process
      Sep 30, 2017
    • LinkedIn lWRc20
      Easily? You should go for a director position then. Even eng. manager candidates go through multiple onsites. If you jump ship too often that’s going to raise questions regarding your persistence and capabilities (if you are unable to grow at other companies, why do you think you can grow here, are you running from something, etc)
      Sep 30, 2017
    • LinkedIn rmdir
      What is too often? Few years : every 3 years sounds pretty normal to go for your next level. If I am a senior manager I will surely try director position outside if not promoted within 2-3 years
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Facebook / Eng unicorn-
      Top companies are unlikely to be excited about a manager who moves every 2-3 years without good reason (like startup failed,company acquired, etc). If all these companies didn’t want to promote you to director - it is not a good signal
      Sep 30, 2017
  • Amazon / Eng
    ikr!?

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Expeditors
    ikr!?more
    In my experience... very few companies offer the conpensation that amazon offers for the work they demand. My vote is stay in for L6 at least and get that 350TC 😚
    Sep 30, 2017 5
    • Oracle cloudy.
      L5 to L6, do they give you 350k rightaway? I though tgey start at 250k.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      ikr!?

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Expeditors
      ikr!?more
      250 to 270 ish to start yeah... it's not uncommon to get raises to 350
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Airbnb Sankara
      You can get 350TC as an L5 elsewhere...
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      ikr!?

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Expeditors
      ikr!?more
      I'll take 200k/yr in amazon stock over elsewhere stock any day.... hell I'd take 100k of amzn over 200k most places... lol
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Google / Eng
      googlr

      Google Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      googlrmore
      L5 at Amazon is not senior level, their levels are different
      Sep 30, 2017
  • LinkedIn / Eng BTCop
    Hard to answer without knowing your location and years of experience. Also it's that 210k figure total comp or base salary?
    Sep 30, 2017 5
    • Amazon / Eng bada
      OP
      Updated the post. It is total comp
      Sep 30, 2017
    • LinkedIn / Eng BTCop
      Your either underpaid or not performing efficiently. Probably both. My guess is you need to be more active in politicking and a more aggressive in letting it be known how awesome you are and how essential the work you do is.
      It's ok to toot your own horn, but get others to toot it for you.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Facebook / Eng BunnyOmg
      You are underpaid. That's TC of new grad at FB.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng pufferduck
      I'm making more with 2 yrs exp...
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng bada
      OP
      Looks like they low balled me big time. This is my first job in the big 4.
      Sep 30, 2017
  • Amazon / Eng
    ikr!?

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Expeditors
    ikr!?more
    Data point to consider... 4 years ago when I started... my compensation was based on a $310 stock... that income has now more than tripled.

    Compare that track record to wherever you are thinking about going...
    Sep 30, 2017 4
    • Groupon rahul
      Do you think stock will be $3K in 2020?
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      ikr!?

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Expeditors
      ikr!?more
      I've read many articles from wall street that suggest it will by 2027
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      ikr!?

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Expeditors
      ikr!?more
      Regardless... chances are it's going up... which you can't say for every company.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      mUqi08

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      mUqi08more
      Chances? They said the same thing about Cisco Intel and Sun in the past...
      Oct 3, 2017
  • Google / Eng
    googlr

    Google Eng

    PRE
    Amazon
    googlrmore
    Google will pay a lot more and give you a nice change
    Sep 30, 2017 3
    • Oracle db.bmc
      Not in Kirkland.. there is not enough openings and is hard to get offer......
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Google / Eng
      googlr

      Google Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      googlrmore
      I'm in Seattle, we're always interviewing and hiring. Google does have a high bar however
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Oracle db.bmc
      All companies have high bar. Don't try to oversell Google. From what I have heated there is not much of headcount in most teams.
      Are you recruiter?
      Sep 30, 2017
  • Amazon / Eng 126
    It will be faster to leave and boomerang to L6 if you have strong interview skills.

    That said, if you SDE3, transition to SDM, and have all of those years, an L7 SDM move should be workable on natural org growth.
    Sep 30, 2017 0
  • Google / Eng rabidero
    How are you still so low after years of experience? I have half as much experience yet gave a higher level. Are you incompetent?
    Oct 2, 2017 6
    • Google / Eng rabidero
      What did I not read? He claims a ton of experience. Amazon gave my L6 with less than half as much experience.
      Oct 3, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      mUqi08

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      mUqi08more
      Every org is different, and also depends on if the interviewing bar raiser is clueless or not, especially when it is from a different industry.

      I have no idea why they use a web developer to interview a hardware engineer, but I have seen it at least once.
      Oct 3, 2017
    • Google / Eng rabidero
      That might be true (I've certainly had bad loops), but I still don't see why someone experienced and good would accept such a low offer. I'm 24 and I would've laughed if Amazon made such a low offer. There are startups offering more (in cash).
      Oct 3, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      mUqi08

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      mUqi08more
      See that's the thing you are only 24, I am 45.

      People do discriminate against age and people max out at around 7 to 10 years. Sometimes people leave an old job because of non pay reason and sometimes people became managers and come back as IC, they will be starting a few level lower because they need to prove that they still got it.

      My manager had been managing 200 people in aerospace before he join Amazon to manage only 30 people as a 1st level manager. My coworkers have all been principal elsewhere and only join as L6. Meanwhile we have people who becomes L6 in 4 years since grad (congratulations to them but they are not the norm, unless it is a new field that hasn't been around for many years).

      Amazon level doesn't mean skill, it only means presentation to upper management, and promo doc, and how good you are at picking the right project.
      Oct 4, 2017
    • Google / Eng rabidero
      Those are fair points, I’ve definitely seen people get down leveled when switching industries or career tracks. That being said, I’m surprised he’s still only at L4 after being at Amazon for 2 years. If someone is downleveled but good, they usually get promoted reasonable fast.
      Oct 4, 2017
  • Amazon / Eng
    mUqi08

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Amazon
    mUqi08more
    My advice is to leave if you find a better pay or higher level elsewhere.

    Amazon down level as much as possible on external hire and they have quotas for promotion, a lot about visibility instead of work delivered, and stack ranking causing people to back stab each others.

    In the end visible people who check in code with problems get promoted because of presentation, and people who are stuck with a hostile CR to bargain end up in pip.
    Oct 1, 2017 2
    • Oracle eng.
      I have heard they changed the policy and there is no quota limit anymore.
      They still have stack ranking? Darn......
      Oct 1, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      mUqi08

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      mUqi08more
      Not official, but if your manager's performance is on the line......
      Oct 1, 2017
  • Amazon Peanutz
    It's a good salary -most
    People with super high salaries are because of stock appreciation .If you like your team and manager wait till you get to SDE 3.Most likely you worked for a smaller company and hence Amazon got you in at a L5.
    Sep 30, 2017 1
    • Amazon / Eng bada
      OP
      That is the reason. This is my first job in big 4
      Sep 30, 2017
  • Google sandwich3
    Look for another job at Google or FB, and don't tell them your current salary or level. Or inflate it if you must say something. Either way, Google or FB will assess you accordingly.
    Sep 30, 2017 0
  • Amazon OTdS88
    L6 then go to google, at least that's my plan
    Oct 1, 2017 6
    • Amazon OTdS88
      With that much experience, if the team is not totally toxic, he should be pretty close to an l6 offer anyway, which should fetch a higher offer from another company. I'm in the same boat
      Oct 1, 2017
    • Oracle eng.
      What total comp l5 yo l6 should expect? I know a new hire l6 can get up to 350k, but how about existing l5 moving to l6?
      Oct 1, 2017
    • Amazon OTdS88
      I've heard around 30% bump, but varies widely
      Oct 1, 2017
    • Oracle eng.
      Example?
      Oct 1, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng no email
      L5->L6 will usually enter near the bottom of the band... Usually around 260 tc or so from what I've seen. It's usually a pretty pitiful raise for most strong/well tenured sde2s. I wouldn't stay just for the money.

      Edit: I guess I won't say pitiful. 10-15% raise is pretty standard.
      Oct 1, 2017
  • Intuit ,
    OP what happened in our annual review?
    Did the manager ever tried to promote you or did you ask for a promotion?
    If you are in Seattle, this doesnt look like a high L5 compensation as well!
    Sep 30, 2017 4
    • Amazon / Eng bada
      OP
      Too new in first review in 2016. Good review in 2017.
      2018 review - manager asked me to fill the promo doc
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Intuit ,
      So quarterly review system is a myth?
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon Vacuum
      Quarter promotions. Annual reviews.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng bada
      OP
      Quarterly reviews just started.
      Sep 30, 2017
  • Oracle db.bmc
    Years of experience?
    Sep 30, 2017 1
    • Amazon / Eng bada
      OP
      Updated the post
      Sep 30, 2017
  • Amazon / Eng
    mUqi08

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Amazon
    mUqi08more
    Unlucky if you are in a shitty team. I have seen external engineer with 5 yrs exp get down leveled to L4. Once in a while a couple of them will accept but most will refuse.

    P.S. we are hiring external only, if your friends like down level and being beaten down by hostile amazonian lifer trying to protect their inbreed promote level, pm me.
    Oct 4, 2017 0
  • Groupon iCode
    Retire early.
    Sep 30, 2017 0
  • Amazon / Eng no email
    2 years would be quick to promo even coming in as a strong 2, based on what I've seen. 2->3 promos are entirely employee driven now, so you could start that process if you're so inclined.
    Sep 30, 2017 3
    • Amazon / Eng bada
      OP
      Too new in first review in 2016. Good review in 2017.
      2018 review - manager asked me to fill the promo doc
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng no email
      I would stay if you like Amazon/your work... That's pretty much all there is to it, imo. Sounds like you can make it and sde3 is a fine place to be long term.
      Sep 30, 2017
    • Oracle db.bmc
      Why Sde3 is a fine place? How is the review system for a new sde3 compare to those who are sde3 for few Years? Does Amazon still have stack ranking?
      Sep 30, 2017

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