Software Engineer salaries in 2018, tech levels, and lifestyle


Is out of necessity. I quit my job in Singapore when I came over here and didn’t want to be a paid slave, and need to be the do-all-things in the family because cost of labor e.g. childcare + housecleaning, is super expensive. When we docked, pay package of my wife is way below what a fresh grad would get in Google today. Of course, that doesn’t stop us from capturing two SFHs in SV… hehe…


I think it’s harder for a google engineer to buy a house today than your wife those years ago. Affordability is lower now than 20 years ago.

That’s why Amzn and apple are looking elsewhere for expansion. Prosperity is spreading, what a wonderful development.


This is very true - both ageism and burnout are prevalent. Here’s what I think:

  1. Those who have already retired (flip/landloard/investor) are from older companies (Intel/MS/Yahoo…). They’ve had their ride of stock increase + bull market, so no longer need the wages.

  2. Techies at the current top $ corps (Google/Facebook/…) have only been at those companies ~10 yrs since the companies have only been around 15~20 yrs (the earlier ones have retired after IPO). Now these folks are looking elsewhere: either investing, younger startups (below).

  3. Techies at pre IPO companies are $$$ hungry (Uber/AirBnB/Pinterest/Dropbox…). When they hit IPO, many leave (for even younger startups or retire). These are then filled with folks from 2) above. This migration happens more often than you think - not too long ago, there was a phase when truckload of Yahoo people joined Google, and truckload of senior Google people joined Facebook.

This goes on until folks get to at least 50yrs old it seems.


I think less older engineers at startup now. Startups have mostly younger engineers now since deep tech is not in demand now.

Most of the startups are now started by college dropouts and they don’t want anyone who have 10 years of experience.

I’m thinking how to profit from these older engineers no company wants. What’s the best use of their skills and experience? If you figure out this, you can make a lot of money


You are one of them for sure :triumph:


Dating software :slight_smile: and pretty women to market ice-candy to them.


Now, yes. But when they get near IPO and need to make $, they need to scale. Need recommendations. Ads. AI. Self driving.

This happened at Google, Facebook, Twitter (2010~2015). Now it started happening at Uber, AirBnB, Dropbox - when they hit IPO and play the adults game, they’ll need more.

Fun fact: G got into hardware market couple years back, and had to make industry hires from Apple/Intel/HTC. Now the campus looks & feels like Intel - lots of gray hair wearing baggy khaki pants. :scream:


oh, old engineers are popular in hardware and young engineers are more popular in software.

Biotech seems to also favor older techie


I thought Marc Benioff solved this problem. :rofl:


Hmm, does salesforce employ many older engineers? But Salesforce is a semi-old company anyway


I was just joking - Salesforce just seems like what Oracle was selling 20 yrs ago. Not literally, but figuratively. :smile:


Today’s software engineers need to be prepared to retire at 45 or at most 50. If they are not financially ready at 50, what do they do? That’s why I think medicine is better and a smart girl or boy would want to avoid software engineering if they are not good enough to FIRE before 45.

I’m worried about those CS PhDs who graduate late. How many years of useful career life do they have?


They don’t need to retire, but they need to move into management. How many 50 year old individual contributor engineers do you know? The numbers even start to decline a lot at 40. Engineering has become a bit like consulting, accounting, and law. Either you’re being promoted up at an acceptable pace, or they eventually push you out to make room for fresher talent.


But it’s a pyramid. Every year, you hire 100 young engineers and only promote 2 to management. Most of them will not rise to management.

On the contrary, most lawyers do make partners. Most accountants also get promoted. Only a small percentage of lawyers leave the firm after failing to become partners. Even then, lawyers can open their own firm. What can a software engineer do after leaving the corporation? Most of them need to find a new career and that means a crisis for them.

I think parents who encourage their daughters and sons to become software engineers lack vision.


They should be encouraged to be garbage collectors?


My ex-manager(HW) works at Apple as an individual contributor at age of 65. He was hired at age of 63.
My ex-CTO(HW) works at my current company as an individual contributor at age of 60 something.
My friend(SW) works at Apple as an individual contributor at age of 55. She was hired last year.
I know at least 10 individual contributor engineer who are over 50 years old.
Ageism is certainly there but I am not sure becoming manager would raise the chance of survival significantly.


Software engineers or hardware?

What percentage of google, Amazon and Facebook engineers over 50?


These traditional fields will get most impacted by software:

  • Accounting: Turbotax killed income tax filing accountants. Corporate is coming soon.
  • Medicine: AI killed Pathology. Any other field relying heavily on machines will come soon after (Anesthesiology, neurology, …).
  • Law: Are you serious? Half the law school grads are filing H1B Visa for engineers, and those are the successful ones.

The fields that require licenses to work are the easiest to target (commercial driving, medicine, …), because the licenses were first put in place in order to control the supply.

I agree. When I mentor undergrad students looking to get into grad school, I tell them to stay away from machine learning - by the time they’re done, the entire field would be dead. But leading them to medicine / accounting / law seems like a surefire way of having your children move back with you after school. :slight_smile:


You missed my earlier post. G/F haven’t been around more than 20 years, so you don’t see that many. If you go to Oracle / MS / IBM, they’re predominantly 45+, and significant chunk is 50+.


Ageism is why I want to build RE income of 100k per year (hopefully after all expenses) in 5 years. Even as a manager things can get dangerous in a downturn.