Software Engineer salaries in 2018, tech levels, and lifestyle


Prestigious law firms only have ~10% of each hiring class make partner. You only get to stay an associate for so long (3-5 years) before they fire you. There’s a round of cuts every year until you’re left with the people on partner track. Accounting and consulting firms are the same way. That’s why they are hiring so many people every year.

Software engineers can go work for less prestigious firms. Instead of developing Apple software that customers use, they can develop internal software for large companies. They can work for older tech companies that aren’t as cutting edge. HP still employs thousands of engineers. They aren’t going to compete for talent vs FANG companies and unicorns.

@jane That’s pretty crazy. I definitely don’t see many older individual contributors. I’d love to see age distribution by job level. I know Apple, Google, and Amazon all have a median age around 30.


I notice that managers have a harder time to find another job. But managers do have better job security at the same company since they have more information and connections.

Investment and FIRE is a solution but I think it can only be achieved by a very small number of engineers


AAPL is as old a company as Intel. Hardware engineers do survive longer time partly because new graduates are not interested in hardware anymore. Also maybe hardware has more domain knowledge and it’s too expensive to tolerate any inexperienced mistake


Young folks certainly want to study CS than EE.


Maybe you should steer your daughter towards hardware instead of software :joy:


She wants to study EECS and is actively working on HW/SW projects.


EECS? That’s Berkeley, right? Is she in high school or college now? Seems that she’s genuinely interested in engineering.


But what major do you suggest to college students and graduate students then? What’s the best career?

I don’t see any unemployed doctors. But not every kid is interested in medicine.


Engineers become useless after 40. By then you need to go into management, sales, or find another calling.
Companies treat engineers like commodities. You need to pursue outside income early and often. I started real estate investing at 22 after being laid off my first job. Best thing that could have happened. Taught me never to rely in or trust employers.


I know lots of engineers working @60 full time in a corporate job.


5 years ago, my friends with mechanical engineering PhDs couldn’t get a job anywhere. Now, they’re selling like hotcakes at self driving companies.

If predicting a field was easy, I would’ve bought stocks and let my children become beach bums. :slight_smile: But indulge me:

  • Biotech hasn’t made $$$ still, but so much money has been invested, somebody ought to start selling something.
  • Journalism is almost dead, thanks to social networks. But are humans happy with reading tweets & FB posts?
  • Robotics still has a long way to go, esp. productionizing.
  • VR/AR hasn’t broken out yet. Again, need productionizing.

The common theme I’m getting at is, the job of Product Designers / Product Managers haven’t propagated or flourished outside of tech. But they’re in dire need - Dyson is selling $400 hair dryers like crazy. Monocle is making huge profits when NYTimes isn’t profitable. Nespresso. Amazon Prime.

I fear that the classical STEM fields are easily replaceable by foreign countries (China, India, Vietnam, …). What US has excelled in for so long is commercialization and soft power (Hollywood, NYC, fashion, pop music) , and we need more of these product people in all the industries.

Trouble is, there is no traditional “major” to learn this stuff. PMs are often from CS undergrad with MBAs, and UX designers are from 2year colleges in SF/LA/Chicago (loosely taught by Arts profs and industry folks). You’d need both quantitative and qualitative skills…


Yeah, I think STEM is not a good field for American kids. Too many dedicated competition from overseas. Also it’s hard to develop a passion towards STEM so an engineer’s life is not as fulfilling. Given an option, many engineers would rather do something more interesting


Solve own problem first.


What’s the solution? FIRE. What to do after FIRE?


I am here for 15 years. My computation indicates affordability has improved for Googlers i.e. their purchase power relative to the price of the house is higher. Mortgage rate is 7% then, if my memory didn’t fail me. Your guess is not consistent with my experience.

After graduating for 5 years Googlers can purchase a SFH worth $2M. 15 years ago, the SFH is worth $900k. Can a 5 years graduate buy the $900k SFH?


You have daughters only, shouldn’t have a problem, just married a high flying SWEs. For guys who are not high flying, there are many tech hubs in USA that are far cheaper than here, hint: A…


Doing what?


I actually don’t have a bright view of SWE’s. Thinking too narrow and too good at obeying someone else’s order.

Best gift to a child is a trust fund of 5m+.


I regret not taking any design classes in college and only the bare minimum of writing. Only much later in life I know what I missed.

I read somewhere some philosophy majors are doing pretty well in finance and tech. Philosophy is about learning how to think, a skill many lack.