Main image of article Amazon Might Have Changed Entry-Level Developer Hiring Policy

Is Amazon only hiring students and recent grads for entry-level software positions?

That’s the assertion of a new report in Business Insider, which suggests the e-commerce giant is relying solely on “campus” hires for its SDE-1 roles. According to an internal memo obtained by the publication, “those in part-time or executive programs with years of work experience can apply, too.”

If this report is accurate, such a policy would restrict many tech professionals in early- to mid-career (or those workers looking to switch to a tech career) from joining Amazon as entry-level engineers. According to, which crowdsources its compensation data for a range of tech companies, the average salary for an Amazon SDE-1 is $135,141, paired with a bonus of around $11,874 and stock awards worth $24,270 (for total compensation of $171,285).

An Amazon spokesperson pushed back against Insider, saying: “Any implication that we have lowered our hiring bar is incorrect. We have well over 1 million employees and while we value everyone's opinion, just because a few say something is true doesn't make it so.”

In general, students and new graduates earn less compensation than tech professionals with a few years of experience—which means a “campus hires” policy could translate into significant cost savings for Amazon at a time when it seems intent on conserving budget. However, lower salaries also make it difficult for companies to retain valuable workers.

Back in October 2022, Business Insider reported on an Amazon internal survey that found 46 percent of employees in “tech-adjacent” roles (such as engineers and designers) were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with current compensation. However, 28 percent reported being either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied,” while 25 percent were “neutral.” Those numbers are a potential red flag for retention, especially when other tech companies are willing to pay top dollar for highly specialized talent.

Amazon already seemed to recognize this potential vulnerability: in February 2022, it boosted its maximum base pay for corporate and technology employees from $160,000 to $350,000. “This past year has seen a particularly competitive labor market and in doing a thorough analysis of various options, weighing the economics of our business and the need to remain competitive for attracting and retaining top talent, we decided to make meaningfully bigger increases to our compensation levels than we do in a typical year,” the company wrote in an internal post reviewed by GeekWire.

But that was before Amazon’s recent layoffs and widespread fears of a recession. Now Amazon seems focused on different goals—and that could mean changing its hiring practices.