If you’re applying for a software engineer job at Apple, and expecting a salary that blows other companies’ offers out of the proverbial water—well, prepare for some surprise and disappointment. Although it’s one of the largest companies on earth (at least based on its market cap), Apple offers starting engineers roughly the same amount of money as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.
Let’s dive into the numbers. Levels.fyi, which crowdsources salary data, suggests that ICT2 roles (i.e., the lowest rung of the software engineering ladder) pay an average of $118,810 in base salary, along with annual stock options worth roughly $27,119, and a bonus of $14,619.
Once these engineers climb the seniority ladder to ICT5 (the highest rank with data on Levels.fyi), salary increases to an average of $201,741, with annual stock options totaling around $181,407, and a bonus of $37,148.
Compare Apple salaries to those at Google, where new software engineers (e.g., those who’ve just graduated from college) at the L3 level average salaries of $124,009, with annual stock options of $42,660 and a bonus of $21,417. Meanwhile, Microsoft offers engineers at its lowest “SDE” level $105,747 in average annual salary, $28,650 in stock, and a bonus of $21,378. (We also have the breakdown of Amazon's entry-level software engineer salaries.)
Or if you want all this broken out in handy graph format:
Glassdoor reports that the average software engineer at Apple makes $133,750 per year. This aligns with the data presented by levels.fyi, and it’s a good deal higher than the “average” tech professional salary, which (according to Dice’s Salary Survey) is $93,244. It’s not quite up to the level of Apple CEO Tim Cook, however, who earned $136 million in 2018 (between salary, bonuses, and stock). Management FTW!
Whatever their level, software engineers at Apple have their work cut out for them. At this year’s WWDC conference, Apple offered the world more details on its long-gestating Project Catalyst (which has also gone by the codename “Marzipan”), which will introduce cross-platform apps that span the iOS and macOS ecosystems. Although simple in theory—iOS apps will work on macOS, and vice versa—this initiative is unnervingly complex once you dig into it, and the company’s engineers will need to make some very hard structural decisions whose impact will be felt for years.
Project Catalyst aside, the iOS and macOS ecosystems are the best of both worlds for engineers looking for a challenge: Stuffed full of tricky legacy code, but also loaded with all kinds of new features (and bugs, and unexpected behaviors…). Working for Apple is no doubt an exciting prospect for many—but don’t expect to earn more than at the other tech giants.