As the so-called “streaming wars” pick up steam, Netflix finds itself in something of an odd place. On one hand, the company is in a dominant position, with millions of customers and a robust pipeline of shows and movies. On the other hand, its competitors—which include Apple, Disney, Amazon, and, um, Walmart—are also handsomely funded and extremely aggressive.
Given all that, software engineers are of paramount importance to Netflix’s future, and Netflix seems to realize that. If you’re interested in software engineering as a profession, Netflix’s tech blog offers a rich stream of articles on everything from its machine-learning efforts (part of its continuing effort to feed you what you want to watch) to how it fixes streaming issues. But how much does the company actually pay its experienced engineers?
As you might expect, salaries are quite high, especially for those engineers with a bit of tenure. According to levels.fyi, which crowdsources salary data, senior software engineers at Netflix can earn an annual average of $437,000 in base salary, along with stock worth $12,225, and a bonus of $1,000.
That’s quite a bit higher than the Netflix senior software engineer salaries crowdsourced by Glassdoor, which suggests average base pay is $226,994, along with average additional pay of $10,782 (three respondents said they’d received a cash bonus of $10,782, while another three said they had received a stock bonus of $16,199). It’s also higher than what the H-1B Salary Database suggests the company pays for senior software engineers on the H-1B visa (median salary: $164,674), although comparing H-1B salaries to “regular” ones is always a tricky and potentially inaccurate proposition.
What’s clear is that Netflix isn’t big on handing out stock, to say the least, although its base salaries are clearly quite generous. The differential between all these sources’ salary points also reveals the inherent weaknesses in crowdsourcing data; for all we know, Netflix employees are deliberately over-reporting their salary numbers to some venues in an attempt to get a little more leverage in future salary negotiations. Smaller sample sizes might radically skew the results between platforms, as well.
Whatever the case, it’s worth examining how Netflix senior software engineer pay matches up against other tech giants in the space:
There’s also Amazon:
If you’re a software engineer who’s really interested in stock as a vital part of your compensation, other tech firms might offer a better package than Netflix. As mentioned before, Apple and Amazon already have their streaming rivals, complete with high-priced shows, and if trends continue, it seems likely that other tech companies might follow suit—it’s easy to imagine Google or Microsoft dropping a few billion on some all-you-can-eat television programming, if they think there’s an opening in an already-crowded market. The streaming market is primed to only expand, which is great news for specialists.
But if you’re a software engineer who’s interested in streaming and media, and you want to help develop some truly cutting-edge stuff in that regard, Netflix should also be on your radar. Despite its growing competitors, it’s clearly going to hold on for quite some time to come... and it'll need to keep paying high salaries if it doesn't want its finest engineers poached away.