Which companies pay software engineering managers the most? A few of the top contenders might surprise you.
According to levels.fyi, which crowdsources its compensation data, San Francisco-based Rippling, which builds workforce management tools, outdoes other tech companies when it comes to software engineering manager compensation. Close on its heels are Airbnb and Netflix, which also pay out hefty amounts of base salary, stock, and bonuses. Here’s the website’s chart of the top five:
Before we proceed further: yes, crowdsourcing isn’t always the most accurate method of data collection (both from a sampling and verification point of view). However, it’s good for giving us a rough idea of what companies can pay out. That Netflix almost topped the list is particularly unsurprising, given that company’s reputation for paying outsized salaries in exchange for what it considers outsized performance.
Beyond these five top-paying companies, software engineering manager is a lucrative job; levels.fyi puts the median compensation at $295,000 nationwide. At Amazon, for example, an L5 SDM can earn $187,407 in base salary, $83,689 in stock, and $31,000 in bonus. But earning that kind of payout requires strong technical and soft skills.
No matter what their specialty, managers must have powerful communication skills, with the ability to secure buy-in from both team members and stakeholders throughout a broader organization. For those working in any kind of technology context, technical know-how is likewise key; if you’re going to manage engineers, you need to know their tools and methodologies if you want to evaluate and guide a project to successful completion.
Take the case of an (anonymous) director of engineering at Google who spoke to Blind about his job, which involved overseeing the work of more than 150 engineers. “A good engineer is not the smartest, but the one who uplifts the team, understands what managers want, and is a great peer and report to work with,” they told Blind’s audience. Coaching effectively and delegating responsibility to the right team members are vital elements of the job—just as much as knowing which programming languages to use for a platform.
That director of engineering claimed they made $1.5 million per year, which just shows how far you can go with the right skills at the right company.