Almost every major tech company, such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (FAANG), uses a leveling system to standardize salary bands across job roles that conform to a defined set of qualifications and responsibilities. Apple begins its entry-level engineers at ICT2 (Individual Contributor) while a Facebook Entry Level Software Engineer starts at E3 and can uplevel to E8 or M2 (Software Engineering Manager Equivalent), depending on his professional expertise and skill set.
Such a system ensures fairness and consistency in devising a compensation strategy for employees at different levels.
Some of the factors that determine grade levels at top tech companies are:
- Nature of the job
- Scope of impact
- Educational background
- Decision-making authority
- Expected career progression
Even though the exact leveling method differs from one tech company to another, the resultant system dictates that Software Engineers at a higher level command bigger salaries and have greater job responsibilities. Simply put, where you land on the spectrum determines your career trajectory.
For instance, at Facebook, job levels for engineers and managers are largely defined based on their impact, instead of the number of employees they manage or the amount of experience they bring to the job.
As one of the most prominent tech companies in the world, the social media giant recruits some of the most innovation-driven and skilled employees and pays them top dollar to ensure retention. Salary bands at all levels are a total of base pay, stock options, and bonuses.
In addition to this, Facebook Software Engineers receive a wide range of benefits in terms of insurance, wellness, housing, financial, and family expenses. Their benefits program enjoys a 4.7/5 rating on Glassdoor.
In terms of growth opportunities, Facebook ranks at #4, with employees reporting higher rates of satisfaction in their current roles as well as significant personal growth. At a median salary of $190,772 per year, a Facebook Senior Software Engineer commands the #1 highest salary compared to other Silicon Valley companies.
So, what exactly are the different levels at Facebook? Let's find out.
- Software Engineer Career Ladder at Facebook
- How Leveling Systems Work at Facebook
- Nail Your Next Facebook Software Engineer Interview
Software Engineer Career Ladder at Facebook
Facebook Software Engineer levels are based on the responsibilities a job role demands and the impact they create with their technical expertise and skillsets. This ensures that they earn comparable salaries even at entry-level and have ample progression opportunities to move ahead on the career ladder.
Unlike companies such as Google and Amazon, Software Engineers at different levels are referred to as “software engineers” instead of Principal, Senior, Distinguished, Fellow, etc.
Here's discussing the six software engineering levels at Facebook:
Software Engineer Level I (E3)
Average base salary: $121,536 per year
E3 Software Engineers are expected to write codes for production and conduct tests under minimal supervision. They should be well-versed with software testing tools, source control, and code review technologies. Level I is typically designed for internship seekers. They work under close supervision of their superiors and have little to no decision-making authority.
Software Engineer (SWE)-Is I at Facebook are usually college graduates or employees with less than two years of professional experience.
Software Engineer Level II (E4)
Average base salary: $159,132 per year
Level II SWEs must possess basic knowledge of software application design. They are responsible for making minor design decisions independently and work towards understanding and developing system applications without supervision. Established procedures typically drive decision-making at this level.
E4 SWE’s must possess a minimum of two to four years of experience.
Software Engineer Level III (E5)
Average base salary: $192,688 per year
Level III SWE’s at Facebook are also entry-level Software Engineering Managers. Thus, their job responsibilities are a combination of technical and management duties. They are expected to possess in-depth domain knowledge, problem-solving abilities and be well-versed in system design and architecture to function as a technical architect.
As Software Engineering Managers, they are in charge of junior-level Software Engineers in training and mentoring them towards technical excellence. They conduct timely performance evaluations and ensure resource allocation as necessary.
E5 is a majorly autonomous level, with SWEs having considerable decision-making responsibilities as well as involvement in hiring, training, and mentorship of lower-level Software Engineers. They also have budgetary responsibilities and operational planning roles and require people skills to lead junior personnel.
Software Engineer Level IV (E6)
Average base salary: $218,616-$241,090 per year
With job responsibilities equivalent to staff/principal engineers at companies like Google, Facebook Level IV SWEs lead significantly larger teams of Software Engineers while working autonomously. E6 SWEs also serve as M1 Software Engineer Managers at Facebook.
They facilitate coordination between different teams as well as recruit and hire new Software Engineers to accomplish goals. They are expected to identify individual strengths and foster growth by helping them build their skill-sets and realize their full potential.
Facebook's E6 Software Engineers are amongst the highest paid individuals with base salaries 45% higher than the national average salary of engineers at corresponding levels.
Above E5, years of experience cease to be of relevance in determining levels. However, it's uncommon for SWEs to possess lower than ten years of professional experience.
Software Engineer Level V (E7)
Average base salary: $265,000 per year
E7 SWEs or M2 Software Engineer Managers at Facebook lead cross-functional teams through technical and non-technical strategic planning. They are expected to conduct market research and stay updated with the latest trends to drive best engineering practices and contribute to higher revenue. An example in this department is Facebook's "newsfeed ranking" or the mobile advertisement feature.
As per Levels.fyi's 2020 report on Software Engineer compensation, Facebook is the top-paying company for level 5 SWEs or Principal Engineers, as they are commonly called at most Silicon Valley companies.
Software Engineer Level VI (E8)
Average base salary: $298,000 per year
E8 Software Engineers act as progressive visionaries in the field of engineering and work towards large-scale, competitive business growth. E8 is equivalent to Director (D1) level with their job role focused on improving company culture, devising policies, launching large-scale projects, and incorporating evolving technological practices. Think director-level engineers like Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat, who launched MapReduce or BigTable and are considered the most skilled coders at Google.
The Facebook Senior Software Engineer level (E5 and above) is associated with creating innovative systems, infrastructure, and products that connect billions of people and shape the company’s future.
As per levels.fyi, the total compensation for an E8 software engineer at Facebook is $1,230,000 per year on average, including stock options worth $687,250 and a bonus amount of $244,500.
Recommended Reading: What Is the Highest Salary for Software Engineers at FAANG Companies?
How Leveling Systems Work at Facebook
The leveling structure at Facebook is primarily dependent on the following two factors:
Scope of Impact
Apart from the necessary skills and qualifications that are fundamentally unique to every level, the SWE career ladder at Facebook is largely hinged on the impact engineers create on a day-to-day basis and the scope of responsibilities they have.
Like Google, Facebook also has a separate career hierarchy and pay scale for managers, given the difference in the nature of the job roles. If you are passionate about people development, you can choose to pursue a rewarding career in management while keeping your technical interests alive. A typical Software Engineering Manager at Facebook can earn anywhere between $165,352 - $294,528 per year, depending on their seniority levels, job location, and skillsets.
You don't necessarily have to take the management route to progress and advance in your career.
As per Don S., Software Engineer Manager at Facebook with over 20 years of experience, "I know many people that have tried out management and moved back into engineering, which Facebook supports wholeheartedly. Having the ability to choose your own path is a much healthier way to grow your skills. It’s not a ladder like it is at the banks - instead, you’re measured by what you’ve done, by taking on a larger scope, and by the real impact of your daily work."
It should be noted that every manager is expected to pass the coding bar; they must possess the same technical skills and professional experience as corresponding SWEs on the engineering track.
Here's how a focus on autonomy, impact, and creativity can help you build innovative solutions and progressively uplevel at Facebook:
Work Towards Autonomy
Facebook encourages its employees to seek out new challenges and inspiring opportunities beyond their job description to carve out a rewarding career path for themselves. As a company that provides necessary resources and support to transition into new roles, Software Engineers can realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to next-generation technologies.
Seek Opportunities for Impact
Facebook acknowledges managers and engineers in leadership roles whose decision-making drives growth and change. As mentoring is an integral part of your job description as you assume senior roles, it allows you to widen your scope of impact on the success of a project.
Find Opportunities on a Global Level
Relocating to different locations offers various opportunities for growth and empowers you with different global perspectives. It also exposes you to new cultures and allows you to build creative problem-solving and collaboration skills while working with cross-functional teams.
Facebook interviews aren't designed to achieve hiring demands but to find forward-thinking, problem-solving individuals who can meaningfully contribute to the company's future. Since it is at your onsite interview that you are assigned a job level, this decision largely rests on your performance.
As per a Facebook Software Engineer, “It’s known as the grading interview because that's usually where they grade you, and they'll bump you up or down in seniority level."
Most software engineers fall in the L3 to L5 spectrum at Facebook. Very few advance to higher levels, and even fewer engineers are hired from outside beyond these levels. This is because SWEs require a specialized set of skills and extensive industry experience to land a higher-up position at Facebook.
Technical interviews at Facebook are centered around data structures, algorithms, and system design. Interviews evaluate your knowledge and expertise in these areas applicable to your day-to-day responsibilities.
Here's how you can ensure a higher level and higher pay:
Nail Your Interview
At every round of a Facebook Software Engineer interview, a candidate must outperform his competitors and colleagues to have a better chance of landing the job they're gunning for. As per the author of Cracking the Coding Interview, Gayle McDowell, Facebook Software Engineer interviews are relative in nature. For instance, a Facebook entry-level Software Engineer will be evaluated against other candidates applying for the same role. Therefore, your focus should be to stand out and gain a competitive advantage in the eyes of your interviewers.
Regardless of which level you are interviewing for, you should polish your interview skills through mock interviews and coding bootcamps. This is especially necessary because Facebook's interview process is less focused on domain knowledge and more on distributed systems and your ability to write algorithms.
Be prepared with well-rehearsed answers to a wide range of technical to behavioral questions. Before you appear for your interview, take the time to determine your career aspirations and how Facebook can help you get closer to your goals. This will help you frame your answers with authenticity and enhance believability while approaching goal-oriented questions.
It is also important that you research the company and its culture going into the interview. In the long run, this can lead to higher satisfaction levels and faster promotions.
Recommended Reading: How to Get Software Engineering Jobs at Facebook
Negotiate Your Salary
The salary you receive is dependent on your negotiating skills, which in turn is dependent on your interview performance. As per a Facebook software engineer, “There is some room to negotiate total compensation depending on your interview performance. If you perform really well, then you're more able to negotiate.”
However, if you don't meet or exceed expectations, it leaves little room for leveraging your skill sets to land higher pay.
The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineers
How an IK Alum Secured a $933K Offer From Facebook
Nail Your Next Facebook Software Engineer Interview
Software Engineers fresh out of college often demand six-figure salaries even without equity remuneration. Senior coding engineers earn millions of dollars annually when recruited by top-tech companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Netflix.
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