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Understanding Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

Last updated on: 
September 6, 2023
Utkarsh Sahu
The fast well prepared banner
About The Author!
Utkarsh Sahu
Utkarsh Sahu
Director Category Management at Interview Kickstart. With a toolbox of P&L expertise, inventive innovations, marketing magic, and strategic relationships, he is an ambitious management consultant having a passion for promoting business growth.

Software engineering jobs at FAANG and Tier-1 organizations come with several key roles and responsibilities. They  include executing full lifecycle software development, programming well-designed and efficient codes, building algorithms etc. 

Cracking coding interviews at big tech companies is a steep challenge. It  demands extensive coding skills and technical know-hows, starkly different from your everyday line of work. By knowing  the various software engineer roles and responsibilities at Tier-1 and FAANG companies, you can focus on building them and improving your chances of making it through. 

This comprehensive guide covers everything from software developer responsibilities and career opportunities to salaries and employee benefits at prestigious tech companies. Take a look.

Table of Contents

Understanding Software Engineering

What Does the job of a software engineer entail?

FANNG software engineer roles and responsibilities

Software engineer roles and responsibilities

Breaking down the software engineering job description at FAANG

Software engineer responsibilities and duties

Software engineer salaries and benefits of working at FAANG companies

Are you planning to switch careers to software engineering?

Reverse engineering a software developer’s responsibilities and job description 

Be ready for a software engineer role with all the right skills

Tips to realize your dream job at Google or other tech giants

Understanding Software Engineering

Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering.Bill Gates

Software engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the development of software products using well-defined scientific approaches. However, the real-world roles and responsibilities of a dedicated software engineer go beyond this textbook definition.

Some key software engineer roles and responsibilities include: 

  1. Meeting user needs with updates in existing software.
  2. Designing and developing new software after analyzing system or organizational requirements.
  3. Understanding or foreseeing client demands and fulfilling the exact requirements.

Another aspect of software engineering is ensuring data privacy and security. Any software or application that deals with personal data must be encrypted and secured. Some other aspects of software engineer roles and responsibilities will be discussed later.

Nearly 227,000 software developer jobs were available in the second quarter of 2018 in America, as per reports by the Burning Glass Labor Insights. This number is further expected to rise in the coming years. But a rise in the number of jobs doesn’t necessarily mean lesser competition. One still needs to go that extra mile to make it to the prestigious FAANG companies.

Software engineer salaries and benefits of working at FAANG Companies

Landing a software engineering job at leading tech companies is certainly a tough nut to crack. However, the salaries and benefits which come along are certainly worth the effort.

  • Facebook: A product manager at Facebook in the L5 category earns $340,000-$345,000 per annum. A software engineering manager in the M2 category takes home a massive $850,000-$880,000 annual package.

Other benefits at Facebook include a ‘new-born’ bonus for every child born, free meals and snacks, equal paternity and maternity leave of 4 months, and even family sickness leave of up to 6 weeks.

  • Amazon: An L7 category data scientist at Amazon earns $580,000-$585,000 per year, and a software engineer in the same category earns nearly $650,000-$655,000 per year. A software engineering manager of L8 category, on the other hand, draws an annual package of about $845,000-848,000.

Besides free refreshments to employees, Amazon also provides dental, health, and life insurances. It also offers child care reimbursement of up to $3,000.

  • Apple: A software engineering manager at Apple gets an annual package of $458,000-$460,000 for the ICT5 category. A software engineer of ICT6 category earns nearly $681,000-$685,000 per year.

Apart from free meals, snacks, and soft drinks, Apple has in place an Employee Stock Purchase System, where an employee can contribute up to 10% of the base salary, with a 15% discount. Besides, it also provides employee credit and tuition reimbursement.

  • Netflix: At Netflix, a senior software engineer gets an average salary of $489,000-$490,000 yearly, while a software engineer manager takes home $600,000-$620,000. The average annual salary of data scientists at the company is $450,000.

Benefits include opening employee health savings accounts, paternity and maternity leaves of up to 1 year, taxable life insurance of up to $1.6 million, etc. Uber and Lyft charges are also fully covered by the company.

  • Google: Google has different job levels for software engineers, and each level comes with a set of benefits and perks. For instance, theL5 category at Google involves several software engineer responsibilities but the efforts are rewarded with a lucrative compensation of nearly $359,000 per year. An L6 category Software Engineer Manager, on the other hand, draws a salary of $492,000 – $500,000!

Other benefits include free meals, health insurance, paternity and maternity leaves, company shuttle, on-site gym, and more.

Thus, it makes good sense why a majority of experienced American software engineers and coders are keen on knowing more about software engineer roles and responsibilities at tech giants like Google and Amazon.

What does the job of a software engineer entail?

Software engineer roles and responsibilities depend on the individuals’ expertise and field of interest.

The following are some instances to elaborate on a software engineer’s job responsibilities for different roles.

  • If you are working as a data engineer at a company like Microsoft, you need to be an expert in database systems (SQL and MySQL), data warehousing solutions, and ETL tools, to name a few.
  • At Apple, a machine learning engineer ensures that security upgrades are up-to-date and coherent with company policies and customer requirements.
  • An Android developer at Google must clearly understand user needs and update the OS accordingly. Identifying bugs and making necessary tweaks in  codes are also part of the role.
  • A front-end developer must utilize his/her problem-solving skills to effectively enhance the user-end experience. Thus, he/she must be well-versed in server CSS and graphic design applications. Fluency in Java and HTML is also mandatory.
  • A full-stack engineer at any FAANG company must be proficient in UX and UI frameworks, like Scala, Docker, Jenkins, etc.
  • Recruiters at Amazon usually look for data scientists adept at analyzing market trends by developing relevant software. 

Good software engineers think beyond the code. - Anonymous

Do you?

Having sharp interpersonal communication skills is equally important for a software engineer. It helps one to relay information about necessary developments, errors, or bugs to collaborating teams on time.

FAANG Software engineers roles and responsibilities

FAANG and Tier-1 companies are always looking for brilliant minds that can pick the irregular out of the regular.

If you are looking to bag a software engineering job at Microsoft, Facebook, and the likes, some of the basic job requirements include:

  1. Experience in software architecture and distributed systems.
  2. Fluency in Object Oriented Programming Languages including Java, C++, C#, Scala, Docker, etc.
  3. Prior experience in handling demanding projects, etc.

The following section delves deeper into software engineer roles and responsibilities at leading tech companies.

Software engineer roles and responsibilities

A business organization heavily depends on its software systems' efficiency to function optimally. A software engineer at a leading tech company needs to understand user-end requirements and then design, test, and develop necessary software.

Software engineer roles and responsibilities are primarily dictated by the software development cycle (SDLC). Discussed below are some of its basic steps.

  • Research: It is a common situation where software developers need to work without a roadmap. Front-end developers need to work on developing websites that are viewable and usable across multiple platforms. On the other hand, a back-end software developer’s roles and responsibilities include integrating API into a relevant stack.
  • Development: After identifying the needs, the next steps will include software development and modeling. One needs to follow up with test runs and simulations before going for quality assurance and security.
  • Analysis: Another key responsibility of developers is to analyze user-end needs, existing software features, and source codes. After making the required changes, a software engineer needs to run a risk and reliability analysis of the update. This must be followed by object-oriented analysis.
  • Maintenance: Maintenance includes performance surveillance and making necessary updates for smoother integration in existing systems. Maintenance also involves complying with industry standards to ensure consumer data safety and privacy.
  • Innovation: During software development, it is also necessary to develop the application's full lifecycle requirements. This step must be done before implementing and rolling out updates on existing or new software.
  • Planning and Project Management: Identifying exact changes required and chalking out an action plan accordingly are important responsibilities of software engineers.  Project management jobs are often in demand and require extensive skill and experience.

  • Implementation: Next comes implementing the updated source codes and algorithms to develop applications with elevated user experience. Different teams work in tandem with a common goal to successfully implement these changes and create new software or update existing ones.

Breaking Down Software Engineering Job Descriptions in FAANG

Recruiters at FAANG or other tech companies look for certain basic qualifications while hiring software engineers. Let’s understand this with some examples.

An overview of the responsibilities of a software developer at Facebook:

  1. For the position of an Android developer at Facebook, extensive hands-on experience in object-oriented software development is necessary.
  2. Building Android applications in Java with Android SDK is another key requirement. Suppose one is working in the Infrastructure department of Facebook.  One has to work with engineers to build, analyze, and even improve the existing scalability and system efficiency. Scaling data storage and optimizing large servers is an essential requirement of the job. 
  3. To be a part of Facebook's developer team, one must have experience in creating testable code-bases, unit analysis and testing, API building, and more. Working closely with product and design teams to build new innovative software and amplifying user experience are one of the main responsibilities of this role.
  4. Facebook also looks for employees with in-depth knowledge and an extensive skill set in multithreading programming and mobile memory management. It works extensively with mobile applications, and thus, it is necessary to analyze how the app reacts to allocate memory resources. Android memory management involves working  with a designated heap limit to prevent an app from using full device memory.

This means software engineers should always be ready to learn something new and continuously upgrade their skills.

Software engineer responsibilities at Facebook or other popular tech firms also include the ability to:

  • Lead: If you are a natural leader, you are already a step ahead of your peers. For instance, you must be able to lead a team in product development planning to fulfill organizational goals.
  • Guide: Another software engineer-specific responsibility is to guide and provide technical assistance to cross-functional teams. One must contribute to the organizational work-culture and prioritize company requirements. 
  • Implement: A part of a software engineer’s roles and responsibilities is to implement web or mobile interfaces using XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript for app optimization. Streamlining the work as per the Product Manager's analyses and proceeding accordingly in frameworks, like React and React Native, are important.
  • Build: Building full-stack mobile or web applications with various coding languages is essential. Proficiency in using the internal programming language, Hack, is also an added skill that recruiters at Facebook look for.
  • Analysis: Understanding relational databases and SQL is also something that a software developer at Facebook should be comfortable with. Experience in large-scale infrastructure applications as per statistical analyses and consumer requirements is also part of a software developer’s roles and responsibilities.

Software engineer responsibilities and duties

A list of software engineer roles and responsibilities at a FAANG company, like Facebook, has been provided below for reference:

  1. Developing tools by  leveraging machine learning, data regression, and rules-based models, including scaling classifiers.
  2. Implementing standard and advanced machine learning techniques to utilize modern parallel environments, such as multiple SMP and GPU, and distributed clusters.
  3. Creating an action plan for the year, comprising short-term projects and long-term organizational vision.
  4. Working on leading a team to integrate new products for ease of transition from 2D – 3D at the user-end.

It is evident from the above list that companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. look for  talented coding engineers who have hard skills and soft skills to enhance organizational growth.

Everything is going to be connected to the cloud and data. All of this will be mediated by software. – Satya Nadella

Are you planning to switch careers to software engineering?

If you are planning to switch your career to software engineering, there are a few things that you can do to ensure a smooth transition.

Coding extensively and getting adept at different programming languages is essential before the career switch.

Reaching out to experienced engineers and enquiring about the requirements, and preparing yourself accordingly can help in maintaining performance levels at the new job.

Working on personal projects and developing a handy portfolio of your work plays an instrumental role in boosting your chances of getting better compensation packages.

Reverse Engineering a Software Developer’s Responsibilities and Job Description 

  • Shortlist 10-15 job postings of suitable jobs

You need to finalize your preferred job role, sector, on-site location, job environment, and others before shortlisting the best jobs for your profile.

  • Make a list of the job description requirements/qualifications.

Identify the skills which are most suited for the job you are aiming for. If you have the requisites, you can shortlist relevant jobs or acquire any additional skills if necessary.

  • Create and build projects with the skills you need

Build projects that serve as catalysts in boosting your prospects of landing a developer role at a big tech company. You should utilize the skills required for the job on your project to make a strong case for yourself at the interview.

  • Present yourself as a dream candidate

Writing an impressive cover letter with a list of your achievements and interests is always a good start. A well-written resume is another way to catch the attention of recruiters. Make sure to succinctly highlight your skills and experience. 

Be Ready for a Software Engineer Role with All the Right Skills

  1. Positive attitude: Recruiters are looking for experienced individuals who are ready to take up software engineer responsibilities with a positive attitude. 
  2. Communication: A vital step to building a rewarding career is possessing excellent communication skills. Communicating developments, bugs, or errors to the collaborating team members or other teams is of utmost importance for a smooth project cycle.
  3. Persistence: A software developer must be patient and persistent while doing his/her job. Errors and bugs are part and parcel, but recruiters are looking for candidates who overcome these with innovation and intent.
  4. Foresee: The power of foresight to identify needs that may arise in the near future is vital to becoming a successful software engineer. Developing in accordance with that, and necessary security and storage needs is crucial.
  5. Problem-solving: Critical problem-solving ability is essential to becoming a valuable asset to the software developing team of a company. The need to meet consumer-end requirements and the ability to power through the hurdles is a must-have to survive in the Big Five.

US News and World Report published a list of best jobs in the United States. For 2020, the only job from the tech sector which was in the top 10 and topped the list is that of a software developer.

Tips to Realize Your Dream Job at FAANG

It almost always happens that interviews give you cold feet.. In case you are in a fix handling such a situation, here is a list that can help you keep your efforts streamlined, specifically for the job description you are comfortable with.

Learning to code and beyond: Learning to code alone will not make the cut. You need to know the intricacies of the field with ample expertise to back your talent and determination. Fundamental knowledge is important, along with advanced concepts and programming specifics of the web, mobile, or game development.

Create for your passion, and express: It is always a good idea to work on personal projects in various fields, depending on your interest. It sends a message of your go-getter attitude and also gives valuable insight into your ability to imagine and innovate.

After all, companies are looking for innovators and creators who can foresee what humankind can need in the future and work on it today.

Learning data structures and algorithms: Having relatively extensive knowledge in data structures and algorithms is another pro-tip for you to rise above the rest when hustling for a top job. In case you are not familiar with these, it is in your best interest to start doing so at the earliest.

Prepare, and prepare some more: Coding interviews at Amazon or Facebook will always be intricate but simple by nature. Practicing with adequate time and dedication is sure to pay you dividends. You can take Interview Kickstart’s experienced team's help for any technical interview preparation for software engineers.

Cracking jobs at FAANG companies come with thorough preparation and, of course, luck. Not losing heart, but preparing harder and keeping on applying is crucial for you to bag your dream job. It is normal to need multiple attempts depending on your experience and acquired skill set. Expanding them continually is a good ploy to be ever-ready for an unforeseen opportunity.

Are you up for it when an opportunity knocks?


  1. How much do software engineers earn?

In the United States, the average salary of a software engineer ranges between $90,000 and $100,000 per year. In the year 2019, software developers made a median salary of approximately $107,000 in America. Also, according to an OECD Global Report, the US is the second highest paying country for software engineers.

  1. What is the average salary of a software developer at Facebook?

The average salary for a software engineer at Facebook is approximately $148,000-$150,000 per year. This means there is tremendous scope to climb up the ladder and earn more for new software engineers and developers.

Posted on 
May 3, 2021

Utkarsh Sahu

Director, Category Management @ Interview Kickstart || IIM Bangalore || NITW.

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