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Different Software Engineering Levels in Big Tech Companies

Posted on 
September 7, 2021
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Software engineers form an integral part of all tech companies, be it the reputed top-tier companies like the FAANG or unicorn start-ups. The process of getting placed as a software engineer in any company is extremely tedious and nerve-wracking. 

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation e-book to get interview-ready! Also, read Degrees Required to Score a Software Engineer Job at FAANG and Latest Trending Software Development Technologies in FAANG for specific insights and guidance on software engineer tech interviews.

Having trained over 6,000 Software Engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have been landing lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

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This article will take you through:

  1. Roles and responsibilities of a software engineer
  2. Standard software engineer levels
  3. Different software engineer levels at FAANG companies
  4. Software engineer vs. data engineer
  5. Software developer levels
  6. FAQs

Roles and Responsibilities of a Software Engineer

Software engineers, software developers, and coding engineers are all at the core of the software development process. Software engineers oversee the entire process and duly perform the following responsibilities:

  1. Identifying the issues in a developed system and formulating ways to overcome them. 
  2. Improving the existing system by exploring available opportunities. 
  3. Recommending ways to improve the already existing codebases
  4. Working on the development of technical designs for the software. 
  5. Learning about upcoming technologies and inculcating them in the process of software development. 
  6. Liaising with other team members and guiding them throughout the process of software development. 

Read Understanding Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities to learn more.

Standard Software Engineer Levels

There is a hierarchy of software engineers that is followed in every tech company. The levels in this hierarchy are demarcated by qualification and years of experience. The different levels of software engineers are as follows: 

Level 1: Junior Software Engineer

  • A junior software engineer is generally the first position a prospective software engineer is assigned to. This level forms the base, and an individual at this level is not required to be an extremely skillful person but a quick learner.
  • A junior software engineer is assigned parts of a solution to code, and they report to the mid-level engineers.
  • The annual salary earned by a junior software engineer is $115,000

Level 2: Senior Software Engineer

  • This level is assigned to people who have at least three years of experience in the field. However, this position is not managerial, and the scope of work is similar to a junior software engineer. 
  • The only difference between level 1 and level 2 roles is, a senior software engineer owing to the individual’s experience, is expected to work quickly, precisely, and under minimum guidance
  • At this software engineer level, an individual is also expected to guide junior engineers. The annual salary earned at this level by a software engineer is $134,386. 

Level 3: Staff Engineer

  • This level marks the start of managerial software engineer levels and is assigned to an individual with six or more years of experience. 
  • A level 3 staff engineer is a mid-level engineer bridging the gap between fresher engineers and top management. 
  • The staff engineer is expected to lead the team to derive effective solutions to a problem assigned by the higher management team. The annual salary earned by a Level 3 software engineer is $140,492.

Level 4: Principal Software Engineer

  • This level is difficult to achieve, as an individual is expected to have a track record of overseeing multiple innovative projects. 
  • An individual with over 10 years of experience is assigned to this position. 
  • The principal software engineer is expected to find loopholes and ways to improve a system. 
  • Multiple teams work in conjunction under the principal software engineer to formulate solutions for a problem. A level 4 principal software engineer earns around $148,633 per year.

Level 5: Distinguished Engineer

  • A distinguished engineer occupies the topmost position of the hierarchy of different software engineer levels. This software engineer is an individual who has played an enormous role in shaping the entire company
  • Individuals at this level are experienced professionals with a knack for almost all areas pertaining to software development and data science. 

The above mentioned are standard software engineer levels in most tech companies; however, this is not a rigid framework; the levels may vary from company to company. 

Different Software Engineer Levels at FAANG Companies

Any aspiring software engineer, software developer, data engineer, or tech lead willing to be a part of the reputed FAANG companies needs to be well-versed with the level system. 

Following is an overview of the different software engineer levels at Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google:

E = Engineer; SDE = Software Development Engineer; L = Level; ICT = Information and Communication Technology 

Generally, the software engineer levels assigned by Google are considered a standard by other IT companies. Also, it is important to note that apart from differences in salary across various levels of software engineers, salary also varies based on the company in which the engineer is employed. 

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Software Engineer vs. Data Engineer

Software engineers and data engineers are two designations with overlapping roles. Because of the similarities in the roles, small companies tend to hire Software Engineers who can learn and cover a wider spectrum of requirements. However, they both have distinct roles to perform. Read on:

  • As the name implies, a software engineer is responsible for developing and managing large applications and platforms. Whereas, data engineers are responsible for working on the minute requirements of setting up the data infrastructure. 
  • A data engineer has the ability to extract data and skillfully transform it. In contrast, software engineers are efficient coders and have expertise in handling DevOps tools. 
  • Similar to software engineer levels, even data engineers have roles assigned based on the hierarchy called data engineer levels

Recommended Reading:
What Does a Data Engineer Do?
Data Engineer Interview Process
How to Prepare for Data Engineer Interviews

Software Developer Levels

Software development is an intricate process, and people at every stage in the process have an assigned role to perform. Similar to the different software engineer levels, there are also levels for the post of a software developer. The levels are broadly classified into three: junior, mid-level, and senior. However, these have sublevels within them. See below:

Trainee Developer

A trainee developer is expected to gain practical knowledge about the entire process of software development in a formal industrial setup. They are taught the basics of professionalism and are required to polish their coding skills. 

Junior Developer

A junior developer and a trainee developer are often blended into a single post at several companies. They are required to work on small portions of a large project and hence are not expected to be experts in the field. 

Mid-level Developer

To be a mid-level developer, you need two to three years of official experience and skillset. These individuals are capable enough to handle projects on their own but need minimum supervision. 

Senior Developer

After years of experience and ample knowledge, an individual is promoted to the post of a senior developer, also known as problem solvers. Senior developers are at the core of decision-making and developing effective strategies. 

Leader

There is an exhaustive list of roles analogous to software development leaders like tech lead and engineering lead. The lead is expected to blend their practical knowledge and soft skills into assigning proper duties to junior and mid-level developers. 

FAQs

Q. Which level of software engineer receives the highest payment?

According to standard software engineer levels, the topmost position of the pyramid, level 5, distinguished software engineer receives the highest payment. 

Q. What does the hiring process for a software engineer at FAANG companies look like?

At leading IT companies, interviews for the role of software engineers are very intricate. Technical interviews are one of the major hurdles that one needs to overcome in order to proceed with the interview. 

Q. What is the range of salaries earned by software engineers in the U.S.?

The salary of a software engineer in the United States ranges from $45k to $248k. The salary is towards the higher side if the engineer belongs to one of the top-tier companies. 

Q. What is the average salary earned by software engineers at Facebook and Google?

At Google, Software Engineers can earn between $192K to $486K, depending on the seniority. For more detail, click here. At Facebook, Software Engineer salaries range from $180K to $763K. To learn more, click here.

Land a Software Engineer Job at FAANG With Interview Kickstart

You need a reliable guide and a well-planned schedule to land a software engineer job at FAANG companies and other tier-1 tech companies. Interview Kickstart is here to smoothen this rough path of achieving your dream job. 

Since its inception in 2014, Interview Kickstart has helped thousands of engineers achieve their dreams. With our courses, we empower you to get better acquainted with the intricacies of your domain and provide the right guidance to clear tech interviews at reputed companies. At Interview Kickstart, we have courses that holistically prepare you for an interview. 

Want to learn more? Sign up for our FREE webinar on How to Nail Your Next Tech Interview.

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