Chart: Who pays the most in Seattle for software engineers

Who is paying the most for computer geeks? Photo via Bigstock

Steve Ballmer was right. It’s all about developers, developers, developers these days. In fact, the market is so hot that companies like Amazon.com, Twitter and Facebook are doing “acqui-hires” — like the one today of TeachStreet — just to gobble up key engineering talent.

But that’s not really the norm, and most tech companies are still having to pay out old-fashioned salaries. With that in mind, I asked the folks over at Glassdoor to run some numbers on the top Seattle tech employers to find out who is paying the most for software engineers.

The results, as you’ll see in the chart below, might surprise you. If you thought Amazon.com and Microsoft were at the top of the pay scales, you’d be wrong.

It’s actually F5 Networks, the publicly-traded Seattle company whose software and hardware is used to speed up the delivery of applications over the Internet. It shows an average base salary of $115,388.

Google, with about 1,000 employees in the Seattle area, came in second with an average base salary of $105,437. And Concur Technologies, a maker of travel and entertainment expense management software, was third at $100,029.

Not too shabby.

Now, it’s worth noting a few things. We did not ask Glassdoor to run numbers for new arrivals in Seattle such as Facebook, Hulu, Salesforce.com, eBay and Zynga, thinking their staffs are just too small at this point in the game.

The report also includes all salaries reported on Glassdoor for employees in the Seattle area with the phrase “software engineer” in their titles. F5 Networks, for example, shows a higher average base salary in part because more people in Glassdoor listed themselves under the title “senior software engineer,” whereas Google shows only seven Seattle “senior software engineers” and more than 100 Seattle “software engineers.”

Nonetheless, we thought the chart was kind of interesting given the ongoing talent wars. Which company would you prefer to work at these days, and is salary the most important consideration for you?


[Main geek image via Bigstock]

  • Guest

    The average Valve engineering salary looks like $123K on Glassdoor…..

    • Guest

      Valve’s based in Bellevue, not Seattle.

      • johnhcook

        Just to be clear, we are using the term of “Seattle” generally to represent the entire region. Companies such as Expedia and Microsoft — listed above — also are on the Eastside. 

    • johnhcook

      That’s impressive. They do only have five positions listed under senior software engineer, so that might effect the data. But nonetheless, impressive stuff. 

      http://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Working-at-Valve-Corporation-EI_IE24849.11,28.htm

    • Guest

      Valve is a gaming company. They are basically their own market with respect to talent. More akin to Hollywood studios fighting for talent than traditional software companies!

  • http://twitter.com/ratzkewatzke Ignatz Ratzkewatzke

    These numbers don’t seem to take variable compensation into account, which makes the larger tech companies seem less competitive than they are.

    • Rich Unger

      I work at Salesforce. Yes, our Seattle location only has around 50 engineers right now, but we’re definitely hiring, and we definitely pay more.

  • Guest

    Glassdoor has been around long enough that their numbers cover a fairly long time frame.  As Microsoft is the oldest and largest, there’s a skew to lower numbers that’s not accurate today.

  • Anonymous

    These numbers are quite low compared to actual total compensation. At Microsoft, average starting total comp(salary, bonus, stock) is > 100K for engineers with little or no experience.

  • guest

    can any light be shed on the data collection methodology that glassdoor used?  Is the data self reported, or did glassdoor contact the companies (amazon, concur, expedia, etc…) directly and have them provide the salary data? 

  • guest

    can any light be shed on the data collection methodology that glassdoor used?  Is the data self reported, or did glassdoor contact the companies (amazon, concur, expedia, etc…) directly and have them provide the salary data? 

  • Anonymous

    Wonder how many of these software engineers are currently on H1B visas.

    • guest

      It is probably 80%. Which is normal, as there is little talent and motivation among locals. 

  • Anonymous

    Wonder how many of these software engineers are currently on H1B visas.

  • Headhunter

    Interesting, if incomplete, information As mentioned below, at several of these companies stock/bonus compensation can equal if not outpace base-salary compensation. It’s not at all uncommon to find an Amazon engineer making $100,000 in base compensation with an additional 50-60,000 in annual stock awards or a Microsoftie making the same with the extra in stock+bonus. I’d be surprised if you didn’t find the same thing at Google, though I don’t have the first hand experience there. This is where the big boys can really crush the competition in compensation. Most companies can pony up with 100-140 in base salary for a person, but if their stock isn’t worth $50 a share or close/climbing (AMZN, GOOG, FB, Etc…) you’ve got no shot in a dollar-for-dollar matchup. A lot of midsized startups can’t even justify the equity vs. stock compensation given recent valuations matched against a booming public tech sector. (and only after the fact do I realize I clicked my way through to a two-year-old article…)

    • Mark-in-Seattle

      My wife’s options at MSFT vested in 1983 and we held onto them fortunately. I believe today very few but the most senior new hires get anything other than a modest stock purchase plan. And with it trading in a pathetic range for 12 years until very recently, most options would have been near worthless or under water since 1999.

      A number of early employees sold shares for down payment on a house..etc. Few could foresee the multiple splits later which didn’t happen for a number of years after the initial public listing in 1986. Not being financial geniuses we just held them until in 1998 it was just too easy to make piles of cash SELLING a small percentage of MSFT option blocks to those so blinded by greed that against all reason they believed MSFT was going to climb in value at a rapid pace forever. You can’t believe how lucrative that hedge trade against our larger position was. Without knowing it at the time, even when on rare occasion the options sold at the strike price, we were selling at near the top of the market just before the bubble burst (equivalent today of MSFT = $102.50). The main reason to hold it now is to give it away to non-profits avoiding the capital gains. Wish the board would boost the dividend again.

      We were incredibly lucky. I hope new employees join for the opportunity to work with other talented folks on exciting projects. If they expect to make a killing in MSFT stock options.. they will be disappointed. Read Jim Cramer’s books instead and invest part of their salary wisely in a diversified portfolio.

  • ClarkMa

    When I average the total compensation of software engineers in the area, I get $154k.