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It’s a good time to be a highly-skilled engineer looking for a job in tech. And one of the best places to go as a newbie tech worker  — at least when it comes to pure salary — is Microsoft.

That’s the latest from PayScale, which just released a report looking at starting pay and mid-career pay for 21 top technology companies. Microsoft ranked second for median starting salaries just behind Nvidia Corp, which led the ranking at $99,400. Those Microsoft employees with 0 to five years experience, meanwhile, raked in a cool $91,500 — just ahead of rivals such as Google ($87,500); Oracle ($78,100); and ($88,900). — which has been hiring hundreds of people in the Seattle area and currently has job openings for more than 1,000 — was in the middle of the bucket at $73,300.

Over time, Google actually paid the best with mid-career professionals earning $158,000.  That was followed by at $150,000 and Yahoo at $141,000.

Of course, there’s more to a job than what you take home at the end of the day. And some of the companies on the list — like Facebook which has a starting pay rate of $67,900 — have been able to reward workers with lucrative stock.

The study also explored job satisfaction, finding that just 68 percent of workers at Microsoft are satisfied with their jobs. That compares to Facebook where 88 percent are happy. Apple, AOL,, Nvidia, Sony, Google and also ranked at 75 percent or above, while 100 percent of LinkedIn employees say they are happy with what they do.

Here’s a look at the PayScale infographic summarizing some of the study’s results:

Battle Over the Geeks

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