Despite the turbulent tech landscape of 2023, Facebook (Meta), Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google still remain dominant players. Reports indicate that, in 2022, these companies’ revenue combined for €1.08 trillion — almost twice Bavaria’s GDP for the same year, and enough to purchase €1.08 trillion of plastic Dracula fangs priced at €1 each.
Even amid a tech layoff storm that, in 2023 alone, has cost the jobs of almost 140,000 workers from U.S.-based tech companies, software engineers are keen on FAANG companies: Besides offering innovative products and services, the five giants have well-earned a reputation for paying high salaries to developers. But what exactly counts as a high salary these days?
*Please note that sources vary and that some figures are averages, meaning that Apple workers could earn much more than what we showcase, and a Netflix engineer much less.
How much does FAANG pay in 2023?
Compared to their peers in the tech sector, base salaries at FAANG companies are typically higher, although equity and bonus opportunities are typically lower. Sources vary, but a tried-and-tested figure in 2023 indicated software engineers in FAANG earn an average of €155,000 ($168k USD) in the United States. In comparison, software engineers in Germany earn, on average, €48,000 ($52k USD) — a substantial difference.
So how does this break down? How much do FAANG companies actually pay software engineers in 2023? Considering the layoffs, is it still worth trying to work there? It’s an ideal question to ask yourself if you’re based in Europe, since, as we’ve outlined before, software engineers in the United States earn twice as much as those based in Europe.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the salary range for software engineers at FAANG companies and beyond. It is worth noting that most of these salaries belong to the United States, even though we’ve exchanged them into Euros.
According to industry reports, a software engineer with one year of experience at Meta earns an average base salary of approximately €135,590. A senior software engineer at Meta can earn up to €250,860, while a software engineering expert with 15+ years of experience can earn up to €844,480. Yes, you’ve read that right — different sources claim, almost without a blink or shudder, that you can earn more than 800 grand yearly (almost a million dollars) working at Meta. However, most reports are from before the layoff storm shook the industry, and might belong to more festive periods. These figures do not consider bonuses, stock options, or other benefits.
Other sources estimate that Meta offers an average annual bonus of approximately €15,668 and an average stock grant of approximately €33,941 for software engineers.
Previous reports of Meta compensation in Western Europe outlined that, out of total yearly compensation of €216,000 for software engineers, almost half belonged to the salary. This makes Meta one of the best-paying tech companies in Germany, at least for software developers.
According to industry insights, an entry-level software engineer at Apple can earn an average base salary of approximately €120,000 (other sources point out that it can be between €105,000 - €175,000). A senior software engineer can make up to €335,000. Software engineers with 10+ years of experience can earn between €342,000 to €661,000. Apple employees can also opt to invest up to 10% of their salary into Apple stocks twice a year, and receive a 15% discount on such stocks. Certain online outlets claim employees get a 25% discount on Apple products.
Apple offers its employees several benefits, such as tuition bonuses, financial education, wellness retreats, and maternity leave. However, certain online users once claimed that the most significant benefit was skipping the day-long queues at retail stores.
As we previously discussed, with a salary starting at almost €120,000 for software experts, Apple is one of the best-paying tech companies in Germany. In a 2021 press release, the company called Munich “Apple’s largest engineering hub in Europe,” signalling that nearly 1,500 engineers from 40 countries were working in various areas, including software. They also have offices in Berlin and claim to employ 4,000 people nationwide.
You might best remember Amazon for those drunken purchases. The popular bookselling platform also owns numerous subsidiaries like AWS, Whole Foods, Twitch, Audible, IMDb… and so much more. This means there are plenty of projects to work on as a software engineer, especially as Whole Foods, a fresh produce retailer with a mom-and-pop store slant, is equipping some stores with more gadgets than Iron Man’s suit. Industry reports point out an entry-level software engineer at Amazon can earn an average base salary of approximately €112,000, while a senior one can earn a salary ranging from €386,000 to €729,000. It’s important to note that these figures reflect base salary only and do not consider bonuses, stock options, or other benefits.
Amazon has its program known as the Amazon RSU (Restricted Stock Unit), which grants employees a certain number of shares over time depending on their position and performance. In a previous investigation, we seemed to uncover that the RSUs, which consist, in a nutshell, of equity, render Amazon one of the best-paying tech companies in Europe.
Google is one of the most sought-after employers for software engineers. The company offers competitive salaries, generous benefits, and the opportunity of working in a rowboat at their Hamburg offices. According to reports, the average annual salary for a software engineer at Google in Germany is around €95,000, and €85,000 in Austria. However, this figure does not consider bonuses, stock options, and other compensation components, which level up the whole compensation to around €147,000.
For instance, a software engineer with less than one year of experience at Google can expect to earn an average compensation of €126,000. Meanwhile, a senior software engineer with over 10 years of experience can earn up to €250,000 or more. Google also offers a range of benefits and perks for its software engineers, such as free meals and snacks, retirement plans, medical insurance (a big deal in the United States — reach out to Breaking Bad for validation), parental leave, tuition reimbursement, and a code of conduct with snappy phrases.
Netflix is an oddball of sorts within the FAANG group. The streaming giant does not offer fixed bonuses or stock options to its employees; instead, it pays them a high base salary that they can choose to allocate as they wish.
According to Comparably, the average annual base salary for a software engineer at Netflix is around €127,000, significantly higher than the average base salary for a software engineer in the US.
Just over ten months ago, Netflix introduced levels for its software engineers after 25 years of having a single level known simply as “Senior Software Engineer”. This made Netflix the largest tech company to have grown so considerably with just one level, according to observers. At present, in the US, those at the E5 level earn between roughly €340,000 to €680,000 in total compensation. So, what’s in for engineers above the E5 level? We don’t know — yet.
TOTAL compensation (base salary, bonus, stock grant/equity):
How have salaries changed in the last few years?
One of the most intriguing aspects of FAANG software engineer salaries is how they have changed over time. Reports estimate that the average annual salary for a software engineer at Facebook in 2023 had a 9% increase from 2022, on par with inflation. This shows that FAANG companies are still willing to pay top dollar for tech talent.
However, not all FAANG companies have increased their software engineer salaries at the same rate. For instance, Netflix has seen the highest growth in software engineer salaries, with a reported 15% increase from 2022. This could be attributed to Netflix's aggressive expansion into new markets and content production, as well as its unique compensation model that offers high cash salaries and no bonuses or stock options, as well as the aforementioned creation of pay brackets.
On the other hand, Apple has seen the lowest growth in software engineer salaries, with an average of €140,000 in 2023, which is only a 3% increase from 2022. This could be explained by Apple's relatively stable market position and product portfolio.
Another factor that affects FAANG companies' software engineer salaries is the location of the employees. While Silicon Valley remains the epicentre of tech innovation and talent, FAANG companies have also expanded their presence in other regions and countries, offering competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain local talent. For example, according to TechPays, a website that compares tech salaries across different countries, a software engineer at Google in Austria earns an average of €85,000 annually. This is significantly lower than the average salary of a software engineer at Google in the US (€163,000), but still higher than that of a software developer in Austria (€61,000).
Keep in mind that many of these conclusions are based on reports that gather otherwise undisclosed medians, averages, or even odd, very high salaries, so, even if they’re accurate, they might not represent a colleague’s situation working at FAANG, to mention an example.
How to outsmart FAANG and the layoff tide
As the current layoffs unfold, it’s possible that, if you get into FAANG, you might find yourself ousted anytime. This suggests that the most important thing you can do is to prepare well for the technical interviews that FAANG and anyone else will request from you. This means brushing up on your data structures, algorithms, system design, and coding skills. You can use online platforms like LeetCode, HackerRank, or CodeSignal to practise solving problems and get feedback on your solutions. You can even watch coders who stream to work on the challenges within a community.
Another thing you can do is to showcase your passion and curiosity for technology. This means staying updated on the latest trends and innovations in the industry, reading blogs and podcasts, attending meetups and conferences, and participating in online communities. The Svelte inventor Rich Harris didn’t want to work at FAANG, as he expressed. However, since he was a contributor to the frontend community, he eventually landed a job at Vercel.
On a different note, when the market recovers from its current crisis and job openings start surging again, it’s going to be a very competitive affair. Developers should keep this in mind and start creating alternative means of income in case entering any company, FAANG or not, takes longer than expected.
Finally, you can also consider applying to other tech companies that are not FAANG but still offer great opportunities and challenges for software engineers. For example, you could look into companies like OpenAI, the latest darling in tech. Reports suggest that OpenAI pays software engineers an average of €240,000 annually.
FAANG and the United States salaries may seem attractive, but it's important to remember there are opportunities beyond FAANG. There’s a wealth of tech companies offering competitive compensation and groundbreaking work. Don't limit your horizons; explore these opportunities as well.
For the passionate, curious, and ambitious developers among you, WeAreDevelopers has an array of resources to help you stay ahead of the curve. Are you ready to take your next career journey, be it FAANG or not?