Most of us humans are naturally willing to be part of something big and important. Programmers are no exception. Many coders would like to work on a project that matters and for a company that impacts the world. As well as just wanting to earn big bucks, which is also quite an understandable and common motivation to learn how to program in Java (or another language). Both of these objectives — working on something big while earning big bucks — are easier to reach (in relative terms) if you are working for a large company and one of the global industry leaders. These days, the majority of largest and most influential tech companies in the world are still based in the U.S. American tech giants are the ones who shape the modern-day tech industry in a big way, as well as they are the ones who can afford to pay programmers huge salaries. So it’s no wonder many fresh programmers are dreaming about a job in one of the American tech companies as the ultimate career success goal. But should they? Let’s find out. Today we decided to take a closer look at some of the U.S. top companies in tech, their hiring policies when it comes to programmers, requirements to new hires, salaries, and if these enterprises are worth working for in the first place.
Big Five tech giantsIt makes sense to focus on so-called the Big Five, also known as FAAMG — Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google (Alphabet). Five biggest whales in American tech with total capitalization over $4.4 trillion. They are the ones setting standards at the American software development jobs market, routinely forcing other players to keep up.
1. Salaries.Starting with salaries makes perfect sense since, let’s be honest, in most cases, this is first and the most important factor people are looking at when thinking of getting a job in a tech giant. That and career perspectives, which we will talk about in a bit. It is well-known that even inexperienced software engineers straight out of college can make six-figure salaries in one of the Big Five companies, not counting equity compensation. While senior coders can even make a million or more every year. According to people knowledgeable on the matter, the actual size of a specific developer’s salary very often depends on a single metric, which is called a “level.” “At Google, entry-level engineers start at Level 3. Apple has five levels for engineers, from ICT2 up to ICT6. Microsoft’s system starts at 59 for a software development engineer and goes up to 80 for a “technical fellow,” or one of the leaders of their given field. The higher your level is, the higher your compensation,” CNBC’s Kif Leswing tells us. According to crowdsourced salary reports, software engineers at Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are paid very well, considerably more than average programmers in the U.S. in general do. For example, at Google, Level 3 software engineer (which is basically an entry-level Junior coder) earns around $124,000 a year in salary, plus another $43,000 on top of that in stock compensation. At Facebook, programmers of the same entry level, or E3 in social networking giant’s classification, earn around $166,000 per year total. Obviously, as your level goes up, the compensation size is adjusted accordingly. At Google, for example, a software engineer at Level 7, which is considered the highest you can get as a developer, can make $608,000 total a year. “It differs from company to company, but a bunch of companies have converged on almost the same system where there will be about six levels. Google and Facebook are examples of companies where things are pretty similar,” said Osman Ahmed Osman, a former Quora hiring manager.
2. Hiring process.One of the key findings you can come up with when analyzing the approach to recruitment in the U.S. tech giants is — they tend to steal talent from each other a lot, and getting a job in one company that is a part of FAAMG or simply is a big global tech enterprise, will significantly increase your chances to build a successful career with well-paid jobs in American technological behemoths. A report by digital news outlet Quartz analyzed data from the social network LinkedIn to paint a picture of where some of the largest tech companies including Google, Facebook and Apple hire from. Here’s what they found. More than 3,000 Google employees came from Microsoft. IBM followed by Yahoo, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon, and Oracle were some of the top companies Google employees previously worked. A large number of Apple‘s workers came from Best Buy (retail workers mostly). Hundreds of the company’s developers came from Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, and Microsoft. Facebook employees are likely to come from Microsoft and Google. Yahoo, Amazon, Apple, and IBM were also on the list. The majority of Twitter‘s employees came from Google. Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple were some of the other companies Twitter employees were hired from. And so on. The point is: arguably, the best way to get your dream job at Google, Apple, or Microsoft, for example, is to get hired by one of the U.S. tech giants. Chances are, at some point in the future some of those Microsoft’s recruiters will find you. On a general note though, you have to know that dreaming about working for Microsoft makes you super weird. But landing your first job at one of the tech giants may be quite a difficult task. The following are some reviews left by employees on Comparably website.
- Google: “The interview process is “long and rigorous.”
- Apple: “Expect to be turned away a few times. Getting hired is an arc. You might interview for a few jobs over a few years before you land.”
- Amazon: “The interview process is “exhausting and very long, but funny enough, when I go to other companies I leave the 1-2 hr interview thinking ‘how on earth will these people know if they want to hire me?’ Amazon really looks at and talks to you about your work.”
3. Job at one of the U.S. tech Big Five — worth it or not? Opinions.So, is employment with one of tech’s Big Five really worth all the effort? Let’s see what experienced software developers have to say about this. “It is important to make the distinction that not all of the big five tech companies are the same in principle and practice. To compare Apple to Google is like comparing Apples to Oranges (no pun intended.. well, maybe a little). These are all distinct companies and each holds its own sets of values and practices. Most large companies tend to be inundated with talent, and the end result can be one where you find that there is a pecking order. Because of the large pool of resources, most employees are limited in their scope” says D.W. Small, an experienced software developer, on Quora website. “I worked at Amazon for a couple of years. When my team got laid off, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was relieved. After that, I actively avoided companies like Facebook and Google even though recruiters bust down your door with offers to join once they see you worked for another tech giant. It’s exhausting. I really loved Amazon at first because finally, I had found a company and coworkers that were as smart and passionate as I am. Unfortunately, this really burns you out in the long run and skews your perspective on what’s important in life. Will people die and bridges burn down because this feature on our shopping app was delayed a month?” shares his experience an anonymous ex-employee of Amazon. “Large companies really are sweatshops in disguise. In all seriousness. Not to say anything bad about those companies — they indeed are doing their best to make themselves perfect environments for one to live a happy life by selling them several dozens of their work hours a week. But, as I reflect on my own career, life-wise, working for the large companies, on their terms at least, was, pragmatically speaking, a waste of time,” says Dima Korolev, a former software engineer at Google.
4. Number of jobs.Software developer is #1 on U.S.News’ 100 Best Jobs rating with an overall score of 8.2/10. According to this rating, there are over 241,000 jobs for developers in the U.S. alone, with an unemployment rate as low as 1.6%. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the number of software developer jobs in the U.S. will increase by 21% between 2018 and 2028. Great demand together with an insufficient number of well-qualified coders is what makes programming such an attractive profession right now. As for the jobs in the American tech Big Five precisely, the following are some stats. According to Glassdoor, Google currently has more than 2400 open jobs in the U.S. alone, and 185 of them are jobs for developers. Facebook has almost 2000 open jobs overall, 469 of them being jobs for developers on Glassdoor, with 194 open positions for software engineers on Facebook’s website. Microsoft has over 4000 open jobs in total in the U.S., 281 of them being jobs for software developers. As for Amazon and Apple, they currently have 277 and 365 open jobs for developers respectively.
Best smaller U.S. tech companies to work forBesides the Big Five, there is of course a number of other tech giants in the U.S. that are actively hiring developers and, having to compete with FAAMG for the best specialists on the market, paying programmers wages close to the ones paid by industry leaders. These companies are, to name a few, IBM, PayPal, eBay, Nvidia, Oracle, Adobe, Cisco, and others. But time doesn’t stay still and new front-runners are seizing the opportunity on the tech market. New companies are emerging, while older small companies are improving and perfecting what they do, to compete with giants as the best employers for software developers and steal talent from them. Here’s a list of less-known U.S. tech companies with excellent ratings and employee reviews, based on Glassdoor’s ranking of the best companies to work for.
- Zoom Video Communications
- Procore Technologies
- Ultimate Software