I'm graduating with my MS this Dec looking for MLE/Data Science roles. I have not had any professional work experience (outside of internships/part time TA)
When considering salary, I often look at paybands by SWE level since there's just more entries/data for them.
Is it fair to expect the pay equivalent of 2 YoE SWE for an entry level MLE/DS role with a Masters?
tbh it's totally fine if not, I just want to make sure I'm not totally lowballing myself when discussing salary.
You can expect the higher/highest end of the junior band: generally, a PHD is required if you want to start out as mid level after school.
Typically, the answer is no, you should not expect those years in school to translate to industry experience.
Your compensation will go up a lot when you first start your career, perhaps 5-15% YoY increase if you're a high performer. But when you graduate with a Masters, you're treated as basically the same as a Bachelor's degree holder.
Concretely, here's the data from Facebook back in 2013 when I got the offer with a Masters degree (Menlo Park location):
It's hit or miss, but the point is to not bake it into your expectations.
In situations where I've seen it lead to a pay bump (all else being equal), it's primarily driven by the company's (rigid) hiring policies where they auto calibrate Masters+ at a higher band.
If your concern is navigating a salary negotiation, your degree shouldn't be something that is proactively brought up, as it's not relevant at offer stage in comparison to other factors centered around what value you can contribute.
DM me if you're curious and want to go a bit deeper on the salary negotiation topic.
As Casey mentioned, pay bumps due to a degree are usually automatic. I have seen both happens (no bump and some bump).
When it comes to companies with thinner levels (i.e. the difference between each level is smaller and there's a lot of them), a Master's can place you automatically at the 2nd level. At PayPal in my day, the Master's students were leveled at SW2 automatically, which was like a 10-15k increase (this was 10 years ago though, so take it with a grain of salt).
At Meta (a company where levels are very wide and expectations between each are very different), a Master's would still get leveled at E3, definitely not E4.