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What do career levels structure in big tech company look like? What are the responsibilities for each level?

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Engineering Manager at Sinch2 months ago

I'm defining a career path for my company, and don't know where to start. I would like to see how Meta, Google are doing this so that I can tailor to match my smaller company.



  • Lee McKeeman
    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    2 months ago

    Amazon Engineering ICs:

    • L4 - College hire, or little experience, responsible for self with help. Code, start to work on small features, design very small subsystems
    • L5 - Workhorse, huge in terms of scope. Starts at self-sufficiency and some team impact, grows to system ownership and design, team leadership, cross team impact.
    • L6 - Senior SDE, leads one or multiple teams. Owns large pieces of infrastructure, designs new large systems. Impacts an org between 25-50 engineers at the high end.
    • L7 - Principal. Rare. Councils directors and VPs on tech, owns multiple large systems driving a business unit, impacts 50-100+ engineers.
    • L8 - senior principal. Launches huge systems no one else has before, impacts large lines of business, 100s of engineers. Defines tech direction for large parts of the company
    • L10 (9 doesn’t exist) - VP, distinguished engineer. Industry leaders, long term company vision. James Gosling was hired into this level, as an example.
    • L11 - SVP, first promotion to this level was recent, James Hamilton. Advises Jassy, etc.


    • L5 - Rare, transitional. Manages a small team, limited scope and short term vision
    • L6 - general line manager, manages 2 pizza team. Rarely manages managers. Medium to large scope, longer term vision
    • L7 - Senior SDM. Org leader, manages managers and senior ICs, large scope, org vision.
    • L8 - Director, large org, sometimes large engineering org, or running a business across disciplines (GM)
    • L10 - VP, strictly engineering isn’t as common anymore, but would be a medium-large business unit’s whole engineering org. AWS’ CTO Werner Vogels is at this level.
    • L11 - SVP, not sure if anyone that only owns engineering has this job. Seems like “no” if Vogels isn’t there.

    I don’t have the energy to write up Google or Meta. They have more levels of engineers, slightly more granular but not really. L3 is smaller, than the levels sort of “bridge” Amazon’s. L5 is senior, L6 staff, L7 senior staff, L8 principal, L9 distinguished, L10 fellow at Google. Meta is pretty similar but are weird about leveling, seems to top out at 9, say senior at 5 but it’s murky. Management I don’t have extensive knowledge of, but Meta it’s pretty similar to Amazon at L6/M1, M2 senior, D1 director, D2 senior director, then there’s… 2 levels of VP. Google is similar. L7 senior, 8 director, 9 senior director, 10 VP, 11 SVP.

  • Jai Bhagat
    UI Engineer @ HashiCorp (Nomad)
    2 months ago

    Here's a list of every public career ladder: https://www.swyx.io/career-ladders

  • Alex Chiou
    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    24 days ago

    How small is your company in terms of engineering headcount? If there's less than 500 people in the engineering org, it probably doesn't make sense to have the same level structure as Big Tech since their ladder has so many levels.

    I joined Course Hero back in 2015 when it was only 20 engineers with no levels. Over time, the company grew to 100+ engineers and introduced a basic version of engineering levels, which might make more sense for you. Here were the levels:

    • Junior
    • Mid-Level
    • Senior
    • Staff
    • Principal

    On the management side, it was just:

    • Manager - Senior and lower-end of staff maps here.
    • Director - Higher-end of staff and lower-end of principal maps here.
    • VP - Higher-end of principal theoretically maps here, but engineering ICs pretty much never transition into a VP-level role.
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