Google Software Engineer Levels: Roles, Expectations and Salary

Explore Google's software engineer levels and compensation packages. From L3 (IC3) to L11 (IC11), discover the competitive salaries and extensive benefits at Google.

Key Takeaways

  • Google offers competitive compensation packages for Software Engineer Levels, ranging from six to seven figures.
  • Google provides more than just competitive salaries. Software Engineers across all levels enjoy extensive benefits, including comprehensive health insurance, retirement plans, and complimentary gourmet meals.
  • Google has a tier-based (level-based) system for Software Engineers, from Level 3 (Software Engineer II) to Level 11 (Senior Google Fellow).
  • The average salary for a Senior Software Engineer at Google is approximately $188,284 per year, while an entry-level software engineer earns around $132,190 per year.
  • Salaries at Google vary by location, with states like California, Washington, and New York offering the highest salaries.
  • The Software Engineer I level (Level 2) was deprecated around 2008 after internal transfers led to its removal. Interns do not fall within the formal hierarchy levels.


Ex-Google Engineer breaks down different engineer levels at Google from IC3-IC8

Imagine the possibility of working at one of the world’s most innovative and influential tech companies—Google. The role of a Software Engineer at Google is a coveted position in the tech industry. Renowned for its vibrant work culture, stimulating projects, and competitive salaries, Google offers an exceptional career trajectory. However, to truly thrive and progress in this dynamic environment, it’s not just beneficial; it’s essential to comprehend Google’s Software Engineer Levels. This knowledge can be the catalyst to unlocking your potential and propelling your career at Google to new heights.

Technology is advancing unprecedentedly, shaping the world around us in remarkable ways. The demand for skilled software engineers is soaring. Among the tech giants, Google stands out with its globally recognized products like GSuite, Gmail, and Google Search, which have become an integral part of the daily lives of millions worldwide.

Recent salary data from shows that the average salary for a Google Software Engineer in the US is around $281,000 per year, with salaries ranging from $125,000 to $450,000 depending on experience and role​​. Many aspiring programmers hope for a six-figure salary when considering working at Google. Knowing how the pay scale works and how you can move from entry-level to higher positions is vital for anyone wanting to build a career at Google.

This article is structured to provide a comprehensive understanding of Google’s Software Engineer levels and how to progress within them. We will delve into the different levels, their responsibilities, and what factors influence career growth at Google. So, let’s dive in and discover the roadmap to success at Google!

Overview of Google’s Software Engineering Levels

Google’s reputation for innovative technology is reflected in its Software Engineering roles. The company employs a structured hierarchy for its engineers, with each level carrying specific responsibilities and expectations. This framework fosters career growth, with engineers gradually taking on more intricate tasks and leadership positions as they progress. Let’s explore these various Software Engineer Career Path and levels at Google and discover the potential for your career growth:

Other Engineering Roles

  1. [Non-Existent] Level 1 (L1 | Only used for non-engineering roles)
  2. [Deprecated] Software Engineer I (L2 | Intern)

Google Engineering Levels

  1. Software Engineer II (Level 3 | 0-1 year of experience) 
  2. Software Engineer III (Level 4 | 2+ years of experience) 
  3. Senior Software Engineer (Level 5 | Manager I equivalent) 
  4. Staff Software Engineer (Level 6 | Manager II equivalent) 
  5. Senior Staff Software Engineer (Level 7 | Senior Manager) 
  6. Principal Engineer (Level 8 | Director) 
  7. Distinguished Engineer (Level 9 | Senior Director) 
  8. Google Fellow (Level 10 | Vice President)
  9. Senior Google Fellow (Level 11 | Senior Vice President)

Disclaimer: Google’s software engineering levels start at Level 3. Level 1 and Level 2 do not exist. Specifically, L2, known as Software Engineer I, was deprecated around 2008. Internships are not assigned a level within this hierarchy and are typically for college students or final-year interns.

The last individuals at Level 2 moved laterally from other roles within Google through internal transfers. Since engineering transfers are done laterally or even a level step backwards, these transfers led to the creation of Level 2 Software Engineer roles. By around 2008, the last three Software Engineer I employees got promoted, and the level was officially removed from the hierarchy.

This change led to entry-level positions at Google, now beginning at Level 3 – Software Engineer II.

What are the different Google Software Engineer Levels?

Title LevelExperience/Equivalent RoleAvg Total Compensation
(Per Year)
Software Engineer I [Deprecated]L2University Grad / Intern$34,500-$73,500
Software Engineer IIL30-1 yr of experience$191,474
Software Engineer IIIL42+ yrs of experience$281,758
Senior Software EngineerL5Manager I$366,408
Staff Software EngineerL6Manager II$518,446
Senior Staff Software EngineerL7Senior Manager$648,796
Principal EngineerL8Director$1,143,200
Distinguished EngineerL9Senior Director$2,595,038
Google FellowL10Vice President
Senior Google FellowL11Senior Vice President
Google IC Levels

Google Level Grading, Expectations and Salaries

Software Engineer II (L3 | 0-1 Year of Experience)

Role Description

As a Software Engineer II at Google, you hold an entry-level position where you are expected to perform foundational tasks in software development. Expectations include:

  • Writing clean and efficient code.
  • Debugging issues.
  • Collaborating closely with more experienced team members.

You will work on various projects, contributing to the development and enhancement of software products.


  • Coding: Create and maintain software code following established practices and standards.
  • Debugging: Identify and resolve software defects to ensure smooth functionality.
  • Collaboration: Work closely with team members to learn and grow professionally.
  • Continuous Learning: Engage in skill development and stay updated with industry trends.

Average Salary

The total compensation for a Software Engineer II (L3) at Google is approximately $191,474 per year, including base salary, bonuses, and stock options. This competitive package reflects Google’s commitment to attracting top talent, even at the entry-level.

Software Engineer III (L4 | 2+ Years of Experience)

Role Description

As a Software Engineer III at Google, you are expected to take on more complex tasks and significantly impact project development. You will be involved in the design and architecture of software components, participate in coding and development activities, and contribute to the overall project direction. Your role also involves working more independently and leading smaller projects.


  • Coding and Development: Write and maintain software code to enhance product features.
  • Design Contributions: Participate in architectural discussions and help shape the software structure.
  • Independent Work: Take ownership of specific tasks and projects, ensuring they meet requirements.
  • Debugging and Code Reviews: Engage in debugging activities and maintain code quality through reviews.
  • Mentoring: Begin mentoring junior team members and share your knowledge.

Average Salary

The total compensation for a Software Engineer III (L4) at Google is approximately $281,758 annually. This figure includes base salary, bonuses, and stock options, reflecting the increased responsibilities and expertise required at this level.

Senior Software Engineer (L5 | Manager I Equivalent)

Role Description

As a Senior Software Engineer (L5) at Google, you assume a leadership role within your team. You manage significant parts of projects, make impactful technical decisions, and mentor junior engineers. This role often involves overseeing the development lifecycle from conception to deployment, ensuring high standards of quality and efficiency.


  • Project Leadership: Lead and manage large-scale projects, coordinating team efforts.
  • Mentorship: Guide and mentor junior engineers, fostering a collaborative environment.
  • Technical Expertise: Make critical technical decisions that contribute to design and architecture.
  • Quality Assurance: Ensure high standards in code quality and performance are met.

Average Salary

The average total compensation for a Senior Software Engineer (L5) at Google is approximately $366,408 annually. This includes base salary, bonuses, and stock options, reflecting this level’s advanced responsibilities and leadership role.

Staff Software Engineer (L6 | Manager II Equivalent)

Role Description

As a Staff Software Engineer (L6) at Google, you are entrusted with leading major projects and teams. You play a critical role in the design and architecture of software systems, making high-level technical decisions. Their responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the work of other engineers.
  • Ensuring that projects align with company goals.
  • Driving technical excellence across your team.
  • “Create Order out of Chaos” (ref)


  • Leadership: Lead and manage engineering teams, ensuring project success.
  • Technical Decision-Making: Make important architectural and technical decisions.
  • Mentorship: Provide guidance and mentorship to less experienced engineers.
  • Quality Assurance: Maintain and enhance code quality and performance.

Average Salary

The total compensation for a Staff Software Engineer (L6) at Google is approximately $518,446 annually. This includes base salary, bonuses, and stock options, reflecting the high level of responsibility and expertise required at this level.

Senior Staff Software Engineer (L7 | Senior Manager)

Role Description

As a Senior Staff Software Engineer (L7) at Google, you hold a senior managerial position responsible for leading highly complex projects and multiple teams. You are expected to drive technical vision, influence company-wide engineering strategies, and ensure the successful execution of large-scale initiatives. Your role involves substantial leadership and strategic responsibilities, contributing significantly to Google’s innovation and technical excellence.


  • Strategic Leadership: Define and drive technical vision and strategy across projects.
  • Project Management: Oversee large-scale projects and manage multiple teams.
  • Mentorship: Mentor senior engineers and foster a culture of continuous learning.
  • Technical Excellence: Ensure high code quality, performance, and reliability standards.

Average Salary

The average total compensation for a Senior Staff Software Engineer (L7) at Google is approximately $648,796 annually. This includes base salary, bonuses, and stock options, reflecting the advanced leadership role and high level of responsibility at this stage.

Principal Engineer (L8 | Director)

Role Description

As a Principal Engineer (L8) at Google, you are at a high leadership level, equivalent to a Director. You are pivotal in shaping significant projects’ technical vision and direction. You oversee large teams, make critical technical decisions, and influence company-wide engineering practices. This role involves strategic planning and significantly impacting Google’s technological advancements.


  • Technical Strategy: Develop and implement technical strategies for large-scale projects.
  • Leadership: Lead and manage extensive engineering teams, ensuring alignment with company goals.
  • Innovation: Drive innovation and ensure the adoption of best practices across teams.
  • Mentorship: Mentor senior engineers and contribute to their professional development.

Average Salary

The total compensation for a Principal Engineer (L8) at Google is approximately $1,143,200 annually. This includes base salary, bonuses, and stock options, reflecting the high level of responsibility and strategic impact associated with this role.

Distinguished Engineer (L9 | Senior Director)

Role Description

As a Distinguished Engineer (L9) at Google, you occupy a highly prestigious position equivalent to a Senior Director. You are responsible for setting technical direction and strategies that broadly impact Google’s technology and products. This role involves overseeing large-scale projects, guiding technical innovation, and influencing engineering practices across the company. Distinguished Engineers often serve as thought leaders and are recognized experts in their fields.


  • Technical Leadership: Define and drive technical strategies for large-scale and complex projects.
  • Innovation: Lead groundbreaking projects and push the boundaries of technology.
  • Mentorship: Mentor principal engineers and influence the professional growth of top talent.
  • Strategic Impact: Make decisions that shape the company’s technical landscape and future directions.

Average Salary

The average total compensation for a Distinguished Engineer (L9) at Google is not typically disclosed due to its variability and high level. Still, it generally includes a substantial base salary, significant bonuses, and stock options, reflecting the critical role and expertise required at this level.

Google Fellow (L10 | Vice President)

Role Description

As a Google Fellow (L10), you hold one of the highest technical positions, equivalent to a Vice President. This role is reserved for the most distinguished experts in their fields who lead large groups of engineers. Google Fellows are responsible for setting the company’s technical vision and driving innovation across all areas of engineering. They play a crucial role in shaping the future direction of technology at Google.


  • Visionary Leadership: Define and drive the overarching technical vision for Google.
  • Innovation: Lead and inspire groundbreaking projects and technological advancements.
  • Mentorship: Mentor senior engineers and influence company-wide engineering practices.
  • Strategic Influence: Make high-impact decisions that guide the company’s technical roadmap.

Average Salary

The total compensation for a Google Fellow (L10) is typically kept a secret due to its variability and high level. Still, it includes a substantial base salary, significant bonuses, and extensive stock options, reflecting this role’s elite status and essential responsibilities.

Senior Google Fellow (L11 | Senior Vice President)

Role Description

As a Senior Google Fellow (L11), you occupy the pinnacle of technical leadership at Google, equivalent to a Senior Vice President; this prestigious position is reserved for individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to technology and ΩΩΩΩprofoundly impacted the company’s direction. Senior Google Fellows lead major engineering initiatives, set long-term technical strategies, and mentor top-tier engineering talent.


  • Strategic Leadership: Define and drive long-term technical strategies and vision for Google.
  • Industry Influence: Lead initiatives that shape the technology landscape and influence industry standards.
  • Mentorship: Mentor and develop other Google Fellows and principal engineers.
  • High-Impact Decisions: Make critical decisions that steer the company’s technological future.

Average Salary

The total compensation for a Senior Google Fellow (L11) is highly variable and not publicly disclosed due to its significant and custom nature. It typically includes a substantial base salary, large bonuses, and extensive stock options, reflecting this role’s immense responsibility and influence.

Software Engineer Levels Average Salary per Country 

Google offers competitive salaries for Software Engineers at every level. Salaries may vary depending on location, but Google is known for providing generous compensation packages, which include base salary, bonuses, and stock grants. Let’s take a look at the salaries of Google’s Software Engineers at different levels in various countries:

Country Average Salary of Software Engineer 
UK 55,350 GBP 
USA 119,068 USD 
India 8,80,000 INR 
Canada 103,600 CAD 
Australia 105,100 AUD 
Singapore 112,600 SGD 
UAE 116,800 AED 
Source: Glassdoor 

Engineering Levels Comparison across FAANG

Google Meta Apple Amazon Netflix Google FAANG Engineering Meta IC Levels Compared. Engineering Levels Compared.


Understanding Google’s Software Engineer Levels is crucial for a successful career at one of the world’s leading technology companies. Whether you’re just starting or are an experienced professional, Google’s commitment to innovation and employee development offers numerous opportunities for growth and impact. You can succeed significantly in this dynamic and rewarding career path by honing your skills, staying up-to-date with industry trends, and embracing Google’s continuous learning culture.

Additional Learning Materials

  • FAANG Engineering Levels: Google, Meta and other companies.
  • Online Courses: Platforms like Coursera, Udacity, and edX offer courses on software engineering, machine learning, and other relevant fields.
  • Books: “The Pragmatic Programmer” by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, “Clean Code” by Robert C. Martin, and “Design Patterns” by Erich Gamma.
  • Google’s Training Programs: Explore Google’s training resources and programs, such as Google’s Tech Dev Guide.
  • Industry Blogs and Websites: Follow blogs like Google’s AI Blog, TechCrunch, and Medium for the latest trends and advancements in technology.
  • Conferences and Workshops: Attend industry conferences like Google I/O and participate in workshops and hackathons to stay engaged with the tech community.
  • Communities and Forums: Join online communities like Stack Overflow, GitHub, and Google Developer Groups (GDG) to collaborate and learn from peers.

You can navigate and excel in your career at Google by leveraging these resources and maintaining a commitment to continuous learning.

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