Disclaimer: These thoughts and opinions are my own and not my employer’s, although if you didn’t know that already you’re clearly not paying attention.
EMC Isilon recently refreshed their career level definitions and it got me thinking of how difficult it is to map levels from one company to another. EMC uses a P1-P7 numbering system, IBM uses a band 6-band 9 numbering system, Microsoft uses levels numbered 59-68, Amazon calls theirs levels L1-L10, etc. How is anyone suppose to make sense of this mess across companies? So I set out to do what any engineer would do: determine if there was a mapping between them.
From my experience at IBM, pre-acquisition Isilon, and now EMC I was able to do some of the mappings myself. I then reached out to friends who have worked for at least one of the three and asked how their current companies mapped to it. The following table includes the results thus-far:
|P1 – Entry||59/60|
|band 6||SDE 1||P2 – Intermediate||61||L4 – college hires|
|band 7||SDE 2||P3 – Senior||62||L5 – mid-career|
|band 8||SDE 3||P4 – Principal||63||L6 – Senior|
|band 9||P5 – Consultant||64||L7 – Principal|
|STSM||Staff||P6 – Senior Consultant||65/66/67 – Principal||L8 – Senior Principal|
|Distinguished Engineer||Distinguished Engineer||L7 – Lead /
|68 – Partner||L10 – Distinguished Engineer|
Discussion frameworks, not absolutes
The chart above is useful primarily as a framework for discussion. Even within a large company the skills for someone at given level may not map closely to others at that same level. Add cross-company evaluations into the mix and the above is, at best, a guideline.
Why is this important?
People change jobs frequently in the tech industry (no surprise given employees who stay in companies longer than 2 years get paid 50% less). My 10-year career at IBM and 4+ years (so far) at EMC makes me an outlier in a field where most of the resumes I see have people staying just 1-2 years between jobs.
The chart above can be useful when changing jobs across companies. When I left IBM to come work at Isilon this would have come in very handy. Instead of moving from my band 9 position at IBM to at least an SDE3 or Staff position at Isilon, I moved over as an SDE2 — two steps down. Next time I’ll have more data to make a solid lateral (or upward!?) transition.1
Levels !== Pay
Everyone I’ve talked to has confirmed that pay does not directly map to levels. It is common for the upper end of the pay range of level X to overlap greatly with level X+1 and maybe even border the lower end of level X+2.
What about Company X?
I’d love to get other large tech companies like Google and Facebook on here, I just haven’t found anyone willing to share their insight. If you have overlap with one of the above drop me an email and lets fill in the blanks.