Google Hardware Engineer Salary

How much does a Google Hardware Engineer make? Well, there are lots of, shall we say “speculative” answers to this question online. The goal of this page is to cut through the noise and provide the real data based on our experience with 100s of tech negotiations and 1000s of submitted offers. Below, we’ve listed the top of band compensation for multiple Google HW eng levels. There is also a bonus section at the bottom with info on negotiating Google Hardware Engineer offers.

Google Hardware Engineer Offer Components

  • Google base salary:

    Google's base salary component is in line with industry standards. The range is relativity small and the salary band changes based on location
  • Google equity (RSUs):

    Google switched its equity vesting schedule in early 2021. You still vest over 4 years but you now receive most of your equity in the first 2 years - 33%, 33%, 22%, 12%. At first glance this is a positive change, but they use it during negotiations to inflate the year 1 value and avoid matching competing offers. The shares you receive will be distributed every month, which is the most frequent vesting cadence in the industry
  • Google signing bonus:

    Google only gives signing bonuses in year 1 (unlike some other companies such as Amazon, Uber, etc.). Its signing bonus component is middle of the pack - usually lower than Facebook but higher than companies like Microsoft
  • Google performance bonus:

    Google has very stable performance bonuses (~80% of people hit targets). Each level has different bonus target which you will see listed below. These are not negotiable
  • Google stock refreshers:

    Google recruiters will use refreshers as justification for not matching year 3 and 4 equity from competing offers. This is fairly disingenuous as many other companies have the same or stronger stock refreshers as Google (especially Apple and Facebook). The standard assumption at Google is that you will receive 25% of your initial grant as a new refresher grant each year. However, you often don't start receiving these until the end of year 2


Note: levelling is critical to understanding compensation bands. If you aren't familiar with Google levels, skip to the bottom to read this.

L4 Google Hardware Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$165K

Equity (4 years)

$300K

Signing Bonus

$35K

Performance Bonus

15%

Google has a track record for downleveling hardware engineers, but also a higher % of above band offers at this level. In early 2022 we are seeing higher numbers, particularly equity.

L5 Google Hardware Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$205K

Equity (4 years)

$500K

Signing Bonus

$50K

Performance Bonus

15%

Similar to L4, we are seeing noticeably higher offers in 2022.

L6 Google Hardware Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$235K

Equity (4 years)

$900K

Signing Bonus

$75K

Performance Bonus

20%

L7 Google Hardware Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$275K

Equity (4 years)

$1.4M

Signing Bonus

$100K

Performance Bonus

25%

Google Hardware Engineer Negotiation

So now you've got the compensation data, are you ready to negotiate? Not quite.

First off, comp data is constantly changing. 2022 numbers are coming in higher than the 2021 numbers listed above, and it’s critical to know the full range for each component to optimize your negotiation. But even more than that, many people think knowing the compensation data is the most important part of a negotiation, but it’s not. You can go tell your Google recruiter that you read online that top of band is $X and that you want that number, but in 90% of cases that won’t work. So what will?

Companies negotiate when they believe you won’t accept their offer. But, since you just finished a long and arduous interview process with them, they know you are likely to accept the job unless you have higher competing offers from other great companies.

This means you need to create leverage and make it believable that you are considering other options but would prefer Google if the compensation is comparable. This sounds easy but quickly becomes challenging if you don’t have other offers or if your other offers aren’t higher than the top of band comp numbers you are targeting.

If you are lucky enough to have a competing offer with numbers above top of band, Google negotiations are often still tough. Google has tons of situation specific rules. For example, if you are negotiating a Google Bay Area HW eng offer and have a higher offer from Facebook Seattle, we've seen Google recruiters refuse to match that because of "location". That is of course a ridiculous excuse since the Bay Area is a higher paying market, but you need to be prepared to handle these situations. Google will also refuse to match private company equity (e.g. TikTok) and apply a 25% discount. We've seen this derail negotiation plans. And of course most people have heard of their requirement to see competing offers in writing, which is possible to avoid if you follow the right steps. The Google compensation team is essentially a black box, however, with enough testing you can start to piece together what inputs can reliably be turned into a specific output.

Google Hardware Engineer Levels

Google Levels

L3 (Entry Level)

L4

L5 (Senior HWE)

L6 (Staff / HWE Manager)

L7

L8 (HWE Director)

=

Amazon Levels

L4

L5

L6

Between L6 and L7

Senior L7

L8

Google's levelling system is the industry benchmark, but there are a lot of other models. Facebook uses the same system with different names (e.g. IC3/E3/L3 are all the same) and so do many other companies (DoorDash, Databricks, etc.). Above you can see that Amazon has taken a slightly different approach. This can easily lead to confusion when interviewing. For Google levels L5 and below, Amazon uses an inflated +1 level system (i.e. Amazon L6 = Google L5). So, if you have an Amazon L5 hardware eng offer and are expecting a Google L5 hardware eng offer, it would be a bad idea to tell your recruiter that you received an Amazon L5 offer. However, this rule starts to break at more senior levels with Amazon L7 being much closer in compensation and scope to a Google L7 position. The 3 other main systems are: 1) Microsoft where 64 = Google L5 2) Apple where ICT4 is slightly more junior than Google L5 3) Stripe/Robinhood/etc. where L3/IC3 = Google L5.

1:1 Salary Negotiation Support

We've negotiated more than $25M in Google offers this year. Our largest Google increase was $720K.

Negotiation strategy

Step 1 is defining the strategy, which often starts by helping you create leverage for your negotiation (e.g. setting up conversations with FAANG recruiters).

Negotiation anchor number

Step 2 we decide on anchor numbers and target numbers with the goal of securing a top of band offer, based on our internal verified data sets.

Negotiation execution plan

Step 3 we create custom scripts for each of your calls, practice multiple 1:1 mock negotiations, and join your recruiter calls to guide you via chat.