Do Software Engineers typically earn more than Product Managers?

Although I’m considering moving from software engineer to product management, I’m not sure if it would be beneficial financially. I like working on products, but I don’t mind working hard as a software engineer for a few more years to pay off my loans first.

Would like to hear the thoughts from the community.


There isn’t a set rule, though. My TC has, in my experience, been roughly the same as what I earned when I was a senior developer.

In contrast, there are fewer PMs overall, leading to a greater proportion of SWEs with higher wages when SWEs and PMs are combined. You can probably move up the TC ladder more quickly this way because there are generally more SWE openings.


@BinaCampos, am I the only one who can’t keep up with the acronym? TC???


TC = Total Compensation


Thanks @BinaCampos.

I believe that seniority also plays a role in this. Since I work for a more traditional organization, my official salary band and grade in the hierarchy are several grades above those of a mid weight dev.

The advantages of this in either direction, in my opinion, are debatable.


Levels will be different based in the company, but pay is typically comparable.


Greater long-term growth in terms of pay and seniority, less ongoing education and rapid technological advancement, there seems to be a brand-new technology change every couple of years. The ability to create something that people want, to communicate effectively, and to carry it out are always useful transferrable skills.


It’s about the same, check


I feel is heavily biased towards US FAANG, which is probably very different from the PM population.


I’ve never had a job with FAANG. The statement made by @PouyaTaaghol rings true in my (obviously limited) personal experience, and if anything, I’ve seen myself receive more pay as a PM than the average engineer would, as well as more pay as a senior PM compared to a senior SWE. However, since there isn’t much of a difference, it could equally well be a result of both circumstances and negotiation. There wasn’t the current rush of popularity for PM’ing back when I was in early PM roles (2012–2016) before advancing into director/senior roles later, so a dearth of experienced PM’s also worked in my favor.


I checked the, but it is tilted towards all the best paying/big tech companies. Smaller/mid tier tech companies have more salary disparity between SWE and PM which makes it even worse to be a PM in these tier 3/4 companies.


Identical query, if anyone can respond. I’m currently in a tier-2 company with a 6 fig salary and trying to move to PM (3 YOE).

Each PM offer I receive barely exceeds 120k base, which is less than the TC I currently make. Should I just accept a lower salary? Are bonuses for developers and PM the same as well?


It’s important to keep in mind that you are contrasting a role with three years of experience and a brand-new role with no prior experience. Similar to how SWE PM compensation will rise with experience.


I switched to a Prod Mgt position and lost about 25% of my Senior SRE salary; however, this was partially offset by bonuses (although this is not unique to PMs; their bonus structure is standard across the board).

We discussed this during the negotiation, and they emphasized that there are unquestionably more opportunities for advancement in the PM tube, as well as for Principal, Director, GM, and VP positions, which also significantly move up the compensation ladder. Hearing that several people had, on average, received two promotions every seven years also gave me some comfort.


I appreciate the response. I feel so much better knowing that the pay cut isn’t a result of anything personal.

Do you believe that my base salary of 120k is reasonable or are they underestimating it? It’s really hard to make this choice because I can’t make as much money as a dev. I’ve already declined two PM positions from some major corporations.


If there are no bonuses or RSUs, that is probably a little on the low side. However, if you’re talking true HCOL, you should be able to request a little bit more (perhaps 140?), though you might need to split the difference and take any other compensation into account.

My bonuses are based on a portion of a company-wide pool, so if the company meets its revenue goals, the pool is fully funded, and the portion of that pool that goes to me is determined by how well I perform personally. According to my director, there should be no RSUs (or if there are, they should be exceptional), a discounted stock purchase plan, and a “satisfactory” performance earns 100% of that bonus chunk and it goes up or down based on there. The latter is nice because without our tooling, I have almost no real need for cell reimbursement - you’re not on call as a PM, etc. - but I also get other sporadic little perks like some WFH allowances for equipment and reimbursement for my internet and cell bills.


@Pankaj-Jain, Yeah that’s exactly what I was thinking too. Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply.


Bonuses are almost always equal; SWEs and PMs at the same internal level will both receive the same percentage bonus. However, PMs might have an easier time moving up to the most important positions.

Unless you negotiate well as a PM, SWEs will typically receive better RSUs and occasionally have a marginally better base.

Changing roles or careers frequently results in a pay cut because your YOE is reset. A good starting salary for a PM position is $120k.

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On average yes, but it varies by company. Big tech seems to value PM more and the salaries are most closely aligned.

Reasons to consider staying in SWE though:

  • There are probably 10x or more SWE jobs than PM jobs
  • Easier to do SWE jobs remotely because of less meetings
  • Moving up is easier. In PM there are only a tiny handful of roles at the director+ level that are extremely competitive and tightly coupled with how well you play politics and how good your inner circle is at the company. Also coming in at director level+ externally to a company is quite difficult. Most companies prefer to promote PMs from within for more senior roles.