Engineering Ladder / Compensation Levels

What are some good resources for designing an engineering ladder and compensation levels?

@trevoro I know you put something together around skills, and IIRC I made some edits to it, but I can’t find the link.

CircleCI has a pretty good engineering competency matrix that that they’ve made available as Creative Commons:

It looks like it’s also been swept-up by a SaaS tool called with a bunch of other industry public examples.

In terms of compensation references, I’ve apprecated that is publishing more data, but I don’t think they’re all verified anymore.


OK, found the link from @trevoro

I love that Trevor defines Essential vs Technical Skills:

Essential skills are sometimes referred to as transferable or ‘soft’ skills. Technical skills apply to a specific domain. For example, writing documentation, being a project leader, understanding budgets, leadership, mentoring, communication, etc are all essential skills. No matter which role you have at any company you will likely need to employ some (or all!) of these skills depending on your role. In a software capacity, technical skills includes composition and comprehension of code as well as understanding testing, security, hardware, constraints, trade-offs, etc.

1 Like

This is what I’ve made for Buffer, it’s gone through a few iterations -

These are the current dollar figures we use in our salary formula for each level

We do apply a 10% discount to locations outside of very expensive cities (e.g. Engineer 1, Step 1 in SF or NYC earns 98 773 USD, and in Vancouver would earn 0.9*98773)

If anyone is designing frameworks it’s literally my favourite thing, feel free to DM!


+1 for I’ve designed a couple of bespoke ones before, but the starting point was always take a couple of examples that resonate in terms of your org’s culture and then tailor them as needed.

  • What do you value in an engineering org?
  • What engineering culture do you have today, and what culture would you like to drive going forward?
  • What discussions do you want to be having when doing performance reviews, when hiring and when giving feedback?