National Instruments Reviews in Austin, TX

Updated September 12, 2014
Updated September 12, 2014
613 Reviews
3.7
613 Reviews
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National Instruments Chairman, President, and CEO James J. Truchard
James J. Truchard
480 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • The people are friendly and you are encouraged to maintain a good work life balance (in 83 reviews)

  • The people are generally brilliant and the work environment is healthy (in 51 reviews)


Cons
  • below average compensation, below average work-life balance for managers, leadership lack perspective (in 13 reviews)

  • Organizational structure and consensus culture are huge roadblocks in the decision making process (in 15 reviews)

More Highlights

364 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 2 people found this helpful  

    Fun place to work, but you can hit a ceiling quickly

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Product Marketing Manager  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Product Marketing Manager in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Great people, a fun atmosphere, and the feeling that the company's products in turn help customers do amazing things.

    Cons

    Compensation could be better and there's not very much upward mobility.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Get the company back to growing again.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 18 people found this helpful  

    Aspires to be the North Korea of Tech Companies. A previously admirable company in Decline.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Senior Engineer in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Great environment for interns and new hires (at the expense of long term employees). It is expected that long term employees bend over backwards to scrape together good projects for you and cater to your every whim in hopes you join and help satisfy the churn of the 5 year treadmill. This works well; interns join until they slowly become disillusioned, and leave after having groomed an intern of their own who will take their place (departing Senior Level engineers are always replaced by fresh grads). The net experience level in this company is constant due to the 5 year treadmill and management seems to scratch their heads in the face of decreasing efficiency and increasing project development cycles when projects become more bloated and difficult while the experience level of the developers has flatlined. Put your five years in and then leave for one of the top tier consumer electronics companies where hard work is valued with compensation and true career growth.

    If you are experienced and value family life, you will find it here. You can "go out to pasture" after 5 years of proving yourself and coast by the rest of your career. This is the only economical and optimal reason to stay after 5 years unless your family can be sustained on nothing but kool aid.

    You obtain valuable skills and experience in the first five years here. If you happen to fall under the newly minted layoff axe, you shouldn't have any difficulty finding a higher compensation position elsewhere.

    You don't even need to shop your salary around; NI has hired a third party company to compare your salary to every podunk competitor with subpar workers and we've made sure to put you just slightly below the industry average because it's so awesome to just BE here! Everyone cheer for the goal of providing average wages for "The best and the brightest!"

    Cons

    NI (don't call it "National Instruments"!) spends an astronomical amount of time and money on sales and marketing (externally AND internally). Rather than improve employee compensation, the company will choose to kick the propaganda up a notch every time - this has been in overdrive in 2014 - "Think of the vision!" "We can do anything together!". It all converges in the cult of personality developed around Dr T and the executives. Do it for the dear leader, don't look outside the window to other companies, it's just as good or better here!

    NI relies on fear of change and lack of knowledge of outside companies to keep people around. Everybody at NI knows nothing BUT NI by design, the company only hires new grads in lieu of any experienced engineers. Thankfully, this company is easier to escape than it's model country as Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook are happy to poach the cream of the 5 year crop after they've stagnated (and they will) at NI.

    The benefits of the rank and file are based on NI being a growth company but it is run like (and is) a value company. No risks, extremely high dividend that prevents investment in R&D (and goes straight into the pockets of the executives who still hold a very large amount of outstanding stock), and lack of good business leadership mean that experienced employees get the short end of the stick every quarter.

    NI is so incredibly cheap it is mind boggling. You will share hotel rooms with other (loudly snoring) grown men to save $100/night while you work 16 hour days recruiting, you will pay a hefty monthly penalty fee to provide benefits for your family if they have any other option of coverage (no matter how poor it is), you will take the longest and cheapest flights possible, your expense reports will be scrutinized to no end and every purchase req will demand that your life depends on it.

    No worthwhile career growth past the senior level. You can take on as much responsibility as you like and improve your skills but won't get anything for it in comparison to other top tier companies.

    The company benefits and morals are in constant decline. Higher premiums, worse coverage, worse relative compensation, (NEW!) layoffs, obscured communication, secret promotion freezes, skipped merit increases, layoffs (again! NI is now like every other business in the world - layoffs WILL happen if it makes business sense, even in Austin). The stock is doing fine and the dividends will predictably raise year after year while employee net compensation will fail to keep up with national modest inflation and much more aggressive Austin inflation.

    Your family will be in a worse position every year you stay with this company. You will get to see them nearly as much as you like, however.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Your employees should be more than simple, fungible cogs in the machine of Dr T's legacy. Providing well for the families that sacrifice to enable that legacy should be on just as high a pedestal.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3.  

    It was a very good place to work. Good people and company.

    Former Employee - Staff Software Engineer  in  Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Staff Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I worked at National Instruments full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    Great place to work. Good people who really believe in the company and products. It was a very nice work environment, where I think most people really liked working together. There was also good cooperation between the various departments within the company.

    Cons

    Although the work/life balance was in general, sometimes the work could take over. There were a number of times that I had to stay late without any notice to help solve a problem.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Overall, I think they did a good of encouraging a good work environment, while also taking care of the company.

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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    This is my home.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Group Manager  in  Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Software Group Manager in Austin, TX

    I worked at National Instruments full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    My coworkers are amazing. Every day, I get to work with thousands of brilliant engineers. This is what fuels me.

    Cons

    Every con I can think of is not really worth mentioning and externally driven.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be cautious not to change too much too fast, this is a challenge when we grow to a very large company.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 10 people found this helpful  

    A Company in Decline

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer  in  Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I worked at National Instruments full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    This is a great company to work if you want stability and flexibility. Expectations are quite low and even showing up is not required. If you are unwilling to grow or learn, you won't be forced to and can sit in your comfortable isolated box for as long as you choose, so long as you aren't completely incompetent for an extended period of time. You might find a project you enjoy and have no risk of anything changing for as long as you want.

    Cons

    The company's business model was built around growth, which has not occurred in over 10 years. Since they are unable to make any tough decisions (focusing efforts on profitable areas rather than wasting many man-centuries rebuilding non-growth products from the ground up, trimming the fat, etc...), they try to have their cake and eat it to. There is a cult-like mentality with complete denial for any negative aspects of NI's products. Since nearly all employees and management have only worked at NI, there is a tremendous amount of group-think and any outside ideas, including keeping up with the times, are heavily shunned. Any action takes a tremendous consensus, as individuals are never put into a position of ownership. This leads to a lot of time wasted trying to convince even the most minor stakeholders of the importance of your ideas while trying to maintain the support of those you already gathered as those who disagree with you will campaign against you. It becomes a war of attrition and the most stubborn end up winning. This can be very tiring if you try to fight for something.

    Anyone with any sense leaves after 5 years, and those that are left are the ones who are too afraid to change, those that are unwilling to grow, or those too incompetent to find other employment (or the rare few that are highly value flexibility over any kind of career growth or compensation).

    The company is extremely stingy in all aspects. This becomes ingrained in you. Spending money on anything is the biggest sin at NI. This is apparent from the mandatory shared hotel room policies for travel, poor equipment used by engineers, down to salaries. NI either is completely ignorant of market forces or simply does not value employees by offering below market salaries in the hopes that being able to wear shorts and sandals to work is somehow worth tens of thousands of dollars per year as a perk. Good performance is rewarded with promotion freezes. Promotions are awarded with nothing more than a title change (no salary changes!). Raises are becoming more infrequent and cutting them are the first line of defense against the ineffective business plan developed and executed by management. It makes you wonder if the slackers were always that way or just realized there was no reason to do anything other than slack. Management has many intelligent people, surely who understand the consequences of these policies. This means they will tell you one thing about their values (valuing people, honesty, etc...), and do something completely differently. They act like there is going to be growth around the corner when in reality, the company has simply turned into a value company trying to do things as cheaply as possible with replaceable cogs.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Become something more than the LabVIEW company. A 30 year old relic is not the key to growth. Trying the same thing and expecting different results is insanity. Be honest with employees about the state of the business. If you want to downsize Austin for Asia, do it through honesty and respect for employees rather than treating them poorly hoping some might leave on their own and those with the least negotiating power will stick around. Add more transparency to compensation by disclosing pay bands, how raises work, how stock is given out, etc... Trim the fat and entice the top performers to stay through mechanisms other than hoping they are too lazy to find a new job.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 5 people found this helpful  

    Good Environment, Low Pay

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    The office is casual. People wear shorts and flip flops. They have deck parties with food and beer/wine. It is a very friendly place to work. NI Week is fun. The work-life balance is really good. The hours are flexible. The job security is good. Management is transparent about business's operations and tries to have good messaging. Benefits are good, not great.

    Cons

    The pay just isn't there. Is is significantly behind market rate/other jobs in the area. Being a large established company, if can sometimes be frustrating trying to innovate. Old systems and people comfortable with the status quo can get in the way. The consensus-driven culture is nice, but makes decisions drag on and on. Recently, some new policies have been put in place that can make career advancement difficult.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    NI cannot "hire and retain the best and the brightest" if you aren't willing to pay enough to keep them. Also, we all love job security, but if people aren't doing a good job and haven't improved when given the chance, it's time to cut the cord!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  8. 3 people found this helpful  

    It's not the company it used to be

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Technician  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Technician in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time for more than 8 years

    Pros

    It has a very laid back culture and is a good place to start your career. It has a good work/life balance and you have the freedom to pretty much set your own hours as long as you get in your minimum time.

    Cons

    Salaries are pitifully low when compared to the industry average. The only way to move up in the company is to have the right degree or be a major brown-noser. Management doesn't seem to care so much about experience but only if you have the right degree. The executive management philosophies have definitely changed, they truly used to care about the employees...now they only care about increasing their net worth. In other words they have become your stereo typical company execs.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Trying listening to people who may have a different degree than you but have years of experience in the industry. Some positions require degrees but you don't really need that degree to do the job. Experience means a heck of a lot more than a piece of paper.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    Good job out of college, but limited potential industry

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Staff Software Engineer  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Staff Software Engineer in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time for more than 5 years

    Pros

    I was hired to NI out of the internship program, which I completed the summer between my junior and senior year at college. NI is a great first company because the transition from college to professional life is fairly seamless. Work hours are flexible, dress code is whatever goes and co-workers are usually pretty laid back and easy to talk to. Since there are so many employees getting hired out of college, it is easy to make friends outside work at the company.

    The company likes to hold events to celebrate employees such as deck parties with beer and food (though both tend to run out quickly, now). They also used to rent out Six Flags Fiesta for a weekend for all employees and friends, which has now not happened for 2-3 years. When they're doing these activities, it is fun.

    Your experience will also go as far as your manager (more on this in the cons section). My first two managers at this company were awesome in that they weren't stubborn, pushy or micro-managers. My current manager is all three of these things.

    The company is extremely stable--they only recently are going through their first round of layoffs in Austin. Stock plans are good and, depending on your group, managers are fairly generous with restricted stock bonuses. They have a high deductible health plan which is useful if you're relatively healthy or have a known major expense, which both applied to me this year. They match 401(k) contributions up to 3% and charitable gifts up to some amount as well.

    This has changed since I started but they had a very good process in place to sponsor non-U.S. citizen employees and set up the employment-based green card process.

    Cons

    Salaries are way below average and the growth rate of salaries is also extremely low. It is strange that NI is okay with senior-level engineers departing regularly instead of keeping them in house and rewarding them appropriately. This churn is especially evident at the 5-year mark, where the first round of RSUs (awarded with the job offer) are completely vested.

    The low salary is fine if NI excelled in the other things--work/life balance, work hour flexibility, etc. However, this will completely depend on your manager. My new manager is not very open to work hour flexibility and as a result it doesn't make sense to be paid the amount you are and do the work you're expected to in a rigid work hour situation.

    Even the industry itself is not very interesting for CS graduates since the majority of clients are other engineers. The technology that NI works on is very cool for Electrical and Mechanical Engineers because that is their calling. As a software engineer with only a CS background, you're a glorified code monkey. This is not NI's fault, but it is also a reason they don't retain a lot of CS talent. They are a hardware company at the forefront, and that is fairly obvious.

    The short-term planning by the executives also leaves a lot to be desired. Management has flip-flopped between aggressively growing the company to staying even via attrition year-to-year. It seems they are not being as conservative as they were before in watching what the economy does (or modeling and predicting it accurately). What this means is that you end up with a lot of new hires during a recession with tenured employees having to be told that they'll be getting no bonuses and no raises.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You're parading around the notion of a "high-performance culture" a lot recently. If you want a high-performance culture, you have to pay appropriately. You have to keep senior engineers around so that they work efficiently. Are you really surprised that a bunch of new hires with $65K salaries can't push out products within your aggressive timelines?

    Keep current employees happy. You're having growing up issues. NI as a company appears to be going through adolescence--things are changing unpredictably and you don't know how to deal with it. Reward the employees who have been there with raises that at least match inflation and they'll continue to give you more and more efficient work.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 3 people found this helpful  

    Great employees but stingy compensation

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Hardware Engineer I Intern  in  Austin, TX
    Former Employee - Hardware Engineer I Intern in Austin, TX

    I worked at National Instruments as an intern for less than a year

    Pros

    The company really has fostered a great culture -- it's actually fun to come to work. Internal classes also allow you to develop some skills.

    Cons

    Large product base to navigate. There doesn't seem to be as much ability to pursue new and unique ideas as they would like you to believe.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The work/life balance really is great, but show your employees you value them and pay competitive wages!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Flexible place to work, however they haven't figured out how to pay properly.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Hardware Technician  in  Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Hardware Technician in Austin, TX

    I have been working at National Instruments full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Work/Life balance is good. Product development keeps you engaged. Office culture is relaxed and fun. Deck parties are a good boost for morale.

    Cons

    Pay and increases are not competitive to the market around town. There is a lot of frustration around the company about this.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider truthfully looking at the value of your employees and what they are really bringing to the table.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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