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Amazon Software Engineer Reviews

Updated February 17, 2018
1,829 reviews

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Software Engineer

4.1
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Amazon Chairman, President, and CEO Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos
1,249 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • While my work-life balance is great - others are having a different experience (in 2134 reviews)

  • Sometimes no work life balance and manager will not let you work overtime (in 444 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Software Development Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Herndon, VA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Herndon, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    - Working with tons of smart yet approachable standards
    - Being a part of the creation of new and emerging technologies
    - A strong emphasis on personal ownership of your work / delegating decision making authority down as low as possible

    Cons

    - Decentralized decision making approach can make it difficult to coordinate and execute cross-team and cross-organization projects


  2. Helpful (477)

    "A huge diverse high tech company with all sorts of stuff"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA

    I have been working at Amazon full-time

    Pros

    Disclaimer: My opinions reflect that of an SDE in Amazon. Seems like some operational job functions are very tough.

    I have read through some of the other Amazon reviews and it seems to me that everyone has a very different experience! This is so true. Within the same team, you can have both workaholics and slackers coexisting and coworking together. I think I am more of the balanced type as I try to stay sane. The Amazon experience is basically the entire spectrum and it is what you make it out to be.

    Pros in Amazon certainly excludes great benefits, but compensation is competitive. Free food means average quality free coffee, once in a while free pizza for lunch where it is a working lunch, and free beer and finger food in special events. We get a free Orca card to take any bus in the Seattle area for free. $160 per month subsidy for office parking, which is better than nothing. Downtown monthly parking goes for about $200 per month. 401K contribution is 50% of what you put in, where you can put in max 4% of your salary. Not so great. Staff cafeteria food is average and not at all cheaper than outside food, or could be even more expensive. It is hard not to complain about the cafeteria. Vacation days are ok but note that there are no sick leaves. They count as part of your 5 personal days per year. Listing the benefits of Amazon is like listing the cons and not the pros.

    Work life balance seems to be ok for the most part, and seems to be individually-driven. No one will tell you that you have to come in at what time and stay till what time. I have team mates working every night and weekend, and others getting in at 10am and leaving at 5pm, all in the same team. Managers will focus on your project deliveries instead of how much time you spend working. If you work 40-hour weeks productively, you can definitely outperform someone who works 60-hour weeks but don't deliver stuff. Working less than 40 hours per week is somewhat common, but I can't say how many people are working how long. The view on work life balance is a bit skewed. All it comes down to are the managers and what they think. Projects are always never-ending but I have found that deadlines are very realistic and reasonable, without counting your nights and weekends. Getting some slack time once in a while is probably a sign of a healthy work environment. Everyone needs a break.

    On-call really really sucks. Basically all it comes down to is having SDEs double-duty as support operations engineers. Note that on-call does not improve the code quality of any team in any way. The on-call experience is particularly bad because you are using services from some other team, and their code is of low quality and fails for the wrong reasons. If the managers had given more time to up the quality, there would not be so many problems. Software is usually delivered with a tough deadline with code that meets the minimum quality bar and never gets improved for the next few years. The code review process does not seem to help improve the code but it really obstructs developers from making great changes as unconventional things will not pass code review in clumsy minds. Innovation and excellence are not the name of the game in Amazon. Searching through the Amazon code base is usually not going to turn up quality code that you can actually reuse.

    Integration is the name of the game in Amazon. You will need to spend a lot of time to figure out how to integrate your code with another team's services. Whether these other people are cooperative is a hit-or-miss. I have found that most people are responsive and helpful, but there are also quite a number of jerks who are out to make trouble for everybody. It is not easy to work across teams but the experience is mostly positive.

    Amazon is a huge behemoth and is hiring people like there is no tomorrow. This reflects well on a good growth momentum but also is worrying that the company is not turning much profit. If the company does not make money, where is our bonus going to come from? You can see new faces around the Amazon building almost everyday! Downside is that we are taking in a lot of average to above-average engineers and being an Amazonian SDE certainly does not share the same reputation as the top names. Amazon is a huge mixed bag of some very talented people and some very dumb people. I think the world is not turning up enough SDEs and the only way is for quality to go downhill.

    As an SDE, expect to spend most of your time talking, writing emails and documents, and maybe around 20-30% of your time coding. In most of the teams, you can work on interesting projects, but probably not revolutionary ones. Note that Amazon is a very down-to-earth company and the work is very down-to-earth as well. You will work on real things that people have actually requested for, and that people will start using as soon as you are done. Work is challenging but not to expect highly technically complex stuff. Most of the work has to do with solving everyday problems. To me, this seems to make sense because I have ever tried working on experimental projects before elsewhere and I did not feel it was a good use of my time.

    Internal mobility is a key strength of Amazon, and I am not sure which company has done better than Amazon in this aspect. Internal moves are easy. You only need to stay in your team for a year before moving to a different team. There is no easy way to tell which team is a good team to move to because they all have their different pros and cons and people and coming and leaving all the time!

    Seattle is by much rumour an easier place to live than the Bay area.

    Overall Amazon is a tough but yet sane place to work. The flexibility of this company is really its core strength. You have the freedom to excel as much as you want and also to slack as much as you want. Bummer. You shouldn't be slacking!

    Cons

    Beware of bad managers and horrible team mates. They are not specific to Amazon but they do exist in Amazon.

    I have to admit that Monday is usually a blue day at Amazon and it is very tough to look forward to getting into office. I don't know anyone in Amazon who looks forward to getting in on Mondays.

    Be realistic about SDE requirements. Coding skills are good to have but they are not the most important part of your job. I think we are hearing the same thing from every company.

    Medical coverage is average or below average. Expect to pay about $60 per month for singles and about $240 per month for families. $240 per month for families gives you $3000 in medical fees before you have to pay (more) anything out-of-pocket.

    SDE advancement is unreal difficult. They have about 6 levels total, SDE 1-4, then Senior Principal Engineer, and finally Distinguished Engineer. The number of SDE 1s and 2s are huge. Trying to get to SDE 3 seems to be all-of-a-sudden extremely difficult, but not impossible. So this essentially means that if you come to Amazon as a fresh grad SDE, expect to get about only one or two promotions in your entire career, which obviously is quite a lame expectation and reality. You will probably do much better in your career advancement anywhere else.

    Employee retention is horrible. I am not sure why the philosophy seems to be trying to undercut existing employees and then hire from external sources. Management all say that they are trying to retain people, but actions don't seem to suggest anything better. Rumour has it that annual pay raises are horrible. This basically mean that either you are a superstar in the company before they will try to retain you, or if you are smart you should not stay in Amazon for too long.

    Advice to Management

    The thing about thinking long-term is getting more and more worrying as the company has not turned a tidy profit and is trying to conquer the world with its lofty expansion strategies. I don't know what kind of secret recipe management is cooking but seeing the company not making much money never feels comfortable.

  3. "Best Company I have ever worked for"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Principal Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Principal Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    I have 27 years of industry experience and have worked at other large companies like Microsoft as well as at startup and I love my experience here at Amazon. After 3 years here there isn't a day when I'm not excited about going to work. As a Principal Engineer I get to set directions and best practices for a wide group of engineers. All my peers and colleagues are very professional and our Leadership Principles are a great guiding tools for all of us to resolve conflict in a coherent and respectful way.

    Cons

    travel policy is that we travel economy, even to Europe or India, so that sucks


  4. "Very good company for you to grow as a well-rounded engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Full of smart and proactive people. Good pay and benefit. Skyrocketing stocks. Various learning opportunities in many different areas. Good work/life balance. Great work culture.

    Cons

    As an engineer, you would be coding a lot less than you would at other smaller companies. Sometimes too many meetings even for engineers. Not many system design opportunities in many teams.


  5. "Empowered for success"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Senior Software Development Engineer in Austin, TX
    Current Employee - Senior Senior Software Development Engineer in Austin, TX
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - From engineering standpoint, you've got all the tools and resources at your fingertips to be as successful as you want
    - It's a pretty sophisticated company in terms of state of the art technologies you have a chance to use on your daily basis
    - Culture is very entrepreneurial
    - You can have intelligent conversations with any coworker
    - Everyone has super-powers
    - Innovation is highly rewarded

    Cons

    - It's not only Amazon, but health insurance could be better in terms of coverage and out of the pocket limits


  6. Helpful (2)

    "The opportunity that you should not miss if given"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    1) great exposure to the best practices
    2) get a chance to work with very experienced people and expand the skill set

    Cons

    1) oncall sometimes gives you hard time but it usually comes once every 3 months so it's not that bad


  7. Helpful (1)

    "SDE"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Cupertino, CA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Cupertino, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Dynamic, Innovative, Continuously innovative culture. 2 years here will allow you to learn much much more than probably 5 years in other companies.Individual as well as Team contributions are appreciated.

    Cons

    Sometimes too many things happen in parallel .

    Advice to Management

    Keep this culture innovate, and competitive.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Work Hard, Have Fun!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    1. Work is generally very challenging and impactful. You will have the opportunity to work with a lot of great senior and principal engineers who have a lot of experience designing large scale systems and services.

    2. The culture is that you will have pretty tight deadlines driven by business needs and you will have to balance your operational load with your feature work to maintain the deadlines. But all the work will have great visibility among senior leadership leading to great growth opportunities.

    3. The company has a great history of building robust, scalable and highly durable businesses and business models. Bezos's S-Team is supremely experienced and has managed to build a great work culture and robust businesses.

    4. Completely Urban Campus! Regular Happy Hours! Free cereal and snacks! Monthly Phone and Parking reimbursement! You also get swag a lot more often than you think! ;-)

    Cons

    1. Tight deadlines and sometimes opeartional responsibilities can get heavy because of the scale at which Amazon operates.

    2. You won't have the great perks that some of the other companies have like free food and all - but you have great food trucks and free cereal and snacks to compensate for that!


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Senior Software Development Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Senior Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Innovative projects, Amazing tech, Customer-focused, Career-focused company

    Cons

    For customers' benefit, I need to work hard. It pays off though.


  10. "Challenging and Fun"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Seattle, WA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Amazon full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good work culture
    More independence to choose work
    Talented peers
    Good pay

    Cons

    Benefits are less compared to other top companies like microsoft, google etc
    Some managers can be bad