TikTok Software Engineer Salary

How much does a TikTok Software 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 TikTok Software Engineer levels. There is also a bonus section at the bottom with info on negotiating TikTok SWE offers.

TikTok Software Engineer Offer Components

  • TikTok base salary:

    base salary is one area where TikTok doesn't deviate from industry norms - though they do tend to pay more
  • TikTok equity (RSUs):

    TikTok has a back-weighted equity vesting schedule. This is rare with Amazon being the only other major tech company with a back-weighted structure. You will receive 15% of your shares in year 1, 25% in year 2 and 3, and 35% in year 4. TikTok grants RSUs (not stock options) despite the fact that the company is not yet public. The actual amount of shares you receive is calculated by dividing the dollar value by a "share value", which is usually set by a 409A valuation or a funding round
  • TikTok signing bonus:

    TikTok has not followed in Amazon's footsteps by providing year 1 and 2 signing bonuses in all offers. Instead, TikTok's signing bonuses are smaller and typically only in the first year. They also have a fairly aggresive clawback clause if you leave before 12 months
  • TikTok performance bonus:

    TikTok has a unique approach to performance bonuses. They set a flat target percentage (25% of base) for nearly all SWE levels. DS and other roles often start lower (12.5% target). This bonus is paid fairly consistently, though it's certainly not as guaranteed as Google's performance bonus. Performance bonuses are not negotiable
  • TikTok stock refreshers:

    TikTok sadly does not offer stock refreshers. This is a pretty big disadvantage vs. other major tech companies

2-1 TikTok Software Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$200K

Equity (4 years)

$360K

Signing Bonus

$50K

Performance Bonus

25%

Some Dec 2021 offers were extended at the 2022 comp band - this had a big impact on base salary in particular. At this level, cash comp is high compared to other companies in part because of the high performance bonus target (only 15% at Google/FB).

2-2 TikTok Software Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$250K

Equity (4 years)

$650K

Signing Bonus

$80K

Performance Bonus

25%

Note: ML/AI offers can sometimes secure comp exceptions.

3-1 TikTok Software Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$280K

Equity (4 years)

$900K

Signing Bonus

$100K

Performance Bonus

25%

We have negotiated base salary above $300K at this level, but that required special approvals.

3-2 TikTok Software Engineer Salary

2021 Top of Band Numbers

Base Salary

$330K

Equity (4 years)

$1.6M

Signing Bonus

$125K

Performance Bonus

25%

Manager offers at TikTok tend to be comparable to strong IC offers.

TikTok Software Engineer Negotiation

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

First off, comp data is constantly being updated as companies push to remain competitive. This is particularly true for companies like TikTok which are in a high-growth phase. Early 2022 numbers are already 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 Bytedance 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 TikTok 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.

Even if you are in a perfect situation where you have a competing offer with comp just slightly higher than the top of band numbers you are targeting at TikTok, the negotiation can still get complicated. TikTok is known to be a particularly hard company to negotiate with as recruiters will often try to trick candidates. We've seen many TikTok recruiters refuse to disclose levels (making it very hard to set anchor numbers), set exploding offer deadlines, and even go so far as to change numbers that have already been agreed on. You need to be prepared for these tactics if you want a shot at securing a top of band offer. Negotiating is fundamentally a game of experience and data, and you should think about these large corporations as a system where a series of inputs can be reliably turned into a specific output, if you can perfectly setup the inputs.

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1:1 Salary Negotiation Support

We've negotiated more than $15M in TikTok offers in 2021. Our largest TikTok increase was $940K.

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.