Computer Science

Want to Work at Microsoft? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.

Want to Work at Microsoft? Here Are the Degrees You’ll Need.
Microsoft employees are part of teams in business development and strategy, customer success, engineering, finance, IT operations, marketing, research, sales, and supply chain and operations management. Image from Unsplash
Rina Diane Caballar profile
Rina Diane Caballar November 18, 2019

Microsofties are paid especially well, with principal software development engineers earning, on average, $186,825 per year.

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What do M&M’s, tree houses, bunnies, and a soccer field all have in common? These are the many perks you get when working at Microsoft.

Microsoft employees—”Microsofties” or “Softies” as they call themselves—get to celebrate their work anniversaries with a pound of M&M’s for each year they’ve been at the company. Meanwhile, the tech giant’s sprawling campus in Redmond, Washington, has a set of tree houses with meeting spaces, as well as a full soccer field and rabbits hopping around the area. It also houses The Commons, a one-stop shopping mall complete with coffee shops and restaurants, an auto-body shop, a credit union, a music shop, and a hair salon.

Moreover, the company goes all out when it comes to employee benefits, which include flexible work schedules, paid time off for new parents and caregivers, reimbursement for continuing education and wellness-related expenses, health care coverage with no monthly paycheck deductions, and a stock purchase plan. This makes it no surprise that Microsoft took the top spot in JUST Capital’s list of U.S. companies supporting healthy communities and families, and ranked fifth on Comparably’s 2019 list of large companies with the happiest employees.

Are you considering a career at Microsoft? We’ve got you covered with the degrees you’ll need to score a job at the legendary tech company, plus advice on how to become part of the team.

A window into Microsoft’s history

In 1975, programming and computer enthusiasts Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The pair started with their version of the BASIC programming language, then produced the MS-DOS operating system for IBM’s personal computer in 1981. Not long after, Microsoft released its own Windows operating system, now widely used across the globe. The organization has since grown to offer a suite of products, such as Microsoft Office, the Xbox gaming console, and the Surface laptop. Microsoft’s most notable acquisitions include Skype and LinkedIn.

Microsoft has more than 140,000 employees worldwide, including in its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, and offices in Canada, Costa Rica, France, India, Israel, and Singapore, among other locations. The company reported $33 billion in revenue in October 2019.

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What kind of jobs are available at Microsoft?

Microsofties are part of teams in business development and strategy, customer success, engineering, finance, IT operations, marketing, research, sales, and supply chain and operations management. According to data from Glassdoor, Softies are paid well, especially those in tech roles and senior positions, but not as high as companies like Apple or Netflix.

Here are some of the highest-paid positions at Microsoft, listed by average base salary:

  • Principal software development engineer: $186,825
  • Senior software development engineer: $159,132
  • Researcher: $154,003
  • Senior test lead: $144,468
  • Senior marketing manager: $142,552
  • Senior finance manager: $132,240
  • Data scientist: $129,917
  • Product manager: $123,174
  • Software development engineer: $120,766
  • User experience designer: $112,629

Microsoft’s culture highlights a “growth mindset,” which is achieved through innovation and teamwork. The company values diversity and makes giving a top priority through employee donations, volunteering, and other philanthropic efforts.

What degrees do you need to get a job at Microsoft?

A closer look at the Microsoft careers site uncovers hundreds of open positions in different fields—from business and legal to engineering and research.

Business jobs at Microsoft.

Jobs that require business acumen at Microsoft include business program managers, strategic planning analysts, business administrators, business architects, and business analytics specialists. You’ll be responsible for designing, planning, and delivering solutions for successful business programs across the company.

Earning an MBA is essential for success in the role, but an advanced degree in psychology or a related social science field is preferred for business analytics specialists.

Legal jobs at Microsoft.

In the legal field, Microsoft has job openings for lawyers, senior lawyers, general counsel, cybercrime investigators, and policy managers. These positions entail providing legal guidance and strategic counsel, conducting rigorous research and thorough investigation to inform policy recommendations, and detecting and mitigating cybercrime threats.

A law degree is required for legal positions, while those aiming to be policy managers will benefit from a degree in public policy.

Engineering jobs at Microsoft.

With engineering at the heart of Microsoft, numerous positions are available for software engineers of all levels, data scientists, data analysts, cloud engineers, and user experience designers. You’ll be designing, coding, building, testing, and deploying a myriad of products and services.

To do the job, you’ll need a degree in computer science, math, statistics, or a related technical field.

Research jobs at Microsoft.

In the research arena, Microsoft is looking for researchers, research scientists, and research development engineers in the fields of artificial intelligence, deep learning, algorithms, cybersecurity, human-computer interaction, and quantum computing. You’ll have the opportunity to experiment, explore, and devise innovative solutions to challenging problems in those fields.

A PhD in computer science or a related discipline is required for the role.

Other ways to get a job at Microsoft

Microsoft has internships available for whichever stage you are in your education. Those in high school can opt for a 10-week summer program to get hands-on experience on tech projects, while first or second year college students can join Explore Microsoft, a 12-week internship program to explore different roles in software development. University internships are available for those finishing up their degree, and the company hosts PhD interns in its product and research teams.

Meanwhile, Microsoft offers full-time opportunities for recent graduates.

Tips to land a job at Microsoft

To set job seekers up for success, Microsoft provides help with getting hired, as well as interview tips and tricks from recruiters.

Chuck Edward, head of global talent acquisition at Microsoft, shared some advice to land a job at the company, including fine-tuning your LinkedIn profile, coming in prepared with examples of your work, and asking thoughtful questions.

“Be curious and do a little bit of homework,” Edward said. “But when you come you really should be prepared to have an honest dialogue and to ask great questions.”

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