Amazon Job Hierarchy Levels for Software Developers

Throughout its many departments, Amazon has a hierarchy structure that helps differentiate its many employees.

Software developers at Amazon have their own hierarchy — and learning about it can better help you understand what to expect if you’re looking to get a job at Amazon. Keep reading to learn more about Amazon’s hierarchy for software developers!

Amazon Hierarchy for Software Developers

Software developers at Amazon have a hierarchy that consists of level four to level ten positions. Each higher level signifies a position where you have more responsibility. For example, an L4 employee does very little code, whereas an L5 employee does a lot of coding.

There is a lot you should know about the hierarchy system for Amazon’s software developers. We explain everything in detail below!

SDE 1 (L4)

First, let’s start by discussing the first software developer level. Level one is really level four in this department. An L4 employee is, in many ways, at the bottom of the totem pole — or at the beginning of their software career at Amazon.

Because an L4 employee is only a level one software developer, this means that those in this position will not do a lot of independent code. When they do any code, it will always be checked or approved by those higher up.

Therefore, there is no independent coding at this level. When coding can be done — and often is, though never independently — L4 employees often don’t get the chance to design anything.

SDE 2 (L5)

Now, let’s move on to an L2 employee in software development. As this position is a level higher than an L4, this means that you can be promoted from an L4 to an L5 employee.

L5 software developers have a lot more responsibility. First of all, they can code independently. No more working with a supervisor or team to get the job done. L5s can fully code independently — and they’ll often have big, significant coding assignments to get done.

Therefore, there’s quite a huge difference between an L4 software developer and an L5. This does make sense. When you’re an L4, you are just starting out at Amazon and need to learn how things are done.

Even if you’ve worked as a software developer at another company, you may still need to learn how Amazon works. Therefore, many start as an L4. Once you can prove yourself to your team, you can be promoted up to an L5, which has so much more responsibility.

SDE 3 (L6)

Moving on to L6 positions! Just as an L5 position was a step up from an L4, an L6 position is a step up from an L5. When you are an L6 software developer, you have even more responsibility than you did as an L5.

You still have the ability to code independently and work on big, significant projects. However, L6 employees can also lead teams when working on something. In many ways, an L6 can be a manager or supervisor, though this could differ in various departments.

L6 software developers can also work with various teams to ensure everything is running according to plan when working on a specific project or assignment. Again, an L6 just has much more responsibility.

Principal SDE (L7)

An L7 employee is yet another step up the hierarchy ladder in the software development department at Amazon. L7 employees are considered principal software developers.

In many ways, an L7 software developer does a lot of what an L6 employee does — though with more responsibility and more teams to oversee. As L7s tend to oversee quite a lot, this means that the rest of the levels often look to an L7 employee for direction and leadership.

Whereas an L6 can work across teams, an L7 must. They have a significantly bigger team to look out for to ensure everything is going according to plan.

Senior Principal SDE (L8)

The next level up is an L8 senior principal software developer. There aren’t a lot of employees in this position, mainly because there doesn’t need to be. Therefore, you may only have one senior principal employee in your department or division — if that.

An L8 employee may be in charge of various divisions or departments as a result. Just as we’ve discussed with the other levels, an L8 comes with more responsibility. L8s are leaders and can help direct projects and how divisions run.

Distinguished Engineer (L10)

The last rank a software developer can be at Amazon is level 10. An L10 employee is titled a distinguished engineer. Just as there aren’t a lot of L8 software developers, there also aren’t a lot of L10s. In fact, there are even fewer L10s than there are L8s.

In many ways, being an L10 software developer is rare and unique. For the most part, an L10 is supposed to be a leader to all software developers at Amazon. They are visionaries; there is nobody like them, and they truly are inspirations to the rest of the developers — or they should be.

Often, an L10 acts as a consultant to the other leaders in software development. So, if the other leaders or supervisors are stuck or need assistance on a particularly difficult project, an L10 can come and give them advice and help in various ways.

As L10s are rare, software developers may not even know any. They may not work in the exact same place as the other developers, as there may be one L10 overseeing very large amounts of developers!


Amazon has a hierarchy to help differentiate between its many software developers. This hierarchy runs from level four to level ten. Each level offers more responsibility and work than the previous level. Software developers can be promoted throughout their careers and reach higher levels.