How Much Does Tesla Pay Their Employees? (in 2022)

Tesla employees are paid through their base salary/pay, stocks, and bonuses. They recently made some changes to their compensation for salaried employees so it’s worth exploring Tesla’s compensation options. How much do they actually pay their employees? 

Tesla employees in the US are generally paid below the market for the tech industry, and about average or above for the automotive one. The average pay is around $23 to $26 per hour across departments, and between $70,000-120,000 for salaried ones, but this varies greatly by location and your position.

For example, Microsoft pays its engineers about $170,000 on average for 0 to 2 years of experience, while Tesla pays about $150,000 for the same level. 

Senior and staff engineers at Tesla are paid extremely high, from $200,000 up to $300,000 and beyond, but a big chunk of this salary comes in the form of Tesla stocks (30-50% for senior roles). If the stock drops, so does your overall compensation. 

How Much Does Tesla Pay per Hour?

Tesla front store window with car

The average hourly pay for Tesla employees is around $24 per hour. This can range anywhere between $16 and $40 and above. The hourly pay will greatly depend on the location, with Fremont in California being one of the highest paying areas, but also one of the most expensive to live in.

If you’re looking to go work in Fremont, California, keep in mind that $100,000 in Fremont is like $70,000 in an average state in the US. Highly expensive, so your pay should reflect that.

How Much Does Tesla Pay Their Salaried Employees?

The average salary of a Tesla employee can range wildly depending on the position but is usually between $70k and $120k a year, where this can usually go up to $150k for a base salary, and beyond $200k combined with stock options and bonuses.

Tesla engineers are highly paid anywhere between $100k and $150k on average and will depend on the role. They get their base salary of at least $100,000 a year, on which they add the value of their Tesla stocks. The highest paid workers also get bonuses. 

The top engineers make above $150,000, usually at least $130,000 in base salary, and about $15-20,000+ in stocks. Some of the top engineers, such as the staff engineer earn beyond $200,000 per year, and combined with Tesla stocks, their compensation can go up to $300,000 and beyond.

Keep in mind that while you’ll be at a great company, with a great culture where you can learn a lot, Tesla engineers are known to get burned out, with daily work of beyond 12h. While some can take this, having a good work/life balance is important, and oftentimes it’s not worth it.

How Often Can You Get a Pay/Salary Increase at Tesla?

Tesla hourly employees generally get a pay increase every 6 months, compared to once a year for salaried ones. Tesla raises aren’t generally high and are usually around 1% and 2%, sometimes $1 or $2 if you’re paid hourly. Employees can also get paid in Tesla stocks, which are generally increasing in value. The biggest raises come with promotions, which are usually every few years.

As you can see, the pay increase at Tesla happens very rarely, once or twice a year, if that. This is the general rule, but some employees get an increase every 2 years. This is a really bad option, especially this year with high inflation and raising prices.

The best and quickest way to get the most out of your pay increases is to get promoted, especially for software engineers. It takes about a year to get promoted and get a pay increase from an Entry-level Engineer (P1) to an Engineer (P2) with a substantial pay increase, and about 1 to 4 years to get promoted again to a Senior Engineer role (P3).

It is well known, though not often discussed, that if you don’t get a yearly increase at least the same level as inflation then you’re getting a cut in your pay. Typical inflation in the US is about 4%, while this year it’s about 8-9%. Most employees don’t get such pay increases, which means, most employees get pay cuts.

In Which Ways Does Tesla Pay Their Employees?

Tesla’s main way of compensation is the typical salary or hourly pay, twice a week. On top of that, you get to purchase Tesla stocks, with a discount. Additionally, Tesla employees get various discounts on merchandise, accessories, charging stations, hotels, flights, rental cars, and entertainment options.

For Tesla stock compensation, you get a choice of either RSU (restricted stock unit) or options. RSU has a vesting plan, which means that you need to remain a Tesla worker for as long as you’re not fully vested at 100%, or you may not be able to sell it.

On the other hand, Tesla discounts can be up to 35% on all kinds of merchandise, and a discount (or a free) FSD package as long as you’re a Tesla employee.

Does Tesla Pay Weekly, Biweekly, or Monthly?

For both salaried and hourly employees in the US, Tesla pays biweekly for all of its locations. This includes Interns, who are paid biweekly as well. The only employees who are paid weekly are the ones with the temp service.

Is Tesla Fair in Its Wages?

Tesla is below average in their salaries for a tech company, but they are average for the automotive industry. Since stocks are also a form of payment, your compensation may also be moderately dependent on how Tesla stock will perform in the next few years.

Whether Tesla is fair, will depend on a lot of other factors, such as the work environment, Tesla’s work hours, the benefits Tesla offers, and what you can personally endure.

If you’re thinking of applying for a job at Tesla, you need to ask yourself if will you be able to buy a Tesla stock in a sufficient amount and will the stock valuation continue to rise in the next few years. Can you work on holidays and overtime like most other Tesla employees? Can you cope with your stocks dropping and rising in value by thousands of dollars in value?

If you think all these factors require a much higher salary, then Tesla is unfair. If you’re OK with this, and you don’t mind the extra work, then it’s fair and you’re a good fit for Tesla.

How Many Tesla Workers are Salaried vs Hourly?

A few months ago, Elon Musk has announced that Tesla is letting go about 10% of its salaried workforce over the coming months, while they’ll be increasing the hourly ones. At that time, Tesla had about 99,000 employees in total, with the workforce that was split between roughly 66% hourly workers and 33% salaried.

Taking that into account, we can confidently say that Tesla has between 29,000 and 33,000 salaried employees, compared to at least 66,000 hourly ones (though the number is now probably much closer to 70,000).

Does Tesla Pay for Holidays and Sick Days?

Tesla employees get paid most of the holidays. They are paid double, and this includes about 7 to 9 paid holidays per year. Most employees don’t have to work on Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, but many engineers do. Employees also get about 10 to 15 paid sick days per year.

How Much Does Tesla Pay Interns?

An average base salary of a Tesla intern in the US is about $48,000, while the total pay (including cash and stock bonuses) has an average of about $72,000 per year. Hourly interns at Tesla are paid slightly lower, about $40,000 to $60,000 per year on average. 

Software engineer interns are generally paid at least $28 per hour, up to $50, while other positions may get you much lower pay. Indeed.com reports that Tesla interns are paid about $18 on average for all positions combined.

While this is average for all Tesla companies in the US combined, in California you may get a lot higher pay, of about $28 to $40+ per hour as a Tesla internship engineer. Your experience can play a role here.

If you’re interning at Tesla in Fremont, keep in mind that it’s a very expensive area, and $30 may not be enough. Luckily, Tesla often pays and helps you to relocate if necessary and will offer a housing stipend, which can cover the rent for a few months.

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