Engineer leveling at Google is interesting:
- New grads are generally hired as T3 / SDE II.
- Leveling criteria and salaries are published internally and available to everybody.
- Promotions are based on self-nomination. At one point, HR discovered there was a major disparity in the percentage of women vs. men being promoted, and was able to close the gap significantly by encouraging more women to self-nominate.
- At each level until T5 , it is an expectation that you be working toward performing at the next level up. If you go too long without advancing, you become a candidate for termination.
- T6 is pretty achievable for a good engineer on staff for a while. Higher levels get exponentially tougher, and 8+ are more or less for global leaders in their field.