Principal Electrical Engineer Salary

Compensation for Principal Electrical Engineers in the United States is generous, with average pay surpassing six figures annually ($116K). Total cash earnings of Principal Electrical Engineers range from $91K on the low end to $163K on the high end; the final amount can include bonuses and profit sharing proceeds that occasionally exceed $20K and $18K, respectively. Geographic location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career length. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Principal Electrical Engineers. Medical benefits are awarded to nearly all, and most earn dental coverage. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.

$89,624 - $150,491
(Median)
$90K
$120K
$150K
MEDIAN: $116,247
10%
50%
90%

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$30.44 - $98.39
(Median)
$30
$62
$98
MEDIAN: $62.00
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$60K$120K$180K
Salary
$89,624 - $150,491  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $20,134  
Profit Sharing
$970 - $18,373  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$91,286 - $163,132  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 842
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$33$66$99
Hourly Rate
$30.44 - $98.39  
   
Overtime
$24.00 - $79.98  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$70K$140K$210K
Bonus
$0.00 - $20,134  
   
Profit Sharing
$970 - $18,373  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$91,286 - $163,132  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 26
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Job Description for Principal Electrical Engineer

A principal electrical engineer oversees electrical-related building or design projects within their organization, as well as oversees a staff of junior engineers who work in their planning and execution. The principal electrical engineer serves in a project manager capacity, regularly inspecting and reviewing the work being done, noting any needed corrections or adjustments. For many building and design firms, the principal engineer also performs cost forecasting, projections, and estimations; these are essential to provide clients with an accurate assessment of costs. It then falls to the principal electrical engineer to ensure the project comes in at (or near) the forecasted cost.

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Principal Electrical Engineer Tasks

  • Develop, design, and test electrical devices.
  • Develop policies and procedures for use of the created products.
  • Manage all aspects Electrical Engineering projects from beginning phases until completion.

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Popular Skills for Principal Electrical Engineer


Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in Field-Programmable Gate Array, Board Design / Debug, Design, and Systems Engineering are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts in pay of 4 percent. Skills that pay less than market rate include System Integration, Controls, and Microsoft Office. Those educated in Engineering Design tend to be well versed in Design and Simulation.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Electrical Engineer

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.


For many Principal Electrical Engineers, extensive experience does not lead to significantly more money. Those in the early stages of their career can expect to make around $91K; however, individuals with five to 10 years of experience bring in $107K on average — a distinctly larger sum. After working for 10 to 20 years, Principal Electrical Engineers make a median salary of $123K. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make only slightly more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage; the more senior group reports median earnings of around $129K.

Pay Difference by Location


For Principal Electrical Engineers, San Jose provides a pay rate that is 26 percent greater than the national average. Principal Electrical Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Santa Clara (+25 percent), Irvine (+13 percent), Los Angeles (+9 percent), and Detroit (+7 percent). The lowest-paying market is Pittsburgh, which sits 16 percent below the national average. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Dallas (13 percent lower) and Minneapolis (6 percent lower).

Principal Electrical Engineer Advice

What do you wish you knew about your job when you first started out?

Principal Electrical Engineer in Denver:
"Hindsight is 20/20."
Knowing that I would make a salary at the top of my industry, I probably would have spent more energy learning more to get there faster. I was fortunate it turned out the way it did for me, but chance does not have to be part of the equation if you have the skills someone wants. Study hard, intern with what you love, and go for the area of expertise you really want to spend your life doing. A love for what you do makes it so much easier and rewarding.

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Experience Affects Principal Electrical Engineer Salaries



National Average
$122,000


Entry-Level
up arrow 25%

Skills That Affect Principal Electrical Engineer Salaries

Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA)
up arrow 4%

Design
up arrow 3%

Board Design / Debug
up arrow 3%

Systems Engineering
up arrow 2%

Engineering Design
up arrow 1%

Simulation
up arrow 1%

National Average
$122,000

Microsoft Excel
up arrow 1%

Project Management
up arrow 2%

Software Development
up arrow 2%

Microsoft Word
up arrow 2%

Microsoft Office
up arrow 3%

Windows Operating System General Use
up arrow 3%

Controls
up arrow 6%

System Integration
up arrow 8%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 179 votes.

Gender

Female
4 %
Male
96 %

Years of Experience

1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
14%
10-19 years
36%
20 years or more
48%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 94% dental benefits Dental: 86%
vision benefits Vision: 71% employee benefits None: 5%
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