Principal Software Engineer Salary

Compensation for Principal Software Engineers in the United States is generous, with average pay surpassing six figures annually ($130K). Including potential for bonuses and profit sharing — peaking near $23K and $20K, respectively — total cash payment to Principal Software Engineers can bottom out near $104K or peak near $176K depending on individual performance. This group's pay is mainly influenced by location, followed by the specific employer and tenure. Nearly all report receiving medical coverage from their employers and most collect dental insurance. For the most part, Principal Software Engineers enjoy their work and report high levels of job satisfaction. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.

$100,549 - $165,081
$100K
$130K
$170K
MEDIAN: $129,726
10%
50%
90%

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$52.40 - $88.64
$52
$70
$89
MEDIAN: $70.13
10%
50%
90%

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$60K$120K$180K
Salary
$100,549 - $165,081  
   
Bonus
$2,078 - $23,465  
Profit Sharing
$993 - $19,943  
Commission
$15,000  
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).
)
$103,739 - $176,141  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 4 May 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 2,287
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$32$64$96
Hourly Rate
$52.40 - $88.64  
   
Overtime
$40.18 - $95.92  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Take the PayScale Survey to find out how location influences pay for this job.
)
$0$70K$140K$210K
Bonus
$2,078 - $23,465  
   
Commission
$15,000  
Profit Sharing
$993 - $19,943  
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).
)
$103,739 - $176,141  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 4 May 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 34

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United States (change)

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Job Description for Principal Software Engineer

Principal software engineers are in charge of most of the technical aspects of an organization's projects. You could consider them to be architects of sorts given the vast scope of work they do on a regular basis. Their primary function is being able to scale projects efficiently while maximizing performance and minimizing costs. They can also oversee development teams and coordinate strategies to make sure the technologies are interconnected and product lines are working smoothly. Most of the time, principal software engineers work on making sure standards are being followed when it comes to design, application requirements and proper maintenance. They also evaluate systems and networks to ensure all procedures are running correctly. A high degree of mathematics and engineering knowledge is needed to manage large scale business tasks. Principal software engineers use a computer (or computers) due to the complex data they process when making calculations and modifying strategy plans. The majority of their work is done indoors, with the exception being when they need to modify hardware controls and settings outdoors. As stated earlier, while principal software engineers supervise programmers and designers among other professionals to finish a project on time, they also have to respond to the IT managers in a given organization. It is essential that principal software engineers be proficient at building websites, troubleshooting code and improving the performance of existing programs. They also need to be excellent team players and able to handle stress well in addition to having an extensive knowledge of several programming languages. A bachelor's degree in computer science is usually the minimum educational requirement needed to become a principal software engineer, although a (CSDP) Certified Software Development Professional certification along with hands-on experience in a previous position is generally preferred.


Principal Software Engineer Tasks

  • Design, develop, integrate, test and deploy company's software.
  • Execute product specification, system design, development and system integration.
  • Develop new product concepts and development, deliver product prototypes.
  • Conduct new technology research, concept specification and design of individual software components.
  • Participate in product and program collaboration.

Common Career Paths for Principal Software Engineer


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As Principal Software Engineers transition into upper-level roles like Chief Technology Officers, it's possible that they won't see a change in salary. Chief Technology Officers earn the same amount as Principal Software Engineers on average. Many Principal Software Engineers advance into roles as Software Architects or Software Engineering Managers, but the median salaries are $24K lower and $10K lower, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Oracle, Symantec Corporation, and Raytheon Co. are top-notch employers for Principal Software Engineers in this area. Although salaries only range from $126K to just $202K, Symantec Corporation still offers the highest pay with a median paycheck of $166K. Principal Software Engineers will also find cushy salaries at Broadcom Corporation (+$158K), Dell, Inc. (+$152K), and EMC Corporation (+$143K).

Capital One Financial Corp offers the lowest pay in the field with a median salary of just $116K, but on the other end, some employees may earn up to $164K. Workers also receive paychecks lighter than average at BAE Systems Inc. ($117K), DIRECTV, LLC. ($119K), and Stryker Corp. ($123K).

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Survey results imply that Principal Software Engineers deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. Most notably, skills in Linux, Java, Database, and Software Architecture are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include C#, .NET, and C# Programming Language. Most people experienced in Software Architecture also know Java.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Software Engineer

Pay by Experience for a Principal Software Engineer has a positive trend. An entry-level Principal Software Engineer with less than 5 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $116,000 based on 91 salaries provided by anonymous users. Average total compensation includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay. A Principal Software Engineer with mid-career experience which includes employees with 5 to 10 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $128,000 based on 495 salaries. An experienced Principal Software Engineer which includes employees with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $137,000 based on 1,442 salaries. A Principal Software Engineer with late-career experience which includes employees with greater than 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $142,000 based on 671 salaries.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $136,727

Larger city markers indicate a job is popular in that location.

California cities Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Francisco are lucrative areas for Principal Software Engineers, where pay is not only higher than the national average but also represents the three highest-paid areas in the country. Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Minneapolis, 14 percent below the national average. Workers in Chicago and Dallas earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (8 percent less and 6 percent less, respectively).

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Principal Software Engineer

Gender

Female
7 %
Male
93 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 316 votes.
Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
54%
20 years or more
31%
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Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲4%

▼0%

National Average
$137,000

▼7%

▼15%

Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲3%


▲2%

▲2%



▼0%

Java/J2EE
▼0%

National Average
$137,000


SQL
▼4%

C++
▼5%



▼7%

C#
▼10%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 316 votes.

Gender

Female
7 %
Male
93 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
54%
20 years or more
31%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 95%
dental benefits
Dental: 89%
vision benefits
Vision: 81%
no benefits
None: 4%
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