Principal Software Engineer Salary

On average, Principal Software Engineers in the United States earn six-figure salaries ($123K) annually, making for a very well-paid profession. Including potential for bonuses and profit sharing — peaking near $20K and $14K, respectively — total cash payment to Principal Software Engineers can bottom out near $99K or peak near $163K depending on individual performance. This group's pay is mainly influenced by the particular firm, followed by the particular city and tenure. Almost all have medical and dental plans, and a large number have vision insurance. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Principal Software Engineers. The data for this synopsis comes from respondents who took the PayScale salary survey.

$96,487 - $152,128

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$43.87 - $82.73

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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
$96,487 - $152,128  
   
Bonus
$993 - $20,204  
Profit Sharing
$988 - $13,533  
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).
)
$99,029 - $162,715  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 3,136
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$31$62$93
Hourly Rate
$43.87 - $82.73  
   
Overtime
$41.17 - $91.12  
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
$993 - $20,204  
   
Profit Sharing
$988 - $13,533  
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).
)
$99,029 - $162,715  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 52
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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

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

Common Career Paths for Principal Software Engineer


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Though it's uncommon, some Principal Software Engineers move into roles as Principal Software Architects, where they can earn incomes averaing out to a slightly higher $149K per year. Principal Software Engineers most frequently become Software Architects and Software Development Managers even though median compensation is $19K lower and $16K lower, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Well-known firms with a reputation for hiring numerous Principal Software Engineers include Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co. Although salaries only range from $120K to just $170K, Broadcom Corporation still offers the highest pay with a median paycheck of $150K. Also paying near the top of the field are Dell, Inc. at $147K, Microsoft Corp at $147K, and Symantec Corporation, where Principal Software Engineers annually earn $143K.

Not only do salaries lack room to grow — pay ranges from $82K to just $124K — but PTC offers the lowest pay in town to boot, with a median paycheck of $99K. Other low-paying employers include Staples, Inc. at $111K and Fidelity Investments at $113K, though some Principal Software Engineers there earn up to $156K.

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Principal Software Engineers seem to exploit a large range of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Linux, JavaScript, Software Architecture, and UNIX are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that pay less than market rate include .NET, C#, and SQL. The majority of those who know Software Architecture also know C++.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Software Engineer

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


Principal Software Engineers do not generally earn higher incomes from more experience in the field. Those in the early stages of their career can expect to make around $110K; however, individuals with five to 10 years of experience bring in $121K on average — a distinctly larger sum. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $130K in this role. Principal Software Engineers who have stuck around for more than two decades see earnings that are only slightly higher than those of folks who have worked for 10 to 20 years; the more senior group makes around $134K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


For Principal Software Engineers, busy Sunnyvale offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 22 percent above the national average. Principal Software Engineers will also find cushy salaries in Mountain View (+16 percent), Santa Clara (+16 percent), San Francisco (+14 percent), and San Jose (+14 percent). The lowest-paying market is Chicago, which sits 10 percent below the national average. On the whole, employers pay 10 percent below the median salary for those in this field in Minneapolis and Denver.

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Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$129,000



Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

up arrow 5%

Software Architecture
up arrow 3%

JavaScript
up arrow 3%

C++
up arrow 1%

Java
up arrow 1%

C
up arrow 1%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 1%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 1%

Database
up arrow 1%

UNIX
up arrow 1%

Software Development
0%

Web Development
0%

National Average
$129,000

SQL
up arrow 4%

C#
up arrow 5%

up arrow 6%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 529 votes.

Gender

Female
8 %
Male
92 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
14%
10-19 years
56%
20 years or more
29%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 96% dental benefits Dental: 92%
vision benefits Vision: 82% employee benefits None: 3%
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