Principal Software Engineer Salary

Principal Software Engineers in the United States can expect to earn a very generous salary, with average salaries (in the ballpark of $129K) surpassing six figures annually. Total cash compensation for Principal Software Engineers runs from $103K to $175K depending on bonuses that can occasionally exceed $23K and profit sharing that can reach almost $20K. The most influential factor affecting pay for this group is location, though the specific employer and years of experience have a (lesser) impact as well. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. Nearly all receive medical and dental insurance and most get vision plans. This overview is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$100,363 - $163,255
$100K
$130K
$160K
MEDIAN: $129,483
10%
50%
90%

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$55.37 - $88.77
$55
$70
$89
MEDIAN: $70.18
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
$100,363 - $163,255  
   
Bonus
$2,037 - $22,799  
Profit Sharing
$970 - $20,067  
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).
)
$103,485 - $174,540  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 2,164
© PayScale, Inc. @ www.payscale.com
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$33$66$99
Hourly Rate
$55.37 - $88.77  
   
Overtime
$40.96 - $98.35  
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
$2,037 - $22,799  
   
Commission
$15,000  
Profit Sharing
$970 - $20,067  
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).
)
$103,485 - $174,540  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 25 Mar 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 30
© PayScale, Inc. @ www.payscale.com

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

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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Principal Software Engineers sometimes move into a Chief Technology Officer role, where the salary is similar. Principal Software Engineers most often advance into Software Architect and Software Engineering Manager positions even though the median salaries are $24K lower and $9K 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 some prominent firms with considerable interest in employing a large team of Principal Software Engineers. With a median salary of $166K, Symantec Corporation offers Principal Software Engineers the highest pay. However, earnings don't seem to live on a large spectrum; they generally peter out at $126K and are capped at $202K. Principal Software Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks at Broadcom Corporation ($158K), Dell, Inc. ($152K), and EMC Corporation ($143K).

For Principal Software Engineers, below-average salaries can be found at Capital One Financial Corp; in fact, average earnings are around $116K, the lowest in the area, though the difference in the company's lowest and highest employee paychecks ($87K versus $164K) is great. BAE Systems Inc., DIRECTV, LLC., and Stryker Corp. are a few other employers known for handing out relatively lightweight salaries ($117K, $119K, and $123K respectively).

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their 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. It is often found that people who know Software Architecture are also skilled in Java.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Software Engineer

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


Experience and pay tend to be weakly linked for Principal Software Engineers — those with more experience do not necessarily bring in higher earnings. The average beginner in this position makes around $116K, but folks who have been around for five to 10 years see a markedly higher median salary of $128K. Principal Software Engineers claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $137K. People who have worked for more than 20 years report a median income of $142K, which is barely higher than the median for folks with 10 to 20 years of experience.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $136,453

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

For Principal Software Engineers, above-average compensation can be found in California — Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Francisco are known as the cities with the best salaries for Principal Software Engineers. Trailing the national average by 14 percent, Minneapolis is the market with the smallest paychecks. Employers also pay below the national average in Chicago (8 percent lower) and Dallas (6 percent lower).

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 283 votes.
Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
54%
20 years or more
31%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲4%

▼0%

National Average
$136,000

▼6%

▼15%

Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲3%


▲2%

▲2%



▲1%

Java/J2EE
▼0%

National Average
$136,000


C++
▼4%

SQL
▼4%



▼7%

C#
▼10%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 283 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: 90%
vision benefits
Vision: 81%
dental benefits
None: 4%
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