Principal Software Engineer Salary

Principal Software Engineers in the United States can expect to earn a very comfortable salary, with average salaries (in the ballpark of $122K) surpassing six figures annually. Overall cash earnings for Principal Software Engineers stretch from $99K on the lower end to $163K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $20K from bonuses and $14K from profit sharing. The particular firm is the main element affecting pay for this group — the particular city and tenure are driving factors as well. Almost all report receiving medical and dental coverage from their employers and a large number collect vision insurance. Job satisfaction for Principal Software Engineers is high. This report is based on responses to the PayScale salary survey.

$96,421 - $151,806
(Median)
$96K
$120K
$150K
MEDIAN: $122,319
10%
50%
90%

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$43.78 - $82.83
(Median)
$44
$61
$83
MEDIAN: $61.00
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
$96,421 - $151,806  
   
Bonus
$998 - $20,229  
Profit Sharing
$985 - $14,030  
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).
)
$98,979 - $162,566  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 3,109
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$31$62$93
Hourly Rate
$43.78 - $82.83  
   
Overtime
$47.50 - $90.40  
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
$998 - $20,229  
   
Profit Sharing
$985 - $14,030  
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).
)
$98,979 - $162,566  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Jun 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 51
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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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Although some Principal Software Engineers become Principal Software Architect, this progression is not the norm. However, the latter position does pay a little more at $149K. A lot of Principal Software Engineers advance their careers by becoming Software Architects and Software Development Managers. However, those positions offer $19K less and $16K less per year on average.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Known for taking on a considerable number of Principal Software Engineers, Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co. are leading firms in the industry. Although the highest salaries can be found at Broadcom Corporation where median pay is $151K, there is little variation in compensation; paychecks are spread only between $120K and $170K. Also paying near the top of the field are Microsoft Corp at $147K, Dell, Inc. at $145K, 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, Software Architecture, JavaScript, and UNIX are correlated to pay that is above average. At the other end of the pay range are skills like .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.


More years of relevant experience do not necessarily translate to higher paychecks. Respondents with less than five years' experience take home $109K on average. In contrast, those who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably higher average of $121K. Principal Software Engineers claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $129K. Individuals who report more than two decades of experience seem to make only slightly more than folks in the 10-to-20 year range; the more senior group sees median earnings in the comparatively modest ballpark of $133K.

Pay Difference by Location


Sunnyvale offers some of the highest pay in the country for Principal Software Engineers, 22 percent above the national average. Principal Software Engineers will also find cushy salaries in Mountain View (+17 percent), Santa Clara (+16 percent), San Francisco (+15 percent), and San Jose (+13 percent). Trailing the national average by 11 percent, Denver is the market with the smallest paychecks. Workers in Chicago and Minneapolis earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (10 percent less).

Principal Software Engineer Advice

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

Principal Software Engineer in San Francisco:
"Learn to be a team player and also a leader at the same time."
Learn to be a team player and also a leader at the same time.

Principal Software Engineer in Dallas:
"How Is As Important As What You Do."
Success at Intuit requires senior technologists to have strong soft skills, and how you do your job is just as important as what you accomplish.

Related Job Salaries

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Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$128,000


Entry-Level
up arrow 15%

Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

up arrow 5%

Software Architecture
up arrow 3%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 2%

JavaScript
up arrow 2%

UNIX
up arrow 2%

C++
up arrow 1%

Java
up arrow 1%

C
up arrow 1%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 1%

Database
up arrow 1%

Software Development
0%

Web Development
0%

National Average
$128,000

SQL
up arrow 4%

C#
up arrow 5%

up arrow 5%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 547 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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