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. Cash earnings for Principal Software Engineers — which occasionally include more than $20K from bonuses and more than $14K from profit sharing — stretch from around $99K to approximately $162K. The particular firm is the main element affecting pay for this group — the particular city and experience level are driving factors as well. Almost all receive medical and dental insurance and a large number get vision insurance. Most Principal Software Engineers like their work and job satisfaction is high. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$95,818 - $150,993
(Median)
$96K
$120K
$150K
MEDIAN: $121,581
10%
50%
90%

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$43.78 - $82.83
(Median)
$44
$63
$83
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
$95,818 - $150,993  
   
Bonus
$1,005 - $20,059  
Profit Sharing
$1,002 - $13,507  
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).
)
$98,523 - $161,693  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 3,029
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$30$60$90
Hourly Rate
$43.78 - $82.83  
   
Overtime
$48.01 - $89.55  
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$60K$120K$180K
Bonus
$1,005 - $20,059  
   
Profit Sharing
$1,002 - $13,507  
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).
)
$98,523 - $161,693  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 1 Apr 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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Principal Software Engineers sometimes move into a Software Engineering role, where the salary is similar. Principal Software Engineers most often advance into Software Architect and Software Development Manager positions even though the median salaries are $18K lower and $15K lower, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Principal Software Engineers flock to Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co., highly regarded companies that employ a generous number of people in this profession. Employees at Broadcom Corporation enjoy the biggest paychecks, and $150K is the median salary. Range in pay, on the other hand, is narrow, with lower figures hovering around $121K and higher ones not far away at only $170K. Other employers shelling out big bucks include Dell, Inc., Microsoft Corp, and Symantec Corporation, where Principal Software Engineers typically earn around $145K, $145K, or $142K, respectively.

PTC doles out the lowest salaries in town — median pay is $99K — not to mention workers can only make as much as $124K and scope of pay is rather limited. Workers at Emerson Process Management, Staples, Inc., and Fidelity Investments also face smaller salaries than the rest of the field — average earnings for these employers come to $100K, $110K, and $113K respectively.

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Survey takers working as Principal Software Engineers report using a large range of professional skills. Most notably, skills in Linux, Software Architecture, JavaScript, and Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that seem to negatively impact pay include .NET, C#, and SQL. It is often found that people who know Software Architecture are also skilled in C++.

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. Salaries can reach six figures almost right off the bat; beginning workers who have less than five years' experience bring in a median of $107K per year. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $129K in this role. Principal Software Engineers with more than 20 years of experience report incomes that are only modestly higher; the median for these old hands hovers around $132K.

Pay Difference by Location


Principal Software Engineers will find that Sunnyvale offers an impressive pay rate, one which exceeds the national average by 21 percent. Principal Software Engineers will also find cushy salaries in Santa Clara (+16 percent), Mountain View (+16 percent), San Francisco (+15 percent), and San Jose (+14 percent). Trailing the national average by 15 percent, Atlanta is the market with the smallest paychecks. Employers also pay below the national average in Denver (11 percent lower) and Minneapolis (8 percent lower).

Principal Software Engineer Advice

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

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

United States (change)

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$128,000


Entry-Level
up arrow 16%

Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

up arrow 5%

Software Architecture
up arrow 3%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 3%

JavaScript
up arrow 3%

C
up arrow 2%

Database
up arrow 2%

UNIX
up arrow 2%

C++
up arrow 1%

Software Development
up arrow 1%

Java
up arrow 1%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 1%

Web Development
up arrow 1%

National Average
$128,000

C#
up arrow 4%

SQL
up arrow 4%

up arrow 5%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 603 votes.

Gender

Female
8 %
Male
92 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
1%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
57%
20 years or more
28%

Common Health Benefits

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