Principal Software Engineers in the United States see excellent average salaries — about $129K annually. Overall cash earnings for Principal Software Engineers stretch from $103K on the lower end to $174K near the top, and the heftiest packages can encompass around $22K from bonuses and $20K from profit sharing. The particular firm is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by the particular city and years of experience. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. Medical and dental coverage is claimed by almost all, and a large number earn vision coverage. Participants in PayScale's salary questionnaire provided the particulars of this report.

$100,298 - $162,349
$100K
$130K
$160K
MEDIAN: $128,709
10%
50%
90%

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$50.34 - $88.27
$50
$68
$88
MEDIAN: $68.00
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
$100,298 - $162,349  
   
Bonus
$2,045 - $22,254  
Profit Sharing
$974 - $19,774  
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).
)
$103,262 - $173,630  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 2,289
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
$50.34 - $88.27  
   
Overtime
$40.86 - $98.55  
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
$2,045 - $22,254  
   
Profit Sharing
$974 - $19,774  
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).
)
$103,262 - $173,630  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jan 2017 | Individuals Reporting: 32

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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 may not see large compensation differences if they transition into an upper-level role such as Chief Technology Officer. Chief Technology Officers on average make about as much as Principal Software Engineers do. Principal Software Engineers most often move into Software Architect or Software Engineering Manager roles. However, the former pays $23K less on average, and the latter pays $9K less.

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 all popular places to work. Although salaries only range from $124K to just $200K, 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 (+$142K).

Not only do salaries lack room to grow — pay ranges from $98K to just $160K — but BAE Systems Inc. offers the lowest pay in town to boot, with a median paycheck of $114K. PTC, 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


Principal Software Engineers seem to require a rather large skill set. Most notably, skills in Linux, Java, Database, and Software Architecture are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that pay less than market rate include C#, .NET, and C# Programming Language. For most people, competency in Software Architecture indicates knowledge of Java.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Software Engineer

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


For many Principal Software Engineers, extensive experience does not lead to significantly more money. Large paychecks, which sit comfortably in the six-figure range, are handed out almost immediately; professionals who have less than five years' experience report earning a median of $114K per year. For Principal Software Engineers, 10 to 20 years of experience on the job amounts to an average salary of $136K. Folks who have racked up more than 20 years in the field report incomes that aren't that much higher than less experienced individuals' earnings; the veterans make just $142K on average.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $135,684

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

For Principal Software Engineers, top-notch salaries can be found in California: Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Francisco offer exceptional salaries — better than the national average for those in this field and higher than any other city in the United States. Minneapolis ranks last in the field for pay, reporting salaries 12 percent below the national average. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Chicago (10 percent lower) and Atlanta (7 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 289 votes.
Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
55%
20 years or more
30%
Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$136,000



Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 289 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
55%
20 years or more
30%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 95%
dental benefits
Dental: 90%
vision benefits
Vision: 81%
dental benefits
None: 4%
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