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Principal Software Engineer Salary

Salaries for Principal Software Engineers in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($127K) per year. Total cash compensation to Principal Software Engineers bottoms out near $98K and approaches $161K on the high end; the biggest paychecks include approximately $20K from bonuses and almost $12K from profit sharing. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is the specific employer, followed by geography and experience level. Nearly all claim medical and dental insurance and most get vision coverage. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Principal Software Engineers. Respondents to the PayScale salary survey provided the data for this report.
$94,662 - $150,070
(Median)
95K
120K
140K
150K
MEDIAN: $121,012
10%
50%
75%
90%

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$44.67 - $82.83
(Median)
45
53
64
75
83
MEDIAN: $63.00
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

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Show Annual Salary Show Hourly Rate

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
$94,662 - $150,070  
   
Bonus
$989 - $20,115  
Profit Sharing
$1,005 - $12,306  
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).
)
$97,925 - $160,898  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 2,773
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
$44.67 - $82.83  
   
Overtime
$44.50 - $88.44  
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
$989 - $20,115  
   
Profit Sharing
$1,005 - $12,306  
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).
)
$97,925 - $160,898  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 51
United States (change)

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 may not always see an increase in earnings as they climb the career ladder. For example, top-notch roles like Software Engineering offer money in line with Principal Software Engineers. Principal Software Engineers most often move into positions as Software Architects or Software Development Managers. Software Architects actually earn $19K less on average, however, and Software Development Managers earn $15K less per year than Principal Software Engineers do.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Broadcom Corporation are some prominent firms with considerable interest in employing a large team of Principal Software Engineers. Salary cannot be beat at Broadcom Corporation, where median pay comes to $150K. The range seems somewhat confined, however; the lower end sits at $118K, and the higher end is not far away at $171K. Also paying near the top of the field are Microsoft Corp at $145K, Dell, Inc. at $144K, and Symantec Corporation, where Principal Software Engineers annually earn $142K.

Salaries are easily beat at PTC, where median pay comes to just $93K, the lowest in the field. What's more, with base pay starting at $81K and ending at $124K, range in salary is rather small. Emerson Process Management, Staples, Inc. and Fidelity Investments are three other employers with a reputation for below-average pay, showing salaries around $100K, $109K, and $113K.

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Survey results imply that Principal Software Engineers deploy a deep pool of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Linux, Software Architecture, JavaScript, and Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 3 percent and 5 percent. Skills that pay less than market rate include .NET, C#, and SQL. Most people skilled in Software Architecture are similarly competent in 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 with more experience do not necessarily bring home bigger paychecks. In fact, experience in this field tends to impact compensation minimally. The average inexperienced employee pulls down a cushy six-figure sum; the median salary for people claiming fewer than five years of experience is $107K. Principal Software Engineers with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $128K. 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 $131K.

Pay Difference by Location


For Principal Software Engineers, Sunnyvale provides a pay rate that is 17 percent greater than the national average. Principal Software Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Santa Clara (+16 percent), Mountain View (+16 percent), San Francisco (+15 percent), and San Jose (+12 percent). Denver is the lowest-paying area, 12 percent south of the national average. Not at the bottom but still paying below the median are employers in Minneapolis and Burlington (12 percent lower and 7 percent lower, respectively).

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

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$127,000


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%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 2%

Database
up arrow 2%

Web Development
up arrow 2%

UNIX
up arrow 2%

C++
up arrow 1%

Java
up arrow 1%

Software Development
up arrow 1%

National Average
$127,000

SQL
up arrow 3%

C#
up arrow 4%

.NET
up arrow 4%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 595 votes.

Gender

Female
8 %
Male
92 %

Years of Experience

1-4 years
1%
5-9 years
14%
10-19 years
57%
20 years or more
28%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 96% dental benefits Dental: 92%
vision benefits Vision: 81% employee benefits None: 3%