Principal Software Engineer Salary

Salaries for Principal Software Engineers in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($124K) per year. Including potential for bonuses and profit sharing — peaking near $20K and $14K, respectively — total cash payment to Principal Software Engineers can bottom out near $99K or peak near $166K depending on individual performance. Compensation for this group is mainly affected by the company, but geography and tenure are influential factors as well. Medical and dental coverage is claimed by nearly all, and most earn vision coverage. Work is enjoyable for Principal Software Engineers, who typically claim high levels of job satisfaction. The numbers in this rundown were provided by PayScale's salary survey participants.

$96,246 - $154,303
(Median)
$96K
$120K
$150K
MEDIAN: $123,772
10%
50%
90%

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$43.93 - $81.71
(Median)
$44
$63
$82
MEDIAN: $63.00
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
$96,246 - $154,303  
   
Bonus
$1,029 - $20,462  
Profit Sharing
$993 - $14,480  
Commission
$0.00  
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).
)
$98,734 - $165,633  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 3,519
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$31$62$93
Hourly Rate
$43.93 - $81.71  
   
Overtime
$42.05 - $92.45  
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
$1,029 - $20,462  
   
Commission
$0.00  
Profit Sharing
$993 - $14,480  
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).
)
$98,734 - $165,633  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | 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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For Principal Software Engineers, advancing into a Principal Software Architect role, for which the median salary is $149K, is not common but it does happen. Many Principal Software Engineers choose to become Software Architects and Software Engineering Managers as their careers advance. However, folks in those positions report median salaries of $19K less and $4K less, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Well-known firms with a reputation for hiring numerous Principal Software Engineers include Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co. The biggest paychecks can be found at Microsoft Corp — the median salary there is $163K; however, employees are subject to a wide range in pay, with the lowest salaries sitting near $110K and highest ones in the neighborhood of $224K. Those in search of high salaries should also consider Broadcom Corporation, Dell, Inc., and Symantec Corporation, top-paying firms where Principal Software Engineers rake in a whopping $151K, $146K, or $144K, respectively.

With a median salary of $101K, PTC provides Principal Software Engineers with the lowest pay in their field; moreover, earnings are capped at only $124K, limiting employee salary growth. Others at the bottom of the scale for this job include Staples, Inc. at $112K, and Fidelity Investments where $113K is the norm, but it is worth noting that some Principal Software Engineers there earn up to $156K.

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Principal Software Engineers report using a deep pool of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Linux, JavaScript, Java, and Java/J2EE are correlated to pay that is above average. At the other end of the pay range are skills like .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 does not seem to be a strong driver of pay increase in this role. Even the relatively untested can earn a lot; individuals who have been working for fewer than five years report a median six-figure salary of $116K per year. On average, Principal Software Engineers make $131K following one to two decades on the job. Respondents who claim more than 20 years of experience may encounter pay that doesn't quite reflect their extensive experience; these veterans report a median income of around $135K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $129,928

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

Principal Software Engineers in Sunnyvale, San Francisco, and Mountain View — all located in California — not only make more than the national average for those in this profession but represent the highest-paid cities in the country for Principal Software Engineers. With compensation 12 percent below the national average, Denver is not known for hefty paychecks and actually represents the lowest-paying market. Employers pay around 11 percent less in Chicago and 10 percent less in Minneapolis, below-median salaries for those in this field.

Related Job Salaries

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Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$130,000



Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

up arrow 5%

Java
up arrow 2%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 2%

JavaScript
up arrow 2%

C
up arrow 1%

Database
up arrow 1%

C++
0%

Software Architecture
0%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
0%

Web Development
0%

UNIX
0%

National Average
$130,000

Software Development
up arrow 1%

SQL
up arrow 3%

C#
up arrow 6%

up arrow 6%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 533 votes.

Gender

Female
7 %
Male
93 %

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%
medical benefits
Vision: 82%
dental benefits
None: 3%
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