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Principal Software Engineer Salary

Principal Software Engineers receive generous compensation in the United States — earning an average of $122K per year, their standard salaries shoot well into the six-figure range. Total cash compensation to Principal Software Engineers bottoms out near $99K and approaches $162K on the high end; the biggest paychecks include approximately $20K from bonuses and almost $14K from profit sharing. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is the particular firm, followed by geography and experience level. Nearly all claim medical and dental insurance and most get vision coverage. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$96,155 - $151,331
(Median)
$96K
$120K
$150K
MEDIAN: $121,958
10%
50%
90%

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$43.69 - $82.94
(Median)
$44
$62
$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
$96,155 - $151,331  
   
Bonus
$1,007 - $20,102  
Profit Sharing
$995 - $13,666  
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).
)
$98,781 - $162,075  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 3,058
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
$43.69 - $82.94  
   
Overtime
$47.08 - $89.40  
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$60K$120K$180K
Bonus
$1,007 - $20,102  
   
Profit Sharing
$995 - $13,666  
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).
)
$98,781 - $162,075  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 50

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United States (change)


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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. Many Principal Software Engineers go on to become Software Architects or Software Development Managers despite the fact that median compensation in those roles is reportedly $19K lower and $16K lower, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co. are all popular places to work. Although salaries only range from $120K to just $170K, Broadcom Corporation still offers the highest pay with a median paycheck of $151K. 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.

Salaries are easily beat at PTC, where median pay comes to just $99K, the lowest in the field. What's more, with base pay starting at $82K and ending at $124K, range in salary is rather small. A few other companies with smaller-than-average paychecks include Emerson Process Management ($100K), Staples, Inc. ($110K), and Fidelity Investments ($113K).

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Most notably, skills in Linux, Software Architecture, JavaScript, and Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS are correlated to pay that is above average. At the other end of the pay range are skills like .NET, C#, and SQL. Those proficient in Software Architecture are, more often than not, 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.


Principal Software Engineers do not generally earn higher incomes from more experience in the field. Although individuals who have less than five years' experience earn $108K on average, people with five to 10 years benefit from a notably larger average of $120K. Principal Software Engineers claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $129K. Principal Software Engineers who have stuck around for more than two decades see earnings that are only slightly higher than those of folks who have worked for 10 to 20 years; the more senior group makes around $132K on average.

Pay Difference by Location


Home to some of the best pay for Principal Software Engineers, Sunnyvale offers exceptional salaries, 21 percent above the national average. Principal Software Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Mountain View (+16 percent), Santa Clara (+16 percent), San Francisco (+14 percent), and San Jose (+13 percent). Atlanta is the lowest-paying area, 15 percent south of the national average. Below-median salaries also turn up in Denver and Minneapolis (12 percent lower and 9 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

United States (change)

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%

C
up arrow 2%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 2%

JavaScript
up arrow 2%

Database
up arrow 2%

UNIX
up arrow 2%

C++
up arrow 1%

Java
up arrow 1%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 1%

Web Development
up arrow 1%

Software Development
0%

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 583 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%
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