Principal Software Engineer Salary

Average pay for a Principal Software Engineer in the United States is considerable, rounding six figures at $122K per year. Total cash earnings of Principal Software Engineers range from $99K on the low end to $163K on the high end; the final amount can include bonuses and profit sharing proceeds that occasionally exceed $20K and $14K, respectively. This group's pay is mainly influenced by the particular firm, followed by geography and tenure. In this profession, nearly all enjoy medical and dental coverage, and most have vision insurance, as well. The majority of workers are highly satisfied with their job. This report is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$96,397 - $151,870
(Median)
$96K
$120K
$150K
MEDIAN: $122,463
10%
50%
90%

Add this chart to your site: 640px    300px

$43.96 - $82.63
(Median)
$44
$62
$83
MEDIAN: $62.00
10%
50%
90%

Add this chart to your site: 640px    300px

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
$96,397 - $151,870  
   
Bonus
$994 - $20,217  
Profit Sharing
$989 - $14,030  
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).
)
$98,920 - $162,636  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 3,136
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$31$62$93
Hourly Rate
$43.96 - $82.63  
   
Overtime
$41.17 - $91.12  
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$70K$140K$210K
Bonus
$994 - $20,217  
   
Profit Sharing
$989 - $14,030  
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).
)
$98,920 - $162,636  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 53
United States (change)

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)


Comp Managers: Start Here »

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


Add this chart to your site:   640px 640px    300px 300px


Though it's uncommon, some Principal Software Engineers move into roles as Principal Software Architects, where they can earn incomes averaing out to a slightly higher $150K per year. A lot of Principal Software Engineers advance their careers by becoming Software Architects and Software Development Managers. However, those positions offer $19K less and $16K less per year on average.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

Search for more jobs:

Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Dominating the field, Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co. are top firms with a reputation for hiring a great number 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 $120K, and the higher end is not far away at $170K. Dell, Inc., Microsoft Corp, and Symantec Corporation are a few other companies that offer generous salaries, with Principal Software Engineers earning around $147K, $147K, or $143K at each firm, respectively.

Employees at PTC take home the smallest paychecks, and $99K is the median salary. Furthermore, range in pay is narrow, with salaries starting at $82K and quickly nearing the top at only $124K. Others at the bottom of the scale for this job include Staples, Inc. at $111K, 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


Survey results imply that Principal Software Engineers deploy a substantial tool kit of skills at work. Most notably, skills in Linux, Software Architecture, JavaScript, and UNIX are correlated to pay that is above average. At the other end of the pay range are skills like .NET, C#, and SQL. Most people experienced in Software Architecture also know C++.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Software Engineer

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


For Principal Software Engineers, level of experience appears to be a somewhat less important part of the salary calculation — more experience does not correlate to noticeably higher pay. 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 $110K per year. For Principal Software Engineers, 10 to 20 years of experience on the job amounts to an average salary of $130K. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make only slightly more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage; the more senior group reports median earnings of around $133K.

Pay Difference by Location


Sunnyvale is home to an above-average pay rate for Principal Software Engineers, 22 percent higher than the national average. Principal Software Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Mountain View (+17 percent), Santa Clara (+16 percent), San Francisco (+15 percent), and San Jose (+14 percent). Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Chicago, 10 percent below the national average. Two other places where employers salaries are below the median are Denver and Minneapolis (10 percent lower).

Principal Software Engineer Advice

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

Principal Software Engineer in San Francisco:
"Learn to be a team player and also a leader at the same time."
Learn to be a team player and also a leader at the same time.

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)

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)


Comp Managers: Start Here »

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$128,000


Entry-Level
up arrow 14%

Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

up arrow 5%

Software Architecture
up arrow 3%

JavaScript
up arrow 2%

UNIX
up arrow 2%

C++
up arrow 1%

Java
up arrow 1%

C
up arrow 1%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 1%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 1%

Database
up arrow 1%

Software Development
0%

Web Development
0%

National Average
$128,000

SQL
up arrow 4%

C#
up arrow 5%

up arrow 6%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 540 votes.

Gender

Female
8 %
Male
92 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
14%
10-19 years
56%
20 years or more
28%

Common Health Benefits

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