Principal Software Engineer Salary

Average pay for a Principal Software Engineer in the United States is considerable, rounding six figures at $130K per year. Total incomes of Principal Software Engineers incorporate potential for, in a few cases, more than $24K from bonuses and close to $19K from profit sharing; these performance components cause packages to range between $104K and $177K. Geographic location is the main element affecting pay for this group — the company and experience level are driving factors as well. In this profession, almost all enjoy medical and dental coverage, and a large number have vision insurance, as well. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. The data for this snapshot was collected from individuals who took PayScale's salary survey.

$101,011 - $166,182
$100K
$130K
$170K
MEDIAN: $130,377
10%
50%
90%

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$54.38 - $88.64
$54
$70
$89
MEDIAN: $70.13
10%
50%
90%

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$0$177K
Salary $101,011 - $166,182
Bonus $2,540 - $23,738
Profit Sharing $1,026 - $19,392
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).
)
$103,851 - $177,305
  • Country: United States
  • Currency: USD
  • Updated: 11 Jul 2017
  • Individuals Reporting: 2,267
Hourly Data $0$94
Hourly Rate $54.38 - $88.64
Overtime $39.73 - $94.81
Annual Data $0$177K
Bonus $2,540 - $23,738
Profit Sharing $1,026 - $19,392
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).
)
$103,851 - $177,305
  • Country: United States
  • Currency: USD
  • Updated: 11 Jul 2017
  • Individuals Reporting: 34

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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

  • 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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As Principal Software Engineers transition into upper-level roles like Chief Technology Officers, it's possible that they won't see a change in salary. Chief Technology Officers earn the same amount as Principal Software Engineers on average. Principal Software Engineers most often advance into Software Architect and Software Engineering Manager positions even though the median salaries are $25K lower and $10K lower, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Oracle, Symantec Corporation, and Raytheon Co. are top-notch employers for Principal Software Engineers in this area. Although the highest salaries can be found at Symantec Corporation where median pay is $166K, there is little variation in compensation; paychecks are spread only between $126K and $202K. Principal Software Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks at Broadcom Corporation ($158K), Dell, Inc. ($152K), and EMC Corporation ($143K).

For Principal Software Engineers, below-average salaries can be found at Capital One Financial Corp; in fact, average earnings are around $116K, the lowest in the area, though the difference in the company's lowest and highest employee paychecks ($87K versus $164K) is great. BAE Systems Inc., DIRECTV, LLC. and Stryker Corp. are three other employers with a reputation for below-average pay, showing salaries around $117K, $119K, and $123K.

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 are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include C#, .NET, and C# Programming Language. Those familiar with Software Architecture also tend to know Java.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Software Engineer

Pay by Experience for a Principal Software Engineer has a positive trend. An entry-level Principal Software Engineer with less than 5 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $116,000 based on 91 salaries provided by anonymous users. Average total compensation includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay. A Principal Software Engineer with mid-career experience which includes employees with 5 to 10 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $128,000 based on 495 salaries. An experienced Principal Software Engineer which includes employees with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $137,000 based on 1,442 salaries. A Principal Software Engineer with late-career experience which includes employees with greater than 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $142,000 based on 671 salaries.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $137,238

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

Principal Software Engineers in search of above-average pay will head to California: In particular, Principal Software Engineers in Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Francisco are the best-paid American cities for Principal Software Engineers, who enjoy higher pay rates than the national average. Trailing the national average by 14 percent, Minneapolis is the market with the smallest paychecks. Employers also pay below the national average in Chicago (8 percent lower) and Dallas (6 percent lower).

Principal Software Engineer Reviews

Q: What is it like working as a Principal Software Engineer?

Principal Software Engineer in Chicago:
Pros: Good people. Strong engineering culture.
Cons: Long slow downward spiral over the last several years. Increasing amount of work is moving to eastern Europe.

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Principal Software Engineer

Gender

Female
6 %
Male
94 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 322 votes.
Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
54%
20 years or more
31%
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Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲4%

▼0%

National Average
$137,000

▼7%

▼16%

Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲2%

▲2%

▲2%




▼0%

Java/J2EE
▼0%

National Average
$137,000


C++
▼5%

SQL
▼5%



▼8%

C#
▼11%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 322 votes.

Gender

Female
6 %
Male
94 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
54%
20 years or more
31%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 94%
dental benefits
Dental: 89%
vision benefits
Vision: 82%
no benefits
None: 4%
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