Principal Software Engineer Salary

Generous salaries abound for Principal Software Engineers in the United States, with average pay above six figures ($124K) per year. Total cash compensation to Principal Software Engineers approaches anywhere from $99K on the lower end to $166K on the higher end; in exceptional cases, this can include more than $20K from bonuses and upwards of $14K from profit sharing. The company is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography and experience level. Work is enjoyable for Principal Software Engineers, who typically claim high levels of job satisfaction. Nearly all report receiving medical and dental coverage from their employers and most collect vision insurance. This snapshot results from replies to PayScale's salary survey.

$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


Principal Software Engineers flock to Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co., highly regarded companies that employ a generous number of people in this profession. Principal Software Engineers seeking a sizable paycheck can earn the most at Microsoft Corp, where the median salary comes to $163K, though the large pay difference between employees at the top ($110K) and those starting out ($224K) creates a rather diverse pay scale. Principal Software Engineers will also find cushy salaries at Broadcom Corporation (+$151K), Dell, Inc. (+$146K), and Symantec Corporation (+$144K).

Pay for Principal Software Engineers is the lowest at PTC, which has a median salary of $101K. In addition, there's little room to grow there, with salaries maxing out at $124K. 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


Survey results imply that Principal Software Engineers deploy 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. Skills that pay less than market rate include .NET, C#, and SQL. Most people familiar with 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. The average beginner in this position makes around $116K, but folks who have been around for five to 10 years see a markedly higher median salary of $123K. Principal Software Engineers with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $131K. 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 $135K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $129,928

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

California cities Sunnyvale, San Francisco, and Mountain View are lucrative areas for Principal Software Engineers, where pay is not only higher than the national average but also represents the three highest-paid areas in the country. Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Denver, 12 percent below the national average. Chicago and Minneapolis are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 11 percent lower and 10 percent lower, respectively.

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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