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Principal Software Engineer Salary

Generous salaries abound for Principal Software Engineers in the United States, with average pay above six figures ($122K) per year. Total cash compensation for Principal Software Engineers runs from $99K to $162K depending on bonuses that can occasionally exceed $20K and profit sharing that can reach almost $14K. The company is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography and years of experience. Medical and dental benefits are awarded to nearly all, and most earn vision coverage. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$96,242 - $151,446
(Median)
$96K
$120K
$150K
MEDIAN: $122,042
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
$96,242 - $151,446  
   
Bonus
$1,000 - $20,147  
Profit Sharing
$993 - $13,639  
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).
)
$98,827 - $162,246  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 16 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 3,078
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
$46.82 - $89.55  
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
$1,000 - $20,147  
   
Profit Sharing
$993 - $13,639  
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).
)
$98,827 - $162,246  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 16 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 50
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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 may enjoy a small increase in earnings as they climb the career ladder to roles like Chief Technology Officer, which pays $146K on average annually. Many Principal Software Engineers choose to become Software Architects and Software Development Managers as their careers advance. However, folks in those positions report median salaries of $19K less and $15K less, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Principal Software Engineers fill the offices of leading firms Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Symantec Corporation, Oracle, and Raytheon Co. Employees at Broadcom Corporation enjoy the biggest paychecks, and $151K is the median salary. Range in pay, on the other hand, is narrow, with lower figures hovering around $120K and higher ones not far away at only $170K. Principal Software Engineers will also find cushy salaries at Microsoft Corp (+$147K), Dell, Inc. (+$145K), and Symantec Corporation (+$142K).

Not only do salaries lack room to grow — pay ranges from $82K to just $124K — but PTC offers the lowest pay in town to boot, with a median paycheck of $99K. Emerson Process Management, Staples, Inc., and Fidelity Investments are a few other employers known for handing out relatively lightweight salaries ($100K, $110K, and $113K respectively).

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Principal Software Engineers report using a deep pool of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Linux, Software Architecture, JavaScript, and Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS 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 many Principal Software Engineers, extensive experience does not lead to significantly more money. Even the relatively untried can take home bulky six-figure salaries; employees who have worked for fewer than five years report earning $109K on average. Principal Software Engineers with one to two decades of relevant experience report an average salary of approximately $129K. 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 $132K.

Pay Difference by Location


For Principal Software Engineers, busy Sunnyvale offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 22 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 (+15 percent), and San Jose (+14 percent). In Atlanta, salaries are 15 percent below the national average and represent the lowest-paying market. Below-median salaries also turn up in Denver and Minneapolis (12 percent lower and 10 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)

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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%

JavaScript
up arrow 3%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 2%

Database
up arrow 2%

UNIX
up arrow 2%

C++
up arrow 1%

Java
up arrow 1%

C
up arrow 1%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 1%

Web Development
up arrow 1%

Software Development
0%

National Average
$128,000

SQL
up arrow 4%

C#
up arrow 5%

up arrow 5%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 568 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%
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