Salaries for Principal Software Engineers in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($128K) per year. In the world of Principal Software Engineers, overall cash allowance can occasionally include more than $22K from bonuses and, in some exceptional cases, $20K from profit sharing, causing incomes to vary widely between $103K and $173K. The most important factor affecting compensation for this group is the company, followed by the particular city and years of experience. The majority of Principal Software Engineers claim high levels of job satisfaction. Almost all report receiving medical and dental coverage from their employers and a large number collect vision insurance. The data for this snapshot was collected from individuals who took PayScale's salary survey.

$100,150 - $161,280
(Median)
$100K
$130K
$160K
MEDIAN: $128,245
10%
50%
90%

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$50.22 - $86.42
(Median)
$50
$68
$86
MEDIAN: $67.00
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
$100,150 - $161,280  
   
Bonus
$2,052 - $22,455  
Profit Sharing
$992 - $19,661  
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).
)
$102,963 - $172,777  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 2,290
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$34$68$102
Hourly Rate
$50.22 - $86.42  
   
Overtime
$40.76 - $99.89  
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
$2,052 - $22,455  
   
Profit Sharing
$992 - $19,661  
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).
)
$102,963 - $172,777  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 28 Oct 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 31
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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 not see large compensation differences if they transition into an upper-level role such as Chief Technology Officer. Chief Technology Officers on average make about as much as Principal Software Engineers do. Principal Software Engineers most often advance into Software Architect and Software Engineering Manager positions even though the median salaries are $23K lower and $9K lower, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

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Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Leading companies who hire large numbers of Principal Software Engineers include Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Oracle, Raytheon Co., and Symantec Corporation. Symantec Corporation offers the best pay with a median salary of $167K, though salaries there don't seem that varied, bottoming out near $122K and maxing out at just $207K. Soaring salaries can also be found at Microsoft Corp, Broadcom Corporation, and Dell, Inc., where earnings of $165K, $160K, or $151K are standard for Principal Software Engineers.

Principal Software Engineers will find the worst pay at PTC, where the median salary crawls in at $110K. Furthermore, compensation is curbed at $125K, leaving little room for growth. Also sliding in at the lower end of the scale are BAE Systems Inc. ($120K), Stryker Corp. ($123K), and Motorola, Inc. ($125K).

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Most notably, skills in Linux, Java, Database, and C++ Programming Language 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. Most people skilled in Software Architecture are similarly competent in Java.

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, more experience in the field does not usually mean bigger paychecks. Even the relatively untested can score weighty six-figure salaries; survey participants with less than five years' experience report earning a median of $114K per year. Principal Software Engineers see a median salary of $136K after reaching one to two decades on the job. Individuals who have achieved more than 20 years of experience don't seem to earn much more than people who have 10 to 20 years under their belts; the more senior group reports an average income of $142K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $135,432

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

For Principal Software Engineers, above-average compensation can be found in California — Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Jose are known as the cities with the best salaries for Principal Software Engineers. Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Minneapolis, 13 percent below the national average. Workers in Chicago and Denver earn salaries that trail the national average for those in this profession (11 percent less and 8 percent less, respectively).

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Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries



National Average
$135,000



Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

up arrow 5%

Java
up arrow 3%

C++ Programming Language
up arrow 2%

Database
up arrow 2%

Software Architecture
up arrow 1%

C programming Language
up arrow 1%

National Average
$135,000

JavaScript
up arrow 1%

Software Development
up arrow 2%

Java/J2EE
up arrow 2%

C++
up arrow 4%

SQL
up arrow 4%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 4%


up arrow 8%

C#
up arrow 9%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 298 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
55%
20 years or more
30%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 95%
dental benefits
Dental: 90%
medical benefits
Vision: 81%
dental benefits
None: 4%
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