Software Design Engineer (SDE) Salary

Average Software Design Engineers in the United States make around $84K per year. Career length and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. The vast majority of Software Design Engineers (89 percent) who took the survey are men. Though the majority of Software Design Engineers do not report high levels of job satisfaction, most are moderately content with their role. Almost all claim medical and dental insurance and a large number get vision coverage. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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$59,559 - $121,220
MEDIAN: $83,832

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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.
$59,559 - $121,220  
$0.00 - $14,822  
Profit Sharing
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).
$60,076 - $131,000  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 20 Sep 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 140
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Job Description for Software Design Engineer (SDE)

A software design engineer (SDE) is a key member of a software development company. He or she helps identify problems and figures out how to create programs that will automate or ease those situations. Typically, the design engineer will look at existing processes and then work to design or refine software to increase the efficiency or ulity of users. This can involve creating a new product or iterating on existing software products to improve them.


Software Design Engineer (SDE) Tasks

  • Write code to create single-threaded or user interface event driven applications, either stand-alone and those which access servers or services.
  • Use source debuggers and visual development environments.
  • Test and document software for client applications.
  • Write, modify, and debug software for client applications.

Common Career Paths for

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There are some Software Design Engineers — though it's uncommon — that transition into Senior Software Development Engineers, where earnings are an average $106K annually.

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Software Design Engineers report using a wide range of professional skills. Most notably, skills in .NET, C#, ASP.NET, and C are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS, C++, and Java. Competency in C# frequently indicates knowledge of C++.

Pay by Experience Level for

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

Professionals with less than five years' experience earn a median of $75K annually, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts report a weighty six-figure median of $102K. Software Design Engineers claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $110K. Survey respondents who have worked for more than 20 years actually report somewhat lower incomes of $103K.

Pay Difference by Location

For those looking to make money, Software Design Engineers in Redmond enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 34 percent above the national average. Software Design Engineers will also find cushy salaries in Seattle (+18 percent).

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Experience Affects Salaries

up arrow 18%

National Average

Skills That Affect Salaries

up arrow 13%

up arrow 9%

up arrow 3%


National Average

up arrow 3%

up arrow 3%

up arrow 7%

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 8%

Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 35 votes.


11 %
89 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
1-4 years
5-9 years
10-19 years
20 years or more

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 94% dental benefits Dental: 90%
vision benefits Vision: 82% employee benefits None: 5%