Software Design Engineer (SDE) Salary

Earnings for Software Design Engineers in the United States come in at around $85K per year on average. Career duration and the particular city each impact pay for this group, with the former having the largest influence. Almost all report receiving medical and dental coverage from their employers and a fair number collect vision insurance. Work is reasonably fulfilling for most Software Design Engineers — the majority report average levels of job satisfaction. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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$59,480 - $120,724

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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.
$59,480 - $120,724  
$0.00 - $14,711  
Profit Sharing
$1,500 - $9,950  
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).
$59,996 - $130,500  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 18 Jul 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 148
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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 Software Design Engineer (SDE)

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Though it's uncommon, some Software Design Engineers move into roles as Senior Software Development Engineers, where pay is an average $106K per year.

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Popular Skills for Software Design Engineer (SDE)

Software Design Engineers report using a pretty varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in .NET, C#, C, and ASP.NET are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 4 percent and 12 percent. At the other end of the pay range are skills like C++, Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS, and Java. Those educated in .NET tend to be well versed in SQL. Those who learned C# also tend to know C++ and SQL.

Pay by Experience Level for Software Design Engineer (SDE)

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

The average worker who claims fewer than five years of experience earns around $75K. In contrast, however, individuals who report five to 10 years in this occupation see a much larger median of $100K. Six-figure salaries surface after one to two decades on the job — experienced professionals in this group reap a six-figure median of $111K. Respondents who boast more than two decades on the job don't boast commensurate pay, unfortunately; these veterans see average earnings of only $103K.

Pay Difference by Location

For Software Design Engineers, Redmond provides a pay rate that is 33 percent greater than the national average. Software Design Engineers will also find cushy salaries in Seattle (+19 percent).

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Experience Affects Software Design Engineer (SDE) Salaries

up arrow 18%

National Average

Skills That Affect Software Design Engineer (SDE) Salaries

up arrow 12%

up arrow 5%

up arrow 4%

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National Average

up arrow 1%

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Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
up arrow 6%

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Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 36 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: 79% employee benefits None: 4%