Software Design Engineer (SDE) Salary

Software Design Engineers in the United States are largely men, earning an average of $85K annually. Career duration is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by geography. Job satisfaction is reported as high by the vast majority of workers. Nearly all enjoy medical while most get dental coverage. Vision coverage is also available to a large number. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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$59,382 - $122,715
MEDIAN: $85,172

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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.
$59,382 - $122,715  
$0.00 - $15,617  
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).
$59,815 - $132,602  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 139
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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 some Software Design Engineers move into positions like Senior Software Development Engineer (where the average salary is $106K), this progression is not the norm.

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Popular Skills for Software Design Engineer (SDE)

Survey results suggest that Software Design Engineers use a fairly large toolkit 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 C++, Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS, and Java. .NET and C# are also commonly seen together.

Pay by Experience Level for Software Design Engineer (SDE)

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

Salaries for the relatively untried average out to around $76K, but survey participants with five to 10 years of experience earn a significantly higher median of $102K. The average pay reported by folks with 10 to 20 years of experience is around $113K. Folks who claim more than 20 years of relevant experience actually report a comparatively lower median income of $103K.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $88,219

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

For those looking to make money, Software Design Engineers in Redmond enjoy an exceptional pay rate, 33 percent above 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 17%

National Average

Skills That Affect Software Design Engineer (SDE) Salaries

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up arrow 14%

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National Average

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Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
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Job Satisfaction

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


10 %
90 %

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: 95%
dental benefits
Dental: 90%
medical benefits
Vision: 84%
dental benefits
None: 4%