Staff Software Engineer Salary

Salaries for Staff Software Engineers in the United States are generous, with average pay above six figures ($120K) per year. Cash earnings for Staff Software Engineers — which occasionally include more than $24K from bonuses and more than $30K from profit sharing — stretch from around $82K to approximately $173K. The most influential factor affecting pay for this group is the particular firm, though the particular city and experience level have a (lesser) impact as well. The vast majority of Staff Software Engineers (88 percent) survey respondents are men. Medical and dental benefits are awarded to almost all, and a large number earn vision coverage. The majority of Staff Software Engineers claim high levels of job satisfaction. The data for this snapshot was collected from individuals who took PayScale's salary survey.

$79,823 - $152,348
MEDIAN: $120,467

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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.
$79,823 - $152,348  
$1,249 - $23,970  
Profit Sharing
$994 - $30,000  
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).
$81,763 - $173,080  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 12 Jan 2016 | Individuals Reporting: 1,116
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Job Description for Staff Software Engineer

A staff software engineer is one of the key members of an organization's technical team, working with other employees to develop, maintain, and repair company software for maximum efficiency and usability. This involves identifying problems within computer programs, creating and implementing solutions to deal with them, and keeping company technical architecture running as smoothly and effectively as possible. Staff software engineers usually work under a senior team member who develops the company's technical policies and goals, and follow this supervisor's direction to identify and resolve organizational issues and needs.


Staff Software Engineer 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 Staff Software Engineer

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Staff Software Engineers who go on to become Principal Software Engineers may see somewhat stagnant compensation. On average, a Principal Software Engineer, an upper-level role, pays $127K. Staff Software Engineers most often move into Software Engineering Manager or Lead Software Engineer roles. However, the former pays $2K less on average, and the latter pays $23K less.

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Popular Employer Salaries for Staff Software Engineer

Staff Software Engineers flock to International Business Machines (IBM) Corp., Qualcomm Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, Visa, Inc., and Intuit Inc., highly regarded companies that employ a generous number of people in this profession. Although the highest salaries can be found at Intuit Inc. where median pay is $185K, there is little variation in compensation; paychecks are spread only between $143K and $215K. EBay Inc., Juniper Networks, Inc., and Citrix Systems Inc are a few other companies that offer generous salaries, with Staff Software Engineers earning around $152K, $151K, or $147K at each firm, respectively.

Also approaching the lower end are International Business Machines (IBM) Corp. at $89K, Dell, Inc. at $101K, and Lockheed Martin Corp at $118K.

Popular Skills for Staff Software Engineer

Staff Software Engineers seem to exploit a large range of skills on the job. Most notably, skills in Java/J2EE, Software Architecture, Linux, and Java are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 5 percent and 7 percent. Skills that pay less than market rate include ASP.NET, C#, and SQL. Most people skilled in C are similarly competent in Linux.

Pay by Experience Level for Staff Software Engineer

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

Experience seems to be a major factor in determining the incomes of Staff Software Engineers. Salaries for the relatively untried average out to around $87K, but survey participants with five to 10 years of experience earn a significantly higher median of $123K. Staff Software Engineers bring in $137K after working for 10 to 20 years. Veterans who have surpassed the 20-year mark may make no more than those who are navigating the mid-career stage.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $127,796

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

California cities Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Francisco are lucrative areas for Staff Software Engineers, where pay is not only higher than the national average but also represents the three highest-paid areas in the country. Location is a huge contributor to overall pay, with Staff Software Engineers in Raleigh earning a whopping 33 percent below the national average. Employers pay around 29 percent less in Austin and 18 percent less in Irvine, below-median salaries for those in this field.

Staff Software Engineer Reviews

What is it like working as a Staff Software Engineer at Intuit Inc.?

Staff Software Engineer in Cambridge:
"Working at remote Intuit site."
Pros: Great team, really good manager, fun technology, great pay and benefits, good CEO.
Cons: Politics of a big company, lots of reorgs, layoffs yearly, not alot of respect for teams that are not located at corporate headquarters.

What is it like working as a Staff Software Engineer at Juniper Networks, Inc.?

Staff Software Engineer in Sunnyvale:
"Great Technology; Mediocre Management."
Pros: Juniper offers an opportunity to work with cutting edge technology on killer products. Developers are always challenged to think creatively and present their best work.
Cons: Juniper's Directors and VP's have their heads up their asses - couldn't sell a wool blanket to an Eskimo and couldn't predict a snowstorm in a blizzard. Do NOT allow your career to be mentored by one of these buffoons; take whatever technology you can learn and quickly leave the company for the next job offer before HR turns you into the next statistic during RIF season A.) Marketing has no clue - (look what happened to Netscreen and their security products) B.) HR is living in the dark ages - recently implemented a "no vacation" policy; routinely enforces stack-ranking and yearly "lay-offs" to cull the bottom ranks. C.) Managers have no loyalty - will throw you under the bus when projects head south, to keep themselves from looking bad and becoming one of the bottom feeders. It's a very cut-throat, un-friendly, sometimes hostile place to work.

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Experience Affects Staff Software Engineer Salaries

National Average

Skills That Affect Staff Software Engineer Salaries

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National Average

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Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 178 votes.


12 %
88 %

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: 92%
medical benefits
Vision: 84%
dental benefits
None: 3%