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Staff Software Engineer Salary

Average pay for Staff Software Engineers in the United States is more than reasonable, with annual salaries pushing past the six-figure mark ($120K). With some bonuses approaching $20K and certain profit sharing proceeds approaching $26K, overall incomes of Staff Software Engineers spread between $79K and $159K depending on individual performance. This group's pay is mainly influenced by the company, followed by geography and experience level. In this profession, nearly all enjoy medical and dental coverage, and most have vision insurance, as well. Most Staff Software Engineers are fairly content with their jobs, and work satisfaction falls in line with the national average. The data in this summary comes from the PayScale salary survey.
$76,913 - $145,690
MEDIAN: $114,330

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National Salary Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
$76,913 - $145,690  
$1,463 - $20,232  
Profit Sharing
$997 - $25,639  
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).
$79,158 - $159,352  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 11 Dec 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 887
United States (change)

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, modify, and debug software.
  • Design and develop application components.
  • Test and document software.
  • Analyze requirements and transform them into technical designs.

Common Career Paths for Staff Software Engineer

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Staff Software Engineers who transition into an upper level Principal Software Engineer position will not necessarily make much more than they do in their current role. The average Principal Software Engineer makes $125K a year. As Staff Software Engineers progress in their field, many go on to become Lead Software Engineers. In fact, this transition is more common than anything else, and typical pay for the role is $103K. Another common career choice for Staff Software Engineers is to move into a Software Engineering Manager role — this promotion usually pays $124K.

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Popular Employer Salaries for Staff Software Engineer

International Business Machines (IBM) Corp., Qualcomm Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, eBay Inc., and Juniper Networks, Inc. are all popular places to work. Although the highest salaries can be found at Intuit Inc. where median pay is $181K, there is little variation in compensation; paychecks are spread only between $144K and $206K. Juniper Networks, Inc., eBay Inc., and Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. are a few other companies that offer generous salaries, with Staff Software Engineers earning around $151K, $148K, or $145K at each firm, respectively.

Salaries are easily beat at International Business Machines (IBM) Corp., where median pay comes to just $83K, the lowest in the field. What's more, with base pay starting at $72K and ending at $119K, range in salary is rather small. Workers at Lockheed Martin Corp, Paypal, Inc., and Visa, Inc. also face smaller salaries than the rest of the field — average earnings for these employers come to $114K, $129K, and $133K respectively.

Popular Skills for Staff Software Engineer

Survey respondents exploit a significant toolbox of skills in their work. Most notably, skills in Linux, Java/J2EE, JavaScript, and Software Architecture are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts in pay of 8 percent. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include ASP.NET, C#, and SQL. Those proficient in C are, more often than not, also skilled in Linux.

Pay by Experience Level for Staff Software Engineer

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

Staff Software Engineers with a lot of experience tend to enjoy higher earnings. Although inexperienced employees take home approximately $80K, those who have five to 10 years under their belts benefit from a six-figure median of $112K. Staff Software Engineers who work for 10 to 20 years in their occupation tend to earn about $128K. 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 $130K.

Pay Difference by Location

Mountain View is home to an above-average pay rate for Staff Software Engineers, 38 percent higher than the national average. Staff Software Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Santa Clara (+20 percent), Palo Alto (+19 percent), San Jose (+17 percent), and Sunnyvale (+16 percent). The lowest-paying market is Austin, which sits 31 percent below the national average, proving that location is a significant contributor to overall pay. Employers also pay below the national average in Raleigh (28 percent lower) and Portland (14 percent lower).

Staff Software Engineer Reviews

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.

Related Job Salaries

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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Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
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Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 207 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: 96% dental benefits Dental: 93%
vision benefits Vision: 83% employee benefits None: 3%