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Staff Software Engineer Salary

On average, Staff Software Engineers in the United States earn six-figure salaries ($116K) annually, making for a very well-paid profession. Including potential for bonuses and profit sharing — peaking near $20K and $25K, respectively — total cash payment to Staff Software Engineers can bottom out near $80K or peak near $162K depending on individual performance. The company is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by the particular city and years of experience. The majority of individuals in this role claim moderate levels of job satisfaction. Almost all have medical and dental plans, and a large number have vision insurance. The vast majority of Staff Software Engineers (89 percent) survey respondents are men. The figures in this rundown are based on the results of PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$77,718 - $147,759
MEDIAN: $116,456

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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.
$77,718 - $147,759  
$1,350 - $20,225  
Profit Sharing
$999 - $25,083  
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).
$80,046 - $161,601  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 2 May 2015 | Individuals Reporting: 949

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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, 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' salary tends to stay somewhat level for those who assume higher-end positions like Principal Software Engineer. Median pay for Principal Software Engineers is $125K. With an annual salary of $124K, Software Engineering Manager is the most common role for Staff Software Engineers to subsequently assume on their way up the ladder. Transitioning into a Lead Software Engineer role — which usually pays $104K — is also typical for Staff Software Engineers, though less common by comparison.

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Popular Employer Salaries for Staff Software Engineer

International Business Machines (IBM) Corp., Qualcomm Inc, Lockheed Martin Corp, Intuit Inc., and eBay Inc. are all popular places to work. Staff Software Engineers in search of the best pay head to Intuit Inc., where the median salary rolls in at $185K. Although pay is top-notch overall, it does seem to be curbed at $216K, which isn't dramatically higher than the lower-end figure of $144K. Staff Software Engineers can also look forward to large paychecks at Juniper Networks, Inc. ($151K), eBay Inc. ($151K), and Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. ($143K).

International Business Machines (IBM) Corp. offers the lowest pay in the field with a median salary of just $86K. There's also little variation in pay at the company, with pay ranging from $72K to $119K. Workers also receive paychecks lighter than average at Lockheed Martin Corp ($121K), Visa, Inc. ($127K), and Paypal, Inc. ($129K).

Popular Skills for Staff Software Engineer

Survey participants wield an impressively varied skill set on the job. Most notably, skills in Java/J2EE, Software Architecture, Linux, and JavaScript are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts in pay of 7 percent. Skills that seem to negatively impact pay include ASP.NET, SQL, and C#. Those educated in C tend to be well versed in Linux.

Pay by Experience Level for Staff Software Engineer

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

Experience is an important factor influencing the compensation of Staff Software Engineers. Although employees with less than five years' experience earn around $82K on average, the five-to-10 year group has a much higher, six-figure median of $115K. After working for 10 to 20 years, Staff Software Engineers make a median salary of $130K. Staff Software Engineers with more than 20 years of experience report incomes that are only modestly higher; the median for these old hands hovers around $133K.

Pay Difference by Location

For Staff Software Engineers, busy Mountain View offers a higher-than-average pay rate, 36 percent above the national average. Staff Software Engineers will also find cushy salaries in Santa Clara (+18 percent), Palo Alto (+17 percent), San Jose (+16 percent), and San Francisco (+16 percent). Staff Software Engineers in Raleigh take home the lowest salaries, earning a whopping 29 percent less than the national average. Two other places where employers offer below-median salaries are Austin (27 percent less) and Portland (15 percent less).

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

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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

Embedded / Real-Time / RTOS
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Job Satisfaction

Highly satisfied
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 189 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: 96% dental benefits Dental: 92%
vision benefits Vision: 82% employee benefits None: 3%