Principal Software Engineer Salary

Average pay for Principal Software Engineers in the United States is more than reasonable, with annual salaries pushing past the six-figure mark ($130K). In the world of Principal Software Engineers, total cash compensation can vary between $104K and $178K. Each package generally includes bonuses and profit sharing proceeds, and in exceptional cases, those amounts can reach heights of $24K and $20K, respectively. Earnings for this group are mostly affected by location, followed by the specific employer and experience level. For the most part, Principal Software Engineers enjoy their work and report high levels of job satisfaction. Nearly all report receiving medical and dental coverage from their employers and most collect vision insurance. This report is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.

$101,262 - $167,425
$100K
$130K
$170K
MEDIAN: $131,006
10%
50%
90%

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$54.04 - $89.53
$54
$69
$90
MEDIAN: $69.42
10%
50%
90%

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$0$179K
Salary $101,262 - $167,425
Bonus $2,546 - $24,630
Profit Sharing $985 - $20,220
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).
)
$104,123 - $179,448
  • Country: United States
  • Currency: USD
  • Updated: 20 Sep 2017
  • Individuals Reporting: 2,337
Hourly Data $0$94
Hourly Rate $54.04 - $89.53
Overtime $40.00 - $94.54
Annual Data $0$179K
Bonus $2,546 - $24,630
Profit Sharing $985 - $20,220
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).
)
$104,123 - $179,448
  • Country: United States
  • Currency: USD
  • Updated: 20 Sep 2017
  • Individuals Reporting: 29

Find Out Exactly What You Should Be Paid

United States (change)

Job Description for Principal Software Engineer

Principal software engineers are in charge of most of the technical aspects of an organization's projects. You could consider them to be architects of sorts given the vast scope of work they do on a regular basis. Their primary function is being able to scale projects efficiently while maximizing performance and minimizing costs. They can also oversee development teams and coordinate strategies to make sure the technologies are interconnected and product lines are working smoothly. Most of the time, principal software engineers work on making sure standards are being followed when it comes to design, application requirements and proper maintenance. They also evaluate systems and networks to ensure all procedures are running correctly. A high degree of mathematics and engineering knowledge is needed to manage large scale business tasks. Principal software engineers use a computer (or computers) due to the complex data they process when making calculations and modifying strategy plans. The majority of their work is done indoors, with the exception being when they need to modify hardware controls and settings outdoors. As stated earlier, while principal software engineers supervise programmers and designers among other professionals to finish a project on time, they also have to respond to the IT managers in a given organization. It is essential that principal software engineers be proficient at building websites, troubleshooting code and improving the performance of existing programs. They also need to be excellent team players and able to handle stress well in addition to having an extensive knowledge of several programming languages. A bachelor's degree in computer science is usually the minimum educational requirement needed to become a principal software engineer, although a (CSDP) Certified Software Development Professional certification along with hands-on experience in a previous position is generally preferred. (Copyright 2017 PayScale.com)


Principal Software Engineer Tasks

  • Design, develop, integrate, test and deploy company's software.
  • Execute product specification, system design, development and system integration.
  • Develop new product concepts and development, deliver product prototypes.
  • Conduct new technology research, concept specification and design of individual software components.
  • Participate in product and program collaboration.

Common Career Paths for Principal Software Engineer


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As Principal Software Engineers transition into upper-level roles like Chief Technology Officers, it's possible that they won't see a change in salary. Chief Technology Officers earn the same amount as Principal Software Engineers on average. Many Principal Software Engineers choose to become Software Architects and Software Engineering Managers as their careers advance. However, folks in those positions report median salaries of $24K less and $10K less, respectively.

Principal Software Engineer Job Listings

Popular Employer Salaries for Principal Software Engineer


Oracle Corp., EMC Corporation, Oracle, Symantec Corporation, and Raytheon Co. are top-notch employers for Principal Software Engineers in this area. Symantec Corporation offers the best pay with a median salary of $166K, though salaries there don't seem that varied, bottoming out near $126K and maxing out at just $202K. Those in search of high salaries should also consider Broadcom Corporation, Dell, Inc., and EMC Corporation, top-paying firms where Principal Software Engineers rake in a massive $158K, $152K, or $143K, respectively.

Capital One Financial Corp offers the least money; the median income there is just $116K. The pay range is also pretty narrow, as compensation generally sits between $87K and $164K. Others at the bottom of the scale for this job include BAE Systems Inc. at $117K, DIRECTV, LLC. at $119K, and Stryker Corp., where $123K is the norm.

Popular Skills for Principal Software Engineer


Survey takers working as Principal Software Engineers report using a large range of professional skills. Most notably, skills in Linux, Java, Database, and Software Architecture are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that are correlated to lower pay, on the other hand, include C#, .NET, and C# Programming Language. Most people experienced in Software Architecture also know Java.

Pay by Experience Level for Principal Software Engineer

Pay by Experience for a Principal Software Engineer has a positive trend. An entry-level Principal Software Engineer with less than 5 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $116,000 based on 91 salaries provided by anonymous users. Average total compensation includes tips, bonus, and overtime pay. A Principal Software Engineer with mid-career experience which includes employees with 5 to 10 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $128,000 based on 495 salaries. An experienced Principal Software Engineer which includes employees with 10 to 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $137,000 based on 1,442 salaries. A Principal Software Engineer with late-career experience which includes employees with greater than 20 years of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $142,000 based on 671 salaries.

Pay Difference by Location

National Average: $138,029

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

California is a land of opportunity for Principal Software Engineers. The state is home to the top three paying cities in the field, with Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and San Francisco all offering salaries above the national rate. Minneapolis ranks last in the field for pay, reporting salaries 14 percent below the national average. A couple other locations with smaller-than-average paychecks include Chicago (8 percent lower) and Dallas (6 percent lower).

Principal Software Engineer Reviews

Q: What is it like working as a Principal Software Engineer?

Principal Software Engineer in Chicago:
Pros: Good people. Strong engineering culture.
Cons: Long slow downward spiral over the last several years. Increasing amount of work is moving to eastern Europe.

Related Job Salaries

Key Stats for Principal Software Engineer

Gender

Female
6 %
Male
94 %

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 352 votes.
Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
54%
20 years or more
31%
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Location:
Years in Fields/Career:
United States (change)

Experience Affects Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲3%

National Average
$138,000

▼1%

▼7%

▼16%

Skills That Affect Principal Software Engineer Salaries

▲2%


▲1%

▲1%



National Average
$138,000

▼1%

Java/J2EE
▼1%


C++
▼5%

SQL
▼5%



▼8%

C#
▼11%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5
based on 352 votes.

Gender

Female
6 %
Male
94 %

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
0%
1-4 years
2%
5-9 years
13%
10-19 years
54%
20 years or more
31%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits
Medical: 94%
dental benefits
Dental: 90%
vision benefits
Vision: 82%
no benefits
None: 4%
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