Software engineering is the process of designing, building, and testing software applications. It uses engineering principles together with computer programming to capture user requirements, define program specifications, and ultimately produce user-friendly solutions.
The demand for custom apps and sites is increasing, and so are the salaries of software engineers. If you love to solve problems, it might be time to pursue a career in web development. A future in coding not only provides great job satisfaction, but excellent job prospects and some pretty great perks, too.
In this article, we’ll discuss software engineering salaries in detail. We’ll go through the various factors that can impact your paycheck, including location, specific job title, and level of experience.
We’ll also look at the best ways to get started in this rewarding field, and how you can land a well-paid developer job by enrolling in an online software engineering bootcamp.
Types of Software Engineers
Leaders in the industry are well-versed in engineering fundamentals, programming languages, and software development. There are two main categories of software engineers:
Application Engineers: They analyze the needs of end-users, create new programs, and modify existing applications to fix software problems. They design, build, install, and maintain these applications.
System Engineers: Rather than focusing on individual applications, system engineers coordinate the creation and maintenance of entire computer systems. This can involve multiple applications that work together to perform a useful task within a business or organization.
What’s The Average Software Engineering Salary?
The average compensation for a software engineer in the U.S. is $101,235. Software engineering salaries depend on multiple factors, such as:
- Job Title
- Company Size
As the field of software engineering is so broad, salaries can vary significantly depending on these factors. Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
How Experience Affects Software Engineering Salaries
Based on their level of experience, software engineers are generally classified as entry-level, associate, and senior. The exact software engineering salary they receive will vary accordingly.
- Entry-Level: This is where all aspiring software engineers start their journey. Entry-level professionals will have little to no industry experience. They’ve usually come straight from an education program. As they lack real-world experience, entry-level software engineers receive the lowest salary of the three positions.
The average salary for an entry-level software engineer is $73,000.
- Associate: These professionals have 2 to 8 years of experience working in the field. Associate software engineers understand the intricacies of the job and have worked on many different professional projects. They’ve not only developed their technical ability but improved their communication, teamwork, and leadership skills.
The average salary for an associate software engineer is $83,000.
- Senior: Software engineers in this category are on the top rung of the professional ladder. Having gained many years of experience they are masters of software engineering principles. Senior software engineers are capable of determining process improvements in the software development lifecycle. They also ensure software deliverables comply with quality standards. Senior software engineers can move even higher up the company hierarchy if they want to go into managerial or director positions.
The average salary for a senior software engineer is $130,000.
Software Engineering Salaries for Different Job Titles
The field of software engineering includes a wide range of different job titles. The average software engineering salary ranges from $75,000 to $120,000 depending on the specific position:
- Entry Level Software Engineer – $75,000
- Software QA Engineer – $77,000
- C++ Software Engineer – $83,000
- Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET) – $83,000
- PHP Software Engineer – $91,000
- Applications Software Engineer – $91,000
- Firmware Engineer – $92,000
- Software Development Engineer – $92,000
- Perl Software Engineer – $93,000
- Mobile Application Developer – $94,000
- Full-Stack Web Developer – $111,659
- Principal Software Engineer – $120,000
Level of Education
In terms of education, there are no hard requirements to become a software engineer. Some students opt for the traditional route of a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or math.
Others prefer a more intensive online course such as a web developer bootcamp. These alternative education programs are designed by senior software engineers to teach students all the necessary skills to get hired at a top tech firm. They’re more focused, more affordable, and more intensive than traditional forms of learning.
To further boost your earnings and make your resume stand out, you can consider certification courses. They help validate your skills and show your commitment to the field. Here are some common certificates you can work towards:
- Sun Certified Java Programmer certification
- Oracle Certified Associate (OCA): Java SE Programmer
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Java SE Programmer
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Java ME Mobile Application Developer
- CIW Web Foundations Associate
- CIW Web Design Professional
- CIW Web & Mobile Design Professional
- CIW Web Development Professional
As the cost of living varies across the United States, where you choose to settle down also affects software engineering salaries. Here are the top 5 locations:
- San Francisco - $156,565
- San Jose - $148,268
- New York - $139,735
- Seattle - $131,483
- Boston - $125,207
Other countries also offer great packages. Some of the top-paying countries for software engineers are:
- Switzerland - $105,113
- Canada - $98,238
- Denmark - $76,064
- Norway - $77,590
Tier-1 companies usually tend to pay less compensation, especially to newbies. Their average annual package is around $52,000.
Tier-2 companies, having at least 500 employees, offer around $65,000 to entry-level professionals.
Tier-3 companies, which have 500-1000 employees and around 10 years in the industry pay $80,000 to entry-level engineers.
How Specific Skills Can Affect Your Pay
You might not have to put in years of experience in order to get a pay bump. The following skills are highly sought-after in the industry. Acquiring them can help you boost your annual salary as a software engineer:
- Cloud architecture and application development.
- Java, C#, PHP, and Python programming.
- SQL and Hadoop development.
- DevOps Engineering.
- Machine Learning (MI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Skills Needed to Become a Software Engineer
The field of software engineering requires professionals who have technical minds, are excellent problem-solvers and can come up with creative ideas. You’ll also need strong soft skills in communication, teamwork, and organization.
Some of the specific skills required in software engineering are:
- Knowledge of programming languages like Java, Python, C++, PHP, and Perl
- Object-oriented design
- Software testing and debugging
- Data structures and algorithms
- Source control
- Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
- Operating systems
- Cross-platform software
- Encryption and cryptography
- SDLC (Software development life cycle)
Soft skills refer to the attributes of a person that help them interact with other people in a professional environment. These skills are related to social and interpersonal communication. Such skills are transferable across various industries. Some soft skills required to get hired as a software engineer include:
- Attention to detail
Perks and Benefits
Employers recognize the importance of recruiting top talent. Besides above-average compensation packages, many companies offer software engineers a host of enviable perks and benefits, including:
Remote Work: Depending on your specific job requirements, you could put in your 40 hours from a coffee shop or even your living room.
Transferable Skills: The skills you learn in software engineering, like creative problem-solving and technical communication, could make you a rockstar in other fields as well.
Working Environment: Tech companies often offer a comfortable working environment. They include things like chill-out areas, on-site bars and restaurants, and creative spaces to sit and think.
Constant Learning Curve: As software engineering is a technology-driven field, it’s constantly evolving. To keep up with its dynamic nature, you’ll be constantly learning new skills and techniques.
If you’re interested in learning more about the exciting field of software engineering, check out our tech blog. You can find more information on the salaries and specific careers available in the world of coding, big data, digital marketing and UX design.