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.
It’s a field that’s incredibly important for private businesses, entrepreneurs, government, and everything in between. 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, 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.
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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:
App Engineers: Every major business now has their own app, and there are engineers who specialize specifically in building native apps. 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 – a sub-specialty that requires advanced web development knowledge, since apps need to perform seamlessly on both IOS and Android operating systems.
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?
According to salary.com, the average compensation for an entry-level Software Engineer is $70,173.
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.
Salary Potential in Software Engineering: Entry-Level, Mid-Level, & Senior
Based on their level of experience, Software Engineers are generally classified as entry-level, associate, and senior. The exact salary they receive will vary accordingly. All estimates below are based on data from salary.com.
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 around $70k.
Mid-Level: As you move up the ranks, you can expect to make $80-90k per year. You’ll still be involved with writing and testing code, but you’ll also develop your leadership skills as you help train others on the team, and help guide larger decisions with senior leaders.
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.
Experienced engineers 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 $111,800.
Software Engineering 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.
Below are a few of the titles you could earn within the field of Software Engineering:
- Software Engineer II
- Software QA Engineer
- C++ Software Engineer
- Software Development Engineer in Test (SDET)
- PHP Software Engineer
- Applications Software Engineer
Salaries by 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 or math.
Others prefer a more career-focused, 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 skills-based, 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
- CIW Web Foundations Associate
Software Engineering Salaries by Location
As the cost of living varies across the United States, where you choose to settle down also affects your salaries. And that applies even to Software Engineers, who often work fully or partially remote.
Here are the top 5 locations where Software Engineers earn higher than average salaries:
- Texas - $85,693
- Virginia - $84,222
- Utah - $83,821
- Illinois - $82,820
- Wyoming - $80,466
Salary According to Company Size
Your salary can vary widely based on the size of the company you choose to work for. A Software Engineer managing a relatively basic website for a small non-profit will typically earn less than a developer working for a Fortune 500 company.
When you start applying to Software Engineering jobs, consider the size of the company and do your research to estimate what salary range they should offer you. Salary isn’t everything, but it’s certainly worth considering as you narrow down your job search criteria.
Increase Your Income with Specific Skills
You might not have to put in years of experience in order to get a pay bump. The following software engineering skills are highly sought-after in the industry. Acquiring them can help you boost your annual salary as a Software Engineer:
- Cloud Architecture
- 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 Software
- Testing and debugging code
- Data structures and algorithms
- Encryption and cryptography
- SDLC (Software development life cycle)
But it's not all about knowing how to write a cogent line of Python. Engineers also rely on soft skills to interact with other members of their team, and explain technical problems to higher-ups who aren't in the field.
These soft skills are transferable across various industries, so you’d be wise to develop them regardless of your coding specialty or career goals.
- 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 rock star 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.
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.
How do I get into software engineering?
Will a degree help me make more money?
While a degree might help you gain more knowledge of the field of computer science, employers place higher value on your previous experiences and level of skills. If you want to get a high-paying job in software engineering, you’re better off with a learning pathway that teaches you career-ready skills such as programming languages and tools.
How much do Thinkful grads make?
The salary of a graduate in this field depends on the level of experience, location of the job and proficiency. The average salary of a software engineer ranges from $75,000 - $120,000. The size of the company and actual job requirement also play an important role in the salary structure.
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