Are software developers paid well

Which jobs as a software engineer earn the most

Software engineers are incredibly valuable; some software engineer jobs are paid as well as doctor or lawyer jobs. At the same time, the entry barrier seems to be getting lower and lower. The number of professional developers with less than a bachelor's degree who responded to Stack Overflow's developer survey has grown to a whopping 25% of respondents. This begs the question, if pretty much anyone can do it, what makes a computer engineer salary so high?

To find out, we needed a large data set, so we reached out to PayScale. With this platform, not only can you see the salary range for a software engineer, but you can also break them down by skill, location, and company.

So we rummaged through the data. To make sure we had a large enough sample, we had to publish at least 30 salaries to use the data and then looked at the high end of the salary range. This meant that we didn't consider key technologies like Closure due to a lack of data, but they're not widely enough to be well aware of their value. But it does mean that these results are more robust than others that rely on relatively little data. And the results might surprise you.

Take the average software engineer in the United States. We purposely did not look at junior or senior software engineer salaries as there are no clear definitions for these titles. The high end of the range for the average software engineer salary, at the time of this writing, is $ 128,864. This number isn't bad, but you hear much bigger numbers so we wanted to figure out how to find it. We started by looking at which technologies are most useful.

1. Knowing the right technologies is one way to get high paying software engineer jobs

Languages ​​are no longer the primary skill employers look for. This was an important finding as most of the lists that evaluate the value of technology for the highest paying jobs for software engineers don't go beyond language proficiency. That's not to say languages ​​aren't important. They're an integral part of programming, but we've found that a high-paying skill stack should have a foundation of technical skills at the bottom, specific language skills in the middle, and technology-specific skills to top it off.

Find out which skills improve salaries for software engineer jobs

Source: pay scale

Take the example of someone who knows Java. He can use this ability on Android which could make him $ 130,773, or he could use it on MapReduce which could make him $ 157,643. That's a $ 26,870 raise based on the use of another technology alone.

And that's not the whole story. Take a look at the highest paying technologies. While there are some hot languages ​​like R and Go at the top, none of the top five paid technologies are languages. But a number of the top technologies can be complemented with knowledge of specific languages.

  1. $157,643 – MapReduce Java, Python and most other common languages ​​(Stung: stack overflow)
  2. $157,295 – Apache Hive
  3. $154,412 – Natural language processing MATLAB, R, Python, Java (Stung: FreelancingGig)
  4. $152,850 – Machine learning Python, Java, R, C ++, C, JavaScript, Scala, Julia, and most other common languages ​​(Stung: Fossbytes)
  5. $150,860 – SolrJava, C #, PHP, Python, Ruby and most of the other common languages ​​(source: Wikipedia)
  6. $150,441 – Redis
  7. $149,163 –NoSQL
  8. $149,095 – R.
  9. $148,436 – Are you going
  10. $148,328 – Service-oriented architecture (SOA) Any (Stung: Wikipedia)
  11. $145,616 – Scala
  12. $144,505 – iOS Swift, Objective-C (Stung: Stack Overflow)
  13. $144,397 – Cassandra
  14. $140,207 – Hadoop Java, C, and most other common languages ​​(Stung: Wikipedia)
  15. $139,760 – Elasticsearch Java, .NET (C #), PHP, Python, Apache Groovy, Ruby (Stung: Wikipedia)
  16. $139,467 – Microsoft Azure C #, JavaScript, F #, Java, Python, PHP, TypeScript, Batch, Bash, PowerShell and most other popular languages ​​(Stung: Microsoft)
  17. $133,074 – python
  18. $133,015 – Dock workers Go (Golang) (Stung: Dock workers)
  19. $132,787 – Fast
  20. $130,773 – Android Java, Kotlin, C ++, Python (source: wage scale)

The right skill can increase a computer engineer's salary

To make this point clearer, consider the most valuable skill, MapReduce. This is a skill that is applicable to most major languages ​​but is extremely valuable to the market right now.

Source: pay scale

The potential salary markup that MapReduce can bring makes a huge difference to someone who knows any language. Someone familiar with PHP sees the biggest jump in salary, $ 38,448. Even someone who knows a high quality language like Python can still see a $ 24,569 salary jump.

  • PHP - up to $ 38,448 more
  • JavaScript - up to $ 34,838 more
  • Java - up to $ 28,779 more
  • C - up to $ 30,811 more
  • C ++ - up to $ 28,949 more
  • Python - up to $ 24,569 more

Perhaps the most important way to position yourself for the highest paying software engineer job is by developing a sought-after skill stack. That means that in addition to developing skills in a valuable language like R or Python, you should develop your skills in a field like MapReduce or Natural Language Processing.

2. The best jobs for software engineers require problem-solving skills

Developing a valuable tool stack is a great thing, but it's not the only part of the equation. As Nick Larsen of Stack Overflow says,


The quality of work plays a role in how companies rate developer salaries. Companies with more sophisticated problems are willing to pay more for developers who have the skills to solve their problems.

Source: Stack Overflow blog

Image source: LinkedIn


In other words, the value of a software engineer does not come from his technology stack, but from his ability to solve problems. The bigger the problems an employer has to solve, the more willing they are to pay an engineer to solve them.

Problem-solving skills are a little harder to quantify than technology, but are still important in how much the highest-paid software engineers get. That point is made clear by Jen Pugh, a New York City-based tech recruiter. When she talks about the skills valued by employers looking for front-end developers, she says,


Everyone is looking for a problem solver (...) Not just people who can program, but people who can sit down with visual and UX designers and solve big challenges.

Source: Udacity blog

Image source: LinkedIn


A good software engineer can use valuable languages ​​and technology. A great one can also work with colleagues from different backgrounds to solve problems and achieve common goals. While it is more difficult to measure, there is a clear need for software engineers who can solve problems.

So far we have discussed how both the technologies a software engineer works with and his ability to solve problems make his output more valuable. But there are other factors that contribute to a high salary as a software engineer.

3. The highest paid software engineering jobs pile up in certain places

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the salary level is highly dependent on geographic location. Everything depends on supply and demand and in certain parts of the country the demand for skilled software engineers is much greater than the supply. This means that, in absolute terms, a software engineer with the same skills can find a better paying job in a place where his skills are more valuable.

Where are software engineers best paid?

Just look at how much they can vary across the United States:

Source: pay scale

  • $ 187,236 - Cupertino
  • $ 169,637 - mountain view
  • $ 168,974 - Menlo Park
  • $ 151,908 - San Francisco
  • $ 150,948 - San Jose
  • $ 147,201 - Redmond
  • $ 137,811 - Seattle
  • $ 135,930 - New York
  • $ 128,452 - Los Angeles
  • $ 123,175 - Washington, District of Columbia
  • $ 119,275 - Boston
  • $ 116,793 - Denver
  • $ 112,805 - Chicago
  • $ 112,148 - Austin
  • $ 111,749 - Raleigh
  • $ 107,775 - Salt Lake City

So where are software engineers best paid? We found the highest salary in Cupertino at $ 187,236. Compare that to the up and coming tech hub of Salt Lake City and the contrast is sharp. A software engineer in Cupertino can make $ 79,461 more than a software engineer in Salt Lake City.

Well, we didn't account for the differences in the cost of living, and it wouldn't surprise anyone that San Francisco is a more expensive place to live than Salt Lake City. But if you're looking for absolute dollar amounts, the highest paying software engineering jobs in Silicon Valley and Seattle get paid better than southern, Midwestern, and mountainous cities like Chicago, Austin, Raleigh, and Salt Lake City.

But while we focused on the cities, we found that the cities that are home to the headquarters of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are pretty high on the list. From this we found another factor that influences the salary of the highest paid software engineers.

4. Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon pay their software engineers better than others

A software engineer who has the right technical skills, can solve problems, and has moved to the Bay Area can raise his salary even further. Put simply, the biggest tech companies work hard to attract the best software engineers and are ready to pay for the privilege.

Given that the top end of the US wage bracket is $ 128,864, they all pay more nationwide.


Source: pay scale

Facebook - $ 186,258

Google - $ 184,058

Apple - $ 175,320

Amazon - $ 156,848

Microsoft - $ 150,121

The biggest boost comes from Facebook, where software engineers can make $ 57,394 more than software engineer jobs in the nation as a whole. One way to explain this is that the size and clustering effect of these companies means they employ software engineers in already expensive labor markets. But that's not the whole story.

However, in most cases, these companies are still paying more than the local average.


Source: pay scale

Facebook software engineer salary - $ 203,225 versus Menlo Park - $ 168,974

Google Software Engineer Salary - $ 189,873 versus Mountain View - $ 169,637

Apple Software Engineer Salary - $ 183,793 vs. Cupertino - $ 187,625

Amazon Software Engineer Salary - $ 156,558 versus Seattle - $ 137,811

Microsoft Software Engineer Salary - $ 150,194 versus Redmond - $ 147,201

With the exception of Apple, each of the major tech companies pays up to $ 32,824 more for software developers than companies in the city they are based in.

5. What you need to get a high paying job as a software engineer

In our research, we found four ways to get a well-paying job as a software engineer.

  1. In addition to learning valuable languages ​​such as Python, Go or R, you will develop skills in technologies such as MapReduce, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning.
  2. Develop your problem solving and teamwork skills.
  3. Look for jobs in a high-wage city either in Silicon Valley or near Seattle.
  4. Try to get a job at one of the big tech companies.

By combining these qualities, a software engineer can earn one of the highest salaries in the industry.

6. What if you are trying to hire for your company?

Of course, if you are an employer you are trying to get the most benefit from your software engineers, and our analysis provides some actionable tips that can help you with that.

  1. Give more generous offers to developers whose skills better match the needs of your business. Don't spend so much on people without these skills and technologies.
  2. Take a work sample test to measure your candidate's problem-solving skills.
  3. If you can't pay that much, find a metropolitan area that has a cheaper job market for software engineers.
  4. Don't try to compete with the big guys on price, find another way to make your offer attractive.

We have looked at the data but would like to hear from you. Do these salaries sound reasonable? What did you do to make yourself more valuable? Keep the conversation going in the comments below.