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Software Engineer Salary In 2023: A Comprehensive Guide

Software Engineer Salary: A Comprehensive Guide

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In the ever-evolving landscape of the tech industry, the role of a Software Engineer stands out as both crucial and dynamic. These professionals are not just coders; they are problem-solvers and innovators, driving forward the boundaries of technology and digital experiences. As such, understanding the intricacies of the Software Engineer salary is more than just a curiosity – it’s an insight into the value and demand of these skilled individuals in the market. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the various factors that influence a Software Engineer’s compensation, shedding light on what one can expect in this challenging yet rewarding field.

Software Engineering is a career that blends technical expertise with creative problem-solving. Whether they are developing new applications, optimizing existing systems, or pioneering advancements in areas like AI and machine learning, Software Engineers play a pivotal role in shaping our digital world. Accordingly, their compensation reflects a combination of skill, experience, and the unique challenges they face. This guide aims to explore these aspects, providing a detailed look at the salaries within this dynamic profession.

Navigating the world of Software Engineer salaries can be complex, with numerous factors influencing earning potential. From geographic location, and industry demand, to the level of experience and expertise, each aspect plays a critical role in shaping the financial rewards of these tech professionals. Through this guide, we aim to offer clarity and a deeper understanding of what drives Software Engineer salaries, equipping you with the knowledge to make informed career decisions in this vibrant and ever-changing industry.

If you want to compare the Software Engineer salary with the salary of a Technical Program Manager or a Product Manager you can also look at my other posts:

Computer programming is pretty much guaranteed income. I’m good at it, and I like it.

Andy Weir
Software Engineer Salary: Software Engineer role

The Software Engineer Role

Software engineering is not just about programming; it’s about solving problems and creating value through technology. At its core, software engineering involves designing, developing, testing, and maintaining software systems. These systems range from mobile apps to complex, cloud-based infrastructures. In this rapidly evolving field, a software engineer’s role is pivotal in shaping the digital landscape.

Technical skills form the backbone of this profession. Proficiency in coding languages like Java, Python, or C++ is just the beginning. Software engineers also need a strong understanding of algorithmic thinking, data structures, and system design. In addition, staying abreast of emerging technologies such as machine learning and blockchain is increasingly important.

The role extends beyond coding. Software engineers collaborate with cross-functional teams, requiring strong communication skills. They must translate complex technical concepts into understandable language for stakeholders. Problem-solving skills are crucial, as engineers often face unique challenges that require innovative solutions.

Finally, the career trajectory of a software engineer is diverse and dynamic. From entry-level positions to senior roles, each step on the career ladder presents new responsibilities and opportunities for growth. Junior engineers may focus more on coding, while senior positions involve architectural decision-making and strategic planning. This progression offers a rich and rewarding career path for those passionate about technology.

Components of a Software Engineer Salary

Components of a Software Engineer Salary

When discussing software engineer salaries, it’s important to look beyond the base salary to understand the average total compensation. This compensation often includes several key components that can significantly enhance a software engineer’s earning potential, especially in high-demand regions like San Francisco or New York.

  1. Base Salary: This is the foundational income for software engineers, which varies based on factors like location, years of experience, and level of education. For example, an entry-level software engineer in smaller companies might start with a lower base salary compared to their counterparts in big tech companies.
  2. Stock Options: Many tech companies, especially in the U.S., offer stock options as part of the compensation package. These stocks, which vest over a period, align the employee’s interests with the company’s performance. In tech hubs, stock options can significantly increase the total compensation, often making up a large part of a software engineer’s earnings.
  3. Bonuses: Additional cash compensation in the form of performance bonuses or profit sharing can augment a software engineer’s income. These bonuses are often tied to the individual’s or company’s performance and can vary from year to year.
  4. Benefits: While not directly part of the salary, benefits like healthcare, retirement plans, and paid time off contribute to the overall compensation package. In some cases, particularly with larger companies, these benefits can add substantial value to the job offer.

Understanding these components is crucial for software engineers, as it offers a clearer picture of the financial rewards associated with different roles and companies. This knowledge is especially important when comparing job offers or negotiating salaries.

Software Engineer Salary: Salary negotiations

The Importance of Salary Negotiations

Salary negotiations are a critical step in maximizing total compensation for software engineers. Whether you are a junior software engineer just starting out or a seasoned professional like a lead software engineer or principal software engineer, effectively negotiating your salary can make a significant difference.

  1. Research and Preparation: Before entering negotiations, it’s essential to use tools like a salary calculator to understand the average salaries and total compensation for your role and experience level. Knowledge of the average software engineer salary, especially in your specific field of software engineering, is a powerful tool.
  2. Understanding Your Value: Software engineers should assess their own skills, including necessary skills and any advanced degrees, to understand their market value. This includes considering your experience level, any specialized skills in high-demand areas, and contributions to significant projects or teams.
  3. Articulating Your Case: When negotiating, be prepared to clearly articulate your value, citing specific examples of your contributions, such as solving real problems, working in an iterative delivery environment, or being an integral part of an agile team.
  4. Consider the Whole Package: Remember, negotiations are not just about the base salary. Consider other aspects like stock options, additional cash compensation, and benefits. In some cases, negotiating for more stock options or better benefits can be more valuable in the long term, especially in high-cost-of-living areas.

Effective salary negotiations require a good understanding of the job market, the value you bring to the role, and the standard compensation packages in the software engineering field. Approaching these discussions well-prepared can lead to a more rewarding and satisfying software engineering job.

Key Factors That Influence Software Engineer Salaries

Key Factors That Influence Software Engineer Salaries

Understanding the various factors that impact software engineer salaries, including the average annual salary, is crucial for both job seekers and those looking to advance in their careers.


The influence of geographical location, such as tech hubs like Silicon Valley and New York, on a software engineer’s salary, including both base salary and stock options, is profound. Major cities offer higher salaries, reflecting the cost of living and the concentration of technology companies. However, opportunities are not limited to these areas. With the rise of remote work, cities like Los Angeles and emerging tech regions are offering competitive salaries.

International locations present varied scenarios. Countries with burgeoning tech industries offer good salaries, though these may differ from those in the U.S. However, when adjusted for the cost of living, these salaries can be competitive. Additionally, companies in these regions are increasingly participating in the global market.

Years of Experience

Experience significantly determines a software engineer’s salary. Entry-level engineers often start with lower salaries, which increase with experience. Mid-career engineers see a substantial increase in their earning potential, reflecting their growing expertise.

Senior-level engineers command the highest salaries, reflecting their extensive experience and expertise in specialized areas. Their roles often transcend coding to include strategic planning and leading projects or teams.

Technical Expertise

Specialized skills, such as expertise in high-demand areas like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, influence earning potential. Full-stack development skills also enhance earning potential, making engineers valuable assets to their teams.

Staying current with new technologies and tools is crucial. Continuous learning and skill development, complemented by soft skills, indirectly influence salary prospects.

Industry Demand

Software engineers are in demand across various sectors. Industries undergoing digital transformation offer competitive salaries to attract skilled engineers. Emerging technologies create new opportunities, leading to higher salaries for specialists.

Economic factors and industry trends also play a role. Engineers in roles that directly contribute to revenue generation or significant cost savings can negotiate higher salaries.

Previous Employment

Experience at well-regarded tech companies or successful startups enhances a software engineer’s marketability and often leads to higher salary offers. This experience suggests rigorous training and exposure to best practices.

Startups offer unique experiences that can be appealing to potential employers, often translating into better salary offers. The network and reputation gained from previous employment matter.

Company-Specific Salaries for Software Engineers

Company-Specific Salaries for Software Engineers

Corporate compensation data is a very well-kept secret in the industry. Companies do not share their compensation ranges and employees do not typically publish their own salaries. So, it is very difficult to compare compensation data between different companies.

Levels.fyi is a website that allows employees to provide their compensation data anonymously. So far (end of 2019), ~17k people from multiple companies have done so. This data includes salary, stock, and bonuses. In this post, I’ll be showing some of the data from that website.

In this section, I’ve included compensation data for Software Engineers working at:

  • Facebook
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Netflix
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Uber
  • LinkedIn
  • Lyft
  • Airbnb

For each company, there are 3 types of data:

  1. Average compensation by level split into base, stock, and bonus
  2. Trajectory chart with the total average compensation for each level
  3. Variance in compensation for each level

You can find the same graphs for the companies below, as well as additional companies on the “Charts” page in Levels.fyi.


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
E3 (Entry Level)$195K$142K$42K$11K
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Facebook


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
ICT2 Junior Software Engineer(Entry Level)$150K$122K$24K$4K
ICT3 Software Engineer$254K$167K$70K$17K
ICT4 Senior Software Engineer$345K$200K$122K$22K
Distinguished Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
Senior Distinguished Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
Engineering Fellow$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Apple


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
SDE I L4(Entry Level)$176K$138K$26K$12K
SDE II L5$254K$172K$76K$6K
SDE III L6$362K$205K$155K$2K
Principal SDE L7$559K$249K$310K$0
Senior Principal SDE L8$1.02M$307K$669K$43K
Distinguished Engineer L10$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Amazon


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
L3 (Entry Level)$220K$211K$0$8K
L7$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
L3 SWE II(Entry Level)$183K$142K$33K$8K
L4 SWE III$266K$173K$75K$18K
L5 Senior SWE$371K$207K$133K$32K
L6 Staff SWE$505K$245K$221K$38K
L7 Senior Staff SWE$716K$293K$362K$61K
L8 Principal Engineer$1.15M$333K$704K$117K
L9 Distinguished Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
L10 Google Fellow$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Google


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
SDE 59(Entry Level)$159K$114K$25K$20K
SDE II 61$190K$145K$28K$17K
Senior SDE 63$236K$181K$34K$21K
Principal SDE 65$327K$211K$81K$35K
Partner 68$785K$284K$397K$104K
70 Distinguished Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
80 Technical Fellow$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Microsoft


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
Software Engineer I3(Entry Level)$168K$134K$26K$9K
Software Engineer II4$272K$170K$86K$16K
Senior Software Engineer5a$474K$205K$240K$29K
Staff Software Engineer5b$661K$239K$391K$30K
Senior Staff Software Engineer6$877K$268K$551K$56K
Principal Engineer7$ —$ —$ —$ —
Distinguished Engineer8$ —$ —$ —$ —
Uber EngineerFellow$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Uber


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
Apprentice Software EngineerL2(Entry Level)$134K$106K$22K$6K
Software EngineerL3$212K$154K$44K$14K
Senior Software EngineerL4$305K$192K$100K$13K
Staff Software EngineerL5$439K$227K$183K$29K
Senior Staff Software EngineerL6$674K$280K$351K$44K
Principal Staff Software EngineerL7$1.03M$327K$631K$73K
Distinguished Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
Technical Fellow$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: LinkedIn


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
T3Software Engineer(Entry Level)$203K$135K$61K$8K
T6Staff Engineer$497K$232K$264K$0
T8Principal Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
T9$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Lyft


Level NameTotalBaseStock (/yr)Bonus
G7Software Engineer(Entry Level)$208K$131K$52K$25K
G8Software Engineer$321K$183K$122K$17K
G9Senior Software Engineer$474K$222K$227K$25K
G10Staff Software Engineer$630K$258K$327K$45K
G11Senior Staff Software Engineer$766K$279K$423K$64K
G12Principal Software Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
G13Distinguished Engineer$ —$ —$ —$ —
G14Fellow$ —$ —$ —$ —
Source: Levels.fyi
Software Engineer Salary: Airbnb

Software Engineer Salary Comparison: Who Pays More?

The following matrix includes comparative data for all companies and levels in one place.

Software Engineer (Entry Level)$195K$150K$176K$220K$183K$159K(L59)
$163K (L60)
Software Engineer 2$301K$254K$254K$337K$266K$190K(L61)
$204K (L62)
Senior Software Engineer$394K$345K$362K$514K$371K$236K (L63)
$261K (L64)
Staff Software Engineer$618K$479K$559K$667K$505K$327K (L65)
$390K (L66)
$527K (L67)
Senior Staff Software Engineer$918K$819K$1.02M$ —$716K$785K (L68)
$1.15M (L69)
Principal Software Engineer$1.71M$ —$ —$1.15M$ —$ —$1.03M$ —$ —
Distinguished Software Engineer$2.53M$ —$ —$ —$ —$ —$ —$ —
Technical Fellow$ —$ —$ —$ —$ —
Software Engineer Salary: Companies Paying More Than $300k For Senior Software Engineers

Companies Paying More Than $300k For Senior Software Engineers

Using the data from https://levels.fyi, we can create a list of companies that pay more than $300k for Senior Software Engineers. This list appeared first in the TeamBlind forum.

Two SigmaL4399k
VMWareStaff 2332k
RokuLevel 4300-450k

One noteworthy absence from the above list is Microsoft. Indeed, in order for Microsoft employees to reach $300k of total compensation, they need to reach the Principal band, i.e. level 65 or even 66.

 Software Engineer Salary: Top Pay by Levels

Software Engineer Salary: Top Pay by Levels

Levels.fyi has also shared a report showing the top 5 highest-paying employers for each level. Compensation figures that follow reflect the median total yearly compensation including salary, stock, and bonuses.

Entry-Level Engineer (I): 0-2 years of experience

Software Engineer Salary: 0-2 years of experience

Engineer (II): 2-5 years of experience

Software Engineer Salary: 2-5 years of experience

Senior Engineer (III): 5+ years of experience

Software Engineer Salary: 5+ years of experience

Staff Engineer (IV): 10+ years of experience

Software Engineer Salary: 10+ years of experience

Principal Engineer (V): 15+ years of experience

Software Engineer Salary: 15+ years of experience
Salary Comparison: SWE vs PM vs TPM vs EM

Salary Comparison: SWE vs PM vs TPM vs EM vs PMM

In most companies, the compensation for Software Engineering Managers is approximately equal to that for Software Engineers at the same level. The relative compensation for the other ladders depends on each company. As you go down the list with the roles for each company, there is a 5-10% decrease in total compensation, assuming the same level and same performance (e.g. the total compensation for a Technical Program Manager at Google is 5-10% higher than the total compensation of a Program Manager at Google).

  1. Amazon
    1. Software Development Manager and Software Engineer
    2. Technical Program Manager and Product Manager – Technical
    3. Product Manager
    4. Product Marketing Manager
  2. Google
    1. Technical Lead Manager, Engineering Manager, Software Engineer
    2. Product Manager
    3. Technical Program Manager
    4. Program Manager
    5. Product Marketing Manager
  3. Facebook
    1. Engineering Manager
    2. Software Engineer
    3. Product Manager
    4. Technical Program Manager
    5. Product Marketing Manager
  4. Microsoft
    1. Engineering Manager
    2. Software Engineer and Program Manager
    3. Product Marketing Manager

For more information you can also look at my other posts:

Software Engineer Salary: Conclusion


Understanding the dynamics of the Software Engineer salary, including the average salary and salary ranges, is a critical part of navigating your software engineering career path. In the United States of America, where the demand for skilled software engineers is consistently high, particularly in the technology space, this knowledge is invaluable. For software developers, including those working on software applications and mobile apps, and especially for those in high-demand areas such as the healthcare industry or user experience, being aware of these salary trends is crucial.

The journey from being part of a big group of makers tackling complex business problems to potentially becoming one of the highest-paid software engineers requires understanding a multitude of factors. These include the average additional cash compensation, the value of hands-on experience, and the significance of being an integral member of an engineering team. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and various job postings provide valuable insights into these aspects. Whether you are a Senior Software Engineer or an entry-level programmer, recognizing the impact of your year of experience, your contribution to software products, and the current role you play within the vast software industry is essential. As technology evolves and software engineering salaries reflect these changes, it’s a good time for software engineers at every level to assess their position and consider their next step in this exciting field.

About Me

I am an engineer with 15+ years in the tech industry, including roles at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. I've been a Software Engineer, Product Manager, and Technical Program Manager. I also have an MBA from Kellogg School of Management with Majors in Finance and Marketing.

What drives me? A passion for empowering engineers to achieve Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE). I reached FIRE, when I turned 40 years old. Whether it's through personal finance strategies or career insights, I'm here to guide you on this path. Have questions or need advice? Feel free to reach out!

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  1. Where does solutions architect/sales engineer and technical account manager roles rank compared to the the compensation data you listed?

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