What Is the Typical Software Engineer Salary?

A software engineer salary can vary widely depending on which employer he or she works for, experience level and location. In 2018, there were 23 million software developers worldwide, according to an EDC study. It was projected then that in five years the total might grow to 27.7 million. It was also predicted India would have more software developers than the US and that China would have the highest growth rate for this occupation.

As technology becomes even more prominent across the planet, there will likely be an increasing demand for software professionals. The US has been the world’s software leader, but companies in other countries are rapidly expanding technologically and they have huge populations to provide their products and services to — China and India have a combined 2.6 billion people.

“The US can be viewed as the cradle of software development and has thus has always had the largest developer population. However, emerging countries are definitely catching up. This is true overall and also in the adoption of various leading edge technologies, where we see a very strong uptake in China, India and also Brazil,” said Janel Garvin, CEO of Evans Data Corp.

Even though the software industry is growing very much in China and India software engineer salaries are still the highest in the US and some European countries. For example, in India some software professionals work for less than $10,000 per year.

With companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Tesla the US still leads the world in some technologies. Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Seattle attract software engineers from all over America and tens of thousands from other countries as well. Money is one of the main draws and software engineer salaries in the US are very high.

According to Daxx, the median salary is about $92,000 in the US and in Switzerland, which is second in the world, it is $85,000. Norway is in the third position with quite a bit less with $70,000. Israel’s and Denmark’s software engineers make about the same, but  just slightly lower.

The UK is next on the list, with an average salary of $59,000.

 US News and World Report — Money published salary information for US software developers stating that median was $101,790.

California is where US software engineer salaries in the US typically are the highest. According to the same source here are the top salaries by city:

San Francisco, California $147,590
Seattle, Washington $133,810
San Jose, California $132,170
Silver Spring, Maryland $126,260
Oakland, California $125,120

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics used the term software developer, not software engineer, in its profile containing information about the number of jobs, growth rate and income level. One of its key metrics was a growth rate of 31% from 2016 to 2026.

San Francisco Bay Area

Silicon Valley has thrived for decades as the central hub of software creation. Apple, IBM, Oracle, Adobe, and Intuit are just a very small sample of some of these companies. Seattle is another software center mostly because of Microsoft’s very prominent presence. San Francisco became a tech focal point too as the Silicon Valley companies opened offices there. Today, hundreds of tech companies are active in the city by the bay.

One of the Bay Area’s leading newspapers, the San Jose Mercury News, listed the average software engineer salaries at the some biggest local tech companies:

Apple, Cupertino

Average software engineer salary: $188,000
Google, Mountain View

Average software engineer salary: $212,000

Twitter, San Francisco

Average software engineer salary: $209,000
Facebook, Menlo Park

Average software engineer salary: $221,000

Uber, San Francisco

Average software engineer salary: $246,000

Airbnb, San Francisco
Average software engineer salary: $287,000

Within the Blind platform, there are tens of thousands of software engineers from the biggest companies who are actively discussing many issues and one of their favorite topics is compensation. So let’s look at what they have said.

How are software engineer salaries at Microsoft?

When you read Blind posts about compensation, you see stocks, bonuses,  and signon payments. Salaries are obviously very important, but total compensation packages can be much larger. About 50,000 Microsoft employees use Blind, so we can share many unique insights from them about their compensation packages. Here is a small sample.

“Microsoft SE1 offer evaluation base 115k, stocks 10k, joining bonus 10k, relocation 12.5k, location – Redmond, team – Azure networking.”  May 25, 2018 (read more here)

In the same thread, some Blind users pointed out Washington state has no state income tax and the cost of living is lower than in California.

“I started working 2 years back, I had offers from Amazon and Microsoft for Seattle in 2016. I decided to go with Microsoft. Here is the comparison of offers I received and growth in Microsoft.

RSU/53k /60k (better vesting 25/25/25/25 in 3.5yrs)
Joining bonus/49k/35k(split in 2yrs)
Base/100k/106k.” Apr. 25, 2018 (read more here)

“My base changed almost every 6 months since joining 106k -> 114k (promo to 60) -> 119k (annual hike)-> 129k (promo to 61). And got 18k cash bonus, 8k stocks in 2017. Expecting good numbers this year too because of promotion.” April 25, 2018 (read more here)

“Microsoft SDE 2 offer, I have 12 years development experience and got this offer from MS:

Base $125,500
Sign on $10k
Stocks $15k

I make $145k base right now. Please let me know if this is a real low-ball.” Feb. 9, 2018 (read more here)

“I got the following offer for Microsoft SDE 2: Base: $146k, Bonus: $24k, Stock: $50k over 4 years. I am currently SDE 2 at Amazon (promoted this Q1) and my target comp is $177k.” (read more here)

“I have 5 years experience in software field and did my masters. I recently got a job offer from microsoft and they offered me Level 60 which I’m not happy with. Please help me with what I can negotiate. Edit: I was offered 120k/25k/20k base/stocks/bonus.” Feb. 7, 2019 (read more here)

“Will Microsoft attempt to match FB/Google/Amazon offers? I’d much rather work at MS (team, location) but I feel that their offer is lower than I can get elsewhere (190/75/300 for L65 SDE in Seattle).” April 13, 2018 (read more here)

A Blind user with 7 years of software experience wrote, “Just got an offer for senior SDE (63) in Redmond campus: base 150.7k + 40k signon (20k each year) + 120k rsu (25% for each year) + performance bonus (up to 30% of base). Can I ask more for signon and stocks?” Nov.21, 2017 (read more here)

For a question about principal engineer salary, the answer was: “Around 185k+”  Oct. 12, 2017 (read more here)

For a question about total compensation for an Engineering Manager position, one reply was: “220-250 base, TC 500-700k.” Mar. 23, 2018 (read more here)

“I’m currently a L63 myself. My TC is around $215k. So as an outsider his can go up to $250k and $275k for L64. HR will try to play tricks here. I’ve also seen outliers where people with 13 yrs of experience have come in as L66. So OP has lots of options on the table.” Mar. 15, 2018 (read more here)

How are software engineer salaries at Google?

Google is no exception when it comes to total compensation packages. Some of the general information you can find online about salaries is not an accurate reflection of what you might receive in stock, performance bonuses, a signon bonus, benefits and perks. There is more detailed information in posts from Google employees on Blind.

“I have been offered Software Engineer, tools and infrastructure role in Google mountain view. Recruiter has asked for salary expectations. I have 2.5 years of work experience in India , MS from US university and currently working at oracle since January 2016. I have also done couple of 6 months internship in bay area. How much salary can i ask for?  Mostly you would be coming in as L3. TC would be somewhere between $160k-$200k.” April 24, 2018 (read more here)

“I received a ballpark from the recruiter of around 110-120 base with ~140rsu/4 years (cant recall exactly). I responded with a competing offer of 150/200. Yeah L3 offer.” Dec. 24, 2018 (read more here)

“Got an offer from Google today (San Bruno location)
3.5 years of industry experience
SWE L3 level
125K base
15-25% annual bonus
160K stocks (vesting over 4 years)
15K joining bonus.” Aug. 29, 2018 (read more here)

On a question about an L5 position at Google the answer was,”Expect TC 250k-350k… may go all the way to 375-400k but very rare.” Oct. 12, 2017 (read more here)

“230K base, 20% bonus, 60K sign-on, 850K RSU. 230 + 46 (bonus) + 15k (avg sign on for 4 years) + 212.50 (RSU) = 503.5K TC Good offer, any room to negotiate? Location: Mountain View.” Aug. 12, 2018 (read more here)

“Base salary: $165k, Equity: $480k, Standard 15% bonus, No signon, Including bonus, total comp: $309k.” April 5, 2018 (read more here)

What are Amazon’s software engineer salaries?

Like the other major high-tech companies the total compensation packages can go well beyond salary levels. Stock packages in particular can be lucrative, and many software engineers are very interested in bonuses, benefits and relocation payments.

“Amazon’s total comp numbers from what I have read are as follows:

Sde 1 new grad: 145 TC

Sde 2: 170-230 TC

SDE 3: 250-350 TC

Principal engineer: 400-600 TC.”  Nov. 25, 2017 (read more here)

For a question about Amazon compensation, “What does the top end salary for SDE look like in Amazon bay area?” the answer was: “180k, I think. 160k for non-“max-CoL” areas, but they add a percentage for bay area and NYC.” April 20, 2018

This comment was made about an L4 position: “TC 131K Seattle.” July 17, 2018 (read more here)

For a question about an Amazon salary hike, the Blind answer was, “My current base is 162k TC and my manager is basically guaranteeing a promotion to SDE2 (lower level I assume) from SDE1 in April. I wonder if 180k is what I’d be getting.” Sep. 20, 2017 (read more here)

“200k TC is fair for SDE II which is probably what you’re interviewing for. Try to get a competing offer though, your current TC may hinder your negotiation options.” July 12, 2018 (read more here)

“I’m currently at 160 base and 210 TC at Amazon (7 years of total experience). I’m a SDE II(L5) and I’m a full stack engineer with 5 years of startup experience and 2 years at Google as application engineer.” Jun. 9, 2018 (read more here)

“One of my friends got offer from Amazon L6 sr data engineer offered 145 base 30k & 29k bonus first 2 years and 96 RSU.” Dec. 11, 2017

“Could you guys share some pointers for amazon l6 sdm salary. I was told 160k base and TC of 300k by the recruiter. She said there might be some flexibility with RSU and signin bonus.” May 29, 2018 (read more here)

“How is 275K total compensation fare in the Bay Area for an L6 engineer?” Oct. 7, 2018 (read more here)

One Blind user asked a question about compensation at AMAZON for a L7 Sr. Manager role and received this answer,“TC: 500k upwards. How many years of exp. do you have? What’s u r level at msft?” Jun. 12, 2018 (read more here)

What are Facebook software engineer salaries?

Facebook also offers compensation beyond salary, so total compensation is what software engineers on Blind typically talk about.

“E3: $107k-$125k salary, $40k stocks a year, 10% bonus

E4: $140k-160k salary, $70k stocks a year, 10% bonus

E5: $170k-$195k salary, $120k stocks a year, 15% bonus

E6: $200k-$220k salary, $200k stocks a year, 20% bonus

All numbers assuming expected performance, if you kill expectations you get more (25% – 200% more shares).” Nov. 25, 2017  (read more here)

“I am a senior sde (Amazon l6) and got an offer from Facebook. It is only 350k in total. I heard from someone that the new hires can go close to 400, is it true ?” Apr. 28, 2018 (read more here)

“An E5 hire who was offered 200k base and 800k RSUs can attain 500k+ TC during their fourth year by getting 120k RSU refreshers every year.” Nov. 3, 2018 (read more here)

“E7 at FB is about $700k minimum.” Oct. 12, 2018

“The lower end of E8 should be ~1M, can get much higher.” Apr.8, 2018 (read more here)

What are the Apple software engineer salaries?

Apple salaries are also similar to the other tech employers hiring software engineers in that they are part of the compensation packages, not the whole income.

“Just got off the call with Apple (Sunnyvale). SWE with 13 years of experience (backend). Can you please help me decide on these numbers: Base: 160K RSUs: 160 vested over 4 years Sign On: 20K.” Dec. 21, 2018 (read more here)

“It’s rare for ICT3 to go beyond 200k TC but it never hurts to ask.” Jan. 31, 2019

“ICT3 5yoe 147/105/25.” Nov. 16, 2018 (read more here)

“I’m an ICT3 and after my last hike, my base became 147K. My manager said I’m close to the ICT3 max and should start looking to get promoted. I’m not sure if it is just a way of dangling a carrot, but there it is.” Nov. 15, 2018 (read more here)

These comments were made about ICT4: “For ICT4 Cupertino, I was making over $320k total comp which was 30k signon, $120k yearly refreshes, 170k initial stock, 160 base, 10% bonus. I had many years experience.” Aug.9, 2017 (read more here)

“I got 185 base 220 rsu 40k bonus offer in early Dec.” Jan. 17, 2019 (read more here)

These were about the ICT5 level:

“My initial offer was 230k base, 650k rsus, 100k signon for ict5.” Jan.20, 2019 (read more here)

“I have a verbal offer from Apple for 230k salary, 630k RSU over four years and 100k sign on bonus. It is ICT5. This is for 16 YOE.” Sep. 8, 2018 (read more here)

Perhaps it’s only natural that many people want to focus on software engineer salaries in the US because that’s where the most money is. When discussing software engineer salaries the job titles software engineer,  software developer, and computer programmer are sometimes used interchangeably which creates confusion. Software engineers typically have received some forma training in engineering principles and a scientific approach to software creation. Software developers have more of creative background based more in self-learning. In the context of getting work done there may be very little difference between the terms, but their perspectives and skill sets can differ, and so can their responsibilities and salaries.

 Software engineer salaries just might keep increasing due to global technologies expanding and demand for software engineers.

This article has gone into some depth about salaries at some of the largest tech companies, but here is some information about compensation at a smaller company for comparison.

Image Credits: Pexels License, no attribution required.

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