The highest-paying software engineering jobs usually involve more experience or specialized skills. Niche skill sets in emerging sectors, like cloud computing and artificial intelligence, often earn bigger paychecks than more generalized roles. Additionally, with more experience, you gain leverage within a company and the ability to negotiate your pay more confidently.
Using salary information from Glassdoor, we’ve compiled a list of the highest-paying software engineering jobs. Salaries may differ depending on location, company, and level of experience, so salary estimates are ranges representing the most likely pay bracket for the given job title. We’ve also pulled together some of the best-paying companies for software engineers.
Top 15 Highest-Paying Software Engineering Jobs
1. Back-End Developer
Estimated salary range: $62,000 to $103,000
Necessary skills: back-end programming languages (Python, Java, PHP), frameworks (e.g., Node.js and Express.js), application programming interfaces (APIs)
Back-end developers are responsible for the side of websites and applications that users don’t see: the server side. These developers work with clients and stakeholders to design and build websites, software, and programs according to business requirements. Additionally, back-end developers must create and maintain elements that keep websites, software, and programs running smoothly. A developer also needs to troubleshoot systems to identify problems and ensure stability.
>>MORE: Explore a career in back-end development with Lyft’s Back-End Engineering Virtual Experience Program.
2. Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
Estimated salary range: $67,000 to $104,000
Necessary skills: fundamentals of the software development lifecycle, programming languages (Python, Java, C#), user interface testing
Quality assurance (QA) engineers test software at various stages of development and ensure software, programs, and websites work how they are intended to. QA engineers also identify and report bugs or issues to relevant stakeholders. A QA engineer may also be responsible for checking that software meets the design specifications and requirements set forth by clients.
3. Front-End Developer
Estimated salary range: $67,000 to $106,000
Front-end developers are responsible for the part of websites and applications that users interact with and see. They work with clients to create user interfaces according to business needs and design the look and feel of websites, programs, and applications. Front-end developers also ensure sites and programs function correctly and operate at appropriate speeds.
>>MORE: See what working on the front-end in software engineering is like with Skyscanner’s Front-End Engineering Virtual Experience Program.
4. Cybersecurity Engineer
Estimated salary range: $78,000 to $125,000
Necessary skills: penetration and vulnerability testing, application security and encryption, computer forensics fundamentals
Cybersecurity engineers create processes and solutions to protect against cybercrimes, hacking, and malware. They are responsible for developing policies for users to ensure information, software, and systems are kept secure. Additionally, a cybersecurity engineer must routinely test software and systems for vulnerabilities using ethical hacking.
>>MORE: Learn more about cybersecurity with the JPMorgan Chase Cybersecurity Virtual Experience Program.
5. Mobile Applications Developer
Estimated salary range: $92,000 to $148,000
Mobile application developers design and develop mobile applications for iOS, Android, and other platforms. These developers work with clients to create apps that meet specific company requirements and test and maintain these applications. A mobile application developer often needs to resolve any bugs or issues with the app, too.
6. Big Data Engineers
Estimated salary range: $94,000 to $152,000
Necessary skills: programming languages (Python, C++, Java), database management system software, data visualization and modeling
Big data engineers collect and organize large amounts of data into processing systems and databases. These engineers then analyze and evaluate data sets for relevant insights. Additionally, big data engineers are often responsible for carrying out design plans and building architecture to store and sort data according to client needs. A big data engineer also must maintain data pipelines.
>>MORE: Curious what working with data is like? Find out with Accenture’s Data Analytics and Visualization Virtual Experience Program.
7. Full-Stack Engineer
Estimated salary range: $95,000 to $157,000
Necessary skills: HTML and CSS, web architecture, back-end programming languages (Python, Java, PHP)
Full-stack engineers are responsible for both sides of a website or program: the side users see (front-end) and the side that makes the front-end possible (back-end). This involves designing, testing, building, and maintaining software and websites. A full-stack engineer may also plan user experience (UX) and interface (UI) functions while leading a team of coders and engineers.
>>MORE: Explore developing designs and interfaces with BP’s Digital Design and UX Virtual Experience Program.
8. Site Reliability Engineer
Estimated salary range: $102,000 to $164,000
Necessary skills: Git and GitHub, programming languages (Python, Java, GoLang), problem-solving
Site reliability engineers (SREs) monitor software and website reliability and quickly respond to any incidents. SREs develop emergency plans ahead of time to make incident responses efficient. A site reliability engineer is often tasked with improving site and software functions, too, and ensuring software is produced in a stable environment.
9. Development Operations (DevOps) Engineer
Estimated salary range: $106,000 to $172,000
Necessary skills: cloud-based infrastructure management, automation tools, Linux fundamentals
Development operations engineers, often called DevOps, oversee software development, implementation, and maintenance. DevOps work with both engineering and operations teams to ensure software meets business requirements and is deployed efficiently.
10. Machine Learning Software Engineer
Estimated salary range: $112,000 to $186,000
Necessary skills: applied mathematics, natural language processing, neural network architectures
Machine learning software engineers are responsible for developing and maintaining algorithms and artificial intelligence systems for research and data analysis. These engineers also must improve existing models using statistical analysis. Machine learning engineers aim to create systems that can find meaningful insights from data, which can be applied to relevant business decisions and goals.
>>MORE: See what working with AI is like with Cognizant’s Artificial Intelligence Virtual Experience Program.
11. Cloud Engineer
Estimated salary range: $119,000 to $202,000
Necessary skills: Linux fundamentals, SQL and databases, cloud service providers (e.g., Microsoft’s Azure)
Cloud engineers build and maintain cloud-based infrastructure, working with businesses to design cloud solutions that align with company goals and priorities. A cloud engineer must also ensure data security and craft policies for using the cloud-based storage and software they build.
12. Data Architect
Estimated salary range: $131,000 to $209,000
Necessary skills: programming languages (Python, C++, Java), relational and non-relational database management systems, machine learning and predictive modeling
Data architects align data infrastructure and strategy according to business or client needs and define policies and procedures for collecting, storing, maintaining, and using data. A data architect is also responsible for designing data storage and maintenance solution concepts and overseeing a team of data engineers who bring the designs to life.
>>MORE: Learn how businesses leverage data when making decisions with Quantium’s Data Analytics Virtual Experience Program.
13. Software Architect
Estimated salary range: $135,000 to $224,000
Necessary skills: unified modeling language (UML), experience with architecture patterns, UI/UX design
Software architects work with a team of software engineers to plan and design products and solutions according to client needs. They also oversee the software development lifecycle, from early planning stages to full launch, and determine team priorities throughout the process.
14. Quantitative Developer
Estimated salary range: $147,000 to $264,000
Necessary skills: programming languages (C++, Java, Python), statistical analysis software (Matlab, R, SAS), financial modeling
Quantitative developers exist at an intersection of finance and technology. Sometimes called “quants,” these professionals use computer science skills to improve analysis, risk management, trading, and portfolio optimization for financial institutions. Quantitative developers design programs and tools to create financial models and provide quantitative information to investment banks, hedge funds, and other financial organizations.
>>MORE: Explore a related career path — becoming a quantitative analyst.
15. Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Estimated salary range: $249,000 to $458,000
Necessary skills: leadership, information security practices, project and product management
Chief technology officers (CTOs) are executives who oversee information technology (IT) and technology development teams. These C-suite members help align technology teams’ plans and priorities with overarching business goals and monitor budgeting for the departments. A CTO may also guide or mentor team members and provide a baseline for the team culture and working environment.
Find your career fit
Highest-Paying Companies for Software Engineers
Many of the best-paying companies for software engineers are the tech giants commonly referred to as FAANG: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. These companies are a few of the largest technology companies in the world, and they rely heavily on software engineers to ensure their products and services are available 24/7.
However, considering recent layoffs, these corporations may not seem like the safest bets for software engineers looking for work. Outside of FAANG and other Silicon Valley companies, there are still great opportunities for software engineers, and some may be unexpected:
- Banks: As mobile and online banking grows in popularity and necessity, banking institutions need software engineers to create and maintain these platforms. Additionally, certain areas of finance, like investment banking, pay top dollar for software engineers who can develop algorithms and programs that improve securities trading and beat competitors on stock exchange markets. According to Indeed, software engineers at Bank of America see an average salary of around $101,500.
- Delivery and transportation companies: Food and package delivery companies, like Instacart, and transportation companies, like Uber and Lyft, rely on software engineers for fast and efficient mobile applications and payment processing systems. Software engineers at Instacart have an average annual salary of around $158,000, according to Indeed.
- Health care companies: Health care providers and insurance companies need reliable and secure systems to ensure patient information stays confidential and medical support can be administered efficiently. Hospitals use software engineer-developed programs to deliver diagnoses and test results faster. Insurance companies use integrated payment processing systems to make paying for care easier for patients. According to Indeed, software engineers at CVS Health are paid an average annual salary of about $101,500.
Ready to start your software engineering career? Gain real-world experience with Forage’s Software Engineering Career Path.
Note: Salary data is from Glassdoor unless otherwise specified. Salaries are reported by users, and the ranges are representative of the 25th to 75th percentile of pay rates. Estimated salary ranges include full compensation benefits, such as bonuses, profit sharing, and commission. Salary information accessed March 2023.
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