This question is about what a staff engineer does, what a principal engineer does, and staff engineer.

Staff Engineer vs. Principal Engineer

By Zippia Team - Jul. 28, 2022

A staff engineer is the lowest position of an engineer at a company, while a principal engineer is part of the engineering leadership at a company.

Staff engineers design, build, and test structures, products, systems, services, or equipment, depending on their area of specialty. They are employed in a variety of industries and mainly specialize in civil, mechanical, industrial, or electrical engineering.

A principal engineer has many years of experience in engineering.They are tasked with managing engineers in a specific department or in multiple different departments. Leadership is a crucial component of a principal engineer's job.

Some of their responsibilities include planning engineering strategies for a company, managing several departments and figuring out goals for each, and writing and managing engineering budgets.

Here are the key differences between a staff engineer and a principal engineer:

  • Staff engineers are lowest on the hierarchy of engineers of a company

  • Principal engineers are considerably higher on the hierarchy of engineers of a company, overseeing one or multiple departments

  • Staff engineers take orders from senior and principal engineers

  • Principal engineers communicate with other top leadership at a company

  • Principal engineers have considerably larger salaries than staff engineers

Staff Engineer vs. Principal Engineer

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