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Become A Principal Developer

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Working As A Principal Developer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $121,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Principal Developer Do

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Duties

Software developers typically do the following:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design each piece of an application or a system and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that instruct programmers how to write software code
  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or a system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program. They may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software. They must identify the core functionality that users need from software programs. Software developers must also determine user requirements that are unrelated to the functionality of software, such as the level of security and performance needs. They design the program and then give instructions to programmers, who write computer code and test it.

If the program does not work as expected or if testers find it too difficult to use, software developers go back to the design process to fix the problems or improve the program. After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance.

Developers usually work closely with computer programmers. However, in some companies, developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to the programmers.

Developers who supervise a software project from the planning stages through implementation sometimes are called information technology (IT) project managers. These workers monitor the project’s progress to ensure that it meets deadlines, standards, and cost targets. IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

The following are examples of types of software developers:

Applications software developers design computer applications, such as word processors and games, for consumers. They may create custom software for a specific customer or commercial software to be sold to the general public. Some applications software developers create complex databases for organizations. They also create programs that people use over the Internet and within a company’s intranet.

Systems software developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly. These could be operating systems for computers that the general public buys or systems built specifically for an organization. Often, systems software developers also build the system’s interface, which is what allows users to interact with the computer. Systems software developers are creating the operating systems that control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including the systems in phones or cars.

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How To Become A Principal Developer

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and strong computer programming skills.

Education

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A degree in mathematics is also acceptable. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software in order to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. For some positions, employers may prefer a master’s degree.

Although writing code is not their first priority, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.

Software developers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.

Other Experience

Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college.

Some software developers first work as computer programmers and then are given more responsibility as they gain experience. Eventually, they become developers.

Advancement

Software developers can advance to become information technology (IT) project managers, also called computer and information systems managers, a position in which they oversee the software development process.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Developers must analyze users’ needs and then design software to meet those needs.

Communication skills. Developers must be able to give clear instructions to others working on a project. They must also explain to their customers how the software works and answer any questions that arise.

Computer skills. Developers must understand computer capabilities and programming languages in order to design effective software.

Creativity. Developers are the creative minds behind new computer software.

Detail oriented. Developers often work on many parts of an application or system at the same time and must therefore be able to concentrate and pay attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Software developers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software.

Problem-solving skills. Because developers are in charge of software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process.

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Principal Developer Jobs

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Principal Developer Career Paths

Principal Developer
Principal Vice President Chief Technology Officer
President & Chief Technology Officer
13 Yearsyrs
Principal Superintendent Senior Project Manager
Director Of Software Development
12 Yearsyrs
Principal Owner Co-Founder
Chief Technology Officer & Founder
9 Yearsyrs
Business Development Director
Solutions Director
13 Yearsyrs
Business Development Director Vice President Vice President Of Engineering
Vice President Of Software Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Business Development Director Communications Director Information Technology Director
Director Of Enterprise Architecture
14 Yearsyrs
Business Development Manager Senior Project Manager Senior Product Manager
Product Director
11 Yearsyrs
Business Development Manager Senior Product Manager
Vice President, Product Management
13 Yearsyrs
Business Development Manager Partner Information Technology Project Manager
Technical Delivery Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Development Manager
Senior Development Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Technical Project Manager Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Development Manager Information Technology Manager
Director, Applications
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Information Technology Director
Vice President Of Application Development
11 Yearsyrs
Co-Founder Information Technology Project Manager Service Delivery Manager
Senior Delivery Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Co-Founder Information Technology Project Manager Senior Information Technology Manager
Application Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Development Manager Engineering Manager Technical Project Manager
Technical Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Senior Operations Manager Head Operator
Head Of Business Development
7 Yearsyrs
Software Architect Enterprise Architect Senior Technical Consultant
Principal Technologist
10 Yearsyrs
Software Architect Technical Team Lead Technology Architect
Vice President, Technology
11 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Principal Developer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Software Architect 3.2 years
Software Developer 2.6 years
Web Site Developer 2.6 years
Lead Developer 2.5 years
Lead Web Developer 2.4 years
Project Developer 2.3 years
Developer 2.2 years
Contract Developer 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Principal Developer
Consultant 8.7%
Principal 4.9%
Developer 4.4%
Programmer 3.1%
Internship 2.9%
Top Careers After Principal Developer
Principal 10.4%
Consultant 9.7%
Director 3.9%
Manager 3.9%

Do you work as a Principal Developer?

Principal Developer Demographics

Gender

Male

69.8%

Female

19.0%

Unknown

11.2%
Ethnicity

White

57.7%

Hispanic or Latino

14.3%

Asian

13.1%

Black or African American

10.4%

Unknown

4.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

25.7%

Chinese

11.4%

German

8.6%

French

8.6%

Italian

8.6%

Korean

5.7%

Mandarin

5.7%

Swedish

2.9%

Portuguese

2.9%

Catalan

2.9%

Czech

2.9%

Dakota

2.9%

Vietnamese

2.9%

Japanese

2.9%

Greek

2.9%

Russian

2.9%
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Principal Developer Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

10.4%

University of Washington

6.7%

New York University

6.0%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

6.0%

University of Texas at Austin

5.2%

George Mason University

5.2%

Harvard University

5.2%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

5.2%

University of California - Berkeley

4.5%

University of California - Los Angeles

4.5%

University of Florida

4.5%

University of Phoenix

4.5%

Purdue University

4.5%

Boston University

4.5%

University of Oklahoma

4.5%

University of Utah

3.7%

Carnegie Mellon University

3.7%

University of Houston

3.7%

Suffolk University

3.7%

Northeastern University

3.7%
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Majors

Business

21.5%

Computer Science

16.4%

Electrical Engineering

9.1%

Finance

6.5%

Management

4.2%

Educational Leadership

4.2%

Mathematics

4.2%

Mechanical Engineering

4.0%

Marketing

4.0%

Education

3.2%

Computer Engineering

3.0%

Political Science

2.8%

Chemical Engineering

2.8%

Architecture

2.2%

Communication

2.2%

Information Technology

2.2%

Project Management

2.0%

Graphic Design

2.0%

Information Systems

2.0%

Law

2.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

39.7%

Masters

36.5%

Other

12.0%

Doctorate

7.1%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

2.0%

Diploma

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$121,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$91,000
Min 10%
$121,000
Median 50%
$121,000
Median 50%
$121,000
Median 50%
$121,000
Median 50%
$121,000
Median 50%
$121,000
Median 50%
$121,000
Median 50%
$160,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Microsoft
Highest Paying City
San Jose, CA
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
3.9 years
How much does a Principal Developer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Principal Developer in the United States is $121,171 per year or $58 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $91,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $160,000.

Real Principal Developer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principal Development Planner Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Aug 20, 2015 $290,000
Principal Development Planner Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Jul 28, 2016 $290,000
Principal Development Planner Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Apr 29, 2016 $290,000
Principal Development Project Manager Osisoft, LLC San Leandro, CA Nov 02, 2016 $210,000
Principal Specialist-Business Development Sling Media, Inc. Foster City, CA Mar 05, 2016 $179,733
Senior Principal, Business Development Ca, Inc. San Diego, CA May 16, 2016 $177,070
Principal Development Lead Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Mar 23, 2015 $175,592
Principal Algorithm Developer Mark One Lifestyle, Inc. San Francisco, CA Sep 10, 2015 $175,000
Principal Developer The Bank of New York Mellon Jersey City, NJ Mar 28, 2016 $170,000
Principal Development Lead Microsoft Corporation Redmond, WA Feb 18, 2015 $167,957
Engineer, Principal-Software Development Broadcom Corporation Sunnyvale, CA Feb 23, 2016 $166,400
R&D Principal Accenture LLP San Jose, CA Jan 27, 2016 $165,006
Principal Peoplesoft Developer Informatica Corporation Redwood City, CA Nov 16, 2015 $134,638
Engineer, Principal-Software Development Broadcom Corporation Irvine, CA Dec 13, 2015 $133,877
Principal Developer, Software T-Mobile USA, Inc. Bothell, WA Oct 11, 2015 $133,806 -
$155,195
Engineer, SR. Principal-Software Development Broadcom Corporation San Diego, CA Sep 30, 2015 $132,903
Engineer, Principal-Software Development Broadcom Corporation Irvine, CA Feb 25, 2016 $132,730
Principal Software Development Sabre GLBL Inc. Southlake, TX Jan 12, 2016 $131,997 -
$172,400
Associate, Principal Developer Nomura America Services, LLC New York, NY Nov 15, 2016 $131,000 -
$140,000
Systems Development Principal Xerox Transport Solutions, Inc. Somerset, NJ Sep 26, 2016 $119,000
Principal Developer Analytics Herbalife International Winston-Salem, NC Jan 12, 2016 $118,000
Principal Prpc Developer Parexel International Billerica, MA Feb 27, 2015 $116,465
Principal Developer (Protocoll) Omgeo LLC New York, NY May 27, 2015 $115,300
Systems Development Principal ISG Services, LLC Irvine, CA Mar 02, 2015 $115,250
Systems Development Principal ISG Services, LLC Irvine, CA Feb 16, 2015 $115,250
Systems Development Principal ISG Services, LLC Irvine, CA Feb 03, 2015 $115,250
Principal Developer Nisum Technologies Inc. San Francisco, CA Jun 15, 2016 $115,000

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Top Skills for A Principal Developer

  1. Business Development
  2. Web Application
  3. Strategic Plan
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed business development plan to include customer segmentation analysis, project development priorities, competitive analysis, and implementation plans.
  • Designed, developed, and maintained application framework for construction of multiple customized web applications for various business and client areas.
  • Performed strategic planning and developed new product specifications with marketing & sales to meet Customer requirements.
  • Programmed MySQL database for storing of optimized animation data.
  • Specialized in handling large databases and complex data transformation.

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Top 10 Best States for Principal Developers

  1. California
  2. Washington
  3. Texas
  4. New Jersey
  5. North Carolina
  6. Colorado
  7. New York
  8. District of Columbia
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Georgia
  • (7,104 jobs)
  • (1,418 jobs)
  • (4,001 jobs)
  • (2,012 jobs)
  • (1,642 jobs)
  • (1,341 jobs)
  • (2,356 jobs)
  • (707 jobs)
  • (196 jobs)
  • (1,331 jobs)

Top Principal Developer Employers

Jobs From Top Principal Developer Employers

Principal Developer Videos

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2013 - Wojciech Seliga - Java Developer Career Unplugged

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