What is a Principal Engineer

Ever been to a mountain climbing adventure where you, along with the team, follow an experienced lead? You can think of the team lead as the Principal Engineer who leads a group of new and experienced engineers throughout the project. They inspect and manage resources and budget, communicate the progress and put all their efforts to increase profitability.

They are the science people who practice the art of managing their team and project and complete project within provided resources. So many engineers pursue a Master's in management sciences to polish their administrative skills, but that's not a must; instead, most principle engineers earn higher degrees in their relevant field.

This leadership job can be termed as one of the highest-paid jobs as you can earn $58.79 per hour on average. As per the book, the Principal Engineer is supposed to work 40 hours a week. Yet don't get stick to this rule. You got to be there until all deliverables are delivered, and deadlines are met.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a principal engineer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $54.4 an hour? That's $113,149 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 4% and produce 12,800 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Principal Engineer Do

There are certain skills that many principal engineers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed mechanical skills, creativity and listening skills.

Learn more about what a Principal Engineer does

How To Become a Principal Engineer

If you're interested in becoming a principal engineer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 65.7% of principal engineers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 21.8% of principal engineers have master's degrees. Even though most principal engineers have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a principal engineer. When we researched the most common majors for a principal engineer, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on principal engineer resumes include doctoral degree degrees or associate degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a principal engineer. In fact, many principal engineer jobs require experience in a role such as senior engineer. Meanwhile, many principal engineers also have previous career experience in roles such as senior software engineer or software engineer.

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Average Salary
$113,149
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
4%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
248,356
Job Openings
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Principal Engineer Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Principal Engineer

Principal Engineers in America make an average salary of $113,149 per year or $54 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $146,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $87,000 per year.
Average Salary
$113,149
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Principal Engineer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Principal Engineer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Principal Engineer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Principal Engineer resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Principal Engineer Resume Examples And Templates

Principal Engineer Demographics

Principal Engineer Gender Statistics

male

84.9 %

female

8.2 %

unknown

7.0 %

Principal Engineer Ethnicity Statistics

White

73.2 %

Asian

15.1 %

Hispanic or Latino

6.8 %

Principal Engineer Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

27.4 %

German

11.9 %

Chinese

8.3 %
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Principal Engineer Education

Principal Engineer Majors

Principal Engineer Degrees

Bachelors

65.7 %

Masters

21.8 %

Doctorate

6.2 %

Top Colleges for Principal Engineers

1. Michigan Technological University

Houghton, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$15,646
Enrollment
5,736

2. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

3. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

7. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

8. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,740
Enrollment
5,567

9. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483

10. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582
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Processing information is the hallmark of all modern organizations, which are increasingly digital: absorbing, processing and generating information is a key element of their business. Being able to interact flexibly and efficiently with the underlying data and software systems is an indispensable skill. Knowledge of the Unix shell and its command-line tools boosts the effectiveness and productivity of software developers, IT professionals, and data analysts. The Unix tools were designed,...

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Top Skills For a Principal Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 8.8% of principal engineers listed python on their resume, but soft skills such as mechanical skills and creativity are important as well.

12 Principal Engineer RESUME EXAMPLES

Best States For a Principal Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a principal engineer. The best states for people in this position are California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Delaware. Principal engineers make the most in California with an average salary of $136,359. Whereas in New Mexico and Nevada, they would average $127,394 and $123,326, respectively. While principal engineers would only make an average of $120,365 in Delaware, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. California

Total Principal Engineer Jobs:
11,804
Highest 10% Earn:
$194,000
Location Quotient:
1.77
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Delaware

Total Principal Engineer Jobs:
267
Highest 10% Earn:
$168,000
Location Quotient:
0.93
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Arizona

Total Principal Engineer Jobs:
1,790
Highest 10% Earn:
$166,000
Location Quotient:
1.34
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Principal Engineers

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Top Principal Engineer Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ principal engineers and discovered their number of principal engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Western Digital was the best, especially with an average salary of $113,787. Autodesk follows up with an average salary of $109,000, and then comes Charter Communications with an average of $112,780. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a principal engineer. The employers include Twitter, Experian, and Dell

Principal Engineer Videos

Updated August 18, 2021