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Principal Software Engineer Careers

Are you the type of person who likes to analyze a problem and find a solution? That's just what you'll be doing if you become a principal software engineer. In this role, you will evaluate the end-user's needs and then develop the perfect software solution. More specifically, you'll look at a problem and the ultimate business goals. Based on these goals, you'll develop, document, and test software that meets those needs.

You'll also be expected to maintain and upgrade existing software or recommend new technologies that can help increase productivity. Since principal software engineers often oversee the technical aspects of project, they are also asked to provide technical guidance to development teams.

To succeed in this field, you'll need to have basic programming knowledge, analytical skills, logical thinking, and specific knowledge of mathematics Proven experience in software development methodologies along with high-level programming languages, like Java, is typically required as well.

To get into this field, principal software engineers most commonly study computer science, electrical engineering, or computer engineering. Most hold a bachelor's or master's degree

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a principal software engineer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $60.65 an hour? That's $126,152 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 21% and produce 284,100 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Principal Software Engineer Do

There are certain skills that many principal software 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 analytical skills, communication skills and creativity.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a principal software engineer, we found that a lot of resumes listed 11.5% of principal software engineers included software development, while 10.4% of resumes included python, and 8.0% of resumes included java. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the principal software engineer job title. But what industry to start with? Most principal software engineers actually find jobs in the technology and telecommunication industries.

How To Become a Principal Software Engineer

If you're interested in becoming a principal software engineer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 43.1% of principal software engineers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 44.6% of principal software engineers have master's degrees. Even though most principal software 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 software engineer. When we researched the most common majors for a principal software engineer, we found that they most commonly earn master's degree degrees or bachelor's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on principal software engineer resumes include doctoral degree degrees or associate degree degrees.

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

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Average Salary
$126,152
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
21%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
145,568
Job Openings

Principal Software Engineer Career Paths

Top Careers Before Principal Software Engineer

Top Careers After Principal Software Engineer

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Principal Software Engineer

Principal Software Engineers in America make an average salary of $126,152 per year or $61 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $159,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $99,000 per year.
Average Salary
$126,152

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Seattle, WA
Salary Range144k - 202k$171k$171,115
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range135k - 191k$161k$161,399
New York, NY
Salary Range104k - 145k$123k$123,233
Broomfield, CO
Salary Range102k - 133k$117k$116,788
Austin, TX
Salary Range102k - 132k$117k$116,519
Reston, VA
Salary Range97k - 132k$113k$113,329
$87k
$202k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Principal Software Engineers-Remote
Principal Software Engineers-Remote
Randstad
Randstad
01/30/2021
01/30/2021
$160,00001/30/2021
$160,000
Senior, Lead, or Principal Full-Stack Software Engineer-Application Development
Senior, Lead, or Principal Full-Stack Software Engineer-Application Development
Salesforce.com, Inc.
Salesforce.com, Inc.
01/29/2021
01/29/2021
$231,65701/29/2021
$231,657
Software Engineer, Principal
Software Engineer, Principal
Parsons Corporation
Parsons Corporation
01/29/2021
01/29/2021
$126,00001/29/2021
$126,000
Senior/Lead/Principal Front-End Software Engineer (Experienced)
Senior/Lead/Principal Front-End Software Engineer (Experienced)
Salesforce.com, Inc.
Salesforce.com, Inc.
01/27/2021
01/27/2021
$98,60001/27/2021
$98,600
Principal Software Engineer
Principal Software Engineer
Verizon
Verizon
01/27/2021
01/27/2021
$115,10001/27/2021
$115,100
See More Recent Salaries

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Principal Software 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 Software 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 Software Engineer Resume

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

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Principal Software Engineer Demographics

Gender

male

81.1 %

female

12.5 %

unknown

6.4 %

Ethnicity

White

57.2 %

Asian

27.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

7.3 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

19.6 %

Chinese

13.0 %

German

13.0 %
See More Demographics

Principal Software Engineer Education

Degrees

Masters

44.6 %

Bachelors

43.1 %

Doctorate

7.0 %

Top Colleges for Principal Software Engineers

1. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

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

3. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

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

4. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,992
Enrollment
33,495

5. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

6. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

7. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Pomona, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,353
Enrollment
24,841

8. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

9. Minnesota State University - Mankato

Mankato, MN • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,184
Enrollment
11,675

10. Western Carolina University

Cullowhee, NC • Public

In-State Tuition
$3,926
Enrollment
9,835
See More Education Info
Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Principal Software 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, 11.5% of principal software engineers listed software development on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

Best States For a Principal Software Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a principal software engineer. The best states for people in this position are Washington, California, Oregon, and Nevada. Principal software engineers make the most in Washington with an average salary of $169,572. Whereas in California and Oregon, they would average $153,096 and $127,899, respectively. While principal software engineers would only make an average of $126,785 in Nevada, 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. Washington

Total Principal Software Engineer Jobs:
7,149
Highest 10% Earn:
$228,000
Location Quotient:
2.3
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. California

Total Principal Software Engineer Jobs:
19,860
Highest 10% Earn:
$208,000
Location Quotient:
1.6
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. Oregon

Total Principal Software Engineer Jobs:
2,958
Highest 10% Earn:
$175,000
Location Quotient:
1.68
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
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Top Principal Software 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 software engineers and discovered their number of principal software engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Symantec was the best, especially with an average salary of $162,563. Fidelity Investments follows up with an average salary of $110,688, and then comes Microsoft with an average of $179,206. 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 software engineer. The employers include CBRE Group, Microsoft, and Dell

1. Symantec
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$162,563
Principal Software Engineers Hired: 
626+
2. Fidelity Investments
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$110,688
Principal Software Engineers Hired: 
319+
3. Microsoft
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$179,206
Principal Software Engineers Hired: 
311+
4. Staples
4.6
Avg. Salary: 
$145,883
Principal Software Engineers Hired: 
287+
5. Broadcom
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$152,051
Principal Software Engineers Hired: 
200+
6. Yahoo
4.8
Avg. Salary: 
$151,453
Principal Software Engineers Hired: 
200+

Principal Software Engineer Videos

Updated October 2, 2020