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A Principal Software Engineer is responsible for the technical aspects of an organization's projects. They diagnose, document, and troubleshoot systems to resolve problems identified through testing, as well as implement strategies to improve integration and efficiency.

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Principal Software Engineer Responsibilities

Here are examples of responsibilities from real principal software engineer resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Manage and fix bugs with JIRA bug tracking application.
  • Lead the migration effort from Microsoft platform to J2EE platform.
  • Lead project for setting up DR for Bitbucket and clustering for improve performance.
  • Interface continuous integration system (Travis-CI) with Github to autorun automate build and testing.
  • Manage project plan, scope and delivery of the VoIP application for the DSP subsystem.
  • Lead the development of QDSS windows driver and tool chain to use QDSS features for windows platform.
  • Develop Master/Content pages using HTML and CSS for consistent layouts from screen mock ups.
  • Design modules for cross hardware integration using JMS, JAXP, XML, HTTP, and SSL technologies.
  • Manage Java central monitor, authoring Java system implementing java-base central monitoring system using Linux.
  • Design and implement embedded Linux server-side python application for processing of command/control/response of RF serial detection and compass serial devices.
  • Create and test several ruby programs.
  • Generate county level election result xml feed.
  • Experience with SDLC from design to implementation.
  • Work on moving it to Cassandra & Hadoop.
  • Provide system supports for all servers running on AWS.

Principal Software Engineer Job Description

Perhaps the hardest question to answer when deciding on a career as a Principal Software Engineer is "should I become a Principal Software Engineer?" You might find this info to be helpful. When compared to other jobs, Principal Software Engineer careers are projected to have a growth rate described as "much faster than average" at 21% from 2018 through 2028. This is in accordance with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What's more, is that the projected number of opportunities that are predicted to become available for a Principal Software Engineer by 2028 is 284,100.

On average, the Principal Software Engineer annual salary is $136,635 per year, which translates to $65.69 an hour. Generally speaking, Principal Software Engineers earn anywhere from $105,000 to $176,000 a year, which means that the top-earning Principal Software Engineers make $71,000 more than the ones at the lower end of the spectrum.

As is the case with most jobs, it takes work to become a Principal Software Engineer. Sometimes people change their minds about their career after working in the profession. That's why we looked into some other professions that might help you find your next opportunity. These professions include a Senior Applications Engineer, Senior Engineer, Software Architect, and Lead Engineer.

Principal Software Engineer Jobs You Might Like

12 Principal Software Engineer Resume Examples

Principal Software Engineer Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 11% of Principal Software Engineers are proficient in Software Development, Python, and Java. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Communication skills, and Creativity.

We break down the percentage of Principal Software Engineers that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Software Development, 11%

    Defined requirements, software architectures, organized project teams, software development plans, contributed to business development, business proposals.

  • Python, 10%

    Designed and implemented embedded Linux server-side python application for processing of command/control/response of RF serial detection and compass serial devices.

  • Java, 8%

    Developed proof-of-concept prototypes in Java to define architectures, validate technologies, and communicate objectives to other Lotus groups.

  • Linux, 4%

    Helped develop state-of-art In Flight Entertainment software using MontaVista embedded Linux OS.

  • AWS, 4%

    Ensured Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure was configured for robust resiliency to maintain high levels of services and availability.

  • GIT, 4%

    Provided Git and general development environment training and consulting to Hyper-V development team.

Some of the skills we found on Principal Software Engineer resumes included "Software Development," "Python," and "Java." We have detailed the most important Principal Software Engineer responsibilities below.

  • The most important skills for a Principal Software Engineer to have in this position are Analytical skills. In this excerpt that we gathered from a Principal Software Engineer resume, you'll understand why: "Developers must analyze users’ needs and then design software to meet those needs." According to resumes we found, Analytical skills can be used by a Principal Software Engineer in order to "Designed and implemented an Application Programming Interface (API) that supported DSM database access from any VMS programming language. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling Principal Software Engineer duties is Communication skills. According to a Principal Software Engineer resume, "Developers must be able to give clear instructions to others working on a project." Here's an example of how Principal Software Engineers are able to utilize Communication skills: "Designed and implemented proprietary IPC API on top of the 7-layer OSI communication stack. "
  • Another skill that is quite popular among Principal Software Engineers is Creativity. This skill is very critical to fulfilling every day responsibilities as is shown in this example from a Principal Software Engineer resume: "Developers are the creative minds behind new computer software." This example from a resume shows how this skill is used: "Created API to interface 3rd party barcode applications with back office supplies picklist and inventory adjustment processes. "
  • A thorough review of lots of resumes revealed to us that "Detail oriented" is important to completing Principal Software Engineer responsibilities. This resume example shows just one way Principal Software Engineers use this skill: "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." Here's an example of how this skill is used from a resume that represents typical Principal Software Engineer tasks: "Developed a richly featured thread safe object oriented SNMP V2C API. "
  • As part of the Principal Software Engineer description, you might find that one of the skills that might be helpful to the job is "Problem-solving skills." A Principal Software Engineer resume included this snippet: "Because developers are in charge of software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process." This skill could be useful in this scenario: "Aided in the development of the NASA Enterprise Service Desk solution using developed API's and BMC Remedy. "
  • See the full list of Principal Software Engineer skills.

    Before becoming a Principal Software Engineer, 68.9% earned their bachelor's degree. When it comes down to graduating with a master's degree, 24.4% Principal Software Engineers went for the extra education. If you're wanting to pursue this career, it may be impossible to be successful with a high school degree. In fact, most Principal Software Engineers have a college degree. But about one out of every ten Principal Software Engineers didn't attend college at all.

    Those Principal Software Engineers who do attend college, typically earn either Computer Science degrees or Electrical Engineering degrees. Less commonly earned degrees for Principal Software Engineers include Computer Engineering degrees or Mathematics degrees.

    Once you're ready to become a Principal Software Engineer, you should explore the companies that typically hire Principal Software Engineers. According to Principal Software Engineer resumes that we searched through, Principal Software Engineers are hired the most by Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, and Salesforce. Currently, Microsoft has 2,025 Principal Software Engineer job openings, while there are 248 at Northrop Grumman and 247 at Salesforce.

    If you're interested in companies where Principal Software Engineers make the most money, you'll want to apply for positions at Google, Twitter, and Microsoft. We found that at Google, the average Principal Software Engineer salary is $234,558. Whereas at Twitter, Principal Software Engineers earn roughly $216,879. And at Microsoft, they make an average salary of $214,981.

    View more details on Principal Software Engineer salaries across the United States.

    Some other companies you might be interested in as a Principal Software Engineer include Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Raytheon Company. These three companies were found to hire the most Principal Software Engineers from the top 100 U.S. educational institutions.

    The industries that Principal Software Engineers fulfill the most roles in are the Technology and Telecommunication industries. But the highest Principal Software Engineer annual salary is in the Retail industry, averaging $142,441. In the Technology industry they make $139,287 and average about $139,195 in the Telecommunication industry. In conclusion, Principal Software Engineers who work in the Retail industry earn a 3.1% higher salary than Principal Software Engineers in the Finance industry.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious principal software engineers are:

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    What Senior Applications Engineers Do

    A senior applications engineer specializes in designing and developing a variety of applications and systems, ensuring quality and efficiency. Their responsibilities typically revolve around utilizing feedback and client needs when making decisions, creating test structures for applications, performing installment and repairs, troubleshooting, and performing regular maintenance checks and upgrades. Furthermore, as a senior applications engineer, it is essential to lead and encourage the engineering team to reach goals, all while implementing the company's policies and regulations.

    In this section, we compare the average Principal Software Engineer annual salary with that of a Senior Applications Engineer. Typically, Senior Applications Engineers earn a $26,402 lower salary than Principal Software Engineers earn annually.

    While their salaries may differ, one common ground between Principal Software Engineers and Senior Applications Engineers are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like Software Development, Java, and Linux.

    There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, a Principal Software Engineer responsibilities require skills like "Python," "AWS," "GIT," and "Scrum." Meanwhile a typical Senior Applications Engineer has skills in areas such as "Procedures," "C #," "Hardware," and "SR." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

    Senior Applications Engineers really shine in the Insurance industry with an average salary of $112,812. Whereas Principal Software Engineers tend to make the most money in the Retail industry with an average salary of $142,441.

    Senior Applications Engineers tend to reach lower levels of education than Principal Software Engineers. In fact, Senior Applications Engineers are 6.1% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.4% less likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

    What Are The Duties Of a Senior Engineer?

    A senior engineer is responsible for overseeing all operations within a designated area. With years of experience and expertise, a senior engineer may take charge of establishing goals, deadlines, and budgets for a particular project. They must devise and implement strategies that would improve the quality of workflow and deliver significant results. Furthermore, a senior manager must also supervise a team of skilled engineers, leading them in the joint effort to reach the company's vision and mission, all while adhering to the safety standards and regulations.

    Next up, we have the Senior Engineer profession to look over. This career brings along a lower average salary when compared to a Principal Software Engineer annual salary. In fact, Senior Engineers salary difference is $30,677 lower than the salary of Principal Software Engineers per year.

    A similarity between the two careers of Principal Software Engineers and Senior Engineers are a few of the skills associated with both roles. We used resumes from both professions to find that both use skills like "Python," "Java," and "Linux. "

    While some skills are similar in these professions, other skills aren't so similar. For example, several resumes showed us that Principal Software Engineer responsibilities requires skills like "Software Development," "AWS," "Scrum," and "Database." But a Senior Engineer might use skills, such as, "Architecture," "C #," "Hardware," and "SR."

    On average, Senior Engineers earn a lower salary than Principal Software Engineers. There are industries that support higher salaries in each profession respectively. Interestingly enough, Senior Engineers earn the most pay in the Professional industry with an average salary of $115,366. Whereas, Principal Software Engineers have higher paychecks in the Retail industry where they earn an average of $142,441.

    On the topic of education, Senior Engineers earn lower levels of education than Principal Software Engineers. In general, they're 5.2% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 0.4% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    How a Software Architect Compares

    A Software Architect develops new programs for a variety of technological devices for businesses, computer games, mobile networks, and/or operating systems. They ensure architectural integrity and consistency across the entire product and work closely with executives to explain the benefits of the software.

    Let's now take a look at the Software Architect profession. On average, these workers make lower salaries than Principal Software Engineers with a $20,577 difference per year.

    By looking over several Principal Software Engineers and Software Architects resumes, we found that both roles utilize similar skills, such as "Software Development," "Python," and "Java." But beyond that the careers look very different.

    There are many key differences between these two careers as shown by resumes from each profession. Some of those differences include the skills required to complete responsibilities within each role. As an example of this, a Principal Software Engineer is likely to be skilled in "Curiosity," "Http," "Hadoop," and "Configuration Management," while a typical Software Architect is skilled in "Architecture," "Cloud," "Saas," and "Design Patterns."

    Additionally, Software Architects earn a higher salary in the Health Care industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $128,799. Additionally, Principal Software Engineers earn an average salary of $142,441 in the Retail industry.

    Software Architects typically study at similar levels compared with Principal Software Engineers. For example, they're 0.9% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 0.1% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

    Description Of a Lead Engineer

    A lead engineer's duties vary on their line of work or industry of employment. Typically, their responsibilities will revolve around overseeing the progress of operations and performance of the workforce, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. They are also responsible for addressing issues and concerns, assessing risks, monitoring the budget, coordinating with clients and architects, and even training workers. Furthermore, as a lead engineer, it is crucial to conduct regular inspections to ensure the quality of work and maintain a safe environment for all workers.

    The fourth career we look at typically earns lower pay than Principal Software Engineers. On average, Lead Engineers earn a difference of $47,031 lower per year.

    According to resumes from both Principal Software Engineers and Lead Engineers, some of the skills necessary to complete the responsibilities of each role are similar. These skills include "Python," "Java," and "Linux. "

    Each job requires different skills like "Software Development," "AWS," "Scrum," and "Curiosity," which might show up on a Principal Software Engineer resume. Whereas Lead Engineer might include skills like "Architecture," "C #," "Hardware," and "Project Management."

    Lead Engineers earn a higher salary in the Manufacturing industry with an average of $104,354. Whereas, Principal Software Engineers earn the highest salary in the Retail industry.

    Lead Engineers reach lower levels of education when compared to Principal Software Engineers. The difference is that they're 6.5% more likely to earn a Master's Degree less, and 0.7% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.

    What a Principal Software Engineer Does FAQs

    Do principal engineers write code?

    No, principal engineers do not write code typically. The software programming that they develop is given to programmers who write code.

    It is the responsibility of the principal engineer to assess company needs and design software to address those needs. These individuals will oversee teams of programmers and instruct them during the code writing process.

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