What is a Senior Engineer

According to Elon Musk, we can find new solutions to old problems by creating through first principles, which is an application of breaking down the scientific requirements in solving an issue without comparing or adopting the status quo. From the achievements of Elon Musk, we can extract the immense value in learning how to engineer things and systems. Being a senior engineer is one pathway toward understanding and creating systems.

Daily, a senior engineer is involved in reviewing design plans, communicating with clients on work specifications, maintaining engineering processes, and developing a workable budget. Besides that, they perform research, undertake diagnostic testing, and assist in employee onboarding.

Employers require senior engineers to have a bachelor's degree in engineering or STEM-related field, as well as at least two to three years of relevant work experience. This role earns, on average, $48 per hour and suits individuals who are technically oriented and enjoy problem solving.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a Senior Engineer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $50.94 an hour? That's $105,958 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 Senior Engineer Do

There are certain skills that many Senior 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 Creativity, Listening skills and Math skills.

Learn more about what a Senior Engineer does

How To Become a Senior Engineer

If you're interested in becoming a Senior Engineer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 67.7% of Senior Engineers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 19.2% of Senior Engineers have master's degrees. Even though most Senior 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 Senior Engineer. When we researched the most common majors for a Senior Engineer, we found that they most commonly earn Bachelor's Degree degrees or Master's Degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on Senior Engineer resumes include Associate Degree degrees or Doctoral Degree degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a Senior Engineer. In fact, many Senior Engineer jobs require experience in a role such as Engineer. Meanwhile, many Senior Engineers also have previous career experience in roles such as Project Engineer or Software Engineer.

What is the right job for my career path?

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

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Nordstrom Jobs (199)
  2. NVIDIA Jobs (210)
  3. Target Jobs (735)
  4. Commvault Jobs (228)
  5. Qualcomm Jobs (539)
Average Salary
$105,958
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
4%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
393,250
Job Openings
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Average Salary for a Senior Engineer

Senior Engineers in America make an average salary of $105,958 per year or $51 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $138,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $80,000 per year.
Average Salary
$105,958
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12 Senior Engineer Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Senior Engineer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Senior 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 Senior Engineer Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Nordstrom Jobs (199)
  2. NVIDIA Jobs (210)
  3. Target Jobs (735)
  4. Commvault Jobs (228)
  5. Qualcomm Jobs (539)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Senior Engineer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Senior Engineer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Senior Engineer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Senior Engineer Resume
Senior Engineer Resume
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Senior Engineer Resume
Senior Engineer Resume
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Senior Engineer Demographics

Senior Engineer Gender Distribution

Male
Male
89%
Female
Female
11%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among Senior Engineers, 10.9% of them are women, while 89.1% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among Senior Engineers is White, which makes up 71.0% of all Senior Engineers.

  • The most common foreign language among Senior Engineers is Spanish at 26.6%.

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Senior Engineer Education

Senior Engineer Majors

Senior Engineer Degrees

Bachelors

67.7 %

Masters

19.2 %

Associate

6.7 %

Top Colleges for Senior 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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PL/SQL by Example - Beginner to Advanced PL/SQL
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Top Skills For a Senior 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, 9.4% of Senior Engineers listed Python on their resume, but soft skills such as Creativity and Listening skills are important as well.

Best States For a Senior Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Senior Engineer. The best states for people in this position are California, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona. Senior Engineers make the most in California with an average salary of $129,992. Whereas in Washington and Oregon, they would average $127,894 and $118,456, respectively. While Senior Engineers would only make an average of $116,838 in Arizona, 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 Senior Engineer Jobs:
4,272
Highest 10% Earn:
$171,000
Location Quotient:
1.82
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 Senior Engineer Jobs:
17,278
Highest 10% Earn:
$172,000
Location Quotient:
1.84
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 Senior Engineer Jobs:
2,049
Highest 10% Earn:
$159,000
Location Quotient:
1.54
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 Senior Engineers

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Top Senior 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 Senior Engineers and discovered their number of Senior Engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that American Express was the best, especially with an average salary of $100,888. Target follows up with an average salary of $125,175, and then comes CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas with an average of $111,179. 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 Senior Engineer. The employers include Charles Schwab, Mastercard, and VMware

Most Common Employers For Senior Engineer

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Senior Engineer SalaryAverage Salary
1$136,143
2$128,095
3$125,175
4$113,099
5$111,727
6
6.CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas
$111,179

Senior Engineer Videos

Becoming a Senior Engineer FAQs

How many years does it take to be a senior engineer?

It takes about ten years to become a senior engineer. First, you must meet the educational requirements and then gain sufficient work experience in your industry.

To become a senior engineer requires, at minimum, a four-year bachelor's degree in an engineering field. For some more competitive senior engineering positions, however, a master's degree may be required.

Since senior engineers serve more in a managerial role, an engineering degree may also be supplemented by a master's in business administration. Both of which take about two years to complete.

After earning an engineering degree, it is time to start working in your industry. Expect to work 3 to 6 years as an engineer with some supervisor experience. It takes time to become a senior engineer may be shortened or lengthened based on education level and industry demand.

For example, someone with a master's degree may only need to work three years before being eligible for a senior position; however, someone with a bachelor's degree may need to work 3 to 6 years.

Alternatively, someone in chemical engineering may take longer to become a senior engineer than a biomedical engineer, which is in much more demand.

How much experience does a senior engineer need?

To become a senior engineer, you need at least three years of experience. Depending on the industry and your educational credentials, it takes anywhere from 3 to 6 years of work experience to be considered for an engineering position.

Someone with a master's degree in engineering, for instance, may only need to work for three years before being considered for a senior position. However, someone with only a bachelor's will most likely need to work for longer in their position before being considered for a senior engineer role.

The industry itself may also impact the time it takes to become a senior engineering position. For instance, Automation and Robotics Engineer, Alternative Energy Engineer, Civil Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Biomedical Engineer, and Systems Software Engineer are all in high demand.

In these fields, engineers may be more likely to be promoted to senior positions in fewer years than others less in demand, such as chemical, electrical, civics, or mechanical engineering.

What is a senior-level engineer?

A senior-level engineer is someone with more extensive knowledge and years of experience developing and designing software programs or applications than other engineers on their team.

As an engineer, there are varying levels of seniority as you move through your career. There are four main levels, including junior, mid-level, senior, and principal engineer.

The first level of engineer is a junior or someone with 0 to 3 years of work experience. A junior engineer is expected to know the language and technology stack and typically earn $59k -- $100k per year.

A mid-level engineer is someone with 1 to 3 years of experience. A mid-level engineer is expected to have a good working knowledge of the language and technology stack and typically earn $110k -- $150k.

A senior engineer is someone with 3 to 5+ years of experience. A senior engineer is expected to have a mastery of the language and tech stack. Senior engineers typically earn $125k -- $200k.

Finally, there's the highest level of engineering known as principal or architect. With 5 to 10+ years of experience, a principal engineer is responsible for the technical stewardship of an application. Principals and Architects typically earn $138k -- $230k.

What is the role of a senior engineer?

The role of a senior engineer is to oversee large engineering projects and, when applicable, the teams tasked with completing those projects. As a senior project engineer, a typical day involves preparing, coordinating, and monitoring a project, from the initial conception to the schedule and completion.

All aspects of the project need to be completed to a high standard so senior project engineers perform quality control checks throughout all stages of the schedule to ensure budgets are kept, deadlines are met, and the team's performance is as it should be.

Some common roles of a senior engineer include;

  • Coder - writing code for portions of the project

  • QA tester - inspection and testing of code from junior-level engineers

  • Teacher - helping other engineers fix their code or solve complex problems

  • Project Manager - work with management to keep the project on track

  • Mentor - showing junior to mid-level engineers the ropes, so to speak

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