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A senior software engineer position is pretty complicated, which is why the positions are typically saved for individuals with a lot of prior experience and knowledge. It's definitely not your run-of-the-mill, entry-level position, that's for sure.

Senior software engineers come up with solutions to software after studying the informational needs. They also rely on feedback from users, and they study how the system flows, uses data, and processes. The majority of their job is based on investigating problem areas. Essentially, you'll be a software problem solver. But with a fancier title.

The majority of the time, you'll be working 40 hours a week. But there will be weeks when you have to work 50 hours. It just comes with the job. And, like we mentioned before, you need to have experience and knowledge for this position. We're talking eight years of related experience and probably a bachelor's degree. It's definitely not an entry-level position.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a senior software engineer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $53.89 an hour? That's $112,098 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 Senior Software Engineer Do

There are certain skills that many senior 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.

Learn more about what a Senior Software Engineer does

How To Become a Senior Software Engineer

If you're interested in becoming a senior software engineer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 68.8% of senior software engineers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 23.6% of senior software engineers have master's degrees. Even though most senior 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 senior software engineer. When we researched the most common majors for a senior software 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 software engineer resumes include associate degree degrees or diploma degrees.

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

Senior Software Engineer Career Paths

Average Salary for a Senior Software Engineer

Senior Software Engineers in America make an average salary of $112,098 per year or $54 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $146,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $86,000 per year.
Average Senior Software Engineer Salary
$112,098 Yearly
$53.89 hourly
$86,000
10 %
$112,000
Median
$146,000
90 %

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Senior Software Engineer Education

Senior Software Engineer Majors

Senior Software Engineer Degrees

Bachelors

68.8 %

Masters

23.6 %

Associate

3.8 %

Top Colleges for Senior Software Engineers

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

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

2. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

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

3. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

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

4. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

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

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

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

6. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Private

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

7. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

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

8. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

9. Dartmouth College

Hanover, NH • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,453
Enrollment
4,312

10. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

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

Top Skills For a Senior 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, 7.7% of senior software engineers listed python on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Senior Software Engineer Resume templates

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

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Senior Software Engineer Demographics

Senior Software Engineer Gender Distribution

Male
Male
81%
Female
Female
19%

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

  • Among senior software engineers, 18.6% of them are women, while 81.4% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among senior software engineers is White, which makes up 54.1% of all senior software engineers.

  • The most common foreign language among senior software engineers is Spanish at 20.2%.

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Best States For a Senior Software Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a senior software engineer. The best states for people in this position are California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. Senior software engineers make the most in California with an average salary of $141,013. Whereas in Washington and Oregon, they would average $137,617 and $121,659, respectively. While senior software engineers would only make an average of $116,739 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 Senior Software Engineer Jobs:
6,876
Highest 10% Earn:
$181,000
Location Quotient:
2.54 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

2. California

Total Senior Software Engineer Jobs:
18,645
Highest 10% Earn:
$184,000
Location Quotient:
1.72 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 Software Engineer Jobs:
2,400
Highest 10% Earn:
$160,000
Location Quotient:
1.56 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 Software Engineers

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Top Senior 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 senior software engineers and discovered their number of senior software engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Mastech Digital was the best, especially with an average salary of $111,806. Microsoft follows up with an average salary of $187,817, and then comes IBM with an average of $95,598. 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 software engineer. The employers include Oracle, VMware, and USAA

Most Common Employers For Senior Software Engineer

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Microsoft$187,817$90.304,258
2LinkedIn$159,320$76.602,678
3Uber Technologies$158,003$75.961,490
4Salesforce$143,606$69.041,151
5Walmart$139,429$67.033,019
6Intuit$137,152$65.941,412
7Netflix$131,704$63.321,057
8Qualcomm$130,499$62.743,422
9EMC$126,337$60.741,536
10Bloomberg$121,173$58.262,427

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Becoming a Senior Software Engineer FAQs

Do you need a degree to be a senior software engineer?

Yes, you need a degree to be a senior software engineer. A senior software engineer needs at least an associate's degree, along with at least ten years of experience working as a software engineer.

How long does it take to become a senior software engineer?

It takes an average of 9 years to become a senior software engineer. However, some software engineers can reach a senior position in only six years.

The first step is to earn a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or software engineering. Almost 70% of senior software engineers have at least a bachelor's degree.

How much are senior software engineers paid?

Senior software engineers are paid around $126,708 a year ($64 an hour). However, this number can range from as low as $105,000 to as high as $165,000.

Factors such as the number of years of experience in the role, location, type of software engineer, and the company you work for all impact the earning potential of a senior software engineer.

What are the qualifications for a senior software engineer?

The qualifications for a senior software engineer include a master-level understanding of the programming language(s) and several years of experience working in a junior software engineering position.

What makes a software engineer senior?

What makes a software engineer a senior is the number of years of experience working in a software engineer position.

Most companies follow a structure in how they promote. The usual route is to start as a junior software engineer and work that for at least six months up to 2 years. From there, you become a middle-level software engineer. Then after 2 to 4 years as a middle-level software engineer, you are eligible for a senior software engineer position.

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