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Career Development, Coding

Software Engineer Career Path & Salary Guide

General Assembly
June 12, 2024

Our Software Engineering Career Guide Series:

In this software engineering salary guide, we’re spilling the beans on the earning potential that comes with all those neat little lines of code you’re learning to write. So grab your favorite energy drink, fire up your IDE, and let’s map out the road ahead.

Starting a Career Software Engineering

Wrapping your mind around the technical world of ones and zeros may seem daunting if you don’t know a function from a framework. But, truth be told, the software engineering career path is more accessible for newcomers than you might suppose. 

Employers are quietly dropping degree requirements in favor of skills-based hiring and raising software developer pay in response to the growing talent shortage — which is all good news for you.  

No worries if your coding skills are currently nonexistent — free coding classes and workshops are a no-pressure path to gauge your interest, build a foundation, and see if software engineering sets your soul on fire. From there, it could take as little as 12 weeks to go from learner to leader. 

And if you’re already working in tech, looking to pivot and learn a few new skills? Dream big and aim high: a software engineer certification salary could be worth a raise of $13,000 or more, according to Dice

Exactly how much you’ll earn depends on a host of factors — so let’s unpack — starting with the spread based on career stage. 

Onward and Upward: Software Engineer Career Stages & Earning Potential

From junior developer tinkering with your first lines of code to seasoned architect sculpting intricate systems, software engineering is more a journey than a job. In this universe of possibilities — titles, expertise, and salaries are as vast as the stars in the sky. 

Annual Software Engineering Salaries By Experience

0–1 Years1–3 Years4–6 Years7–9 Years10–14 Years15+ Years
$75K – $125K$86K – $141K$93K – $155K$100K – $167K$109K – $187K$118K – $204K+

Entry-Level Software Engineer Salary

As an entry-level software developer, you’ll eagerly absorb knowledge like a sponge, honing your skills and contributing to projects under the guidance of seasoned mentors. 

Junior-level software engineers assist with software application design, development, testing, and maintenance, which provides a nice overview of the different specialization areas in the field. They collaborate closely with senior developers, learning best practices and gaining hands-on experience.

Required technical skills for junior-level software engineers generally include:

  • Programming Languages: Proficiency in programming languages, such as Python, Java, JavaScript, or C++, forms the basic syntax of core programming concepts.
  • Development Tools: Familiarity with development tools like Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), version control systems (Git), and debugging tools enables you to efficiently write and debug code.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms: Understanding fundamental data structures (arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues) and algorithms (sorting, searching) allows you to problem-solve and optimize code efficiency.
  • Web Development: On a daily basis, you’ll use HTML, CSS, and front-end frameworks (e.g., React, Angular, Vue.js) as well as back-end technologies like Node.js or Django.
  • Database Management: SQL, NoSQL, and database design principles enables junior developers to interact with databases and store/retrieve data effectively.
  • Testing and Debugging: Familiarity with software testing techniques and tools, such as unit testing frameworks (JUnit, pytest) and debugging tools, helps junior developers ensure code quality as well as identify and fix issues.
  • Communication and Collaboration: With strong communication skills and the ability to work collaboratively within a team environment, you’ll be able to contribute effectively to project development and learn from experienced team members.
$75,000 – $141,000
Annual Junior Software Developer Salary Range

Mid-Level Software Engineer 

As you ascend the career ladder and evolve into a mid-level developer, you’ll wield your expertise with greater confidence and take on more significant responsibilities. With a solid foundation in domain knowledge and technical skills, mid-level software engineers often lead small projects and provide guidance to junior team members. 

It’s here that specialization often begins to emerge, with opportunities to level up your coding engineer salary while delving deeper into specific programming languages or tools that align with your passions and career goals.

Possible areas of skills development and specialization for mid-level developers include:

  • Front-End Development: Focus on creating and optimizing user interfaces using technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.js.
  • Back-End Development: Specialize in server-side logic, databases, and APIs using languages like Java, Python, Ruby, Node.js, or Go.
  • Full-Stack Development: Combine front-end and back-end skills to handle both client-side and server-side development.
  • Mobile Development: Develop applications for mobile platforms using Swift (iOS), Kotlin (Android), or cross-platform frameworks like React Native or Flutter.
  • DevOps: Focus on improving software development and deployment processes, automation, and infrastructure management using tools like Docker, Kubernetes, Jenkins, and AWS.
  • Data Engineering: Work on building and optimizing data pipelines, databases, and large-scale processing systems using technologies like Hadoop, Spark, and SQL.
  • Machine Learning/AI: Specialize in developing algorithms and models for AI applications, using tools and frameworks like TensorFlow, PyTorch, and Scikit-learn.
  • Cybersecurity: Focus on protecting systems and data from cyber threats by implementing security measures and conducting vulnerability assessments.

At this point, some software engineers decide to pivot into complementary adjacent roles. 

Career options for software engineers include: 

  • Product manager
  • Solutions architect
  • Engineering manager
  • Quality assurance engineer
  • Cloud engineer
  • Sales engineer
  • Data engineer
  • AI solutions architect 

With average salaries ranging up to $180,000 for “product manager” and “architect” roles, there is significant potential to elevate your earnings.

$93,000 – $167,000 
Annual Mid-Level Software Developer Engineer Salary Range

Senior/Staff Software Engineer Salary

Senior developers and tech leads reign supreme in the software engineering cosmos, wielding their wealth of experience and wisdom to architect complex solutions and lead teams to victory. Their expertise is sought after far and wide, commanding highest paying software engineering jobs commensurate with their invaluable contributions to the field.

By the time you’re a seasoned senior software engineer, you’ll have amassed extensive expertise in software development, playing a crucial role in leading technical initiatives, architecting complex systems, and providing mentorship to mid-level team members. Senior engineers often serve as technical leaders within their organizations, driving innovation, shaping technical strategy, and ensuring the delivery of high-quality software solutions.

Skills present at this level include:

  • Expert-Level Programming Proficiency: You’ll write elegant, efficient, and maintainable code, demonstrating mastery in multiple programming languages and possessing a deep understanding of language internals, performance optimization techniques, and advanced language features.
  • Software Architecture and Design: Excel in software architecture and design — well-versed in design patterns, architectural styles, and system integration strategies — leveraging your extensive experience to architect scalable, resilient, and secure systems.
  • Database Design and Optimization: You’ll pick up a strong command of database management systems and excel in database design, optimization, and performance tuning over time that makes you proficient in designing complex database schemas, optimizing query performance, and ensuring data integrity and security.
  • Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems: In the era of cloud computing, you’ll gain knowledge of distributed computing concepts, microservices architecture, and containerization technologies, so you can build and deploy scalable, fault-tolerant distributed systems on cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.
  • Security and Compliance: With your deep understanding of security principles, encryption techniques, and secure coding practices, you’ll be responsible for implementing robust security measures to protect systems and data and ensuring compliance with industry regulations and standards.
  • Performance Optimization and Scalability: You’ll excel in optimizing system performance and scalability, employing techniques such as caching, load balancing, and horizontal scaling to handle increasing workloads and ensure optimal system performance under high demand.
  • Leadership and Communication: You’ll possess strong leadership skills and excel in communication, both technical and non-technical. As an effective mentor, you’ll guide and inspire junior and mid-level engineers, collaborating with cross-functional teams and stakeholders to drive technical initiatives forward.

Software Engineering Salaries Around the World

Beyond years of experience, the average software engineer salary varies considerably based on geographic location. 

The highest paying software engineering jobs are in the United States — in metropolitan areas like: Silicon Valley ($199,800), San Francisco ($181,220), Seattle ($164,130), New York City ($152,100), Los Angeles ($151,780), Washington DC ($148,480),  Boston ($148,100), Dallas-Fort Worth ($128,100), Chicago ($127,960), and Atlanta ($127,720). 

As of June 2024, the bottom 10% earners are still banking $77,020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — not too shabby, right? — while the top 90% commands $208,620. The median wage is around $132,270 ($63.59/hour). 

Of course, the demand for top software engineering talent spans the globe — with competitive salaries offered in various international tech hubs:

CountryAverage Salary
Canada116,033 CAD ($91,656 USD)
Singapore121,145 SGD ($90,043 USD)
Australia97,458 AUD ($73,971 USD)
United Kingdom49,138 GBP ($65,177 USD)
The Netherlands68,857 EUR ($77,621 USD)
Sweden695,210 SEK ($80,809 USD)
Norway515,215 NOK ($56,040 USD)
Germany54,983 EUR ($62,404 USD)
Switzerland102,282 CHF ($110,579 USD)
Israel212,538 ILS ($66,000 USD)

General Assembly’s online courses are available to you, wherever you are. Our global network of alumni spans from NYC and London to Singapore and Australia, offering you a world of opportunities to learn and live your best life.

Ready To Cash In On Your Coding Skills?

All around the world, software development is in high demand.  

Industries like finance and healthcare, and tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon often command top salaries. Specializations in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and cloud computing also tend to offer higher compensation.

By committing to lifelong learning and training, you’ll put yourself in the best position to learn about emerging pockets of demand, so you can gain additional credentials, make the right career moves, and command top dollar for your talents.  

Speak with someone on our team about enrolling in a GA software engineering bootcamp today. 

 FAQs: Software Engineer Career Path & Salary

  • What is the career path of a software engineer?

The software engineering career path typically begins as a junior developer, advancing to mid-level and senior roles with experience. Specializations in specific languages or roles like architect or product manager are common as one progresses.

  • What is the salary range for a software engineer? 

In the US, $77,020 to $208,620 is the median software developer salary range. Globally, the average software engineer earns C$116,033 in Canada, A$97,458 in Australia, £49,138 in the United Kingdom, and S$121,145 in Singapore. Pay also varies based on experience, industry, company, and areas of specialization. 

  • What are the top industries hiring software engineers?

The top-paying industries hiring software engineers include: big tech, finance, healthcare, e-commerce, and gaming. These sectors offer diverse opportunities for software engineers to apply their skills and expertise.

Wondering if a career in software engineering is a good move? Sign up for our next info session to learn more.


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