An analysis on Software Developer – the most popular job of this era

The tech industry has never been this thriving, so much that some critics might even warn people of another bubble burst is on its way. Nevertheless, having a career as a Software Developer makes it much easier than ever to find jobs or if you are lucky enough to join one of the unicorns in time, you could be the next multi-millionaires overnight.

In this article, we will look at the whole regime of Software Developers from different angles, including salary payouts for different positions, different companies, and different candidate background.

Firstly, here are the top 50 job positions with highest base salary in Software Development. Principal Engineers and Tech Leaders are those get the highest median salary for $173,000 and $164,000. Research and Development job also gets a high pay with $160,000, a typical sample of this job is seen at Adobe Systems. Senior Research Engineer with $137,000 base salary annually is at the 50th position of this list.

Next, let’s we look at the top companies that pay their Software Developer employees most. We have 70% of this top 50 companies are paying very similarly to each other, ranging from AB OVO, Inc $164,000 to Strike Technologies, LLC $170,000. Their human resource department is surely doing thorough market research to make sure their employees cannot complain about compensation, neither would they feel overjoyed about it. The top 30% of this list shows a significant difference in salary compared to the rest, with Netflix and DW Investment top the list with $250,000. Netflix seems to be the lone tech company that has this high payout, when the next 8 companies are all from finance sectors where they reward their Quantitative Developer generously both in salary and bonus.

On the other end of the spectrum, we can see that most companies are paying in the range of $45,000 to $55,000. The only two exceptions at the bottom of the list are Element 74 (a web development company in Colorado) that pays $28,000 and Infinito Inc (a freight company in Texas) that pays $38,000 per annually.

One of the main factors in salary payout is the location where the job is carried out. Living expense and historical reason have made median salaries across the US differ greatly in value. The following geo-map shows us how salaries spread out over the country. The highest paying state for Software Developers is Washington with $128,000, this is not surprising since headquarters of giant tech companies like Microsoft or Amazon are all there. Closely behind is California with $127,000, this is where Silicon Valley and other fast growing tech companies are. New York with its booming tech-hub and crazy living expense is also at the top state that pays a median salary of $115,000 to Software Developer.

Apart from job location, another factor that defines salary amount is employee background, which mostly consists of education degree and years of experience. We look at five main degrees High School, Associate, Bachelor, Master and Doctorate, while experience is divided into four main categories, fresh graduate (up to 1 year of experience), 2-5 years (early career), 6-10 years (senior) and 10+ years (established).

The result from this graph is rather reasonable but it also has few interesting points. Firstly, newer Software Developers (up to 5 years of experience) tend to be equipped with more education training than older generation, with an Associate required for 2-5 years and at least a Bachelor for 0-1 year of experience. Secondly, it can be seen that Doctorate degree always lead the pay-chart in all experience levels, but Master and Bachelor degree almost have no difference in pay. Surprisingly, experienced Software Developers with a High School degree could also earn as much as someone with a Bachelor’s or Master’s. Lastly, it does not seem more experience would guarantee a better salary, except if you have a Doctorate degree. This might indicate that new Software Developers now manage to strike better deals at offer time than those from 10 years ago, and also it could mean that most experienced Software Developers after certain period of time had mostly moved on to other management roles, and those who stay in the software track do not have much salary growth as they used to have in their early career.

How large companies like Apple or Amazon are paying compared to medium or small-sized companies like the start-up you saw this morning on the subway train? Let us take a look at company’s wage based on size and median experience. We categorize company by four different levels of size, start-up and small-sized company (up to 50 employees), medium-sized companies (50 to 200 employees), medium-large companies (250 to 10000 employees), and large enterprises (more than 10000 employees).

From this bar chart, we can see one very interesting contrast between small and large companies in paying for experience. It shows the trend that small and medium companies favor more experienced workers while large companies pay more for early career employees. It could be the case that large companies are willing to pay much more than average to compete with other large companies to attract fresh talents to their team, while small companies with relatively harsher delivery schedule and limited capital would rather pay more to get someone already experienced to join their team. Secondly,

To understand the point further, we will look at the top four companies in each size categories in the following bubble chart. The vertical axis represents the median base salary at each company, the horizontal axis represents the median experience of Software Developer employees in the company. Each bubble represents a company, with its color is the indication of company size. The same trend about large companies favoring early career employees can still be observed here. AIG, Transcend, Apple and HP with 10,000 employees and above have very low employees’ median experience (from 3 to 8 years). Meanwhile smaller companies have higher median experience and pay a little higher for their experienced workers.

Lastly, we will quickly look at the distribution of current Software Developers in the market. The following pie chart shows that the majority of Software Developers are still with large enterprises while the portion of small and medium companies is considerable, and might be growing more in the comping years along with the current exciting start-up scene.

On the degree’s contribution, it is no surprise that Bachelor’s and Master’s are dominating the Software Developers workforce.


We have gone through a complete analysis of the current state of Software Development profession. There are few interesting points we have discovered just by looking at the distribution and aggregation of base salary among different companies, states, and employee background. We hope you might find something useful for your own research, and thanks a lot for reading. If you are interested in knowing more about the specific pay of any company or job title, please feel free to use our database search interface here, or if you are curious about what the job requires and how to strike the best offer, please feel free to look at our specific salary record here.

More from WageScout


Leave a Reply