By Laurence MacNaughton for Hack Reactor
An anonymous survey of almost 200,000 software engineers conducted by Glassdoor found that the national average base pay of a software engineer is $89,201 per year. But who wants to earn only an average salary? In order to command the highest possible income as a software engineer, you have to go where the money is.
The question is, where should you look?
According to research by Payscale, these five top companies offer higher than average salaries for software engineers:
1. Google, Inc.
Average salary: $119,000 per year
2. Microsoft Corp
Average salary: $116,000 per year
3. Cisco Systems Inc
Average salary: $107,000 per year
4. Intel Corporation
Average salary: $95,000 per year
5. International Business Machines (IBM) Corp.
Average salary: $92,000 per year
It's important to note that these salaries don't include bonuses, commissions, or profit-sharing. For software engineers, the average bonus is $5,164. The average commission is about $10,000, and the average profit-sharing is $4,964, according to Glassdoor.
Software engineer salary by location
It's not just who you work for that matters. The city where you work makes a tremendous difference, too. According to research by Payscale, software engineers living on the tech-heavy west coast can earn significantly more than workers living anywhere else in the country, even New York City.
1. San Francisco, California
Average salary increase: 39%
2. San Jose, California
Average salary increase: 34%
3. Seattle, Washington
Average salary increase: 23%
4. New York, New York
Average salary increase: 19%
Technology companies may not be your best bet
A Hired report on technology workers took a close look at average salaries broken down by industry. The report was based on data compiled from more than 10,000 companies, 98,000 job seekers, and more than 420,000 job offers. What they discovered may surprise you.
While you might expect that technology companies would offer the highest salaries, the data indicates otherwise. Technology companies do offer above-average salaries, but they aren't the top-paying industry.
Transportation companies actually came in at the top of the list, and no other industry compares. On average, companies in this industry offer $19,000 more per year than technology companies.
Highest average salaries of tech workers by industry
Average salary: $145,000 per year
Companies in the transportation sector focus on moving passengers and goods, along with warehousing and supply chain management.
Average salary: $135,000 per year
Organizations in the education industry include everything from primary education to universities to adult education. They may be private or public institutions.
Average salary: $133,000 per year
Large companies in the communications sector include internet service providers, cable companies, satellite companies, and phone companies.
Average salary: $126,000 per year
Retail companies are in the business of selling retail merchandise to consumers. This includes online-only merchants, as well as brick-and-mortar stores expanding into e-commerce.
Average salary: $126,000 per year
It's no secret that the technology industry is booming, as mobile devices, wearable technology, and other electronics become ever more sophisticated.
Average salary: $118,000 per year
Some of the world's top companies are in the entertainment sector, which includes movies, television, cable, gaming, and streaming video.
Average salary: $115,000 per year
Companies in the healthcare industry provide medical insurance, manufacturer medical drugs or equipment, or provide healthcare services to patients.
8. Financial Services
Average salary: $111,000 per year
The financial services industry is in the business of managing money and includes organizations that span from small credit unions to large conglomerate banks.
How to become a highly paid software engineer
If you live in one of the red-hot tech centers of the country, a coding bootcamp is one of the best ways to learn the advanced skills you need to maximize your salary as a software engineer.
If you don't happen to live in a place like San Francisco, you can still get the same career-boosting education in a virtual classroom, by taking a coding bootcamp online. In some ways, online bootcamps actually have an advantage over in-person classes, because there are no geographical limits to the teaching talent.
You can become a San Francisco-caliber software engineer wherever you live, giving you an edge over the local talent pool of job applicants. That’s the real key to earning a top salary as a software engineer.