Back to Blog

Software Engineer Salary Review 2019: How Does Your State Compare?

By Kevin Juhasz
For Hack Reactor

Like many careers related to technology, software engineers have a bright forecast, and some particular sectors look very bright.

Growth in the industry is much stronger than overall job growth in the United States, especially in the area of applications, which has a projected growth of 26% through 2028. Software engineers, in general, are looking at 21% growth over the same time period. For software engineers in the systems software sector, growth is a lower 10%, but that figure is still double the national average for all jobs.

Again, like many technology industries, the bulk of jobs can be found in California, the Eastern seaboard, and metropolitan areas. However, in this industry, there are many areas across the nation that employ software engineers, and numerous states that have solid employment in the industry that come with high salaries.

Software Engineer Salary Review 2019

When looking strictly at pay, the best salaries are going to be found in the areas with the heaviest employment. There are some pockets of rural areas that offer higher wages, but many of those jobs come with significant drops in pay.

The top-paying areas, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, are located on the coasts in states such as Washington, California, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia. Macon, Ga., was the only city outside those regions to crack the top ten. All of them offer wages that average in the six figures.

Anyone looking for a higher paying job that is not in a metropolitan area or in a smaller city will still find good wages in California or Washington, but Idaho, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Ohio are also a few areas that are proving to be competitive. In addition to those states, job seekers can also look to islands of higher pay in regions that tend toward the lower end of the salary spectrum.

The BLS web site is a wealth of information for further study. The site offers pay ranges by counties across the United States, as well as metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas that pay the highest and areas where the highest number of jobs can be found. It works as a good supplement when considering where to take your career.

Glassdoor, which offers salary data based on user submissions, shows a range of salaries from $71,000-$143,000 for software engineers, with an average base pay of $103,000 per year. This is based on data offered by more than 195,000 users.

Salary is not the only issue that workers in the industry can examine. The cost of living is an important factor to take into consideration. Lower wages will not necessarily mean that you’ll be worse off. Some of those areas that pay well also offer significantly lower costs, and many will find benefits with securing work in these areas.

The majority of the top-paying cities also carry a high cost of living based on statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Where you choose to work and live is dependent, of course, on where you are in your career and your life, as well as what kind of lifestyle you want to live. Idaho, Colorado, Texas, and many other areas with reduced living costs are among those offering pay competitive with the larger metropolitan regions. This will be a trend that job seekers will want to keep a close eye on if their career moves are further down the line. As tech grows, jobs and higher salaries are branching out from the traditional tech regions. 

In addition to the cost of living, tech companies and workers are gravitating toward cities and towns that fit their preferred lifestyle. Those areas are working to provide services, entertainment and more, as well as highlighting recreation to try and appeal to younger workers. There are numerous lists on sites that highlight cities that are booming for tech workers. PC Mag released a list of “20 High-Tech Cities You’ll Want to Call Home” and USA Today released a list of the “25 Most Innovative Cities in U.S.” PC Mag’s article focuses heavier on salaries, while the USA Today list includes information on companies, universities, and patents.


Moving may not be necessary if it’s not something you want to do, or if it’s something you are unable to do. Software engineers can always look for companies that offer remote work. Whatever your priorities are, the growth of the software engineering industry is one that is offering a greater range of options.

Learn more about becoming a software engineer today at Hack Reactor.