Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

As the tech industry continues to evolve, the rapid advancements mean higher earning potential for those in the sector. In particular, software engineering roles remain in high demand thanks to the importance of the profession.

For those specializing in the field, there are many considerations—unique interests, skill sets, and, yes, earning potential. What are the highest-paying software engineering jobs?

Why Pursue a Career in Software Engineering?

Pursuing a career in software development brings a number of advantages, including the ability for personal growth and financial incentives. The tech industry is one of constant innovation and growth. This also means a higher likelihood of long-term job stability.

Software engineers also benefit from the job’s flexibility. Today, many roles are 100% remote. Professionals have the opportunity to create impactful solutions and then witness the tangible results of their efforts, and the field boasts high job satisfaction levels.

Highest Paying Jobs in Software Engineering

All salary estimations are for roles in the US. They vary according to numerous factors, including state.

#1 Machine Learning Engineer

Machine learning engineers work to further advance this cutting-edge subset of artificial intelligence. Their job responsibilities include the designing, building, and deploying of various predictive models to drive innovation across many different business sectors.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – A new or junior machine learning engineer with 0-1 years of experience can expert to earn approximately $110,000 per year.
  • Mid-Career – Machine learning engineers with 5-10 years of experience typically make between $99,000 and $180,000 per year.
  • Senior-Level – The average salary for senior-level machine learning engineers is $327,000, with most salaries ranging from $247,000 to $942,000 depending on a variety of factors and specialties.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

A degree in computer science, computer programming, mathematics, or data science provides a solid foundation for a machine learning engineering specialization. It’s a good idea for aspiring engineers to determine their area of expertise and create a work portfolio of projects that demonstrate their skill sets in this niche, as well as their understanding of complex models and algorithms.

#2 Data Scientist

Data scientists drive business decisions by using machine learning, data analytics, and advanced statistical techniques to help answer complex questions and solve problems. They transform raw data into actionable insights, strategies, and problem-solving techniques.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – An entry-level data scientist with 0 to 1 year of experience typically makes between $83,000 and $112,000 per year.
  • Mid-Career – Data scientists with approximately 5 to 10 years of experience in the field make an average of $127,000 per year.
  • Senior-Level – Veteran data scientists with over a decade of experience make between $128,000 and $157,000 annually.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

Data scientists should earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field to get started in the industry. Experience in specializations within data science, like machine learning, also helps candidates stand out in this competitive, lucrative field. Aspiring data scientists should create a portfolio of personal and professional projects to showcase their ability to handle vast data sets and analytics.

#3 DevOps Engineer

DevOps engineers help optimize the creation and deployment of applications by fostering collaboration between IT operations and dev teams, streamlining processes, and utilizing automation tools. They play a critical role in facilitating faster software releases and enhanced system reliability.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – The average salary of a DevOps engineer with 0-1 years of experience is $104,000.
  • Mid-Career – With 5 to 10 years of experience, DevOps engineers earn an average salary of $129,000.
  • Senior-Level – At a senior level, these engineers earn $178,000 on average.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

A degree in computer science or a similar domain is a major requirement for DevOps engineers. Courses or certificates in machine learning are a great way to enhance their skill sets as well. Aspiring DevOps engineers should put together a portfolio to show potential employers their abilities in streamlining operational processes and integration development proficiency.

#4 Full Stack Developer

Full-stack developers are software developers who have the skills to handle both the front and back-ends of development projects, which allows them to build complete apps and websites. Their skill sets must include multiple programming languages, database experience, and user interface design to handle both client and server-side dev work.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – Full-stack devs with up to a year of experience should expect to make an average of $67,000.
  • Mid-Career – Mid-level full-stack devs make up to $106,000 on average.
  • Senior-Level – With 8 years or more of experience, these devs make anywhere from $146,000 to $248,000 annually.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

In addition to a degree in computer science or a related field, full-stack developers must have proficiency in both front-end and back-end programming languages. They also require experience in database management and server-side scripting and should have strong problem-solving skills. Their portfolios should showcase the projects that they executed from design to deployment themselves.

#5 Cloud Engineer

Cloud engineers specialize in cloud-based services and infrastructure and the design and deployment of scalable, secure cloud solutions. Their specialty requires knowledge of platforms like AWS and Google Cloud, as well as the seamless management, migration, and support of cloud apps.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – A junior or entry-level cloud engineer makes an average salary of $89,000 annually.
  • Senior-Level – $160,000 is the typical salary for a senior-level cloud engineer.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

Cloud engineers need a degree in computer science, information technology, software engineering, or a similar field. They require proficiency in common programming languages like Python, C++, and Ruby paired with certifications in their preferred cloud-based disciplines and a well-rounded portfolio.

#6 Blockchain Developer

Blockchain developers build and implement decentralized solutions with blockchain technology. Armed with skills in smart contracts, cryptographic protocols, and algorithms, these developers create transparent and immutable systems as the backbone of many industries, from finance and supply chains to cryptocurrencies.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – A junior or entry-level blockchain dev makes $83,000 on average.
  • Mid-Career –  The median salary for the intermediate level is $101,000.
  • Senior-Level – $115,000 is the average salary for a senior-level blockchain dev.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

Blockchain devs need a degree in computer science, IT, or mathematics, as well as skills in programming languages, data structures, databases and networking, and cryptography. Machine learning experience is an added bonus. Their portfolios should showcase a variety of uses of blockchain systems.

#7 Embedded Systems Engineer

Embedded systems engineers design and optimize the software used in industries and products that are not traditionally tech-based, such as medical instruments, appliances, and cars. They create seamless performance in controlled environments by handling the interactions between hardware and software.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – $101,000 is the average salary for entry-level engineers.
  • Mid-Career – The average embedded systems engineer earns $116,000 annually.
  • Senior-Level – Senior-level engineers earn an average of $141,000.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

Aspiring embedded systems engineers should earn a degree in electrical engineering or computer engineering and complete an internship program. They must then choose a niche to specialize in and obtain certifications related to it. Their portfolios should showcase their work in a variety of different systems.

#8 Security Engineer

Security engineers focus on designing and implementing systems to safeguard information and infrastructure from cyber threats through the employment of technical expertise and an awareness of vulnerabilities. They establish defensive systems, conduct audits, and respond to cybersecurity incidents.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – The average entry-level salary for this role is $93,000.
  • Mid-Career – Mid-level security engineers make $126,000.
  • Senior-Level – At a senior level, security engineers make up to $204,000.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

A security engineer should have a degree in a major such as computer science, cybersecurity, software engineering, or similar fields. Pursuing a master’s degree is also a good idea. They should spend time working in the IT field to learn about building and maintaining networks to get started, before obtaining certifications in various data security areas.

#9 Systems Architect

Systems architects design and create high-level structural blueprints for complex IT systems. Combining technical expertise with company-specific goals, these architects build efficient and scalable system architectures that meet specific business needs.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – Entry-level systems architects make $121,000 annually.
  • Mid-Career – The average systems architect earns $145,000.
  • Senior-Level – The most experienced architects make up to $190,000.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

Unlike other niches, systems architects usually only need a two-year associate degree or a technical certification, although a bachelor’s degree is always helpful. Certifications in frameworks and a variety of IT areas paired with experience in computer networking help with job searches. Learning how to use modeling and machine learning also helps architects further their careers.

#10 Mobile Application Developer

Mobile application developers build apps for platforms like iOS and Android. Some also create cross-platform solutions. Using programming languages like JavaScript and Swift, they build apps with user-friendly interfaces, optimized performance, and seamless functionalities to enhance user experiences and business strategies.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – $53,000 is the average entry-level salary for a mobile app dev.
  • Mid-Career – The average mid-level salary is $102,000.
  • Senior-Level – Senior-level mobile app devs make $162,000 on average.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

IT-related degrees, coding boot camps, and online courses are all great starting points for mobile app devs. They should also choose a platform to go in-depth into their specialty, as well as complete an internship to gain experience. Their portfolios should showcase their personal and professional app projects in their specialty.

#11 Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineer

Artificial intelligence engineers develop algorithms to create predictive models by harnessing vast datasets while navigating powerful tools and frameworks. Their innovations are the driving forces behind advanced niches like deep learning, machine learning, and neural networks.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – New AI engineers make an average of $101,000.
  • Mid-Career – $105,000 is the average for mid-level engineers.
  • Senior-Level – At a senior level, AI devs make $180,000.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

AI engineers should have a bachelor’s degree in a field like data science, computer science, or IT to get started. A master’s degree will give them an edge, and AI course certifications in fields like machine learning help engineers gain a more comprehensive understanding of the topic. AI engineers should also gain practical experience and portfolio content via projects and internships.

#12 Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Developer

AR and VR developers build immersive experiences by blending the digital and physical worlds through the use of advanced software and tools. They design interactive 3D overlays and environments that transform entertainment, education, and more.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – An entry-level or junior AR/VR dev makes approximately 85,000.
  • Mid-Career – $120,000 is an average AR/VR dev salary.
  • Senior-Level – Senior devs make up to $164,000.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

A computer science-related degree, coding boot camps, and online courses are good starting points for AR/VR devs. These devs should also gain experience with 3D systems and modeling, as well as game engine development. Their portfolios should showcase AR/VR in a variety of use cases.

#13 Back-end Developer

Back-end developers handle server-side logic, databases, and APIs as the functionalities behind the scenes of apps and websites. They utilize programming languages like Java and Python to ensure seamless functionality and smooth communication between front and back ends.

Salary Expectations

  • Entry-Level – $87,000 is the average back-end dev salary.
  • Mid-Career – Average back-end devs earn $119,000.
  • Senior-Level – $142,000 is the average senior-level salary.

Industry Requirements and Getting Started

A degree isn’t necessarily a requirement for back-end developers, but they should have an extensive understanding of programming languages, databases, data structures, algorithmic basics, and frameworks. Their portfolios must showcase the use of a variety of languages, structures, and systems to show versatility in potential job roles.

Factors Affecting Salaries in Software Engineering

Software engineering salaries depend on not only location but also industry demand and current trends. Higher education and certifications paired with a willingness for continuous learning help boost salary potential. Company size and specific industry niches also have an effect on compensation.


Although the tech landscape remains in a state of continuous evolution, a degree in computer science or a similar field is still a helpful stepping stone for a successful career. Specialization, notably in AI or machine learning, helps build career paths as well. Portfolios should display a variety of personal projects to showcase the job applicant’s experience and skills.


What are the most sought-after skills in the software engineering industry?

The most sought-after skills in software engineering include proficiency in programming languages like Python and JavaScript, experience and knowledge of artificial intelligence and machine learning, cloud computing expertise, and DevOps familiarity.

Are software engineering jobs expected to grow in the next decade?

Yes, software engineering jobs will grow by over 25% from 2021 to 2031.

How can someone transition into a software engineering role?

To transition into a software engineering role, individuals should pursue coding boot camps and certifications, participate in personal and professional projects or competitions, and/or build a diverse portfolio of their work.

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