13 of the Highest-Paying Software Engineering Jobs Out There

Headshot for Piero Borrelli, CareerFoundry contributor.

The goal of every tech company is simple: growing. To do so, they know they need to find the most talented software engineers and convince them to join their workforce. That’s why these organizations are always ready to one-up each other in terms of benefits and, most of all, salary.

In a scenario like this, becoming a good software engineer could be the best investment in your career’s life in terms of pay and growth opportunities.

If you’re interested in breaking into tech and becoming a software engineer, then you should know that this field encompasses many roles, and not all of them will give you the same salary opportunities. In this guide, I’ll present you with the 13 highest paying software engineering jobs, highlighting their differences and how you can get there.

To jump to a specific section, use the menu:

  1. 13 of the highest-paying software engineering jobs
  2. Highest-paying software engineering jobs FAQ
  3. How to get a software engineering job
  4. Where to go from here?

1. Thirteen of the highest paying software engineering jobs

All the annual salaries data reported here are referring to the U.S. market, using the Stack Overflow Developer Survey as my source, since it provides the most recent and accurate data for compensation. 

If you’re a programmer based in Europe, or you would like to compare pay between particular companies, check out Levels.fyi, a free salaries database.

Engineering manager: $124,000

An engineering manager’s role is to oversee and manage technical activities in a team. This translates into multiple responsibilities, including:

  • Mentoring engineers and supporting them to grow their career inside the company
  • Offering guidance within the company to the stakeholders on meeting deadlines and raising awareness of any potential roadblocks that could interfere with delivering the feature on time
  • Contributing to coding new features and helping other developers (“devs” for short) in finding technical solutions
  • Taking part in the hiring process for the tech department

Engineering managers are often engineers who have taken a step up the career ladder in an organization. To reach this position, you’ll usually need a bachelor degree in Computer Science or experience as a dev inside a company, leveling up your management skills until you can cover this position.

Since this position requires both technical and people skills, companies are ready to pay extremely high salaries for great engineering managers, making this role one of the highest paying software engineering jobs.

Blockchain engineer: $177,500

A blockchain developer writes code for decentralized applications based on the blockchain. While you may usually hear about the blockchain in relation to cryptocurrencies, we use this technology across a tremendous variety of sectors, from finance to healthcare. 

With a global blockchain market expected to grow from 7 billion USD in 2022 to 163 billion USD in 2029, the request for blockchain engineers is only going to increase. 

In this role, your responsibilities will include:

  • Designing, developing, and testing blockchain systems
  • Working on both the backend and frontend of an application based on client’s needs
  • Developing and maintaining smart contracts

To reach this role, you’ll usually need a Bachelor’s degree in computer science or equivalent coding experience, with a great focus on understanding the blockchain, cryptography, and the coding languages related to this world, like JavaScript and Solidity.

Site reliability engineer: $175,500

As a site reliability engineer, your primary responsibility will be to use software engineering to automate IT infrastructure operations, like incident response and system management.

This is a vital type of work for large companies wanting to make sure their website is reliable and always working. Hence, the request for this professional figure has been flourishing in the last few years, with great economic opportunities for your career.

As your daily responsibilities, you’ll typically work on:

  • Automating infrastructure management
  • Managing incidents
  • Collaborating with DevOps to build tools helping with software delivery

To become a site reliability engineer, you’ll need strong coding skills, with a focus on specializing yourself in monitoring tools, CI/CD processes, and everything related to infrastructure management.

Cloud infrastructure engineer: $170,000

A cloud engineer is someone who builds and maintains a cloud infrastructure. Your responsibilities in this role will include:

  • Migrating an existing company’s infrastructure to the cloud
  • Configuring an organization’s cloud infrastructure
  • Monitoring an existing cloud infrastructure and improving it

To become a cloud engineer, you’ll typically need a degree in Computer Science, or a software engineering or web development certification, with strong abilities in working with cloud infrastructures such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Security engineer: $156,000

As a security engineer, you’ll implement security controls to protect your organization from potential cyber-attacks like unauthorized accesses or SQL injections.

These tasks will generally make up your daily job:

  • Promptly responding to security incidents
  • Coordinating with other security engineers on incident response
  • Performing security checks and developing stronger security systems to prevent cyber-attacks

Cyber attacks can cost companies billions, making them prone to invest lots of money in their security professionals to help them protect themselves. If you want to break into this industry, you’ll need strong coding skills in languages like Python and C++, besides great networking skills, operating systems skills, and an up-to-date knowledge of the latest security threats.

Product manager: $155,000

A product manager’s role is to identify customer needs and understand how a business can fulfill those needs, overseeing the process to bring a product’s vision into reality.

Great product managers are hard to find. Their influence can dramatically help a company grow and beat competitors, and that’s why this profession is very well paid. In terms of responsibilities, a product manager must:

  • Understand the client needs
  • Defining a concrete plan for turning a response to those needs into reality
  • Interacting with the stakeholders to get their approval for a new feature and presenting the final version to them
  • Monitoring the feature development and completion, making sure the eventual result is in line with expectations
  • Monitoring the feature impact on clients 

P.S. If you’re intrigued by this, we’ve created a detailed guide on becoming a product manager.

Machine learning engineer: $150,000

A machine learning engineer designs, builds, and improves the artificial intelligence behind machine learning. Examples of machine learning include facial recognition software, product recommendations, or predictive text generation.

Needless to say that the AI sector has seen an exponential growth in the last years, with a lot of mainstream attention generated by the launch of ChatGPT. As a result we can foresee how this role will level up even further in the future list of the highest paying software engineering jobs.

As a machine learning engineer, your role will involve:

  • Researching and implementing machine learning algorithms
  • Testing your algorithms and improving them.
  • Performing statistical analysis
  • Being part of a team of data scientists and engineers who you’ll collaborate with to implement ML models

Since this is an extremely technical position, becoming a machine learning engineer is usually achieved through a formal college education. However, with the rapid evolvement of this field, new bootcamps and career change programs are arising, allowing you to jump straight into this field by learning how to become a great software engineer with a machine learning specialization.

If you’d like to check out more about the pay packets for this role, check out our full machine learning engineer salary guide.

Backend engineer: $150,000

A backend developer or engineer works on the server side part of an application, writing the APIs that frontend developers will use to consume data. This job requires expert knowledge of databases and how to design effectively an API. As a backend engineer, your responsibilities include:

  • Designing, developing and maintaining an application backend API
  • Interacting with the DB to persist application data
  • Communicating with frontend developers to provide them with the endpoints they need

Great backend engineers are hard to find, and they work with very well-sought technologies like Python, Go, and SQL. Earning them top-notch salaries across the industry.

As with other types of development, you won’t mandatorily need a CS degree to become a backend engineer. You can get the skills through self-learning or by getting a certification. This will enable you to build a great portfolio of projects you can show to potential employers and land your first job in the industry.

DevOps engineer: $150,000

As a DevOps engineer, your goal will be to oversee the development cycle of a company, making sure that everything in this process is as optimized as possible, and that releases are stable and frequent.

Your daily responsibilities will be:

  • Assessing the current development cycle and improving it
  • Overseeing the release process and making sure that everything is stable
  • Improving the current deployment infrastructure

If you want to become a DevOps engineer, you’ll need to have a good understanding of programming languages, focusing deeply on all the tools surrounding the development process, from CI/CD tools to cloud providers and deployment platforms.

You can learn more about what’s involved and how to become one in our full DevOps engineer guide.

Data engineer: $150,000

Data engineers work by creating systems that collect, store, and convert raw data in a usable way for data scientists to use. Your ultimate goal in this role is to make large amounts of data available to other professionals to use.

A data engineer responsibilities include:

  • Writing algorithms to convert raw data into usable formats
  • Creating and testing data pipelines
  • Tracking of the data pipeline stability

Massive companies like Google and Netflix are often looking for these professionals to help them interpret large amounts of data. If you want to land a position in this field, you’ll need strong foundational skills in coding, with an expert knowledge of data warehousing, data pipelines, and every concept related to big data.

Mobile engineer: $144,000

A mobile engineer develops, tests, and maintains a mobile application. This type of engineer is someone who’s often specialized in a specific operating system, like Android or iOS, mastering different languages depending on their platform of choice.

The tasks of a mobile engineer are comparable to those of web developers, yet they require knowledge of a different stack. Thanks to a $206 billion industry, you can find tons of opportunities in this field, with dozens of companies ready to pay premium salaries to the best developers.

Just like web development, you don’t need to have a CS degree to be a mobile engineer. You can specialize in a specific platform like Android, learning its languages inside out, and then building your own portfolio to break into the industry as a junior mobile engineer.

Embedded application or devices engineer: $140,000

Nowadays, virtually every device we use has some code running on it. From autonomous cars to microwaves and watches. Embedded engineers are the professionals responsible for writing the code running on these devices.

While the responsibilities of such a developer are almost equal to a more traditional app or web developer, keep in mind that embedded engineers need a lot more knowledge of hardware components. Hence, to land a role in this field, you’ll need expert knowledge of hardware architecture, electronic components, microprocessor fundamentals and working with memory.

Since this field of engineering requires a deep knowledge of the components of a machine, the traditional way to enter this industry is by having either a computer science background or a bachelor’s in electronics engineering.

Full-stack engineer: $140,000

A full-stack engineer is an individual who’s able to work on both the frontend and backend side of an application. This entails working with a great variety of technologies and frameworks, from React.js, JavaScript and CSS to Python, Node.js, and SQL.

Excelling at both frontend and backend skills is very hard, so even full-stack engineers will usually have their specialty in a particular area, like working with web app interfaces. Yet, they’re expected to be able to navigate every area of their stack to bring a feature to completion. 

Other responsibilities of this position include:

  • Communicating with designers to review and approve a design document.
  • Working on the interface part of an application using modern frameworks like React and Vue.
  • Working on the backend part of an application, using technologies like Python and Node.
  • A good working knowledge of how databases work and how to interact with them.
  • A good understanding of applications’ architecture.

While many people follow the traditional way of getting a CS degree to become a full-stack engineer, many companies will also get you started if you have a great coding portfolio and are willing to learn how to be a professional coder.

At first, you’ll probably fall into a more specific type of development, like frontend development. But as time progresses, you can expand your area of influence by learning the other side of your working stack.

P.S. If you want to learn more, we’ve created a detailed guide on becoming a full-stack developer or engineer.

2. Highest-paying software engineering jobs FAQ

Now that you’ve understood the difference between these engineering roles, their salary, and how to get there, it’s time to answer a few common questions related to the tech field.

Why are software engineers paid so well?

Software engineers are paid so well because there is a high demand for their skills from high-earning companies, all competing between them to get the best talents.

Which company pays the highest for a software engineer?

The companies paying the highest for software engineers are:

  • Google
  • Apple
  • Meta
  • Amazon
  • Netflix
  • Linkedin
  • Stripe
  • Pinterest
  • RobinHood
  • Airbnb

What type of software engineer gets paid the most?

According to job site Indeed, the type of software engineering that gets paid the most is big data engineering, with a big data engineer earning around $160,000 in the U.S..

Is coding high-paying?

Yes, coding is a high-paying career with high salaries and a high-growth potential.

Is it easy to land a high-paying software engineering job?

No, landing a high-paying software engineering job is hard, because the competition can be very high and you’ll need to satisfy certain requirements in terms of skills and years of experience as an engineer. However, once you put in the work and build up your experience, the salaries are definitely worth it.

3. How to get a software engineering job

Finding your first software engineering job is a difficult process. You’ll need to develop a great knowledge base and build a nice portfolio so you can prove your skills and potential to potential companies. 

If you want to land your first coding job and you need guidance with it, we at CareerFoundry created an online school to help you with that. You can check out our programs to become a developer and receive all the guidance you need to make your next successful career switch.

4. Where to go from here

After reading this article, you’ve learned about the highest paying software engineering jobs, and how you can get there. Now, you’re able to pursue a career path in tech, which is not only fulfilling, but also very well compensated. 

If you’re still unsure about which path to take in tech, you can check out CareerFoundry‘s free short courses. This way, you can get an idea about the different roles in tech and find the one that you would like to pursue for your next career switch!

Prefer to read more about the world of web development first? Check out these articles:

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