Software engineers arguably play the most important role in any successful tech company. That’s because even though nearly every Silicon Valley success story starts with some genius in a hoodie drawing up ideas for the “next big thing” while slurping a bowl of ramen noodles, there’s a simple truth to succeeding in tech:
You can have brilliant ideas, but without the right talent to bring them to life, they are just that—ideas.
It’s for exactly this reason that software engineer salaries continue to be some of the most competitive in all of tech. The average salary for a software engineer is $109,000 per year according to Paysa. But, some of the biggest players in tech offer considerably more than that. Just take a look at the software engineer salaries at these tech giants:
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And while in the past, the highest software engineer salaries were all in San Francisco, today there is a range of cities where top engineering talent can reside and make great money. With that in mind, here are the ten cities where software engineer salaries are highest:
#1. Seattle – $153,000 per year
With top tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon planting themselves in Seattle alongside other Fortune 500 organizations like Starbucks and Nordstrom, the city is steadily becoming the new hub for top software engineering talent in the U.S. And as a result, software engineer salaries in Seattle are the highest on average in the country. Engineers in Seattle can expect to earn an average annual base salary of $115,000 and total compensation—after bonus and equity—of $153,000 per year.
Of course, the San Francisco Bay area is not too far behind…
#2. San Francisco – $132,000 per year
There’s no question that for top talent seeking a diverse array of exciting opportunities, San Francisco remains the absolute best place for software engineer jobs. Many of the top paying companies for software engineers are headquartered there, meaning San Francisco is your best bet as an engineer for earning the most money.
But, even if you don’t end up with Airbnb, Pinterest, Netflix, Lyft, or Dropbox, the average salary for a software engineer in San Francisco is still considerably higher than the national average. Software engineer salaries in San Francisco average around $132,000 per year according to Paysa.
And just so you know, San Francisco isn’t the only California city that offers an above-average salary to software engineers:
#3. Sacramento – $127,000 per year
Just an hour-and-a-half up the road from San Francisco sits Sacramento, California: the third best city in the country for software engineer salaries. California’s capital city has been making a strong push to draw startups to its historically quiet downtown, and while it’s still very much in the early stages, the results are promising. Startups like Fantag and SupportPay have relocated their headquarters to Sacramento and are benefiting from lower competition for top talent while still maintaining proximity to the hustle and bustle of San Francisco.
Our most recent data shows that the average salary for a software engineer in Sacramento is $127,000.
Considering the cost of living in Sacramento is considerably less than in the Bay Area, that $127,000 may actually be worth more than what you earn on average in San Francisco.
There’s one other California city to consider as a software engineer and this one comes with considerably more sunshine:
#4. Los Angeles – $123,000 per year
From Snap Inc. to SpaceX and with thousands of small startups in between, LA is no longer just synonymous with Hollywood elite strutting down the red carpet—it’s now also a central hive for exciting tech companies, too. That’s why software engineer salaries in Los Angeles continue to rise above the national average. As an engineer here, you can expect an average salary of $123,000 per year.
Now, let’s say you fancy yourself more of an East Coast kind of person versus a California beach bum. Lucky for you, there are ample opportunities on that side of the country, too.
#5. Boston – $116,000 per year
You may not have the sandy beaches and perfect weather that’d you’ll find in LA, but Boston brings its own fair share of perks to the table. Amazing culture, rich history, and some of the best seafood you’ll ever eat, all rolled into a city that has recently become a thriving hub for East Coast tech companies. The salaries for software engineers in Boston average out to $116,000 per year, earning “Beantown” the #5 spot on this list.
Of course, if you’re going to live in the Northeast, you’d be remiss to not at least consider the Big Apple…
#6. New York City – $112,000 per year
New York not only has offices for nearly every major tech company based in the US; it’s also the international headquarters for many companies operating overseas in tech hubs like Tel Aviv, Dublin, Dubai, Beijing, Bangalore, and Tokyo. Software engineers who are looking to explore as many opportunities as possible should definitely keep New York on their radar.
The average salary for a software engineer in New York City is $112,000 per year.
Interestingly enough, you can actually earn the exact same average salary just a bit further south in our nation’s capital:
#7. Washington DC – $112,000 per year
That’s right—if you’ve got a taste for politics and don’t want to deal with winter in New York or Boston, there are some great opportunities in DC worth exploring as a software engineer. The average salary for a software engineer in Washington DC is $112,000 per year.
#8. Denver – $111,000 per year
Moving away from the two coasts, Denver is the first landlocked city on our list of top paying locations for software engineers. People love Denver for the easy access to nature and vibrant city culture, making it a popular destination in recent years for tech companies. As a software engineer in Denver, you can expect to earn $111,000 per year.
#9. Atlanta – $110,000 per year
Amazon recently announced that Atlanta is the frontrunner for its second U.S. headquarters, meaning there’s possibly never been a better time to be a software engineer in Atlanta. As of today, the average salary for a software engineer in Atlanta is $110,000 per year, but that number could easily spike if Amazon begins drawing talent to the area.
#10. Philadelphia – $109,000 per year
Finally, there’s Philadelphia: home to the recent Super Bowl champion Eagles and the 10th best software engineer salaries in the US. In Philly, the average salary for a software engineer aligns with the national average of $109,000 per year.
Of course, these salaries are constantly in flux. As startups and large tech companies begin exploring lower-cost cities to establish their headquarters, we may see other cities—like San Diego, Austin, and Phoenix—make this list.
Salary data in this post is current as of its publication data. To see the most up-to-date salary data, check out our salaries page. If you’re interested in exploring job opportunities in various cities, you can also sign up to personalize Paysa for you.