Your guide to software developer salaries and jobs – ZDNet

Software developer salaries reflect their essential role in creating, designing, and rolling out computer and application software. 

Software developers integrate frameworks, architectures, designs, and models while constructing code in programming languages. They test, troubleshoot, and manage their work as individuals at the heart of the software lifecycle.

Software jobs vary, so software developer salaries do, too. What they have in common is demand, which helps drive salaries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects software developer jobs in the U.S. will increase 22% by 2030.

Software developer jobs 

Software developer jobs differ by required education level, experience, job duties, and industry. 

Software developers may specialize. For example: 

  • Web developers create websites.
  • Back-end developers specialize in the server-side of software development.
  • Front-end developers work on the client-side of software development.
  • Full-stack developers work on front-end and back-end aspects of software development
  • Video game developers create and implement video game software.
  • Mobile application developers focus on application software used on mobile devices.
  • Desktop application developers specialize in applications for computers.

Other specialties include embedded systems development and operating systems development. 

The jobs listed below reflect differing seniority levels and focus on broad career categories rather than specific job titles. However, the list should give you an idea of available salaries and potential job duties in each category.

Note that upper-level job titles in each category may require additional education, such as a software engineering master’s degree.

Software engineer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s degree
Alternate job titles: Software developer, applications software developer, systems software developer
Necessary skills: Knowledge of computer science, mathematics, engineering, and information technology; creative and analytical; interpersonal and communication skills

Software engineers plan the scope of a software development project by working with fellow programmers, developers, artists, and testers. They analyze user needs and design applications and programs to match those requirements. 

Through the software development process, software engineers test, fix, and maintain software. 

According to PayScale, software engineers earned average salaries of $88,566 in April 2022

Programmer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s degree
Alternate job titles: Computer programmer, web applications programmer, internet programmer
Necessary skills: Knowledge of mathematics, engineering, computer science, information technology; adept with programming languages; problem solver; interpersonal skills

Computer programmers write, modify, and test codes and scripts for use in computer software and applications. They coordinate with software and web developers to create information storage, inventory tracking, gaming, and other software.

Computer programmers may specialize in specific computer programming languages or software types. They understand computer systems, software development practices and procedures, and quality and testing standards.

Computer programmers earned annual median wages of $89,190 in May 2020. 

Software architect

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s degree
Alternate job titles: Computer systems architect, computer network architect, database architect
Necessary skills: Knowledge of computer science, information technology, engineering, and programming languages; problem-solving and critical-thinking skills; familiarity with operating systems such as Windows, iOS, and Linux

Software architects develop software solutions for challenges related to software and hardware interfaces. They also identify ways to improve web services, coding programs, and databases to maximize efficiency and user satisfaction. Software architects test and perform updates and train users.

As of March 2022, software architects earned average base salaries of $127,941.

Software quality assurance analysts and testers

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s degree
Alternate job titles: Software quality engineer, software test engineer, software quality control analyst
Necessary skills: Programming knowledge, written and verbal communication skills, deductive and inductive reasoning abilities, problem-solver

Software quality assurance analysts and testers develop routines and procedures to ensure the usability, functionality, and safety of software. They identify and document potential risks, problems, and threats and report them to developers. 

Some software quality assurance analysts and testers may write code and make corrections and changes.

Software quality assurance analysts and testers earned annual median wages of $110,140 as of May 2020. 

Web developer

Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s degree
Alternate job titles: Web design specialist, webmaster, web architect, UI developer
Necessary skills: Knowledge of computer science, engineering, information technology, and mathematics; programming languages such as HTML and CSS; creative and detail-oriented

Web developers design and develop websites and web applications using programming and scripting languages. HTML and CSS, commonly used in web development, are among the easiest programming languages to learn.

Web developers integrate graphics, audio, and video content while ensure accessibility and security for users. They may specialize in the back-end, front-end, or both aspects of a website. Some web developers also take on web and digital interface design roles. 

Web developers earned annual median salaries of $77,2000 as of May 2020.

Senior vs. junior software developers

Depending on education and experience, you may find a job as a junior, mid-level, or senior software developer. Junior software developers are entry-level employees and receive close supervision. Mid-level and senior software developers operate with more autonomy. 

More advanced software development roles mean more-complex tasks you complete. A mid-level or senior software development role may include managerial responsibilities overseeing fellow developers and development projects. 

According to PayScale, junior software developers earn average salaries of around $64,000 as of March 2022. Mid-level software developers with five to nine years of experience took home average salaries over $84,000, while experienced senior software developers with 20-plus years’ experience earned $98,000. 

Software developer salaries 

Software developer salaries vary by education, experience, industry, and location. The BLS reported in May 2020 that software developers earned an annual median pay of $110,140.

You may increase your earning potential and advance your technology career by earning the best tech certifications, gaining experience, learning new programming languages, or pursuing a software engineering degree.

Computer systems design companies and software publishers employ the highest numbers of software developers, while transportation, entertainment, and manufacturing roles offer the highest salaries on average.

States with strong tech sectors like California and Washington pay the highest wages to software developers in the United States. California has five out of the 10 top-paying cities for software developers.

Highest paying states for software developers

States on the West and East coasts of the U.S. employ the highest numbers of software developers. 

They also offer some of the highest salaries, but you should compare salaries against the cost of living. All five locations in the table below have an above-average cost of living.

Location

Developers employed

Annual mean wage

Washington

99,630

$138,400

California

249,700

$137,620

New York

83,330

$122,300

Massachusetts

59,010

$119,790

Washington, D.C.

8,110

$119,630


On a budget, or planning to work remotely? Check out our list of the best cities for tech jobs.

This article was reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

Monali Mirel Chuatico, a woman with long dark hair, smiles in a headshot.Monali Mirel Chuatico, a woman with long dark hair, smiles in a headshot.

In 2019, Monali Mirel Chuatico graduated with her bachelor’s in computer science, which gave her the foundation to excel in roles such as data engineer, front-end developer, UX designer, and computer science instructor.

Monali is currently a data engineer at Mission Lane. As a data analytics captain at a nonprofit called COOP Careers, Monali helps new grads and young professionals overcome underemployment by teaching them data analytics tools and mentoring them on their professional development journey.

Monali is passionate about implementing creative solutions, building community, advocating for mental health, empowering women, and educating youth. Monali’s goal is to gain more experience in her field, expand her skill set, and do meaningful work that will positively impact the world.

Monali Mirel Chuatico is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

Last reviewed March 24, 2022.

Unless otherwise noted, salary and job growth data is drawn from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of April 18, 2022.

ZDNet Recommends

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.