Why are Software Engineers Paid So Much?

Many people assume that all software engineers are nerds. However, most know for a fact that they are some of the highest-paid professionals out there. And it’s probably because of this why you are thinking about taking software engineering in college.

Software engineers are paid so much as their expertise is indispensable to various organizations and businesses. This is especially true in the digital age where systems and software are vital for operations. It’s also necessary for them to be well-compensated for their stressful and exhausting tasks.

Read on if you want to know more about software engineers and their paychecks.

Below, you will get to know some very important matters about software engineers, from what they do, why they’re in demand, and which of them make the most money. By the time you get to the end of this article, you will have an idea of whether or not you should be one in the near future.

software engineer

What Do Software Engineers Do?

Software engineers research, design, and develop systems and software for various organizations and businesses. The products they make can range from games to operating systems. Software engineers are also tasked with analyzing existing software and doing the necessary maintenance or modifications.

If you think that the work of a software engineer begins and ends with the creation of a new product, better think again.

Because organizations and businesses constantly take new directions and technological advancements keep on taking place, a software engineer is in a work environment that is always evolving and requiring new solutions.

As a software engineer, it is your job to study, design, create, maintain and improve the system or software to meet the particular requirements of the entity relying on it.

Depending on your employer, your role as a software engineer may entail either a multitude of tasks or a more defined role. It can vary based on the size of the company, expanse of the product, or number of people working in the group.

Why are Software Engineers in Demand?

Software engineers are in demand because of the digital age. Almost all organizations, businesses, and others are pressed to have a digital presence in the form of a website, mobile device app, or proprietary software tool. Computer and programming languages can also become obsolete easily, which requires software engineers to spring into action and update systems and software products.

The best time to turn someone’s dream of becoming a software engineer into a reality is now. That’s because the demand for one isn’t showing any signs of dropping anytime soon.

As a matter of fact, the employment rate for software engineers is projected to inflate to a little more than 20% by the year 2028.

To put this into context so that you can have a better idea of just how in demand software engineers are, the projected growth rate for other occupations is at 5% only.

If that still failed to paint a clear picture, consider this: Experts predict that the available jobs for software engineers will grow from 1,365,500 in 2018 to 1,649,600 when 2028 strikes.

How Much is a Software Engineer’s Salary?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary per hour of software engineers for the year 2020 was $52.95. The agency said that the median annual pay they received for the same year was $110,140. Software engineering is one of the jobs in the IT field that pays the highest.

There is no denying that software engineers are some of the highest-paid professionals on the face of the planet. It’s due to the fact that they are in demand, a matter that we talked about earlier.

In the US, the average amount of money all employed individuals make is $11.26 per hour.

Needless to say, software engineers make almost five times of what others make on average per hour, with a rate of $52.95 hourly. But if you think that software engineers are the highest-paid people in the field and related ones, too, better think again.

Let’s take a quick look at the top 15 highest-paid software-related jobs that tend to make the most money (on average) per year:

  • Chief technology officer – $157,000+
  • Technical program manager – $146,000+
  • Software engineering manager – $145,000+
  • Enterprise architect – $140,000+
  • Software architect – $139,000+
  • Data warehouse architect – $135,000+
  • Site reliability engineer – $130,000+
  • Development operations engineer – $128,000+
  • Mobile developer – $125,000+
  • Data scientist – $122,000+
  • Cloud engineer – $120,000+
  • Full-stack developer – $113,000+
  • Software engineer – $110,000+
  • IT security specialist – $105,000+
  • System engineer – $100,000+

Which Type of Software Engineer Gets Paid the Most?

These days, some of the highest paid software engineers are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) engineers. That’s because AR and VR are considered next-level technology. Other types of software engineers that get paid the most are in the machine learning, gaming and mobile areas.

Just like medical doctors or lawyers, there are different types of software engineers. It all depends on the programs and majors they took in college.

And similar to professions with various specializations, different software engineers are paid different amounts of money. So, in other words, some software engineers tend to get larger paychecks per month than others.

As mentioned above, the highest paid software engineers these days are AR or VR engineers.

It’s not uncommon for entry-level or junior AR or VR engineers to make $120,000 per year. On the other hand, most senior AR or VR engineers are known to make up to $200,000 every year. The median annual salary for these types of software engineer is $165,000.

Want to make sure that you will make lots of money per year once you are already a software engineer? Then check out some of your highest-paying options:

  • Machine learning engineer – $250,000
  • Natural language programming engineer – $250,000
  • Big data engineer – $222,000
  • Cybersecurity engineer – $163,000
  • Gaming engineer – $161,000
  • Embedded engineer – $150,000
  • Application engineer – $150,000
  • Mobile engineer – $146,000
  • Site reliability engineer – $140,000
  • Front-end engineer – $110,000

So, how can you make the most money as a software engineer?

First, opt for a type of software engineer that tends to make more than the rest.

Second, get employed at a company that pays well, which is usually something with a recognizable and trusted name.

Lastly, stick with and impress your employer and wait for a salary raise or job promotion.

Related Questions

Is software engineering a dead-end career?

According to 2012 data, software engineering is a dead-end career. Most software engineers are out of the industry by 40. Some quit their jobs to move on. Some of the most common reasons provided include fatigue, lack of advancement opportunities and a desire to work in a different area.

Why do some software engineers hate their jobs?

It’s true that software engineering is a fulfilling and rewarding job, especially because it pays a lot. However, it can also be stressful and exhausting and bad for the mental health, especially for those who have just started their software engineering careers due to the long hours of work they put on.


Above, we talked about software engineers and what they do and the reason for their being in demand. More importantly, we took a peek at how much money they make and which ones of them tend to get the biggest paychecks of the bunch.

Because software engineers get paid so much, it can be very tempting to become one.

It’s true that software engineers earn some of the most impressive salaries out there. However, it’s also true that they have a very demanding, stressful, and exhausting job. Software engineers also need to keep growing and developing as technology is always evolving.

Needless to say, if you want to become a software engineer because of the ridiculously high pay, see to it that you will be more than willing to make sacrifices and be able to deliver every single time.

Read Also: Why are Dental Hygienists Paid So Much?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

Similar Posts