Software Engineer Salary Ranges Worldwide
You may have heard of the six-figure software engineer salaries, some of which have only 1 to 2 years of experience. Such average total compensation amounts up to a range of USD$120,000 to $170,000 every year, including the base salary, cash bonuses, and stocks. However, these eyebrow-raising numbers are not representative of the majority of software engineer jobs worldwide. Most of these packages are offered by Big Tech companies in Silicon Valley, a segment of the global technology talent pool. Not only experience but also geographical location are two factors that affect software engineer salaries. Taxes and living costs in Silicon Valley can be exorbitant, making six-figure packages necessary to attract candidates.
Your company likely offers good jobs that do not need to match the Big Tech level. How to set the right price for the tech talents your company seeks without breaking your budget? This article provides the common salary ranges for junior, mid-level, and senior software engineers in many countries.
Five Levels of Software Engineer Salaries
Consider your target tech talent pool – are you hiring people within driving distance, or are you casting your net wider? There is a wide difference between an average base salary at a local company in a small city and an average salary at regional or international companies. Read on to estimate your salary budgets.
The pyramid below shows the five levels of software engineer salaries. The majority worldwide earn an average salary of under USD$50,000/year. This includes not just junior engineers, but also some senior engineers, depending on their company and location. More likely, though, a mid-level or a senior software engineer tends to earn in the range of USD$50,000 to USD$120,000 annually. Only the most senior software engineers at local companies, or talented software engineers working at major tech corporations, earn the top levels of above USD$120,000/year.
Note that the pyramid only considers the base salary (converted to USD) which comprises the largest portion of a software engineer’s compensation package. The total package also includes bonuses and stock, offered especially by rapidly growing startups or competitive international companies. You would want to consider bonuses and stocks for your key tech personnel as an incentive for continuing service. Simply put, the more they contribute to your success, the better they will be rewarded.
If you are aiming for a talent pool in countries outside North America and in non-metropolitan cities in Western Europe, then this is the benchmark you may start budgeting for. At this benchmark, you’re looking to hire people in emerging economies such as India, Brazil, Vietnam, China, South Africa, and Eastern Europe. These countries have a growing IT talent pool and plenty of affordable software outsourcing services or capable remote workers. Not all software development needs to be done by premium-priced teams whose costs are affected not just by their ability, but also by their living expenses. Check out some of the typical annual base salaries for a software engineer at three levels of experience in these parts of the world.
|Vietnam||$8,400||$21,600 - $24,000||$30,000 - $60,000|
|South Africa||$7,000 - $20,000||$12,000 - $41,000||$27,000 - $60,000|
|Ukraine||$18,000 - $24,000||$24,000 - $30,000||$36,000 - $42,000|
|China||$17,748||$22,188 - $35,500||$73,986|
|Singapore||$30,000 - $36,000||$42,000||$114,000|
Numbers sourced from AmbitionBox, Payscale.com, The Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report by Monk’s Hill, Qubit-lab, and Tencent.
Although the Netherlands is a developed country, this range still includes the average salary for a junior software engineer. These are the companies that hire locally, and they likely do not offer bonuses or stocks. Examples are local supermarkets, government agencies, post offices, cable providers, and local startups.
Only the most senior levels in the countries above earn an average salary of over $50,000/year. The exception is Singapore and the Netherlands, where an in-demand mid-level software engineer also expects a competitive salary above this benchmark.
From USD50,000 to USD80,000/year
This pay grade is seen mainly in Western Europe, North America, and some metropolitan cities in other world regions where there are branches of international corporations. This range sees the most variations in experience levels and company scale, meaning a local software engineer with a few years of experience can expect a salary in this range. The total compensation package likely also includes bonuses and stocks that may raise the total amount to six figures.
Some entry-level software developers do earn salaries in this range, if hired by the regional branches of major international corporations. If the company wants to draw in top talents in the region, mid-level software engineers can reasonably expect their salary to be on the higher end of this grade. For a local company, paying their senior software engineer from $70,000 to $80,000 is considered competitive. This pay grade also covers some senior-plus engineers, such as a team lead or an engineering manager, at local companies likely in small towns with low living costs and less professional expectations.
From 80,000 to 120,000/year
The salaries in this range are entering the coveted six figures that some software engineers boast about. This range can be expected from those working at major tech corporations in US cities, or their international branches in global cities such as Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, Dubai, and London. Some junior engineers are offered a total compensation package at the lower end of this range (for example, from $85,000/year to $90,000/year). Still, these are generally limited to the highly competitive major tech companies. How competitive? There may be 500+ qualified applicants competing for just four positions at once.
Outside of this elite circle, this pay grade mainly applies to mid-level engineers and senior engineers with at least 5 to 7 years of experience. They can reasonably expect such a salary when hired by companies competing against the regional or the global market for talents. Leading engineers at local companies in Western Europe also land in the higher end of this range.
From 120,000 to 200,000/year
This six-figure base salary range is an extension of the previous one, except it is reserved for only middle to senior engineers (although junior engineers may achieve the lower end of this range with additional bonuses and stocks). They work at branches of significant tech corporations in US metropolitan cities and other global cities. Even when the US is known to have the highest-paid software engineers, jobs in this salary range may only be available in metropolitan US cities. At this high grade, the type of company, its scale, and expected growth are much more critical factors in salary considerations than the job title.
These engineers are handsomely compensated because their jobs are highly demanding with a lot at stake. A few minutes of system downtime under their watch would cost the company a few hundred thousand dollars. Overtime meetings and being on call at all hours are part of the job, since they are expected to work with teams across different time zones.
This elite pay grade is exclusive to the top of the top – specialists in specific engineering niches unique to the companies. They can be an engineering manager and a Chief Technology officer at major tech companies, most likely in Silicon Valley, and such an annual salary is rarely seen outside of this tech hub.
Salary Is Important for Software Engineers – But So Are Company Values
There is a vast difference between salaries across countries. The general trend is that a software engineer may start their career earning just like any other professionals but has a higher chance to double or triple their income as they advance in their careers. Most software developers expect good salaries, so they may be some of the highest-paid personnel on your budget.
However, a job is not just about the salary, the company, or the job title. If your company cannot yet afford tech talents expecting six-figure total compensation packages, consider your unique propositions. Do you have an open working culture where new ideas are encouraged? Do you care for employees’ mental well-being, by offering them flexible hours and workplace counseling? Do your projects offer exciting challenges that enable your employees to grow? Or are you proud of the excellent chemistry between your team members? These factors can be as attractive as the salaries on offer.
Why pay so much for a software engineer? Because the good software engineers work to keep you ahead of the competition. They are worth the pay because they do not just develop a piece of software – they create a good piece that can be reused, scaled up, and modified. Essentially, this is the kind of software that can respond to your business needs with more flexibility and efficiency. Moreover, a good software engineer is able to do work that prevents costly and avoidable problems caused by bad coding practices, hence saving a lot of time and resources as you expand. The best engineers are constantly learning, so providing them with learning opportunities likely converts to cutting-edge technology and solutions that push you to the forefront of your industry.
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