5 Facts About Software Engineers, Like Which Ones Get Paid the Most

February 21, 2018

San Francisco pays software engineers more than any city.

Software engineering is a smart career choice – it’s one of the most in-demand skills in the world and American software engineers earn a median salary of $112,000.

But all software engineers aren’t created equal and there are cities in America that pay software engineers significantly more than others. Using data from our friends at LinkedIn Talent Solutions, we identified the the highest-paying types of software engineers and the American cities that pay them the most; along with what activities software engineers tend to do more of than other professionals.

1. Software engineers can be roughly grouped into six specialties.

After examining millions of LinkedIn profiles of software engineers, we found that most engineers fit into six areas, such as front-end and mobile.

Front-End Engineers: By far the biggest talent pool, their population is more than double that of the second-biggest specialty.

Embedded and Application Engineers: These engineers focus primarily on the IoT and are one of the smallest talent pools, but also the most experienced. It’s also the least gender-diverse.

Infrastructure and Cloud Computing Engineers: They tend to be more experienced. Like embedded and application engineers, 77 percent of infrastructure and cloud professionals have more than 10 years of experience.

Machine Learning and Data Science Engineers: The smallest specialty – and the most in-demand (more on that in the next section). This is a good place to be.

Mobile Engineers: The second-biggest specialty, and they’re also the youngest cohort – 37 percent of these engineers have less than 10 years of experience, more than any other specialty.

Test and Quality Assurance Engineers: The most gender-diverse group – and yet even there, women represent only around 30 percent of its talent pool. It’s worth noting that, based on this demographic data, all specialties have a long way to go until they reach gender parity.

2. Software engineers who specialize in machine learning and data science are the most sought-after.

Software engineers get three-times as many InMails from recruiters on LinkedIn as the average professional. But certain specialties tend to draw even more interest, meaning it’s even easier to get a job.

Here is how the supply of software engineering talent stacks up relative to demand from organizations, by the six specialities:

A few takeaways:

  • There’s the most demand for software engineers who specialize in machine learning and data science, and yet there is also the least supply. That means software engineers with that speciality are often swimming in opportunity.

  • Test and quality assurance specialists are the only engineers where the supply outstrips the demand, albeit barely. Relax – it’s still a good career choice; it’s just not as in-demand as other specialities.

  • Engineers who specialize in infrastructure and cloud are low in relative supply and demand. But all signs suggest demand is about to vastly increase – tech experts agree that cloud engineering is a must-have skill for technologists moving forward.

3. They are also the highest paid.

Unsurprisingly, thanks to large demand and short supply, software engineers who specialize in machine learning and data science are the highest paid.

The good news? The lowest specialty on the list – test and quality assurance – still has a median salary of $103,000 a year. Not bad.

4. San Francisco pays software engineers the most; Detroit, the least.

For software engineers, geography has a tremendous effect on their paychecks. In the San Francisco Bay Area, software engineers make a median salary of $142,000 – in Detroit, they make $88,0000.

Of course, the cost-of-living varies greatly across these regions as well. Consider Seattle – not only is the median salary high at $132,000 annually and the cost-of-living less than the San Francisco area, it’s also the fastest growing area in the country for software engineers.

5. Software engineers spend more time learning than other professionals.

Software engineers learn more than the rest of the population. This makes sense – while the rate of change is fast across all industries, it’s particularly rapid in the ever-changing field of tech.

As you can see, 48 percent of software engineers said they recently learned a new skill, compared to 36 percent among all professionals. Software engineers also spend more time on LinkedIn, with 45 percent of them updating their LinkedIn profile recently, compared to 32 percent of the rest of the population.

Are you looking to become a software engineer? Here are LinkedIn Learning courses for each one of the six main areas: