Main image of article Top-Paying Cities for Software Engineers

Which metro areas offer the highest average and median compensation for software engineers? As you might expect, the cities that constitute Silicon Valley top the list—with a few other tech hubs making strong appearances.

This data comes from Blind, which surveys anonymous-but-verified technology professionals about a variety of issues. Here’s the full breakdown:

What’s driving these high salaries? As you might expect, the tech giants in these metro areas are well-known for offering high compensation, and competition over experienced engineers and key specialists can drive pay even higher. Even smaller companies in these tech hubs must pay salary and equity premiums if they want to effectively compete within the same pool of talent.

But how does pay in these metro areas compare to “average” software engineer compensation? According to Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, the median salary for a software engineer is $98,783 per year. Meanwhile, Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report offers a breakdown of software engineer annual salaries by specialization:

  • Principal software engineer: $153,288
  • Cloud engineer: $145,416
  • Back-end software engineer: $129,150
  • Data engineer: $122,81
  • Systems engineer: $120,800

(For comparison’s sake, the Dice Tech Salary Report puts the average tech salary at $111,348 in 2022, up 2.3 percent from the previous year.)

At the largest tech companies (i.e., the Googles and Microsofts of the world), annual pay is supplemented with generous bonuses and equity grants; if a company’s stock performs well over the years, an engineer’s compensation can climb exponentially higher. It’s a similar deal with startups; if you sign onto the right one as an engineer and take part of your compensation in equity, and the startup performs well, you could profit immensely.

If you’re a software engineer who’s interested in boosting your salary, it’s important to master in-demand skills and programming languages. Those with extensive knowledge of Python, JavaScript and other well-used languages can have their pick of opportunities, for instance, while those who master cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning can find high-paying positions at many companies.