Can a software engineer earn 500k?

Updated on : January 21, 2022 by Dominic Phillips



Can a software engineer earn 500k?

Yes, but not all software engineers will achieve that level of compensation.

There are two ways to get very high compensation in tech companies. The first is joining a high-growth company in the early stages, when the first employees receive a large amount of capital and expect a successful IPO. The second is to reach the highest levels.

Choosing the right company in the hope of a big payday when it goes public is like playing the lottery. In 2015, for example, Zenefits or Theranos were seen as super hot companies and they flopped. Uber, which during the latter part of the 2010s had more

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Yes, but not all software engineers will achieve that level of compensation.

There are two ways to get very high compensation in tech companies. The first is joining a high-growth company in the early stages, when the first employees receive a large amount of capital and expect a successful IPO. The second is to reach the highest levels.

Choosing the right company in the hope of a big payday when it goes public is like playing the lottery. In 2015, for example, Zenefits or Theranos were seen as super hot companies and they flopped. Uber, which during the latter part of the 2010s had the most anticipated IPO, finally disappointed. A lot of very promising unicorns were hit hard by the COVID 19 crisis in 2020. But conversely, companies like Zoom or Snowflake, which were very low-profile 5 years ago, had large IPOs.

Now being promoted. With experience, engineers can naturally rise to senior engineers over time. The market rate for senior engineers is 350 to 400,000 right now. A lot of people choose to remain senior engineers, at some point it becomes really easy to do a great job as a senior software engineer and these people get high bonuses for a reasonable amount of effort, and they can come close to 500k actually. . But to get more than that, they have to be promoted to personnel engineer or senior engineering manager, and that's a very different job. First, not everyone can reach these levels. And then the nature of the work becomes very different - these people are supposed to really go the extra mile and reshape organizations.


Edit as this answer is gaining traction. I see a lot of people objecting, but this applies to a tiny population of engineers. I estimate that there are about 500,000 software engineers in the US who work in technology companies where compensation must be competitive. At the end of the napkin, the math says 10% of these make 500k or more. It is not a large population but it is not microscopic either.

500K in what ... a year? Just base salary? Full compensation, once, with some crazy stocks cashing in, maybe….

The only place you could make that much money is in the Bay Area, where the cost of living makes $ 500,000 seem a lot less than anywhere else in the US. Better to get paid between $ 180,000 and $ 200,000. Somewhere else in the US where you can have a much better quality of life. It would take $ 180,000 in Texas or South Carolina over $ 500,000 in Silicon Valley any day!

So the real question is how do you make $ 500K as a software engineer somewhere other than Silicon Valley? Basically, you don't. Not like a

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500K in what ... a year? Just base salary? Full compensation, once, with some crazy stocks cashing in, maybe….

The only place you could make that much money is in the Bay Area, where the cost of living makes $ 500,000 seem a lot less than anywhere else in the US. Better to get paid between $ 180,000 and $ 200,000. Somewhere else in the US where you can have a much better quality of life. It would take $ 180,000 in Texas or South Carolina over $ 500,000 in Silicon Valley any day!

So the real question is how do you make $ 500K as a software engineer somewhere other than Silicon Valley? Basically, you don't. Certainly not as a base salary. Maybe if you own part (or all) of a small application development business, provide professional software development services, and get other people to work for you, etc. It is very rare in technology to get more than $ 180K- $ 200K anywhere outside of Silicon Valley. being an individual contributor. If you want to make $ 200K, you have to have equity in something, run a larger organization, run a small business, etc.

Well, not unless you get into a director, senior engineering manager, or CTO position, but these guys are responsible for a lot of things and all the technology, but,

I will tell you my story and how I earn around 360k per year, so I do consulting and have several clients, now the problem is that you work as a contractor for hours, but don't let either party know about the other contract, that way . you can do 80 hours a week, so $ 75 an hour working 80 hours a week will make it 300k now, what you can do is set up your own LLC or S corporation and save so much on taxes that eventually

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Well, not unless you get into a director, senior engineering manager, or CTO position, but these guys are responsible for a lot of things and all the technology, but,

I will tell you my story and how I earn around 360k per year, so I do consulting and have several clients, now the problem is that you work as a contractor for hours, but don't let either party know about the other contract, that way . you can carry out 80 hours a week so $ 75 an hour working 80 hours a week will make it 300k now, what you can do is set up your own LLC or S corporation and save so much on taxes that it will eventually hit 360k (equivalent to a full-time employee), but the caveat is that you don't get PTO, you pay for your own health insurance and no bonuses. Of course, these jobs must be remote and you must be able to handle the confrontations of the meetings, I work 60 hours a week in reality although they pay me 80, and there are also some professionals,

of course. software engineers can earn more than $ 100 billion. just look at the Forbes billionaires. These CIOs Weren't All Business Executives To Begin With

while a SWE needs to be at a high level to do 500k working for others, they could easily make 500k working for themselves. I think any SWE capable of earning 500k salaries should be able to launch successful startups, unless the possibility of being much richer doesn't matter much to them in their stage of life. I asked a senior Google engineer once and he said that the idea of ​​risking your own money for a startup is scary. He prefers to give up the game

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of course. software engineers can earn more than $ 100 billion. just look at the Forbes billionaires. These CIOs Weren't All Business Executives To Begin With

while a SWE needs to be at a high level to do 500k working for others, they could easily make 500k working for themselves. I think any SWE capable of earning 500k salaries should be able to launch successful startups, unless the possibility of being much richer doesn't matter much to them in their stage of life. I asked a senior Google engineer once and he said that the idea of ​​risking your own money for a startup is scary. He prefers to give up gambling to succeed and simply take home a steady salary.

src: glassdoor, levels, pay scale, personal experience, popular knowledge in the tech and business space

I have seen it. However, this is very rare.

This will happen most often when you are an early and / or key employee at a startup, get meaningful shares, and then the company is very successful.

Also, this will happen more often "once". Earning $ 500,000 in a year just happens. Earning $ 500,000 every year for many years in a row is much less likely.

The “one-time” payment of $ 500,000 sometimes occurred in the dot-com bubble. It has been rarer more recently.

Sky is the limit to winning as a software engineer. However, it requires some hustling, patience, and dropping the ego to some degree.

In a typical software engineer day, they work a couple hours max (again in most scenarios), the rest of the time is useless meetings, work that even if they don't listen / do, no one would care. The point is to try to take on multiple contracts / jobs that are remote. There are many remote opportunities, especially for software engineers. I know someone who works on multiple contracts and earns more than 700,000 a year.

One main point to consider is that your health is worth much more

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Sky is the limit to winning as a software engineer. However, it requires some hustling, patience, and dropping the ego to some degree.

In a typical software engineer day, they work a couple hours max (again in most scenarios), the rest of the time is useless meetings, work that even if they don't listen / do, no one would care. The point is to try to take on multiple contracts / jobs that are remote. There are many remote opportunities, especially for software engineers. I know someone who works on multiple contracts and earns more than 700,000 a year.

One main point to consider is that your health is worth much more than money, so only take those contracts / jobs where you can keep the peace and not just run after money. If one contract requires you to work a lot and creates more stress for you, move on to another. You also learn a lot of new technologies using this approach, which helps to duplicate if you look at it long term.

I'm not talking about whether you need to inform employers / vendors about other contracts / jobs, but I will say that as long as you complete your work on time, it should be fine. Good luck!

You can or you can't. To earn 500K, you have to be in a big R&D from the Fortune 100 leaders and there aren't many willing to pay this flat amount these days. But if you are alone, you may have a better chance of being a co-founder or owner.

Can you win the lottery jackpot? Of course you can, but what is the probability? If you count the number of software engineers making $ 500K a year (salary excluding bonuses and stock options) and divide this number by the number of software engineers in the world, the percentage is very, very low.

Yes, like some of us we can have a wonderful partner. Some luck, somewhere right, at the right time. But for an engineer, it's the right skills, the right time, the right company.

And often the 500K is heavily weighted by stocks, which as you all know, go up and down.

Yes, especially in niche business areas on the east and west coast. It often happens with special projects (like quant projects in New York) and stock options increase earnings above 500k all the time.

The best and easiest way for a software engineer, product manager or designer to earn more than $ 1 million per year is to turn those talents into something more applicable and strategic in the company. Good examples are the people who are ultimately asked to lead entire organizations. Very high profile examples are executives who lead organizations like Amazon AWS.

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