10 Software Engineer Levels: Roles and Salaries

In this topic, we will explore 10 software engineer levels. Also, we provide an overview of the years of experience needed, the duties, and the salary range.

Then you can decide on your career path and estimate your income. Besides, you will better understand the diverse chances available in this exciting field.

Let’s start exploring!

What is a Software Engineer Career Ladder?

The software engineer (SE) ladder is a framework that outlines the different levels of duties within a firm. It provides a clear career path for SE.

Thus, it shows them the skills and experience needed for each position. Besides, they can know how to advance.

Also, it allows leaders to evaluate employee results. They can then set goals for their team members. Moreover, it provides a good framework for career growth within the firm. Usually, it includes many levels, and each has specific duties.

The data we will provide below are based on general ground surveys. So the specific number will vary in different regions and firms.

10 Levels of Software Engineer

This field offers many levels, each with its duties and salary. They can expect to work with modern technologies, teams, and complex solutions from interns to officers. Let’s discover what they are!

1. Intern

  • Experience: 0 years
  • Salary: $15 to $30 per hour

This level is usually for people who are still studying or have just graduated in CS or a related degree.

They work closely with other SEs and assist them in daily tasks. They can code, test, and debug apps. Besides, they can learn about new practices and methods.

Also, they must have a basic knowledge of coding concepts and at least one coding language. In addition, they should possess soft skills. Besides, they must be willing to learn and adapt to new methods in their working process.

This level is a step in a SE’s career ladder. It gives them valuable knowledge in real projects. It also provides the chance to build their network.

2. Entry-Level Software Engineer

Entry-Level Software Engineer
  • Experience: 0-2 years
  • Salary: $60,000 to $90,000

This position usually has experience in coding languages and data structures. But they are still new and have many things to learn.

Besides, they must learn quickly, ask questions, and be open to feedback. Also, they will have a strong background in CS.

In terms of work environment, they often work in larger groups. Besides, they team with other SE, designers, and PMs. Also, they are responsible for documenting their work and following code quality and project practices.

3. Junior Software Engineer

  • Experience: 2-5 years
  • Salary: $75,000 to $110,000

A junior SE is a step up from a beginner position and has some experience.

Young SEs must have a deep knowledge of this field. Besides, they must have experience working on larger projects. They may also have some experience with specific techniques.

Besides technical skills, they are expected to have good soft skills and the ability to work in a team. Also, they must mentor and train beginners. When something goes wrong, they must support other team members as needed.

4. Senior Software Engineer

Senior Female Engineer
  • Experience: 5-10 years
  • Salary: $100,000 to $150,000

A senior SE is an experienced and highly skilled dev. This person has shown results in their field. They are responsible for leading projects, mentoring other SE, and ensuring the quality of products.

To do this, they must have experience working on complex projects. They also have strong leadership skills, including motivating and inspiring team members.

5. Staff Engineer

  • Experience: 8-12 years
  • Salary: $130,000 to $180,000

A Staff Engineer has demonstrated exceptional techniques, leadership skills, and the ability to drive innovation within the firm.

They must have an in-depth knowledge of:

  • Methods
  • Software architecture
  • Software design
  • Specific coding language

Besides, they are responsible for mentoring and training other SEs. Specifically, they guide best practices and promote the adoption of new techniques.

In short, this position offers the chance to take on senior positions within the firm and contribute to its success.

6. Senior Staff Engineer

Senior Staff Engineer
  • Experience: 12+ years
  • Salary: $150,000 to $220,000

This position is usually for the most experienced SEs. Their duties are:

  • Promoting innovation
  • Lead projects
  • Mentoring and coaching other SEs

Besides, they must team with other senior leaders to build direction. Also, they will represent the company in forums and events.

7. Software Engineering Manager

  • Experience: 10+ years
  • Salary: $150,000 to $250,000

This position involves managing a team of SE and ensuring product delivery. Specifically, they are responsible for monitoring all aspects of the working process, including:

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Experiment
  • Deployment

Besides, they have strong leadership skills, including motivating, inspiring, and managing resources and budgets. Also, they need a deep understanding of this field and the ability to manage complex projects.

8. Director of Engineering

  • Experience: 15+ years
  • Salary: $200,000 to $350,000

This position is quite similar to the one above. But one key difference is in the level of authority. The Director of Engineering usually has more authorization than the manager.

Besides, they are responsible for making strategic decisions that impact the entire firm.

9. Vice President of Engineering

  • Experience: 20+ years
  • Salary: $250,000 to $500,000

This level is a senior leadership position in the SE career ladder. These people are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the technical function of a firm.

Also, they must have leadership skills. They also need to have deep expertise. In addition, they think about the goals and objectives of the firm.

Besides these skills, they are responsible for the team with other senior leaders to shape the strategy and drive growth.

10. Chief Technology Officer

  • Experience: 20+ years
  • Salary: $300,000 to $1,000,000 or more

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) oversees the technology vision, strategy, and policy. The CTO level is a top-level position with technical expertise, soft skills, and strategic thinking.

At the CTO level, you must know the latest technology trends. Besides, you can identify changes to improve efficiency. The aim is to enhance the customer experience using your products.

Also, the CTO must have strong leadership and communication skills. Hence, they can manage teams and work with other C-suite directors.

Besides, they are responsible for aligning initiatives with overall goals. Moreover, they ensure the technology is secure and scalable.


You can make informed decisions about your career goals by knowing the roles and salaries of different software engineer levels. Then, you can take the needed steps to advance your career.

Finally, this field offers a bright future for those who want to enter or advance. Take a chance and try your best!