What It Takes to Become a Principal Software Engineer?

Do you have what it takes to become a Principal Software Engineer?


Of course it is difficult for me to put an exact number forward if you want to know what sort of salary you might be able to earn in this position. To give you an idea though, the average salary that you might expect is in the region of $133,722. However, the salary that you could be eligible for is dependent on a number of factors. Experience is crucial, and typically those people with more years of experience behind them will be able to negotiate a higher salary.

What I have heard though, is that if you are really good at your job, you can actually get away with having less experience. The company you work for also plays an important determining role. For instance, if you are able to land a job with one of the big names in the technology industry, you will probably receive a much higher salary.


A job description is again a little tricky for me to outline, because it depends largely on the role you are employed for. These are some of the typical responsibilities I have been able to identify that most principal software engineers will need to be at least familiar with. Don’t despair though if you aren’t that confident in any of these areas, because you will soon find out that if you have the qualifications, then you will be more than capable of learning the skills. Responsibilities include:

· Software design and a range of other development activities;

· Being able to train other engineers in certain situations;

· Being able to troubleshoot and analyze a variety of application issues;

· Research new technologies that might improve quality and productivity levels;

· Technical audits; and

· Develop a range of technical solutions to meet certain business requirements.


In addition to the formal requirements that I will discuss under Qualifications, there are a range of other skills that a principal software engineer should posses. It is vital that you become fluent in a variety of programming languages, including QuickBasic, Visual BASIC, C++, C# or Java, Javascript, HTML and CSS.

Remember that one of the key differences that I have been able to pick up between a programmer and an engineer, is that being an engineer means being part of a team. The chances are that you will be working with a team of other experts in order to come up with a final solution, so you must make sure you have excellent team work skills.


Many people have asked me what they need to do in order to become a principal software engineer. To start off with, make sure you get the necessary qualifications. Two of the most common options are a Management Information Systems degree, or otherwise a Computer Science degree. Once you have the degree, you must ensure that you take extra courses, learn new skills, and take on side projects in order to increase your knowledge base, as well as your experience.

Principal software engineer in Silicon Valley, in Microsoft?

Do you want to work as an engineer for Microsoft? This is the pinnacle of many of our career aspirations. If you are able to put in the hard work now, and get some excellent years of experience behind your name, this could certainly be a distinct possibility for anybody.