The Average Software Engineer Salary | Wired Sussex

Published
28 Jan 2021

28 Jan 2021

The Average Software Engineer Salary Revealed

How A Successful Software Engineering Career Will Have You Winning In The Salary Stakes

The criteria by which we measure career success is entirely personal. Feeling challenged each day is something that many strive for. For others, working for an employer that shares their values is what spurs them on. Then there’s those who are motivated by money and earning a good wage. By no means is there a right or wrong approach. In fact, most of us would probably agree that a combination of all three is ideal. That being said, let’s be frank for a moment. When pitting a high-income job that pays the bills against one with more idealistic perks, which one would you be more likely to choose? For many job seekers, the former often pips the latter to the post. With that in mind, if your most recent payslip has left you feeling like an underdog and debating a career change, why not consider a software engineer job? A fascinating, varied and rewarding role, as you work your way up the ranks, there’s scope to earn a seriously decent salary. Curious to know more? Read on to learn precisely how much money you can make as a software engineer.  

Remind Me, What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineers apply their technical skills, as well as scientific and mathematical principles, to the invention and innovation of software. On a day to day basis, they oversee the development, maintenance and management of software. More specifically, this entails writing diagnostic programs, testing new ones and writing code for operating systems, such as iOS and Android. They also make recommendations for future developments. Busy little bees, hey?

If ‘making a difference’ is just as important to you as making big bucks, there’s no doubt that you will leave your mark on the world as a software engineer. From the alarm on our phone that wakes us in the morning to the laptop or PC we use when we arrive at work, software engineering plays an integral part in almost every device we use. Every single day we rely heavily on intelligent software to make the most of technology. It’s life-changing stuff!

Hang On, Software Engineer Vs Developer & Programmer: Are They All The Same Role?

As a newcomer to software engineering, the various job titles can be somewhat confusing. At times, companies might use the term developer, programmer and software engineer interchangeably. What gives? Well, there are slight distinctions between these roles and it’s important to understand these nuances. Firstly, software engineer architects software solutions by making plans and designing the system, while developers build the solution with code and are usually the creative whizz.

Programmers, meanwhile, are specifically concerned with writing code that enables software to function. Therefore, while a software engineer will certainly possess developer and programming skills, very few developers or programmers are software engineers. Generally, a software engineer is more specialised and involves working with or managing larger teams.

Got It! So, What Is The Average Software Engineer Salary In The UK?

Now we’ve cleared up specifically what a software engineer is, let’s get to the crux of the matter at hand. When it comes to a software engineer salary and experience is valued above everything else. Taking that into account, the average starting salary for a graduate software engineer is around £28k a year. Once you become more established in your career, however, it’s possible to start earning in the region of £45k. A senior software engineer role, which requires at least five years’ experience, can see your salary soar to £50-£80k.  Finally, in a head, lead or principal position, such as a senior software architect, you’re likely to make even more money! As a side note, a senior software architect is a technical expert that makes architectural choices which impact software design. It is often considered the peak of career progression for software engineers. Nonetheless, if or when you reach this point, there are other well-paid avenues you can pursue such as technical writing, IT training and education. Not too shabby!

Where Are The Best Places To Work As A Software Engineer In The UK?

The location of the company you work for can impact your software engineer salary. Unsurprisingly, specific areas in the UK have emerged as particularly lucrative in terms of earnings for this role. London, for instance, and its part in the global economy has made it a centre for software development. As a software engineer based here, you can expect to get an average income of £50k per year. Similarly, Cambridge continues to grow as a major player in the tech industry. Hence, software engineers here tend to take away a salary of roughly £40k. Obviously, this is less than London but Cambridge also benefits from a lower cost of living than the capital. In addition to the above, Brighton’s digital hub has boomed in recent years. Affectionately known by locals as London-by-the-sea, you can secure approximately £37k a year as a software engineer in this colourful and vibrant city. Better yet, there are a host of brilliant companies based in Brighton that frequently recruits software engineers:

•    Bright Interactive
•    Cogapp
•    Tillo
•    NLS (North Laine Solutions)
•    Mediatonic
•    West Pier Studio


How Much Do Software Engineers Make In Other Countries?

Software engineer job opportunities arise all over the world. In terms of money-making potential, the USA is generally considered the best country to work as a software engineer. Take Seattle and San Francisco (aka Silicon Valley), both pivotal locations for American technology and culture, where the average software engineer salary equates to £75-85k. Toronto, Canada, attracts many software engineers too owing to its multiculturalism and thriving tech industry. The average salary for a software developer here is roughly £50k per annum. Phew, we’re seeing pound signs galore!

What About Big Tech Earnings? Amazon, Facebook & Google Software Engineer Salary Revealed  

Whilst a software engineer job can offer prospects in a wide range of sectors, such as manufacturing or finance, there’s no denying the irresistible allure of big tech. We’ve all watched The Social Network, right? Ping pong, arcade games, bean bags and all-round impressive, off the wall workspaces and perks have become synonymous with the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter. Indeed, they’re often heralded as the pinnacle for those in a tech career and employees appear to be treated very well (at least, that’s what’s presented on the surface). But is this reflected in their earnings? Should you successfully navigate the notoriously tricky job interviews at one of these four big tech giants, below is what you can expect to earn as a software engineer. 

Facebook Software Engineer Salary

Most software engineers at big tech companies are assigned a ‘level’ which reflects their seniority and hierarchy. This ensures they earn a salary based on their business impact. At Facebook, there are 6 software engineer job titles which begin at ‘level E3’ and progress all the way up to ‘level E8’. As a software engineer in their UK HQ, you can expect an average base pay of £76k. At a more senior level, you can reportedly demand a salary in the region of £100-150k.

Google Software Engineer Salary

At Google’s UK HQ, the average software engineer base salary is around £65k. Here, entry-level software engineers start at ‘level 3’ and can peak at ‘level 11’. The ‘Senior Staff Software Engineer’, aka ‘level 7’, is considered the cap for most software engineers. Promotions beyond this level are thought to be extremely difficult to come by. Nonetheless, those who are particularly distinguished have been known to succeed to ‘level 11’ and obtain the title of ‘Senior Google Fellow’.

Amazon Software Engineer Salary

Amazon, meanwhile, has 6 levels of software engineer with the title of ‘Distinguished Engineer’ being the top tier you can progress to. Amazon software engineers in the UK boast an average base salary of £55k

Twitter Software Engineer Salary

Likewise, to attract the very best talent, other big tech companies such as Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, Dropbox, and Salesforce offer competitive software engineer salaries. At Twitter, where they appoint 7 levels in their software engineer pecking order, you can expect an average base pay of £72k. Kerching!


Next steps.... 
So, there you have it, the average software engineer salary revealed! Are you seeking a software engineer job? At Wired Sussex, we have a history of connecting prospective employees with incredible companies. Why not check out our jobs board? If you prefer working from home, there’s plenty of remote software engineer jobs too.