Everyone loves well-designed software applications. Customers love well-designed software because it's hassle-free and offers a smooth, pleasant user experience and good value. Likewise, software companies love a good app because it makes the company look good and presents fewer issues that would require releasing patches, updates, or, in worse-case scenarios, a recall.

But great, well-designed software doesn't just happen. You need expert software engineers to design, build, deploy, and maintain the application. But to attract specialist software engineers, you must pay them a competitive wage.

Which brings us to this article. We are looking at the typical software engineer salary in California. Then, the article will explore different facets of software engineer salaries in California, including salary satisfaction and a statewide city-by-city salary breakdown. We will also focus on a couple of the bigger California cities, contrasting a software engineer's salary in San Francisco with a software engineer's salary in Los Angeles.

We’ll round out the article by covering starting salaries, how experience factors in, the best companies for software engineers, and the benefits of a software engineer.

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Software Engineer Salary Satisfaction

Salary satisfaction measures how happy employees are with their compensation package and if their wages can keep pace with their area's cost of living. According to Indeed, 63 percent of software engineers surveyed are satisfied with their compensation.

The Average Software Engineer Salary in California

The job search site Indeed reports that the average software engineer salary in California is $141,789. This figure does not consider mitigating factors such as years of experience, location, type of industry, or other variables. However, it's helpful to have a standard mean figure to use as a basis for comparison.

Software Engineer Salaries by Years of Experience

Experience plays a vital role in determining salary. After all, no company would pay an entry-level employee with an undeveloped skill set the same amount of money they would pay an established professional with decades of experience.

Indeed reports that entry-level software engineers, people with less than one year’s experience, earn an average of $132,490 per year. A software engineer with one to two years of experience brings in $136,210. Software engineers with six to nine years’ worth of experience make $155,694 per year, and finally, software engineers with a decade or more of experience earn $178,732 annually.

Note that these figures may vary based on the financial climate, the job’s location, and the company’s size.

The Best Software Engineer Starting Salaries in California

Here is a sample list of the top ten software engineer starting salary rates in California, as reported by Ziprecruiter:

  • Inverness: $80,918
  • Deer Park: $72,369
  • Berkeley: $72,208
  • Riverside: $71,207
  • Bolinas: $70,554
  • San Francisco: $70,521
  • Johnstonville: $70,164
  • Palo Cedro: $69,916
  • Covelo: $69,776
  • Laytonville: $69,749  

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Data Engineer Salaries in Metropolitan Areas in California

Here is a sample of top data scientist salaries in a selection of California’s metropolitan areas, as determined by Indeed. These are yearly averages and can fluctuate depending on demand and the job applicant's experience level.

  • Palo Alto: $165,250 per year
  • Sacramento: $149,475 per year
  • Los Angeles: $145,034 per year
  • Santa Clara: $142,129 per year
  • Irvine: $140,536 per year
  • San Francisco: $135,517 per year
  • Sunnyvale: $134,669 per year
  • San Diego: $133,936 per year
  • Mountain View: $130,608 per year

Key Industries for Software Engineers

If you’re a software engineer looking for which industries are more likely to need to fill engineer positions, look no further. Here's a list of the key sectors with the most significant demand for software engineers, above the norm.

  • Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Research and Development
  • IT Professional Services
  • Government and Defense
  • Silicon Valley High-Tech and Information Technology

Top Company Salaries for Software Engineers

Although its useful knowing which industries stand out in terms of software engineering hires, specific companies are more useful. Here are the companies that offer the best salaries for California-based software engineers, starting with the top company, and going in descending order. These figures come courtesy of  Indeed.

  • Capital One: $202,104 per year
  • Workday: $198,447 per year
  • Practice Fusion: $196,862 per year
  • CommScope: $193,777 per year
  • Citi: $192,188 per year
  • Walmart: $188,741 per year
  • Twitter: $187,302 per year
  • Procore Technologies: $175,356 per year
  • Meta: $175,100 per year
  • Visa: $174,200 per year
  • Uber: $172,078 per year
  • NetApp: $166,634 per year
  • Comcentric: $165,357 per year
  • Apple: $164,655 per year
  • Snap Inc.: $163,927 per year

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Cities with Highest Software Engineer Salaries in California

Although we’ve already touched on the highest-paying metropolitan areas in California for software engineers, this list is slightly different. Here are the highest paying cities overall. You may notice some overlap and even differing figures. This disparity happens because websites use different methodologies and criteria to determine figures.

  • San Jose:         $145,366 per year
  • San Francisco: $144,542 per year
  • Sunnyvale:     $144,275 per year
  • Palo Alto:       $140,257 per year
  • Mountain View: $138,379 per year
  • Pleasanton:   $137,542 per year
  • Santa Clara:   $134,817 per year
  • Los Angeles:   $114,035 per year
  • San Diego:      $111,617 per year
  • Fremont:        $129,292 per year

All About Paid Skills and Qualifications for Software Engineers

Not all skill sets are created equal. In addition, every potential employer is different, and some of them are looking for specific skills and will sweeten their offers to get those people onboard. Here are the data science skills and qualifications that can potentially increase base salaries:

  • Scala
  • Mechanical Engineering (a degree helps considerably!)

Additionally, the following degrees can be a difference-maker when negotiating starting salaries:

  • Engineering Management
  • Medical
  • Business Information Systems
  • Electrical Engineering

Here is a collection of job titles that share a lot of affinity with the role of software engineering.

  • Cloud Computing Specialist
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Architect
  • Data Scientist
  • Engineering Management
  • Front-end Web Developer
  • Java Developer
  • Lead Programmer
  • Network Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Quality Engineer
  • Software Architect
  • Software Engineer
  • Staff Engineer
  • SQA Engineer
  • Systems Engineer
  • Systems Analyst
  • Vice President of Engineering

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A List of Typical Benefits for Software Engineers

There is more to software engineer compensation than an excellent salary. Software engineers enjoy a variety of benefits and incentives. The more skilled and experienced the engineer, the further a recruiting company will go to bring the professional into the fold.

Here is a list of specific benefits offered to software engineers:

  • 401(k)
  • 401(k) matching
  • AD&D insurance
  • Commuter assistance
  • Short-term and long-term disability insurance
  • Employee assistance program
  • Employee discounts
  • Employee stock purchase plans
  • Flexible schedules
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Food provided
  • Gym memberships
  • Dental, Health, and Vision insurance
  • Health savings account
  • Life insurance (term and whole life)
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Paid sick time
  • Paid time off
  • Parental leave
  • Professional development assistance
  • Profit sharing
  • Referral programs
  • Relocation assistance
  • Retirement plans
  • Stock options
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Unlimited paid time off
  • Working from home (particularly in the age of the pandemic)

How Much Do Similar Professions Get Paid in California?

The IT field is a challenging and lucrative career path, as evidenced by the salaries of professionals like software engineers show, provided by Indeed.com:

  • Developer: $37,923 per year
  • Full Stack Developer: $107,458 per year
  • Application Developer: $96,079 per year
  • Front-end Developer: $120,496 per year
  • Back-end Developer: $127,489 per year
  • Java Developer: $89,062 per year

You can find additional information about salaries for professional coders here.

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Are You Interested in Mobile and Software Development?

The continuing rise of mobile device usage and the increasing number of people using computers have contributed to a greater demand for quality software and applications. As a result, companies today are anxious to recruit skilled professionals to meet these rising demands. Unfortunately, software and app vendors have a severe developer skill gap.

However, it's a good time for a skilled software engineer looking for a job. Plenty of software development postings are available, offering a secure, long-term career with excellent compensation.

Since the candidates with the most skills get the best offers and an increased likelihood of getting hired, aspiring software engineers and developers need to access all the training they can. Fortunately, Simplilearn has everything you need to boost your software development skills.

Simplilearn’s Software Development courses cover every aspect of the field. They include:

Software Masters Development Programs

Software Development Certification Courses

Simplilearn has a suitable training course for every aspect of software development and engineering. There are plenty of opportunities for the right candidate, the professional with an unbeatable skillset, who can set themselves apart from the pack. So, whether you're currently a part of the industry and want to upskill, or you're looking to move into a secure and profitable career, Simplilearn has what you need. Visit them today!

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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  • *According to Simplilearn survey conducted and subject to terms & conditions with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) as Process Advisors