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How to Triple Your Salary as a Software Engineer in Three Years?

Posted on 
November 23, 2021
|
by 
Team Interview Kickstart

Even as factors like work-life balance and quality of life become increasingly important to skilled candidates, salary, along with work quality and work culture, remain dominant factors for most Software Engineers looking for new jobs. Whether you’re a part of the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early) or just want to earn, spend, and save aggressively for the next few years, this article has something for you!
In this article, we’ll discuss things you can do to try and triple your salary in three years. We’ll cover: 

  • Software Engineer and Software Engineering Manager salary ranges in the US
  • Tripling Your Salary — Is Job Hopping the Way to Go?
  • The Path to Tripling Your Salary If You Are Early-Career
  • The Path to Tripling Your Salary If You Are Mid-Career 
  • The Path to Tripling Your Salary If You Are Late-Career 
  • FAQs on Software Engineering Salary

Software Engineer and Software Engineering Manager Salary Range in the US

Before we get into the main topic, let’s get a sense of what the average Software Engineer makes in the US.

The average base salary of a Software Engineer in the US is $99,022, with cash bonuses up to $4,000 on average. On the other hand, for a Software Engineering Manager in the US, the average base pay is $133,202, with $12,000 in additional bonuses. Please note that the salary for any of these tech roles varies based on location, skillset, company, education, and experience. 

For example, a Software Engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area earns a significantly higher average base salary of $130,110. In contrast, a Software Engineer in New York earns an average base salary of $100,000, which is more in line with the national average. 

In another example, a Software Engineer with a high-demand skill like Scala earns 24.30% more than the national average base salary. Moreover, the jobs involving Scala have increased by 6.76% since 2018 (Source: Indeed.com).

Finally, Software Engineers in the US working at a consulting firm like Tata will have an average base salary of $73,408, while at Facebook, they’ll earn $159,544 per year, which is +54% greater than the national average.

Tripling Your Salary — Is Job Hopping the Way to Go?

Before we begin, please note that while it is okay to switch jobs when necessary (which sometimes may mean leaving without working for a company long term), frequently changing jobs can be considered a red flag for various reasons. 

A pattern of frequently changing companies is called job-hopping. Unless explained legitimately and adequately to the interviewer’s satisfaction, it can cost you your shot at your dream company.

Job hopping does not necessarily mean a guaranteed rejection in all tier-1 companies. There are certainly valid reasons people may need to leave a job without serving long-term in a company. That said, a pattern of job-hopping will likely make it harder for you to get the high-quality jobs you desire in the long run. Some reasons job-hopping raises red flags are:

  • Someone who changes jobs so frequently may leave the new job soon as well.
  • A serial job hopper may have trouble adjusting or meeting expectations.
  • A pattern of job-hopping may be a sign of thoughtlessness and lack of care for the companies the candidate works for.

Many tier-1 companies look for a pattern of job hoppiness as a criterion for possible rejection, especially in cases where you can’t explain the pattern to the interviewer’s satisfaction. Hence, we do not recommend relying on that route to triple your salary: it may do you more harm than good when it comes to getting a job at your dream company. 

If you want to switch jobs for a legit reason, here’s what you can expect:

While the salary hike offered may vary significantly based on the company, it also varies depending on your level of experience, education, and impact you made in previous organizations. Some companies may offer you just a 20% hike (or less), some might offer you a 100% hike (or more) based on these factors. That said, if you have about two years of experience and score well enough in the factors mentioned above, expecting a minimum of 30% to 40% hike may be reasonable. 

If you’re unable to score an offer that meets your criteria, re-evaluate if that job opportunity is the right or worthwhile move for you. Sharpening your skills and taking up projects where you can cause the most positive impact at your current workplace will help you increase your value as an employee. This exercise will boost your chances of getting a promotion at your workplace and a job offer that meets your desired criteria for a salary increase, should you still need to switch.

Given this reality, let us now look at some pathways that’ll give you the best chance at tripling your salary in three years, depending on your level of experience. Please note that these methods do not guarantee a tripled salary in three years but will help you set yourself up for success, put your best foot forward towards your goal, and ensure that you have a real shot at achieving them.

Path to Triple Your Salary If You Are Early-Career

The good thing about being early in your career (0-10 years of experience) is that there’s a lot of room for growth. This means that tripling your salary is the easiest early in your career. 

Let us look at some things you can do to triple your salary in three years if you’re early in your career:

  • Move to a country that, on average, pays the most for your job.
  • Move to the city that, on average, pays the most in that country.
  • Add as much positive impact as you can at your current company.
  • Gain highly valued skills in your domain and master them without leaving your current job. 
  • Get quality higher education if you can.
  • Learn to negotiate your salary. Read The Ultimate Guide to Salary Negotiation at FAANG for Software Engineers for some effective salary negotiation tips. 
  • Join a FAANG, tier-1 company, or high-paying startup that is a good fit for you. This will allow you to learn, create an impact, while also earning well. 

Interview Kickstart has courses designed to help Software Engineers get their dream jobs. For more information and tips, you can check out our FREE Webinar.

Path to Triple Your Salary If You Are Mid-Career

If you’re mid-career (10-20 years of work experience), you’re probably earning more than the average early-career Software Engineer; you may even be earning more than the national average. This makes it harder to triple your salary, but there are certain things you can do to boost your salary. Other than the points mentioned for early-career Software Engineers, which are applicable for you as well, here are some additional things you can do:

  • With more experience, you can take on more impactful projects and responsibilities that you wouldn’t have been able to do early-career. 
  • Aim to be on teams that have a direct impact on the revenue lines of the company.
  • Work on high-visibility projects. That will make it easier for you to earn promotions and stock refreshers.

Path to Triple Your Salary If You Are Late-Career 

If you’re late in your career with more than 20 years of experience, your salary is likely already in the top 80% percentile. This makes it significantly harder for you to triple your salary. That said, other than all the points mentioned earlier, which, again, apply late-career as well, here are a few additional things you must do to have a shot at tripling your salary:

  • Create a groundbreaking innovation for the company.
  • Offer company-specific knowledge and skillset to your company as a long-term employee, that any peer new to the company, regardless of their high skills, may find it hard to match as quickly and effortlessly.

Some Tips to Guarantee Fast Growth No Matter Where You’re Starting From

Here are some things you can do to make sure you grow, even if everything does not go as planned:

  • Create value and cause impact wherever you work.
  • Learn quickly and update yourself often.
  • Take up increasingly significant responsibilities and deliver.
  • Develop yourself as a leader by following classic leadership principles every day. You can do this regardless of your job title.

FAQs on Software Engineering Salary

Question 1: What are the highest-paying companies for software engineers?

Apple, Facebook, Samsung, Capital One, and Juniper Networks are some of the highest-paying tech companies for software engineers. Following are the average salaries per annum at these companies:

  • Apple: $173,887
  • Facebook: $158,666
  • Samsung: $155,813
  • Capital One: $155,341
  • Juniper Networks: $153,663

(Source: Indeed.com)

Question 2: Which are the highest-paying cities in the United States for a Software Engineer?

San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, New York, and Chicago are the US cities where software engineering salaries are the highest. Here are the average annual salaries in these cities:

  • San Francisco, CA: $140,034
  • San Jose, CA: $137,006
  • Seattle, WA: $125,626
  • New York, NY: $111,900
  • Chicago, IL: $102,199

Ready to Nail Your Next Coding Interview?

Whether you’re a Coding Engineer gunning for Software Developer or Software Engineer roles, a Tech Lead, or you’re targeting management positions at top companies, IK offers courses specifically designed for your needs to help you with your technical interview preparation!

If you are preparing for a tech interview, check out our technical interview checklist, interview questions page, and salary negotiation ebook to get interview-ready! 

For specific insights and guidance on salary and negotiation, read:

Having trained over 9,000 software engineers, we know what it takes to crack the toughest tech interviews. Since 2014, Interview Kickstart alums have been landing lucrative offers from FAANG and Tier-1 tech companies, with an average salary hike of 49%. The highest ever offer received by an IK alum is a whopping $933,000!

At IK, you get the unique opportunity to learn from expert instructors who are hiring managers and tech leads at Google, Facebook, Apple, and other top Silicon Valley tech companies.

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