Software Developer Salary and Career Outlook

Published January 10, 2023

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The software development industry offers lucrative salaries and strong job growth. Learn more about earning potential and career opportunities in this fast-paced field with our guide.

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Software developers play a critical role in our increasingly digital economy. These professionals create new software and applications used all over the world.

This rapidly growing field offers career opportunities for both new and established developers. According to CompTIA's 2022 Cyberstates report, software occupations lead tech employment in the U.S., with nearly two million workers. This career may suit inventive self-starters looking to engage in a fast-moving tech industry niche.

In this guide, learn about what software developers do, explore career opportunities in the field, and find out what these roles typically pay.

What Does a Software Developer Do?

Software developers design and build computer software and applications. They create programs that run on all kinds of devices, including computers and smartphones. These developers often use coding languages such as Java, Python, C++.

Software developers also troubleshoot errors and bugs that arise in the development process. After building a program, these professionals improve the application to meet user needs and integrate new technology.

Software developers build and maintain programs that many people use every day. Professionals in this role must continually learn as technology advances, incorporating new knowledge and skills into their work.

Developers collaborate with team members like software engineers and programmers. They most often work in computer and systems design settings.

How Much Does a Software Developer Make?

According to Payscale, software developers earned an average annual salary of $74,270 as of November 2022. This number represents respondents from all over the country, working in various settings.

Keep in mind that location, experience level, education, and employer can affect a software developer's salary. Payscale data shows that software developers' earning potential increases substantially with more experience.



Average Annual Salary of Software Developers, November 2022

$74,270

Source: Payscale

Average Salary for Software Developers by Experience

Software developers' average salary tends to rise as they spend more time in the role. Payscale data shows that the field's top earners are those with 20 or more years of experience. These late-career professionals earned an average annual salary of $100,310 as of November 2022.

Software developers early in their careers typically earn less. Payscale notes as of November 2022 that developers in their first year earned an annual average of $64,910. Factors like bonuses, employers, and job roles may also affect how much a software developer makes.

Average Salary for Software Developers by Education

Education level has a strong impact on software developer salary potential. Many employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor's degree. Others accept hands-on experience as a substitute. Earning a graduate degree may increase earning potential.

Not all software developers hold a degree in software development. Related majors such as computer science and information technology also teach applicable skills for the field.



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Average Salary for Software Developers by Location

Where software developers live and work can raise or lower their earnings. Different cities and states may host more or fewer tech employers. Rural locations often have fewer employers and fewer job openings, which may affect salary potential.

Metro areas often offer higher salaries than rural areas. However, software developers should consider cost of living, which can be more expensive in cities. For instance, the cost of living in Seattle — the top-paying city for software developers — is 53% higher than the national average.

Top-Paying Cities for Software Developers
State Average Annual Wage Percent Above the National Average

Seattle, WA

$99,220

34%

New York, NY

$92,000

24%

Chicago, IL

$79,070

7%

Source: Payscale, November 2022

Top-Paying States for Software Developers, May 2021
State Number of Software Developers Employed Annual Mean Wage

California

223,240

$146,770

Washington

81,520

$145,150

Maryland

25,710

$131,240

New York

75,790

$129,950

Rhode Island

3,490

$128,790

Source: BLS

Career Outlook for Software Developers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 25% job growth for software developers from 2021-2031, much faster than other fields. Many other computer-related occupations will also see substantial growth as the tech industry continues to boom.

This employment projection represents average trends across the entire United States. Some areas of the country may experience more growth than others.

Software developers work across many industries. Some of those industries may increase demand for these professionals in the coming years.

In the sections below, explore the outlook for software developer careers, including what locations feature the best opportunities for professionals in the field.



Employment Outlook for Software Developers, 2021-2031

+25%

Source: BLS

Best Locations for Software Developers

Software developers and other tech professionals work all over the country. Still, certain regions and cities offer more opportunities than others. With many major tech companies headquartered in major cities, those areas often boast more job openings than locations with fewer industry employers.

According to data from Glassdoor, companies with the most software developer jobs include Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Apple. Many of these large companies operate offices all over the country, with job openings in many locations.

The pandemic spurred growth in remote work, affecting many software development professionals. The shift to remote work opened more jobs without the constraint of living near a specific employer.

The tables below outline the states with the most software development jobs and the areas with the highest projected growth for this field.

Top-Employing States for Software Developers, May 2021
Top-Employing States Number of Software Developers Employed Annual Mean Wage

California

228,240

$146,770

Texas

103,510

$111,830

Washington

81,520

$145,150

New York

75,790

$129,950

Virginia

68,250

$127,830

Source: BLS

States With the Greatest Projected Increase in Employment for Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers, 2020-2030
State Percent Projected Change, 2018-28 Average Annual Openings

Utah

56.2%

3,470

Tennessee

52.8%

2,270

Montana

48.6%

250

Nevada

39.6%

790

Washington

39.4%

2,970

Source: Projections Central

Career Opportunities for Software Developers

Software development skills and knowledge can transfer to many computer science and information technology roles. Because of this flexibility, developers can also pursue careers in other areas.

Much of the training required to work in software development also applies to jobs in areas like computer programming, web development, systems analysis, and network administration.

Software developers may advance within the industry by taking on supervisory roles, overseeing projects and teams, and gaining valuable experience. Developers can also further their careers through continuing education, bootcamps, and certification courses.

FAQ About a Software Developer's Salary

  • Do software developers make good money?

    Payscale reports that software developers earn an average annual salary of $74,270 as of November 2022. These professionals' earning potential can increase with further experience and education. Developers with master's degrees and/or at least 10 years of experience tend to earn more on average.

  • What is the highest salary a software developer can make?

    Salary for software developers varies based on factors like location, employer, education, and experience level. The highest average software developer salary reported on Payscale is $100,310 per year for professionals with at least 20 years' experience.

  • Where are software developers in most demand?

    California, Texas, Washington, New York, and Virginia boast the highest employment levels for software developers. However, other states may see faster job growth. Projections Central projects the highest 2020-2030 growth rates in states like Utah, Tennessee, Montana, and Nevada.

  • Is the career of a software developer worth pursuing?

    Yes, the BLS projects software development jobs to grow at a much faster rate than other occupations from 2021-2031. The profession offers many growth and advancement opportunities and develops highly transferable skills.


Page last reviewed on Nov 18, 2022

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