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November 3, 2020




If you’re a software engineer making moves in the job market, you need to know what you’re worth. Luckily, it’s simple to get a handle on average salaries. Let’s find out more.

Being a software engineer is an excellent career. The work is interesting, enjoyable and challenging. There are numerous opportunities to progress or move into the niches you find the most stimulating. Plus, it tends to be very well-paid.

But, when you’re looking for a job as a software engineer, how do you know what you’re worth? 


What is a software engineer?

Before we talk salaries, let’s clarify what we mean by a software engineer.

A software engineer is usually the member of the development team that develops the theory behind how functions on an application will work. They work as a bridge between software designers who take a more bird’s-eye approach and software developers who perform the coding tasks. Software engineers are experts on mapping out how code makes a piece of software perform.

Software engineers will typically have a degree in computer science, engineering or something related. They will mostly have prior experience in coding.

However, the title software engineer covers a multitude of skills, levels of experience and tasks that they carry out. As a result, it is hard to make blanket statements about software engineers and their salaries.


Average software engineer salary

The average yearly software engineer salary in the UK is not officially published, but there are a variety of sources that display data on engineer salaries. Here are three of them:

 Why the disparity? It’s hard to say, but it may be down to the wide range of actual roles that are covered by the title ‘software engineer’.

One thing everyone can agree on is that the average software engineer salary is going up. In 2019, Hired reported that the average salary was up 13% from the previous year. This is because of a surge in demand for the skills software engineers possess.

On top of ongoing developments in the software industry (big data, Cloud), in the aftermath of COVID-19 companies need skills in areas like organisational change and cybersecurity to help them deal with the ‘new normal’. This inflates good techies’ asking prices even higher. 

Many tech experts, including software engineers, now realise that they hold more of the cards and are looking to take advantages of their growing value. A 2020 survey of 65,000 developers by Stack Overflow found that 70% of developers said ‘better compensation’ was a factor when considering a new job. This was by far the most common reason.

Holding credit card while on laptop


What affects a software engineer’s salary?

A software engineer salary could be above or below the average because of several factors.

Firstly, experience. According to Neuvoo, where the average salary is £50,000, an entry-level engineer could expect to earn £26,500, while someone with experience could be earning up to £85,000. When you hit senior software engineer salary, you should be earning at least £55,000 per year.

Next, location. Software engineers command different salaries depending on where they are in the country. According to research from Tech Nation, as you might expect, London is the most expensive place to hire a software engineer, with an average salary of £61,197. The next best-paying city is Cambridge, which pays an average of 10% less than London – £54,807. However, the average salary for a software engineer is £43,315 in Cardiff and £42,221 in Newcastle.

Of course, we’re only comparing cities in the UK here. The UK is among the best-paying countries for software engineers, behind only the US, Israel and Germany, according to Tech Nation’s figures. Engineers in Shanghai earn an average of 44% less than their equivalents in London. Engineers in Bangalore earn 74% less! European nations with fast-growing tech economies also pay smaller salaries. The average salary for a software engineer in Estonia, according to Payscale, is £30,768.

Finally, a software engineer’s skills affect their earning power, especially the coding languages that they work in. According to research from Stack Overflow, there are stark differences between coding technologies and how much you can earn. Here is a selection of languages with their average salary:

  • Kotlin – £86,000
  • Swift – £80,000
  • Ruby – £79,000
  • Java – £72,000
  • JavaScript – £67,000
  • HTML/CSS – £65,000
  • PHP – £58,000

How do engineers compare to other software professionals?

Software engineer is a very well-paid role compared to other jobs in the industry. Tech Nation compares average salaries of software engineers with data scientists in London:

  • Software engineer – £61,197
  • Data scientist – £60,000

 Neuvoo publishes figures for UX/UI designers in the UK:

  • Software engineer – £50,000
  • UX-UI designer – £45,000

Good news for software engineers!

If you are in a different area of tech and can gain the skills so you can move into software engineering, the monetary rewards are there. 

Find out more from Haystack

Now, when you next enter the job market, you should have a better idea of what you can expect as a salary. Don’t let companies lowball you – if you’ve got the skills, they need you in order to carry on producing great new products.

If you’re a brilliant software engineer (or any other techie!) trying to navigate the job market, you can use Haystack to filter out the noise and find the jobs you really want – no more getting bombarded by recruiters on the phone or LinkedIn. If you have the skills companies need, Haystack helps you find the right match.

Download Haystack today and have a look.

Find out more