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Which Companies Pay Programmers the Big Bucks?

Which Companies Pay Programmers the Big Bucks?
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Software engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area earn the highest average base salary ($111,885), followed by those in Seattle ($103,196) and San Diego ($93,993). Interestingly, 17 of the 25 highest paying companies are based in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to Glassdoor, which says Juniper Networks pays more than Google and Apple.
 


If you want to make the biggest bucks as a software engineer, Apple and Google probably shouldn’t be at the top of your list. Although these companies are not at the bottom of the barrel, there are other companies that pay more -- and in some cases, much more.

Given that software engineers are in such high demand -- and with salary and compensation among the top influencers when people are deciding where to work -- some employers are paying more in hopes of luring in the very best tech talent, according to Glassdoor, a free jobs and career community that offers a look at jobs and companies.

But who’s willing to pay the most may surprise you.

Glassdoor’s latest report, the 25 Highest Paying Companies for Software Engineers (2013), identifies employers offering the highest average annual base salary for software engineers over the past 12 months.

Juniper Pays the Most

Juniper Networks takes the number one spot as the network equipment manufacturer offers its software engineers an average annual base salary of $159,990, according to Glassdoor. LinkedIn ranks second at $136,427, while Yahoo rates third at $130,312, and Google comes in fourth at $127,143.

Here are a few more insights: Twitter comes in at number five ($124,863) as the social media giant prepares to go public, and Walmart ranks eighth ($122,110), ahead of Facebook at number nine ($121,507). All top 25 companies pay above the national annual average software engineer base salary of $92,790, based on more than 33,000 salary reports over the past year.

Other companies on the top 25 list include Apple, Oracle, Integral, Arista, Nvidia, Amazon.com, HP, Brocade, Intel, Intuit, Expedia, Ericsson, FactSet, Broadcom and Qualcomm. Some notable companies that did not crack the top 25 include Dell ($99,748), Citrix Systems ($96,649), Texas Instruments ($95,815), IBM ($93,716) and EMC ($91,599).

“Historically, larger firms had benefit packages that offset the salary disparity but over the years those benefit packages have been reduced to bring them more in line with the market,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, told us. “So companies with lower salaries for software engineers won’t be as capable of attracting top people.”

Why Location Matters

When comparing average annual software engineer base salaries and the number of employers currently hiring for software engineers across 20 of the largest U.S. cities, the West Coast leads the way, according to Glassdoor.

Software engineers in the San Francisco Bay Area earn the highest average annual base salary ($111,885), followed by those in Seattle ($103,196) and San Diego ($93,993) to round out the top three. Interestingly, 17 of the 25 highest paying companies are based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

However, Glassdoor notes that while the San Francisco Bay Area also leads for the most employers hiring software engineers (3,846), two East Coast cities complete the top three -- New York City (2,264), followed by Washington, D.C. (2,139). Currently, 15,732 employers across the U.S. are hiring software engineers.

“Sometimes people will take a lower salary to live in a more affordable area that may have better schools. California is very expensive, so companies there have to offer higher salaries to offset the cost of living,” Enderle said. “Some of the firms exist in paces that are far less expensive to live in and in some cases more desirable so they don’t have to quite pay s much. But the things that used to be the great leveler, like stronger benefits, things like pensions, those are largely gone now.”
 

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