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The Highest Paying Computer Jobs in the USA- Part 3: Applications Software Engineer Salaries

Updated on December 24, 2011
Outlook is an example of applications software.
Outlook is an example of applications software. | Source

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Applications software engineers or developers create the software that enables computers to perform tasks required by users. These software applications include word processors, databases, games, spreadsheets and graphics programs. (Another type of software engineer specializes in system software, which operates hardware.)

The job requires at least a bachelor’s degree, though many employers may specify master’s degrees for more advanced positions. Depending on the industry, a supplemental degree in a technical field may be needed. For example, those who create engineering applications may also need a diploma in engineering or physical sciences. Voluntary certification is also available from product vendors and organizations, shows proof of necessary skills.

Employment for application software engineers will grow by 34 percent until 2018. This is because of the growing use of computers in business, education and daily life. All information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Employers and Pay

Mean salaries for the nation’s almost 500,000 applications software engineers run as follows:

  • $43.47 per hour or $90,410 per year, with median lows at $26.14 per hour or $54,360 per year, and highs of $63.99 per hour or $133,110 per year.
  • The largest employer of these professionals is computer systems design, with 173,730 jobs paying a mean $43.86 per hour or $91,240 per year, followed by software publishers at $45.65 per hour or $94,950 per year.
  • The industries offering the best pay are metal and mineral wholesalers, not including petroleum, with means at $54.82 per hour or $114,020 per year. They are followed by real estate lessors at $50.72 per hour or $105,490 per year.

Annual mean wages of applications software engineers.
Annual mean wages of applications software engineers. | Source


Salaries for application software engineers can vary by location:

  • California has the most jobs at 78,150 and the highest mean wages at $49.17 per hour or $102,280 per year. Ranking next in salaries are Massachusetts at $47.31 per hour or $98,400 per year, and Virginia at $46.40 per hour or $96,510 per year.
  • For cities, El Centro, California, has the highest mean pay at $61.58 per hour or $128,080 per year, followed by Haverhill, Massachusetts, where 160 engineers receive $60.72 per hour or $126,300 per year. Cities with high employment include Washington DC, with pay at $48.11 per hour or $100,070 for 24,470 positions, and San Jose, California at $55.94 per hour or $116,360 per year for 24,260 jobs.
  • Rural areas can offer peace and quiet to engineers, as well as higher-than-average salaries to attract professionals to relatively few jobs. For example, the North Idaho non-metropolitan area has mean wages of $54.22 per hour or $112,770 per year for only 40 jobs, followed by the California Northern Mountains Region, with $49.07 per hour or $102,070 per year for 70 jobs. . The largest employment areas have lower-than average-salaries. For example, industries in West Central Wisconsin, offer 440 jobs paying $34.15 per hour or $71,040 per year, and in Southeast Minnesota, 310 workers receive $34.31 per hour or $71,360 per year.


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