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The Highest Paying Computer Jobs in the USA - Part 2: Systems Software Engineer Salaries

Updated on July 3, 2011
Windows 7 is an example of system software.
Windows 7 is an example of system software. | Source

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin

Without software, a computer is merely a useless solid frame with a collection of electronics. Systems software allows this hardware to receive instructions and process information, and is required before a computer can run applications. A familiar example of this software is Windows, used on PCs, and the Mac OS, used on Apple Macintosh. (Applications such as games and multimedia players are created by applications software engineers.)

Systems software engineers or developers design operating systems. They require a minimum bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, with master’s degrees or Ph.D.’s necessary for advanced work. Voluntary certifications are also helpful for increasing opportunities and salaries, since they prove that applicants possess skills at industry-accepted levels.

Jobs for systems software engineers will increase by 30 percent until 2018, due to an increasing population that will continue to use computers in business, industry and education. All information is supplied by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Wages and Employers

About 378,920 computer systems software engineers earn the following means:

  • $47.10 per hour or $97,960 per year, which is higher than the average for applications specialties. Median wages can go as low as $29.35 per hour or $61,040 per year, or as high as $68.91 per hour or $143,330 per year.
  • Most systems engineers, about 117,580, work for computer systems design, where they earn a mean $46.55 per hour or $96,830 per year. However, the highest wages are with machinery, equipment and supplies wholesalers, where 1,040 professionals receive $55.23 per hour or $114,880. Ranking second is satellite telecommunications, which offers 180 workers wages of $55.31 per hour or $110,880 per year.


Average wages by state.
Average wages by state. | Source

The salaries of systems software engineers vary by the location of their employers.

  • The state with the most employment and the best pay is California, with 69,040 engineers getting a mean $52.83 per hour or $109,890 per year. Ranking second for pay is Virginia, where 29,740 get $51.68 per hour or $107,490 per year, and New Hampshire, with 2,210 receiving $49.94 per hour or $103,870 per year.
  • For cities, Jacksonville, North Carolina, boasts the highest compensation at a mean $73.60 per hour or $153,080 per year, followed by Danbury, Connecticut, at $64.50 per hour or $134,150 per year. The most jobs are in Washington, DC, where 26,520 earn $52.72 per hour or $109,660 per year, and San Jose, California, where 22,780 get $59.27 per hour or $123,280 per year.
  • In non-metropolitan areas, Western Colorado has the highest paying employers, with mean wages at $61.50 per hour or $127,920 per year, followed by the Northern Mountains Region of California, with pay at $60.33 per hour or $12,480 per year. For employment, St. Mary’s County, Maryland, has the highest with 520 jobs getting $52.59 per hour or $109,390 per year, followed by Northeastern Virginia, where 320 get $53.41 per hour or $111,100 per year.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I do believe salaries in the U.S. are much higher than in India. But that's why many companies here are outsourcing their programming to your country.

    • how-to-make profile image

      how-to-make 5 years ago from India

      Great Stuff man. I like this hub as it is based on my academic profile. At present I am working in "Wipro", India. The salary structure is not good here. That's why I asked you about the conditions in USA.