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Software engineers are creative problem solvers with skills enabling them to create the types of software people want and need in today’s digital world. With the world relying heavily on digital systems, software engineers will remain highly sought after in almost any industry, from manufacturing to financial services.

Average software engineer salary ranges

Salaries vary depending on factors such as location, seniority, industry and more. According to our salary data:

  • The average software engineer salary in London is £58,200, ranging from £45,700 to £70,800.

  • In the Midlands and East of England you can earn between £42,700 and £58,600, with the average reaching £50,700.

  • Software engineers in the North receive average salaries of £47,500 – from £37,200 to £57,800.

  • In Scotland, you could earn an average of £45,100 per year. This ranges from £33,200 to £57,100.

  • This year, salaries in the South of England span £44,400 to £60,700, with a £52,500 average.

  • In Wales, salaries start from £40,700 and reach £58,800, averaging £49,800.

Roles and responsibilities of a software engineer

As a software engineer, you will be responsible for researching, writing, and designing new software or developing upgrades across multiple platforms, systems and industries.

You will be required to identify any issues with existing software and create fixes with the user and business in mind. For example, if two pieces of software don’t work well separately, you may need to integrate elements of one into another.

The role involves collaboration and communication with coders, graphic artists, sales and marketing teams, project managers and other professionals.

Types of software engineer and their salaries

There is more than one type of software engineer - each software engineering role has its own unique skill sets.

Front-end engineer: This role involves developing the user interface, the aesthetics and layouts, and ensuring the system works in different browsers, devices, and operating systems. Front-end developers’ salaries start at £31,000 and can rise to £65,000 with enough experience and progression.

Back-end engineer: These engineers understand the core elements of the system, integrating with data and email systems, and caches using application programming interfaces. Salaries for back-end engineers average £60,561 across the UK.

Full-stack engineer: This role requires an understanding of both the back end and the front end of the software. Full-stack engineers earn an average salary of £48,960 in the UK.

QA engineer: These professionals create automated tests, methods, and tools to ensure products and processes run smoothly. QA engineer salaries in London average £41,430 a year, compared to £37,683 in the rest of the UK.

DevOps engineer: In this role, professionals increase an organisation’s ability to deliver services and applications faster than traditional software development processes. You can earn an average £60,000 per year in this role, starting from £50,000 a year, and could earn up to £80,000 annual salary with more experience and development.

Security engineer: These specialists focus on ensuring the systems are impenetrable to hackers. As a security engineer, you will create systems, methods and procedures to test the software for security flaws, including ‘white-hat’ ethical hacking into your own systems. The UK average salary for security engineers is £48,534 – in London, the average is £59,954.

Qualifications/training requirements

There are several routes to begin your career in software engineering, whether that’s a university or college course, an apprenticeship or a graduate scheme.

Many employers will require proven technical skills and a qualification in a computer-related subject. You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • Computer science

  • Information technology

  • Software development

  • Financial technology

  • Software engineering for business

  • Maths

For a foundation degree or higher national diploma, you will need one or two A levels or equivalent. To enter a degree course, you will need two to three A levels, or equivalent. Studying science can also greatly improve your chances of success in this type of technical career.

Alternatively, those without a professional qualification can get their foot in the door through work experience and work their way up – they could also do their own learning outside of an office environment with online courses to help them gain their first opportunity.

Career progression

It’s crucial to stay up to date with the latest technology and coding advancements to boost your career progression. Most larger companies will offer funded training, either through external providers or in-house teams.

Freelancers, contractors, or those in small businesses can upskill themselves by completing software-specific courses such as Microsoft Learning, or Certified Ethical Hacker.

Another way to progress is to gain a BCS professional certificate through the Chartered Institute for IT – these are available at foundation level to higher levels.

In the UK, the average software engineer starting salary is £31,407. This average rises to £44,851 when you become a software engineer, and senior software engineer salaries average £59,173 a year.

Java specialist software engineers can earn an average of £50,375 a year at entry level.
Software development managers earn between £48,300 to £72,200, with the average salary being £60,300.

When you progress to software architect, the average salary is £87,000 – and you can expect to earn anywhere between £76,400 and £99,900.

Advantages of software engineer jobs

Software engineering is an exciting, innovative and fast-paced industry, with boundless opportunities. No two days will be the same; the role will stimulate your creativity and your technical skills, which are both highly transferable and in high demand. Having these skills gives software developers enough autonomy to see their own ideas come to fruition.

There are many benefits and perks for software engineers. With software development mostly computer based, employers offer more flexible, remote or hybrid working options. While some professionals work on one laptop screen, others might prefer to set up multiple screens. Employers will usually provide a powerful central processing unit and a computer with a lot of memory to handle large programmes you will be working on and testing. Some companies will allow employees to borrow equipment to set up their own home office.

The role allows you to work independently, or as part of a collaborative team. Depending on your employer, you may have different shift patterns, work evenings and weekends, or you could even be on call, but mostly you will work in an office environment during standard working hours.

If you’re looking for a salary benchmarking tool, download our 2024 Technology salary guide now.