Highest Paying Software Engineering Jobs in the DMV

Software engineering is essential to a range of industries, from entertainment to healthcare to banking. In the U.S. alone, there are an estimated 4.4 million software engineers and employment is predicted to grow another 25% by 2031. And, it’s a quite lucrative career choice. In the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area, also known as DMV (Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virgina), the most skilled and experienced engineers can earn as much as $570,000 per year.

Of course, not all software engineering roles are equally lucrative, and some roles pay twice as much as others. Salaries vary, depending on the company and the exact position. In this guide, we’ll shed some light on which roles have the best earning potential.

Is It Hard To Land a Programming Job in Northern Virginia?

According to Forbes, Washington is one of the best-paying areas in the U.S. for software engineers and developers, and it often vies for first place with California. High salaries usually mean high levels of competition, which can potentially make it difficult to get your foot in the door. However, with the right skills and good knowledge of what kind of openings to aim for and where to look, even juniors can find their first role in DMV.

High Paying Software Engineering Careers in DMV

Many different factors can affect software engineering salaries. Some tools and programming languages are more in demand than others, and transitioning into managerial roles can often lead to higher compensation.

Chief Technology Officer

A Chief Technology Officer is charged with leading an entire team of software engineers in their technological pursuits. This position is the highest tier for software engineers and typically requires a notable amount of experience and education. The specific goal of any Chief Technology Officer varies depending on their industry, but it usually involves building increasingly advanced systems designed to help businesses better monetize their services.

Average salary range in DMV: $240,000 - $440,000

Data Scientist

A data scientist is tasked with gleaming insights from data that can help inform business decisions. Types of data can include financial information, user data, and security information. Leveraging this data allows a business to make better decisions for its future, making this role especially important for companies in data-heavy sectors.

Average salary range in DMV: $94,000 - $157,000

Software Architect

Software architects build and maintain various kinds of software programs, typically with a focus on monetization and various forms of consumer success. A software architect will look at a company’s business plan and determine what manner of software might best serve that plan. For example, a software architect and their team may be tasked with building out a way to track how consumers are spending and offering them customized recommendations based on those patterns.

Average salary range in DMV: $129,000 - $214,000

Mobile Developer

Mobile applications are an increasingly common means for businesses to leverage themselves. Entire enterprises are built on the success or failure of an application, with businesses like Doordash, Uber, and so much more built on the backs of their mobile applications. Mobile developers design and maintain such applications and more, crafting systems that are designed to provide clients with a friendly user experience that they’ll want to come back to.

Average salary range in DMV: $74,000 - $117,000

Cloud Engineer

Today, many companies store their data in an external cloud, and it is the job of cloud engineers to create and maintain these systems. These systems can be complex, so ensuring that they are cared for and kept secure requires constant upkeep. The experience needed for this position varies based on the needs of the company, but all cloud engineers should be familiar with coding best practices.

Average salary range in DMV: $100,000 - $169,000

Staff Software Engineer

“Staff” is a title given to experienced engineers that have shown themselves to have a certain level of skill in programming and other areas related to the development of software. Both individual contributors and managers can earn the “staff” title and it usually raises both your salary and your level of influence.

Average salary range in DMV: $138,000 - $217,000

Full-Stack Developer

Full-stack developers are usually found in web or application development teams and they help with both front-end and back-end elements of a project. Because they have skills in both areas, they often have responsibilities in progress tracking and guiding the project as a whole.

Average salary range in DMV: $64,000 - $102,0000

Game Developer

As the title suggests, these developers specialize in making video games. From PC and consoles to mobile devices, the games industry is huge and gets a lot of attention. Popular programming languages for game developers include C++ and C# and it’s also useful to have experience with game engines like Unity or Unreal.

Average salary range in DMV: $59,000 - $95,000

Entry-Level Software Engineering Jobs in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

A quick search on Glassdoor shows 1,086 entry-level software engineering jobs in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. This is a good number of opportunities, and you can find quite a lot of variation in the entry-level roles advertised. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:

Junior Developer / Application Engineer

Source: Glassdoor

Application engineers focus on developing, deploying, and maintaining mobile and web applications for a range of devices. Depending on the company, this can mean working on a number of entertainment-based apps or working full-time on one app. Since the use of apps varies so greatly, the skills needed for this role can vary a lot too.

Average salary range in DMV: $78,000 - $121,000

Junior AI/ML Software Developer

Source: Glassdoor

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are two very popular fields for software engineers. With artificial intelligence products and services exploding in recent months, the demand for this skill set is only increasing too. For a junior engineer, this role will involve a lot of debugging and monitoring code written by senior engineers.

Average salary range in DMV: $92,000 - $151,000

Full-Stack Software Development Engineer

Source: Glassdoor

If you’re a junior-level, full-stack engineer, the tasks assigned to you may be low-level and include more debugging than developing. But stick with it, and soon enough, you’ll be developing too.

Average junior salary range in DMV: $71,000 - $114,000

How To Land a Coding Job in Northern Virginia

Today, more and more companies are moving away from college degrees as a hiring requirement. This opens up doors for many people in different situations across the country, allowing them to work towards a high-salary career through alternative forms of education. Let’s have a look at the different ways you can become a software engineer in Northern Virginia. 

No Experience

If you don’t have any experience yet, then follow these steps:

  • Acquire the skills: If you have yet to join the workforce, you should be free to pursue either full-time or part-time education. You can do this through college, community college, independent study, or online bootcamps. Each has its own benefits, costs, and entry requirements so it’s important to do the research and decide what’s best for you.

  • Develop a portfolio: Instead of education and experience, junior software developers are often assessed on portfolio work. This is the best way to see just what someone is capable of and how passionate they are about the job. Personal projects and volunteer, open-source, or freelance work can all be included in your professional portfolio.

  • Find a job: Finding a new job is always hard work but there are many different angles to approach this task from. Of course, job sites are the obvious go-to but you can also work with alumni services from your school, attend hiring events, use your network, or even work with a recruitment agency. 

Career Transition

Here’s how to land a software engineer job if you’re a career transitioner:

  • Acquire the skills: Once upon a time, changing careers was a multi-year endeavor that often required a whole new degree obtained through slow and expensive night classes. Now, learning new skills is so much more accessible for full-time workers. With flexible, online career courses like the UMGC Software Engineering Bootcamp, you can go from beginner to job-ready in under a year. 

  • Develop a portfolio: To showcase the skills you’ve learned, developing a professional portfolio is essential. High-quality bootcamps will culminate in a capstone project that can be central to your portfolio, and you can expand it even more with other personal, volunteer, open-source, or freelance work you do on your own time. There are no rules when it comes to portfolios, so you can play to your strengths and use your creativity to impress potential employers.

  • Find a job: Software powers virtually every industry, so you’ll find engineers working at just about every company you can imagine. This can work to your advantage, as it means the network you’ve cultivated during your previous career can still be of use, even if your previous work was completely unrelated to programming. You can also rely on your bootcamp provider’s career services to help polish your interview skills and train you in job-searching best practices.

What Companies Are Hiring Programmers in DMV?

The big names you expect to see when it comes to tech jobs (Google, Apple, etc.) don’t always have as big of a presence in Washington D.C. as they do in California. Despite this, there are ample opportunities and plenty of high-recognition names to choose from.

Booz Allen Hamilton

Specializing in intelligence, Booz Allen is a government and military contractor that hires all kinds of tech professionals including software engineers. 


Accenture is one of the biggest IT consultant firms in the world and has offices in Washington D.C. They hire a range of software and artificial intelligence engineers. 

The Washington Post

Headquartered in Washington D.C., this newspaper is among the most recognized and highly decorated news outlets in the U.S. With online versions, social media accounts, and dedicated apps, they are often on the lookout for software engineers. 


One of the most widely-used credit cards in the world, Mastercard is a big employer of engineering talent for developing, maintaining, and improving the security of its services.

Where To Find Software Engineering Positions in DMV

Here are some popular job boards used both nationally and specifically in the Washington Metropolitan Area:

FAQs About Software Engineering Positions in DMV

We’ve got the answer to your most frequently asked questions:

Is Software Engineering a Good Career in Northern Virginia?

According to Indeed, software engineers in DMV earn between 5%-14% more than the national average, making it a good area to begin or grow a career in software development. 

Can I Get Into Coding Without a Degree?

It’s becoming increasingly common for software engineers to study through alternative forms of education, and many well-known companies are dropping their requirements for college degrees. This means that more affordable and accessible training programs such as online coding bootcamps can be all you need to break into the industry.

Is It Hard To Get a Programming Job Without Experience?

Engineering teams have a constant need for large amounts of low-level work. This ensures that entry-level positions are always available and that companies are always taking on freshly-graduated juniors with no professional experience.