9 Highest Paying Programming Jobs in 2022

Monica J. WhiteMonica J. White | 9 minute read | August 5, 2022
9 Highest Paying Programming Jobs in 2022

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Given that we use computers for practically everything nowadays, it’s no surprise that programmers—the people who build the software programs we use—are in high demand. Programmers work across a variety of industries, so it’s an enticing role because you can work in an industry you find interesting, while also making a pretty penny. 

But not all programming jobs are equally lucrative—that’s why we’ve compiled this list. Below, we’ll detail nine of the highest-paying programming jobs. So whether you’re new to the field or looking to career pivot, this list will give you a sense of the programming landscape, and what different programmers can expect to make. Ready? Then let’s go. 

Are Programmers Paid Well?

Generally speaking, yes. Some kinds of software developers are in higher demand than others, and some roles require more skills and experience. However, a programmer in any capacity is a professional individual that commands a certain level of compensation. When the right skills and experience come together with the right role and industry, salaries for programmers can reach very high numbers. 

Highest Paying Programming Jobs

The right combination of coding skills (and often soft skills) can help you land one of the highest-paying jobs in the industry. Here are a couple of career paths that offer the most lucrative salaries: 

Full-Stack Developer

In web development, a full-stack developer is someone who can help with all sides and stages of a project. They can work with the back-end team to help create databases and manage servers, and they can assist the front-end team with designing the client-facing side of a project. They can also test and debug on both ends, implement security solutions, and develop APIs. 

In essence, a full-stack developer can (and will) do a bit of everything, making them the person with the most comprehensive view of the project in its entirety. This is why they are often tasked with the responsibility of overseeing the progress of a project and ensuring each piece of the puzzle will fit together. The multi-skilled and responsibility-heavy nature of this role is what makes it a high-paying coding job that’s especially sought after. As a result, it’s often more highly paid than front-end or back-end developers. 

The average salary for a full-stack developer is $113,600

Full stack developer salary
Full stack developer full job description

Cloud Architect

highest paying programming jobs- cloud architect
Source: TechTarget

Cloud computing refers to the use of data centers to store files and applications, and consequently, allowing them to be accessed and used from any device (no download necessary). For example, Google Mail is a cloud-based email provider, and Google Drive is a cloud storage service. 

For companies, switching to cloud computing means they no longer need to keep and maintain their own physical servers, which can make large-scale storage more accessible for small businesses. This allows such companies to access their files from anywhere in the world.

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Cloud architects (or cloud engineers) help companies set up their cloud, liaise with third-party cloud vendors, and maintain and monitor the system. They use their expertise in cloud architecture to lead their company in the right direction, tailor a cloud computing solution specific to the needs of the business, and then maintain the system they implement. 

The average salary for a cloud architect is $142,806

Cloud architect salary
cloud architect job description

Data Scientist

Data science and analysis are prevalent in many industries such as tech, finance, healthcare, government, and entertainment. Data scientists take large sets of raw data from various sources, clean the data, standardize its format, and analyze it to uncover actionable insights. In essence, it involves finding useful information from previously incomprehensible data. This is why the role spans so many industries: because relevant and useful information is valuable to all kinds of businesses and organizations.  

highest paying programming jobs- data scientist
Source: Medium

A data scientist is often paid more than a data analyst as they will have more specialized knowledge in machine learning and deep learning techniques that can be used to answer even more complex questions. They can also develop useful software to optimize and automate the data analysis process, freeing up more time for exploratory data analysis (EDA) in pursuit of new lines of inquiry. 

The average salary for a data scientist is $120,861

Data scientist salary
Data scientist - full job description

Machine Learning Engineer

highest paying programming jobs- Machine learning engineer

A machine learning engineer develops software that can “learn” to complete and improve on its job without human assistance. The aim is to create software that can not only run automatically but also navigate changes and problems it encounters, using past experience to adjust its approach and complete its objective. 

This can be applied in a range of fields and technologies, such as recommendation algorithms, self-driving cars, and virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri. A machine learning engineer will develop machine learning applications to create these kinds of products. Some applications will need to “learn” language, and others will need to “learn” how to process and react to their surroundings. In other words, the particulars of a machine learning engineer’s role will vary depending on the industry they’re in and the technology they are working with. 

The average salary for a machine learning engineer is $123,385

Machine learning salary
machine learning full job description

Database Developer

highest paying programming jobs- database developer

The role of a database developer is as advertised: the development of databases. Most businesses and companies in all industries record and store data on their various activities on a daily basis. This data is then collected to comply with regulations, to keep a record of the company’s history, to conduct data analysis, and for many other reasons. 

In order to store such data efficiently and securely, databases are needed. However, databases are not a one-size-fits-all kind of solution; they must be tailor-made to suit the individual and specific needs of a business. Once established, databases must be continually maintained to ensure peak performance and security. 

The average salary for a database developer is $107,838

database developer salary
database developer full job description

IT Specialist

IT specialists are employed to support other employers, maintain a company’s IT systems, and ensure the smooth running of daily operations taking place through technology. Multiple IT specialists may be hired at a single company, each focusing on different departments and areas, so the skillset needed to fulfill this role can vary significantly. Regardless of their specialized focus, an IT specialist will often need to possess knowledge of multiple operating systems and programming languages. They will also require excellent problem-solving skills in order to support their colleagues and enable everyone to do their jobs efficiently. 

A senior IT specialist will be responsible for the upkeep of systems that a company would not be able to function without, which is why they are highly valued and receive high salaries. 

The average salary for an IT specialist is $102,095

IT Specialist salary
IT Specialist full job description

DevOps Engineer

The term “DevOps” comes from “development operations,” and the role of a DevOps engineer is to optimize the software development process. This means coordinating and leading all the teams involved in the development of a product and maximizing their efficiency. 

A DevOps engineer aims to keep software products as frequently updated and well-maintained as possible, which requires automating much of the development process. Instead of an update being a huge project that takes teams weeks of focused work to prepare for, a DevOps engineer aims to design and implement systems that automatically prepare for such updates in parallel with normal duties. 

The desired result is to deliver frequent and dependable releases that improve user experience and fix bugs without a long and frustrating wait for the users. Keeping the updates stable and tidy also helps DevOps engineers prevent a manic rush before or during the release of a new patch.

The average salary for a DevOps engineer is $126,179

DevOps engineer salary
DevOps engineer full job description

AI Engineer

An AI engineering role is a highly skilled position tasked with the research and development of machines that can simulate the behavior and thinking patterns typically associated with humans. Artificial intelligence makes use of machine learning to learn from the data fed to it, and to later develop behavioral patterns based on said data. The goal of many AI machines is to focus on automation and solve complex problems that currently can only be dealt with manually by humans.

highest paying programming jobs- AI engineer

Usually, the software is told exactly what it should do in any given situation, so the number of possible situations must be limited. AI, however, has the ability to learn and figure out for itself what action it should take when a new element is introduced, and can therefore tackle problems with an unlimited set of unique variations. 

To become an AI engineer, you need to have a deep knowledge of programming languages, statistics, algorithms, and deep learning. These niche skills and the growing demand for AI research are what make this role well compensated.

The average salary for an AI engineer is $129,250.

AI engineer salary
AI engineer full job description

Systems Administrator

A systems administrator is responsible for keeping a company or organization’s hardware and software working efficiently and securely. This includes updating and installing new software, managing operating systems and their permissions, managing servers, security monitoring, and providing technical support to other departments. 

A systems administrator must be ready to take on any job, from fixing printers to creating user permissions for accessing cloud files. They often need to work with and assist non-technical employees, and so must have good interpersonal skills to facilitate efficient and professional resolutions of problems. 

The average salary for a systems administrator is $104,034

System administrator salary
System administrator job description

How To Earn More as a Programmer

There are a few things you can do to earn even more in your programming field. We will walk you through them below.

Get Certified

There are countless certifications to be earned in the many fields and specializations within programming. Microsoft, for example, offers a range of certifications for AI engineers, data scientists, developers, DevOps engineers, administrators, and more. 

Microsoft certifications

Google also offers certificates in IT support and IT automation. For those needing to tackle the basics first, there are online courses in various fields, such as data science bootcamps, data analytics bootcamps, and software engineering bootcamps

Pick Your Industry Carefully

The industry you choose will shape the experience and specialized knowledge you gain, making it progressively easier to get jobs and gain seniority within that industry. For example, if you’re passionate about the entertainment industry, you may choose to pursue this route. However, pay is often lower and job security is not great. Alternatively, you could work in the medical or government sectors, which have better job stability. As a general rule of thumb, the more popular and easy to enter an industry is, the more competition you will be faced with.

Compare Different Locations

The state you work in can affect your salary by a significant amount, so comparing locations and being willing to relocate for the right opportunity can be a good idea. New York, Texas, and California are among the best states in the US for programming jobs. 

Grow Your Skills With Side Projects

Developing your skills and your portfolio with side projects is a sure-fire way to keep growing and improving as a professional. Your skills, passion, motivation, and dedication to your craft will help improve your value to a company — and your salary will rise along with it.

Specialize When Possible

The more focused and specialized your knowledge is, the more valuable you become in certain fields and to certain companies. Choosing a specialization can be difficult, as they are niche by definition, and the most in-demand niche can change frequently. However, any specialization is better than none, so choosing based on your passions and strong suits is also valid.

FAQs About the Highest Paying Programming Jobs

We’ve got the answers to your most frequently asked questions. 

Which Industry Pays Coders the Most?

The tech industry, government and defense, entertainment, healthcare, and retail are all top industries that both pay a lot to coders and hire often. 

Which Location Has the Highest Programming Salaries?

California remains one of the highest paying states for programming professionals, with salaries typically sitting 10% higher than the national average.

Which Language Should You Specialize in Order To Earn More?

According to LinkedIn, Python is the most popular and in-demand programming language in 2022, closely followed by Java and SQL. 

What Size Company Pays Their Software Engineers the Most?

Big companies tend to pay the highest salaries and often have the best additional compensation in the form of stock shares and other benefits. Such giants are frequently winning talent from one another, meaning they are in constant competition.

Since you’re here…
Considering a career in software engineering? We’ll help you build a CV that rivals experienced software engineers in 9 months flat with our Software Engineering Bootcamp. If you’re still mulling, try our free software engineering learning path and check out our salary guide to see what you could be making. 

Monica J. White

About Monica J. White

Monica is a journalist with a lifelong interest in technology, from PC hardware to software and programming. She first started writing over ten years ago and has made a career out of it. Now, her focus is centered around technology and explaining complex concepts to a broader audience.