Lead Software Engineer

Courses + Certifications
In partnership With
  • FAQ
  • Courses
  • Certifications
  • Careers
  • Jobs
  • Companies
  • Skills
  • Articles

What does a lead software engineer do?

A lead software engineer oversees the development of technical products from start to finish. This role coordinates tasks between team members while reporting progress to engineering managers and other senior leaders. At the same time, lead software engineers may perform technical tasks like writing code, devising software testing strategies and designing product improvements. 

How do you become a lead software engineer?
Answer Part 1

Lead software engineers should showcase a bachelor’s degree and at least seven to eight years of relevant work experience.

Answer Part 2

The experience and expertise of lead software engineer positions require candidates to secure a four-year degree in a relevant field. A computer science degree is a popular route that many students travel. However, aspiring lead software engineers can also complete their bachelor’s in engineering or a related field.   

Upon graduation, incoming professionals should expect to work at least seven or eight years before qualifying for a lead software engineer position. Many candidates work as entry-level software engineers for around five years before gaining several years of experience as senior software engineers. Through these previous experiences, lead software engineers can learn about DevOps tools, engineering team structures and other topics that will help them grow into their leadership roles.

What is the salary of a lead software engineer?
Answer Part 1

Lead software engineers are compensated for their extensive duties with an average base salary of $145,747.

Answer Part 2

Lead software engineer positions carry a range of demands, so candidates who rise to the occasion can look forward to six-figure salaries. Lead software engineers in the U.S. earn an average base salary of $145,747, according to Built In’s salary tool. Those who produce exceptional results can also receive an additional cash compensation of $20,836 and boost their total compensation to $166,583. As lead software engineers continue to help teams meet their goals throughout their careers, they can enjoy salaries as high as $265K. 

What skills does a lead software engineer need?
Answer Part 1

Lead software engineers should excel in areas like programming, data analysis, quality assurance and software industry knowledge.

Answer Part 2

While lead software engineers take on more responsibility than the typical software engineer, they should always be ready to dive into technical projects. Coding skills are a must for lead software engineers, who should have a comprehensive grasp of C++, Java, HTML5 and other programming languages. This position still is in charge of tracking progress and crafting reports, so data analysis also plays a crucial role in day-to-day tasks. The ideal candidate will consider both larger patterns and minute details. 

As overseers of software strategies and processes, lead software engineers should also invest plenty of energy in quality assurance. Detailed guidelines help teams determine how to test products, locate bugs and implement solutions. To keep their techniques and tools up to date, the most successful lead software engineers will review larger industry trends and gather ideas from other companies and leaders. Applicants should be able to blend these skills with a collaborative mindset and other key traits required for lead software engineer roles.


Looking to level up your Lead Software Engineer career? Subscribe to Built In.


Careers Related to Lead Software Engineer


Latest Development and Engineering Jobs


Companies Hiring Lead Software Engineers

All Course + Certification Topics