Hi there! Looking to land a well-paying job in technology? If so, you‘ll definitely want to consider San Francisco. With major tech companies like Google, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and Salesforce based here, San Francisco offers some of the highest salaries for tech professionals in the world.
In this article, I‘ll outline the top 8 best-paying tech jobs in San Francisco along with average salaries. I‘ll also provide detailed information on the day-to-day responsibilities, educational requirements, job prospects, and earnings potential for each role.
Whether you‘re just starting out in tech or are an experienced professional looking to level up your career, read on to learn more about landing a high-paying job in San Francisco!
Why Salaries Are Sky-High for Tech Roles in San Francisco
Before jumping into specific jobs, it‘s helpful to understand why tech salaries in San Francisco tend to be so much higher than national averages. There are a few key reasons:
High density of tech companies – With major tech headquarters like Salesforce, Uber, Airbnb, DocuSign, and many startups based here, there is huge demand for tech talent. Companies aggressively compete for the best engineers, designers, product managers, and more.
Cost of living – The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the highest costs of living in the world. To compensate, tech salaries are inflated across the board. For example, the cost of living in San Francisco is 62% higher than the national average in the United States.
Housing costs – In particular, housing prices in San Francisco are exorbitant. The median home value is $1.3 million! Tech companies need to pay salaries high enough for employees to afford the steep housing costs.
Talent war – With Apple, Google, Facebook and other big tech firms located just outside SF in Silicon Valley, there is intense competition for tech talent. Companies try to poach employees by offering ever-higher salaries. This ratchets up pay scales across the industry.
Innovative work – Many tech companies in San Francisco are pioneering innovations in fields like AI, biotech, autonomous vehicles, and more. To attract top talent in these domains, they pay premium salaries.
According to recent data from Hired.com, the average tech salary in San Francisco is $155,000. Compare that to the average salary nationally of $68,400 – tech professionals in San Francisco make 127% more!
Let‘s look at the top-paying tech jobs capitalizing on San Francisco‘s competitive employment market.
1. Software Engineer
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $142,000
Software engineers design, develop and improve software applications. They apply engineering principles to build everything from mobile apps to operating systems.
In San Francisco, the average base salary for a software engineer is $142,000. However, experienced engineers and specialists can make $180,000 or much more. Glassdoor data shows software engineers at top companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn can earn $250,000-$300,000 total compensation in San Francisco, comprising of base salary, bonus, and stock options.
Demand for software engineers has exploded in recent years with the growth of cloud computing, smartphone apps, artificial intelligence, and more technologies that rely on software. Software engineering roles are expected to grow 22% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To become a software engineer, you‘ll need strong analytical and technical abilities along with patience, communication skills and business acumen. A computer science or engineering degree is required, usually bachelor‘s or master‘s level.
With the right skills, you can land a lucrative software engineering role in San Francisco!
2. Product Manager
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $150,000
Product managers strategize, plan and execute a tech product from initial concept to final launch. They conduct user research, define requirements, and work cross-functionally with designers, engineers and others to bring products to life.
In San Francisco, product managers earn an impressive average base salary of $150,000. Total compensation at top tech firms like Google and Facebook can exceed $250,000 for experienced product managers.
As a product manager, you‘ll combine analytical, strategic thinking with creativity and business intuition. You might start by observing how people currently solve problems and identifying unmet needs. Next, you‘ll ideate potential tech-enabled solutions, prioritize what to build based on customer value, and work with engineers to develop features and prototypes. Finally, you‘ll go to market with marketing campaigns and sales initiatives to get your product adopted.
It‘s an exciting career path if you love technology, problem solving and collaboration. The number of product management roles has rapidly expanded in Silicon Valley and San Francisco as companies increasingly rely on software for competitive advantage.
To get into product management, you‘ll need sharp critical thinking abilities, people skills, and bachelor‘s degree – often in a technical or business field. Many product managers start as engineers to gain hands-on familiarity with building tech products.
3. Data Scientist/Engineer
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $150,000
Data scientists and data engineers work with massive datasets to uncover insights that inform business strategy. Data engineers build the infrastructure to collect, store, process and organize data at scale. Data scientists then apply statistics, modeling and algorithms to derive insights from the data.
These specialized roles command sky-high salaries in San Francisco. The average base pay for data scientists and data engineers is $150,000. More senior roles and specialists easily exceed $200,000 in total annual compensation.
As a data scientist, you‘ll spend your time on activities like:
- Exploring and cleaning large datasets
- Performing statistical analysis to find patterns and relationships
- Building machine learning models to automate decision-making
- Developing algorithms like regression and classification for predictive analytics
- Creating visualizations and presentations to explain your findings
It‘s an exciting career if you‘re curious, love problem-solving, and want to apply math and computing skills to real-world problems. Strong SQL, Python, statistical, and communication skills are must-haves. Many data scientists hold master‘s degrees in data science or related quantitative fields.
Similarly, as a data engineer you‘ll get the chance to architect solutions like:
- Designing and maintaining data pipelines + ETL processes
- Developing platforms for large-scale data processing with Spark and Hadoop
- Building data lakes, warehouses and APIs
- Leveraging cloud platforms like AWS, GCP and Azure
- Monitoring data quality and performance
Data engineering provides a lucrative career path if you enjoy tinkering with large information systems and making meaning out of massive datasets.
4. DevOps Engineer
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $155,000
DevOps engineers oversee code deployments, system infrastructure, pipelines, site reliability and more. They focus on smoother collaboration between developers and IT operations teams.
In San Francisco, DevOps engineers can expect an average base salary of $155,000. Total compensation at leading companies routinely reaches $200,000+ for senior DevOps engineers.
As a DevOps engineer, your daily work may include activities like:
- Automating infrastructure provisioning and configuration
- Ensuring seamless CI/CD pipelines for rapid code releases
- Monitoring site performance and preventing downtime
- Tuning infrastructure for optimal scale and efficiency
- Liaising between developers and operations teams
- Improving developer productivity and deployment velocities
- Managing container orchestration platforms like Kubernetes
It‘s a great role if you‘re equally passionate about software engineering and systems administration – DevOps ties them together. Strong Linux, scripting and automation skills are key. Certifications like AWS SysOps Administrator and HashiCorp Terraform Associate are also desired by employers.
The increased reliance on SaaS, microservices and cloud native architectures has driven huge demand for DevOps. LinkedIn‘s 2020 Emerging Jobs report found DevOps Engineer as the #1 emerging job based on growth over the past 5 years.
5. Machine Learning Engineer
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $160,000
Machine learning engineers develop artificial intelligence systems powered by neural networks, natural language processing, and other advanced algorithms. They work closely with data scientists to take theoretical models into production.
The average base salary for machine learning engineers in San Francisco is around $160,000. More experienced engineers working on cutting-edge AI applications can make $220,000 or more in total annual compensation.
As a machine learning engineer, you‘ll get to work on interesting projects like:
- Building and training neural networks using frameworks like TensorFlow and PyTorch
- Optimizing model performance using techniques like regularization and hyperparameter tuning
- Deploying machine learning models to applications with Python and Kubernetes
- Improving model accuracy by gathering new training data
- Staying on top of the latest breakthroughs in deep learning and AI
It‘s an exciting career path if you want to work at the bleeding edge of technology – companies are pouring massive investments into machine learning. Demand for ML engineers has ballooned as organizations rush to productize AI.
To get started in machine learning engineering, you‘ll need specialized skills like linear algebra, calculus, statistics, and Python programming for ML. A graduate degree in AI/ML, data science or a related field will boost your job prospects significantly.
6. Mobile Engineer
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $150,000
Mobile engineers build and maintain mobile apps for platforms like iOS and Android. They bridge the gap between visual design and complex back-end functionality to deliver excellent mobile experiences.
In San Francisco, mobile engineers earn an average base salary of $150,000. For mastery of native iOS with Swift or Android with Kotlin, salaries can reach $180,000 or more.
As a mobile engineer, you‘ll get to work on fun projects like:
- Developing new user-facing mobile app features and flows
- Translating visual mockups into pixel-perfect real experiences
- Optimizing performance and speed of mobile apps
- Implementing complex UI animations and gestures
- Enabling mobile apps to tap into device capabilities like cameras and GPS
- Building cross-platform mobile apps using React Native
- Automating testing across different devices and OS versions
It‘s an engaging career if you love building software with a focus on the end-user experience. As businesses embrace mobile-first strategies, demand for specialized iOS, Android and cross-platform engineers keeps rising. Mobile programming skills are highly valued.
7. Front-End Web Developer
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $130,000
In San Francisco, front-end developer salaries average $130,000. For specialization in frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js, pay can exceed $160,000 for senior roles.
As a front-end developer, you‘ll get to:
- Architect the structure and layout for web app UIs
- Design reusable React components for efficient coding
- Develop responsive interfaces that work on all device sizes
- Integrate front-end code with back-end APIs and databases
- Improve site speed, accessibility, SEO and more through performance optimizations
It‘s a great role if you love translating designs and wireframes into accessible, functional web experiences. As companies race to build mobile and web apps, demand for front-end developers continues rising rapidly.
8. Cloud Architect/Engineer
Average Base Salary in San Francisco: $170,000
Cloud architects and engineers design, build and manage cloud infrastructure for companies. As modern software runs predominantly on public clouds like AWS and Azure, these roles have exploded in demand.
In San Francisco, cloud architects and engineers earn an average base salary of $170,000. Significant experience managing large-scale cloud systems can reach $220,000+ in total annual compensation.
Daily responsibilities can include:
- Planning and designing cloud platforms and architectures
- Provisioning infrastructure as code with Terraform and Ansible
- Maintaining robustness, security and reliability of cloud deployments
- Monitoring usage, performance and costs
- Improving scalability and efficiency of cloud-based systems
- Migrating legacy on-premises systems to the cloud
- Optimizing architectures for cloud native patterns and best practices
It‘s an exciting career path if you enjoy working hands-on with infrastructure and leveraging the power, scale and flexibility of the cloud. Fluency in a cloud platform like AWS is highly desired along with strong Linux and scripting skills.
Education, Experience and Specialization Boost Salaries
While the salary averages above reflect base pay, your specific education and experience will significantly impact earnings potential in these roles.
Those with a graduate degree in computer science, data science or a related quantitative field typically earn 10-20% more than colleagues with only a bachelor‘s degree. Specialized technical master‘s and PhDs are highly valued.
Likewise, having 5+ years experience in a specialty like mobile development, DevOps, machine learning or other fields can boost salaries by $25,000 or more over entry-level roles. Highly specialized skills garner premium pay.
Moving into senior or lead engineering roles can add $40k-$80k on top of base salaries once you have enough experience. For example, Senior Machine Learning Engineers can make $50-90k more than entry-level positions.
Having industry domain expertise in fields like finance, healthcare, logistics and others also yields higher salaries as your technical skills are more impactful to those businesses.
And working for top-tier technology firms like Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber or unicorns and startups attracting major funding means higher base salaries and compensation packages than at mid-size tech companies.
Other Well-Paying Tech Roles in San Francisco
While the jobs above represent some of the top paying roles, dozens of tech occupations pay over $100,000 in San Francisco:
- Cyber Security Engineer
- Network Engineer
- Technical Program Manager
- Database Administrator
- Solutions Architect
- Business Intelligence Developer
- QA Automation Engineer
- Data Warehouse Engineer
- Scrum Master
- Ruby on Rails Developer
- Technical Writer
And higher level managerial and leadership positions like CTO, Director of Engineering and VP of Data earn $200,000 to multi-million dollar salaries in total compensation.
The sheer number of tech companies and startups in San Francisco drive salaries way above national averages. It‘s a magnet for top technical talent.
Key Takeaways for High Pay in San Francisco Tech
To summarize, here are a few key themes:
Specialize in high demand skills like software engineering, data science, DevOps, machine learning and mobile development. These command the highest salaries.
Pursue a master‘s degree or PhD in computer science or data science to boost earnings significantly over bachelor‘s alone.
Gain 5+ years experience in your field to reach senior, lead and principal level roles with $50k+ pay bumps.
Learn high value domains like finance, healthcare, aerospace where tech skills are scarce but highly valued.
Work for prestigious companies like Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Uber that pay top dollar for talent.
Become a subject matter expert. Depth of knowledge in a technical skill pays off handsomely.
Tech salaries in San Francisco are among the highest in the world. By developing targeted skills and experience, you can land a lucrative role in the Bay Area spanning a wide range of emerging technologies!
I hope this overview has been helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions!