What Is a Principal Engineer?

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A principal engineer is a trained and educated engineer that is in charge of the implementation of projects given by a company. Principal engineers are usually hands on with a project until its completion; the engineer may be considered a project manager. They typically report directly to the engineering manager.

Principal engineers usually have several years of experience in their given engineering field. They are leaders that provide guidance and oversight to several teams of people working on developing new technologies and processes. Day-to-day, principal engineers may find themselves drafting and executing construction contracts, tracking the progress of projects and keeping on eye on projects costs. They also spend their time conducting research and providing statistical data and reports to their company’s highest leadership. Because of their high status, principal engineers may also be tasked with training new engineers and providing engineering guidance in other parts of the company.

The average yearly salary for principal engineer is $102,000. The typical salary range can be anywhere between $76,346 and $117,439 per year. Yearly salaries for principal engineers vary greatly depending upon geographic location, company size, specialty and level of experience. California, New York, Washington and Texas are the states that pay the highest salaries to principal engineers.