Programmers at Juniper -- not Google or Facebook -- rake in the most dough

Juniper's average base salary for coders is about $160,000

What a lucrative profession coding can be -- the best paid software engineers have an average base salary of nearly US$160,000, and they work at Juniper Networks, according to a recent survey.

Juniper, a network equipment maker that competes with Cisco Systems, placed first in a ranking of the 25 highest paying companies for software engineers, compiled by the employee reviews site Glassdoor.

Software engineers at Juniper have an average annual base salary of $159,990, way above the national average for software developers, which is $92,790, Glassdoor said.

They're followed by developers at LinkedIn, with an average base salary of $136,427; Yahoo, at $130,312; Google, at $127,143; and Twitter, at $124,863.

Facebook made the list too, of course, but it occupied only the number-nine position, at $121,507. An unlikely company beat it: Walmart, with an average annual base salary for software engineers of $122,110. The lowest-paying company on the top 25 list was Qualcomm, at $101,094 a year.

Glassdoor is quick to note that the list doesn't take into additional factors that affect take-home pay such as cash bonuses and stock options.

To be considered for the ranking, companies needed to have at least 50 software engineer salary reports on Glassdoor over the past 12 months. Glassdoor's data came from two sources: individual employees sharing salaries on the site and nationally available databases, spokeswoman MaryJo Fitzgerald [cq] said.

The ranking was not designed to only look at tech-focused companies -- the list was compiled using all software engineer salary reports. That's why Walmart was on the list at number eight. The company "competes for top software engineers to deliver a great online shopping experience for its e-commerce presence," Fitzgerald said.

Glassdoor looked at 20 of the largest U.S. metro areas by population, but also rising tech hubs like Austin, Texas. The San Francisco Bay Area led the pack, with an average base salary for software engineers of $111,885, and was home to 18 of the top 25 companies. Not far behind was Seattle, at $103,196, followed by San Diego, at $93,993.

Austin, which some call the "Silicon Hills" and others the live music capital of the world, had an average base salary for software engineers of $84,232. Tech culture is big in the city, as it hosts the SXSW music, film and technology festival each year.

Other companies named in Glassdoor's ranking included Apple, Oracle, Nvidia and eBay.

Last year the company zeroed in on 15 companies. Google took the top spot in that report at about $128,000, though much lower than the $160,000 cited for Juniper this year.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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