Although tech firms that have sparred publicly for talent -- such as Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft -- rank high on Glassdoor's 2013 list of the 25 Highest Paying Companies for Software Engineers, the company that has opened its wallet widest for software engineers turns out to be networking equipment maker Juniper Networks.
Juniper Networks pays an average annual base salary of $159,990, according to Glassdoor, an employment community website. Juniper has been prospering as demand for high-speed broadband in turn has created demand for networking gear. The company's rival, Cisco Systems, reported earlier this year that global mobile data traffic grew 70% in 2012.
Cisco ranks 17th on Glassdoor's list, with an average annual engineering salary of $109,491.
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LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google and Twitter round out the top five, with average annual software engineering salaries of $136,437, $130,312, $127,143 and $124,863, respectively. Yahoo's presence in this group suggests that CEO Marissa Mayer is serious about attracting enough talent to restore Yahoo's stature as a leading Internet technology company.
Apple, Oracle, Walmart, Facebook and Integral rank six through 10, with average annual salaries for engineers of $124,630, $122,905, $122,110, $121,507 and $117,927, respectively.
Glassdoor's list isn't necessarily complete: To be listed, at least 50 software engineers must have submitted salary information. And because the data is self-reported without independent verification, accuracy isn't assured.
One major software company that did not make the top 25 is Adobe, listed by Glassdoor as having an average software engineering salary of $97,585, which comes in just above Citrix Systems ($96,649), Texas Instruments ($95,815) and IBM ($93,716).
Adobe, along with Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit and Pixar, settled a 2010 Justice Department complaint about the company's hiring practices by promising to discontinue an agreement not to poach each other's employees. But a civil complaint against the companies, filed last year and still being adjudicated, alleges that these non-poaching agreements represented an effort to suppress wages -- which are clearly a significant cost for tech companies.
The list also does not reflect things like the desirability of working in a particular area. A Glassdoor survey published in June rated San Jose, Calif., San Francisco, Calif., and Seattle, Wash., as the top three cities in employment satisfaction.
Also, the highest salary does not necessarily entail the best benefits. Yahoo, for example, pays very well, but CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to end the company's work-from-home policy earlier this year might make a less remunerative position at another company more appealing to those who value flexibility.
But for software engineers focused on absolute numbers, here's a suggestion: Get hired in San Francisco, where the salaries reflect the high cost of living, then find a way to get transferred to a company office located in a more affordable part of the country.