23 of 25
23. Microsoft
Average total pay: $120,657
For: Engineering - Software Development Engineer in Test*
Best companies rank: 51

It's no surprise to find the world's largest software company on this list. Microsoft has minted many millionaires -- and a handful of billionaires -- since its founding in 1975. Stock options, the main source of this wealth, were phased out in 2003. But not to worry: 95% of employees now get restricted stock, which they can sell after a vesting period.

Being based in Redmond, far from the Silicon Valley all-work-all-the-time environment, is another perk. The landscaped headquarters features branches of popular local restaurants such as Spitfire, Chandy's Natural Café, Ivar's Seafood and Flying Pie Pizzeria. On the west campus, employees can burn those calories off at sports fields and other recreational space.

Employees say they work hard, but they also have personal lives. One employee with small kids said he appreciates his flexible work schedule at Microsoft: "It allows me to balance life challenges and the unexpected."

NEXT: Intel

Last updated January 26 2010: 11:14 AM ET
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