There are a few ways programmers can score big money — high-value consulting, entrepreneurship, early-stage stock options coming to fruition in a liquidity event but the simplest of them all is a Big Fat Paycheck. In general, programming is a well-compensated skill, but when it comes to certain industries, or certain skills, or a combination of both, compensation gets an order of magnitude more than the decent salaries.
These outliers in compensation are more apparent in the United States where the fight to find and retain talent has protractedly been intense, especially, when it comes to technology giants and aggressive finance sector companies.
In most cases, engineers who get paid prodigiously happen to be more than an engineer. Their role entails leading other engineers and working alongside higher management but despite that, complex engineering is the essence of the work. That could be heading a team to build a massive cloud infrastructure, for instance.