Computer Software Engineer Careers

What You'll Do

computer software engineer schools graduate at work

By Jennifer Wegerer

Computer science and software engineering professionals develop software applications, from video games to business applications. Starting with a study of user needs, software engineers apply the principles of computer science, engineering and mathematical analysis to create, test and evaluate software applications and systems.

In general, software engineers fall into one of two categories:

  • Applications engineers who use different programming languages, including C, C++ and Java, to develop and maintain software applications based on their own designs or designs created through a coordinated effort with business analysts or other customer experts.
     
  • Systems engineers who focus on an organization's internal computer systems. Their duties typically include researching, recommending and coordinating department- or company-wide computer needs, such as data assurance, system security and intranets.

Computer Software Engineering Job Opportunities

With skills in one of today's most sought-after professions, computer science engineers enjoy career opportunities at organizations across all industries, including computer system design or consulting firms, software publishers, financial and health care institutions, and government agencies.

In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that software developers can anticipate 24 percent employment growth through 2026. As current software engineers move into management roles, others retire, and technology simply advances and becomes more complex, the software engineering field will continue to expand and present exciting new opportunities for qualified candidates.

The Future of Computer Software Engineering

This IEEE, the world's largest professional association advancing innovation and technological excellence, has implemented a strategy aimed at making a difference in how software engineers, and therefore the public, perceive their role. Creating sophisticated software applications is only the start. Software engineering plays a vital part in developing world-changing technologies, from smart energy grids to communication technologies to robotics to health care records systems.

Through its strategy, IEEE wants to impart a sense of responsibility among its members and members of the software engineering community as a whole. And instill the notion that innovative technologies should serve humankind, helping to create "a better tomorrow."

Schools & Degree Programs

Colleges and universities across the U.S. offer bachelor's, master's and PhD programs in computer science or software engineering. Most software engineering jobs require a bachelor's or a two-year associate's degree or certificate, depending on the company. More complex jobs or higher-level positions may require a graduate-level degree.

Of course, the critical path toward employment and advancement for software engineers is relevance. Software engineers interested in long-term careers must attain the latest technology skills through continuous training courses that they can find through professional organizations, online training, college programs or other sources.  Business and management topics and industry-specific training also provide software engineers with skills and experience that employers notice.

Software Engineer Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for software developers is $102,280. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.