By Jennifer Wegerer
Software engineering degrees come in a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the direction you want to take your career. Some software engineers major in software engineering itself, while some might choose a degree in computer science, information systems, mathematics or computer programming. Others might opt to round out their software engineering course work with classes in business management.
Bachelor's, Master's and Beyond
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers typically prefer candidates who hold at least a bachelor's in software engineering degree, with training in a variety of computer systems and technologies. Candidates interested in eventual careers in management should also have fundamental business training in areas such as finance and accounting, as well as strong communication skills.
Some software engineering jobs might require a master's degree for high-level positions. And, of course, if your goal is to teach at the college level, you will need a doctorate degree. Generally speaking, once you have that bachelor's in software engineering degree, staying abreast of the latest computer technologies and innovations will give you the edge when it comes to getting hired, receiving promotions and increasing your salary prospects.
You can keep your skills fresh through software engineering courses, seminars and other training available through professional organizations, online college programs and even your employer.
As mentioned above, after earning their software engineering degree, professionals who commit to continuous learning opportunities increase their chances of obtaining technology leadership positions, which means potentially playing a role in charting an organization's direction in terms of software development technology.
Many different groups offer software engineering certifications. Here are just a few examples:
- IEEE Computer Society's Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA) for entry-level software engineers and a Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP) for mid-career software engineering professionals
- The International Council on Systems Engineering (ICOSE) multi-level professional certification program
- Software Quality Engineering's (SQE) Software Tester Certification
- Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and other Microsoft certifications
How you choose a certification will depend a lot on your career goals as well as your employer. Also, you may end up with multiple certifications as your career progresses, particularly if you move from a software programming role into software design and potentially management.