Software engineering is the “design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that enable computers to perform applications.”
Software engineers work with a variety of programming languages such as C++ and Java. They might work to modify existing software applications or creating new ones from scratch. The duties of a software engineer may also include setting up and maintaining computer networks.
The ability to program is, of course, the primary requirement. Software engineers must analyze and solve computer application problems. And though IT majors and professionals are stereotyped as inept social actors, it is actually very important for software engineers to possess good written and verbal communication skills. Most of their work will involve teammates with a variety of backgrounds, from fellow programmers to technical writers, marketers and project managers.
Employers usually require entry-level software engineers to possess bachelor’s degrees, but an associate’s degree combined with work experience may sometimes be sufficient for a startup or a rapidly expanding company. Experience and continued education can enable a software engineer to advance to management or a top executive position.
Because technology changes quickly, it is essential for software engineers to remain current in their field.Graduate degrees are looked upon favorably (especially for management positions), though not required. Many software vendors, such as Microsoft, Java, and Cisco, offer certification programs to assist software engineers in their professional development.
The outlook for careers in software engineering is very favorable. The BLS expects software engineering to be one of the fastest-growing occupations over the next 10 years. Continued growth in the computer systems field and related industries should create more job opportunities for software engineers. If you’re considering a major as a computer software engineer, be prepared to begin college with an open mind about your future job. By the time you finish college, the job you imagined may be quite different or may no longer exist. On the other hand, there will be new jobs to choose from. Just think about how much computers and the software they use have evolved over the past four years.
The scientific and mathematical foundation you build in this major will always be fundamental to your work. But like other computer majors, you’ll face a lifetime of learning as you strive to keep up with changing technology.
Computer software engineers and programmers normally work in clean, comfortable offices or in laboratories in which computer equipment is located. Software engineers who work for software vendors and consulting firms frequently travel to meet with customers. Telecommuting is becoming more common as technological advances allow more work to be done from remote locations.
Most software engineers and programmers work 40 hours a week, but about 15 percent of software engineers and 11 percent of programmers worked more than 50 hours a week in 2008. Injuries in these occupations are rare. However, like other workers who spend long periods in front of a computer terminal typing at a keyboard, engineers and programmers are susceptible to eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Computer software engineers are among the occupations projected to grow the fastest and add the most new jobs over the 2008-18 decade, resulting in excellent job prospects. Employment of computer programmers is expected to decline by 3 percent through 2018.
Because there is such a high demand for computer software engineers, computer software engineers’ salaries are usually on the top of engineer salary. Therefore, you can expect a very competitive paycheck. The average software engineer salary is around $90,000 annually. The starting salary of a software engineer fresh out of college is just over $70,000 a year. With more experience and specializations however, your salary can be over $140,000 per year.