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SE Careers

Software engineering is the application of engineering principles to the development of software. Computer scientists learn what is true, how to test hypotheses, and how to extend knowledge in their field. Software engineers learn what is true, what is useful, and how to apply well-understood knowledge to solve practical problems.

Career Paths in Software Engineering

Applications Development: Problem solving-based, non-Web-based software development that includes programming languages such as Java and C#.

Systems Development: Designing and coding background software created to support application development; includes program languages like C and C++.

Web Development: Designing software or applications to run in a Web browser and used programming languages such as HTML, JavaScript and PHP.

Embedded Systems Development: Designing computing systems and software to work on non-computing devices, such as automobiles. Uses programming languages such as C and assembly languages.

Earnings for Software Engineers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a typical starting salary is around $70,000 and most software engineering careers pay between $80,000 and $105,000 per year. Earning potential varies by location, experience, education, industry, employer and certification.

Skills needed for Software Engineering

Software engineering professionals are skill-based, requiring highly specialized training in both technical and non-technical areas. Employers seek candidates who possess a blend of technical and soft skills. Soft skills valued by employers include communication, organization, project management, problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making.

Beyond soft skills, software engineers also develop both technical and industry-specific skill sets that are applicable to all careers in computer engineering and specific areas of practice, respectively. Example technical skills include programming languages, computer hardware and software, and system architecture.

Preparing for a career in Software Engineering

  1. Earn a degree in software engineering or a related field. Most software engineer positions require a bachelor’s degree.Majoring in software engineering will provide the most useful background for designing and perfecting software. To prepare for your career, here are some things you can do.
  2. Begin programming immediately. Even if you’re still in grade school, you can give yourself a huge head start by teaching yourself programming. Software engineering is not focused exclusively on coding, but you will need to know at least a couple languages, and a deeper understanding of how they function. There is no widespread agreement on which languages are most useful, but these are all popular choices:
    • C++
    • C#
    • Java
    • JavaScript
    • Python
  3. Study math. Software engineers sometimes create the mathematical algorithms that allow software to function. Focus on developing and maintaining your math skills in order to do your best once you’ve obtained a position as a software engineer.
  4. Build software. The best way to improve your skills is to use them. Whether professional projects or personal, designing and coding software will teach you a great deal. For many employers, hands-on achievements matter more than GPA or theoretical knowledge.
  5. Seek an internship. Many software engineering students work as interns while they complete their studies. This can be an excellent way to gain hands-on training and network with potential employers
  6. Consider your career goals. The software industry is always changing. Continually improve your knowledge and practical skills. Join a professional organization like ACM or IEEE for networking opportunities. Pursue certifications relevant to your field of interest. See Snow tiers for opportunities to start your software engineering pathway.

Available Professional Certifications

There are a variety of certifications you can seek to demonstrate your skill with particular languages, products, or job roles. Some reflect broad knowledge, others focus on narrow skills in specialized areas.

Application engineers with broad knowledge may want to pursue credentials through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The IEEE Society’s software development credentials reflect the knowledge in the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge Guide (SWEBOK). They are internationally recognized.