Software EngineerWhat is software engineering? This term describes the design, development, and testing of computer software applications and programs. Professionals who work in the software engineering field analyze the needs of consumers or users and then develop a program that meets these needs, starting with the inception of the product through the building, testing, and consumer roll-out of the software. Read on to learn more about the field of software engineering.

Working Environment

Software engineers typically work for large computer firms in the technology industry, as leaders of teams that include software developers, programmers, and testers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 32 percent of software engineers work in systems design and related services, 9 percent in computer and electronic product manufacturing, 8 percent in finance and insurance, and 7 percent in software companies.

Becoming a Software Engineer

Software engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, as well as several years of experience in designing and building computer programs. Many software engineers first work as computer programmers; a solid background in programming is essential for the engineering role, as you must be able to understand how software is designed and constructed. An internship for a software developer is a good first step to familiarize yourself with the field. Software engineering programs are rare at the bachelor’s degree level, although it is possible to get a graduate degree specifically in this realm. Because software engineers are responsible for the entire program from start to finish, computer skills are just one of the core requirements. Engineers must have excellent people skills, including customer service, communication, and analysis, as well as management experience, strong attention to detail, and the ability to solve problems both independently and as a team member.

Software Engineering Salary

The median annual salary for software engineers is $90,060, with the lowest paid 10 percent in this field making less than $55,000 per year and the highest paid 10 percent making more than $138,880. The highest paid jobs are typically in computer and electronic product manufacturing, followed by software publishing and finance and insurance.

Career Outlook for Software Engineers

There are currently more than a million software engineers in the United States, and this field is expected to grow by 22 percent by the year 2022. By contrast, most occupations grow at a rate of just 11 percent. Combined with the high pay, job stability makes software engineering careers an excellent choice for creative students with computer aptitude and strong attention to detail. 222,600 new opportunities will be created by the increased demand for software applications as our society becomes increasingly technology-oriented.

Related Resource: Computer Engineering

With numbers like these, it’s obvious why software engineering was named one of the 50 best careers by U.S. News and World Report. To learn more about what is a software engineer, consult professional societies such as the IEEE Computer Society or the Association for Computing Machinery.