Engineering careers dominate the list of the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S., and computer software engineering makes an appearance twice on the list. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of 30.4 percent between 2008 and 2018 for computer systems software engineers, with 34 percent growth for applications software engineers. A May 2011 article in Computer World magazine describes software engineering as a top job, declaring, "Software engineers are back."
Bachelor's and master's degrees common in software engineering
While associate degrees and certificates can introduce students to technology and programming, training for computer software engineers typically requires a longer commitment.
- Bachelor's degree: The most common requirement for entry-level jobs in engineering, a four-year degree gives students a well-rounded education with an emphasis in software construction, testing design patterns and more.
- Master's degree: The next step from a bachelor's degree is a master's degree, allowing students to focus on core components of applications or system software engineering. High-level positions may require a master's degree, along with some research jobs and careers at companies with high competition, like NASA.
Relevant computer software engineering skills
Complex problem solving and reasoning skills are valued among software engineers. The most skilled engineers are not only able to identify when a piece of software has an issue; they also have the technical skill to diagnose, repair and test the issue. These specialized engineers can learn a facility with development and database management software, but complex problem-solving skills and systems analysis ability should come naturally.
Earning online degrees in computer software engineering
Studying computer software engineering within a high-tech medium offers potential benefits. Beyond the flexibility and convenience of an online education, pursuing online degrees in computer software engineering means self-directed, hands-on distance learning. Working remotely gives students a chance to network with peers and professors across the country, which could build a greater potential understanding of the job climate. Working with remote colleagues is often an important skill in high-tech settings.
Using software, programming code and other resources, e-learning students can work in a model engineering environment. With development environments like IBM Rational Rose XDE, it is possible to simulate real-world software engineering issues. Students can work individually or in groups without having to share a computer screen.
Careers and salaries for computer software engineers
The BLS estimated the following mean annual wages in 2010 for computer software careers:
- Applications software developers: $90,410
- Software developers for systems software: $97,960
- Applications software developers working in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing: $105,480
The job market for trained software engineers evolves as quickly as the technology itself. In a July 2011 issue of Computer magazine--a publication funded by the IEEE computer society--articles covered topics including cybersecurity, innovation at Google, face recognition technology, cloud computing and Web 3.0.
Computer software engineering at a glance
- Popular careers: systems engineer, software architect, systems analyst, system designer
- Potential employers: Corporations, government agencies such as NASA, hospitals or school systems
- Growth trend: The evolution of mobile applications, the Internet and software systems could mean an increased need for software engineers
- Wages: $105,480 for applications software developers working in computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing