Computer software engineers enjoy high salaries, excellent benefits and often work in comfortable office environments. Job outlook in this field is good, with demand for computer software engineers expected to increase by as much as 21% by 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Computer software engineers are generally college educated, and may have several industry certifications and associations to increase their value to potential employers.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
The scope of jobs handled by computer software engineers has changed dramatically over the past decade, and is expected to continue its rapid evolution in response to changing technology. Computer software engineers require continuous education and training to stay on top of the curve, but much of this can be accomplished in a self study environment with certifications to prove skills once the computer software engineer has a foot in the door in this demanding field.
Computer Software Engineer Job Responsibilities
Computer software engineers are responsible for the design, development, testing and deployment of the computer software used in businesses and homes every day. There are two primary classifications of computer software engineers:
- Computer applications engineers
- Computer systems software engineers
Computer applications engineers will analyze the needs of users, and design, develop, test, deploy and maintain software installations in an organization’s computing environment. These software engineers often custom craft programs to meet the needs of users within their organization. Software spans the spectrum from accounting applications to knowledge management software and more.
Computer systems software engineers may have some crossover in responsibilities with computer applications engineers, but are primarily responsible for the core computing of the organization. Installations of operating system software, upgrades, updates, and intranet / internet access of the organizations systems fall within the realm of the systems software engineer. Systems software engineers are also responsible for planning for extensibility (or expansion) as new users are added to the network.
Computer Software Engineer Training and Education Requirements
Most computer software engineers have attained at least a four-year degree in their field of specialization. Certifications are often used to supplement degrees and a wide variety of certifications are available to computer software engineers. Most organizations will want to see a combination of education and certifications on resumes from applicants fresh from college. Internships completed during college will help new graduates obtain their first position as a computer software engineer. Though some companies are willing to hire self-taught computer software engineers with little experience or training, this is a rarity. Those individuals serious about seeking a career in this field should invest in a college education to make themselves more competitive in the job market.
Computer Software Engineer Salary and Wages
According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer software engineers were paid in 2008 an average annual salary of $94,520. Computer applications engineers were paid slightly less, with an average annual salary of $87,900. In addition to the high salaries qualified computer software engineers bring home, many companies offer excellent benefit packages to keep talented software engineers on their payroll. In addition to health and dental insurance, some companies are offering perks like profit sharing, paid cell phone service, company cars and more.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
In some cases, computer software engineers can expect to work long hours during project roll outs or in the event of a system failure. Some companies choose to hire computer software engineers on a salaried basis for this reason, as opposed to paying an hourly wage.
Computer Software Engineer Certifications
Numerous certifications are available for computer software engineers from big name brands like Novell, Microsoft, and Oracle. These product specific certifications tell potential employers what level of knowledge the computer software engineer has with the software. The certifying authority for a product specific certification is the manufacturer of the software, and they control registries, test questions and environments, and exam costs. Many computer software manufacturers offer their own branded training courses at a premium to help computer software engineers attain their certifications, but this is often not required to obtain the certification.
Many other certifications are available to computer software engineers, including certifications for Linux products, specific programming languages, computer networking, and more. New certifications are being added a rapid pace as technology continues to evolve, and this rapid evolution is not expected to stop anytime soon. Some certifications have more value to employers than others, and computer software engineers should check to see what benefits he can expect from a particular certification before committing to the time and expense involved in obtaining the certification.
Computer Software Engineer Professional Associations
One of the most prominent of professional associations for computer software engineers is the IEEE Computer Society. This elite association only accepts members that have sufficient work experience and have attained a four-year degree in a relevant field of study. Additionally, members are required to pass a written test before becoming a certified member of this organization.