As IT technologies, mobile use, and internet access become ever more accessible and widespread, the software engineer industry is also expanding, to accommodate society’s increasing needs. Nowadays, apps and computer systems are everywhere, from your computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet, right down to several of your home appliances, your car, or even your home’s temperature control system. All these reasons, plus several others that we explore below, make the software engineer jobs appear highly appealing. It does take a lot of hard work and life-long learning to stay on top of one’s game in the industry but, by and large, the software engineer salary and software engineer job outlook make it seem like it’s all worth it.
Software Engineer Job Description
In a nutshell, software developers or engineers are those creative minds responsible for creating any and all types of computer programs. Some work at micro level, in that they create specific applications and software used by individuals in order to perform certain tasks on their desktop and laptop computers, or on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Meanwhile, other developers devise the architecture of IT systems.
Since the IT software industry is very complex, the typical software engineer job description is also highly variegated. Given the fact that the title includes the word ‘developer’, it goes without saying that these professionals are in charge with the entire software development process from beginning to end. The process starts out with the developers analyzing the needs and requirements of the users and goes on with designing, testing, and developing software that fulfills those criteria. Developers who work with specific clients are also in charge of recommending upgrades for the software that has already been installed on their systems. A software dev will create each component of the application or system they use and map out the way in which they interact. In order to help the programmers write the appropriate code for each piece of software, developers design charts, visual models, and diagrams explaining the structure of the app.
Once the software has been designed, developers need to maintain and test it periodically, on as wide a range of systems as possible, to ensure it is running properly. Another part of this maintenance and quality assurance process is to create the proper documentation that will enable other developers to maintain and update the applications. In designing, developing, and maintaining software, developers often work together with a host of other computer specialists, such as code programmers, designers, and IT system experts.
Software Engineer Education Requirements and Training
Becoming an engineer typically entails getting a degree in computer science as well as continuously honing one’s computer programming skills. Aside from a degree in the field of computer science per se, these professionals can hail from a math or engineering academic background. Some may even choose to further their education and make themselves more attractive to high-level employees, who require applicants to hold a master’s degree in any of the above fields. However, most of them choose computer science degrees, because such programs cover a wide range of useful subjects. The typical course load should include software building classes, which eventually prove their utility in the work field.
There are two essential ingredients in the formal training background of a successful software developer. First off, they need to be able to write code, i.e. know enough about computer programming to be aware of how it’s done. Though this is not the main task they are in charge with at work, studying computer programming in school pays off. To boot, developers also need to keep up to date with the latest developments in software tools and computer languages throughout their careers. Secondly, developers are also supposed to hone skills that directly tie in to the specific industry they work in. For instance, a developer who designs applications for the banking industry is supposed to know enough about finance to gauge the IT needs of a typical bank.
Software Engineer Salary or Wages
As of May 2012, the median yearly software engineer salary stood at $93,350* which is far above the nationwide average for all the occupations ($34,750 that same month). This, of course, should come as no surprise, since most professions in the IT industry pay very well. The top 10 percent of earners in software development earned over $138,880, while the bottom 10th percentile made less than $55,190. That being said, it’s also worth noting that a system software developer salary is the highest one in the business, as far as median yearly wages go. In May 2012, according to the same sources, the median yearly wage for a system software dev stood at $99,000. Meanwhile, the median annual salary for a developer that designs applications was $90,060 that same month.
The best paying industries for software developers of all types in May 2012 were computer and electronic product manufacturing ($97,960 median yearly wage), software publishing ($96,920), finance and insurance ($91,970), and computer system design ($88,500). The top paying industries for system developers were basically the same, with some significant differences in the amount of yearly wages actually earned: computer and electronic product manufacturing ($105,030 median yearly wage), finance and insurance ($99,940), software publishing ($99,750), and computer system design ($98,500).
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Software Engineer Job Outlook
The software engineer job outlook for the 2012-2022 decade is positive and highly encouraging. The industry is expected to grow by 22 percent*, which is far better than the 11 percent average for all the occupations. The field of app development will grow by 23 percent over that same span of time, while that of systems development will increase by 20 percent. The reasons for this massive projected growth are easy to grasp. As technologies become more affordable and widely accessible, and as mobile technology spreads, new applications and computer systems will be required. At the same time, new developments in the field of computer system security have also increased the need for safer IT infrastructure and applications.
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/