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Software Engineering: Software Engineering Degree, Computer Software Engineer Career

A qualified computer software engineer is involved with the development, design, and implementation of various computer applications and systems based on users' needs. Software engineering degree programs train students to create and convert programs, analyze and provide solutions for computer-related problems, and design efficient software and systems. A computer software engineer may specialize in a particular field such as applications software or systems configuration. Courses in software engineering allow students to gain experience with both hands-on training and theoretical studies.

What Is Software Engineering?

Software engineering involves the design, analysis, and tailoring of specific applications for the development of computer software. It may be necessary to ask 'What is software engineering?' before pursuing a computer science or related degree program. Software engineers often become specialized within a particular field and become coders where they build systems and applications. They may also be involved with the technical aspect where they are responsible for modifying and designing existing applications. Others may be involved with maintaining a computer or company's network. Depending on the complexity of the software involved, each software engineer will require varying levels of training and certification for different programs.

Software Engineering Job Description and Responsibilities

A software engineer is responsible for a variety of tasks and applications in programming, and the scope of their work will depend on their specialization. The most common responsibilities of a software engineer include

  • Programming and coding

  • Compiling code and implementing it in various programs for testing

  • Working with and developing text editors

  • Building new systems and applications

  • Programming networks

  • Maintaining a network

  • Determining efficient coding processes and procedures

  • Diagnosing bugs and software problems

  • Configuring software to meet a client or company's needs

A computer software engineer can pursue a variety of career options and increase credentials with experience. Certification in a specific area does not limit career opportunities in the field, and the computer software industry is rapidly advancing.

Common Positions with a Software Engineer Career

A software engineering degree program offers many career options within the field. The most common types of software engineering career options include:

  • Computer Applications Software Engineer
  • Computer Systems Software Engineer
  • Computer Software Analyst
  • Computer Software Technician
  • Support Technician
  • Computer Software Designer
  • Computer Software Testing Manager

A computer applications software engineer is commonly involved with analysis, design, construction, and maintenance of software and utility programs. They are most often trained in the leading programming languages such as C and C++. Fortran, COBOL, and Java certification may also be required further in the career.

Computer systems software engineers are involved with the organization and maintenance of entire computer systems. They may work on intranets and on the web to create dynamic software components for clients. Companies that hire a computer systems software engineer are often looking for the configuration and implementation of a complete network. They may also be involved with technical support and helping troubleshoot various elements of computer software.

Startup companies often hire a computer software engineer to design, construct, and implement an efficient system. This makes it easy for a qualified computer software engineer to work on a freelance basis as an independent contractor, in addition to being hired on a salary basis by a firm.

Software Engineering Degree Programs and Training

Many students pursue a bachelor of science (BS in software engineering) after completing preliminary studies in a two-year computer science education. A BS in software engineering allows prospective graduates to learn the principles of software design, as well as the creative skills to develop and implement new software and networks of their own. Academic programs in the field of software engineering allows students to work as software developers, consultants, within government firms, or in the field of computer science as a researcher.

Systems software engineering jobs require at least a bachelor's degree in computer science with applicable training. Certification is often a part of the software engineering degree program, but students may also choose to pursue other levels of certification on their own. Independent study guides are available for almost all national certification programs. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society offers professional certification in a variety of programming languages and software applications. After completing the examination, the individual earns the credential of a Certified Software Development Professional.

With the rapid technological advances in the industry, those with a BS in software engineering plus certification will have the most opportunities for advancement. Private training institutions also offer opportunities for enhancing any education, and many employers may also offer training options as part of their benefits package.

A high school background in mathematics, physics, statistics, and computer science will be most beneficial for those interested in pursuing a software engineer career. The most common divisions for software engineer training include:

  • Aspects programming
  • Agile software development
  • Experimental software engineering
  • Model driven software development
  • Software product lines

Future Employment Prospects and Earning Potential for a Software Engineer Career

The rapid advances in software engineering and development provide attractive opportunities for a software engineer career. The demand for qualified and skilled computer software engineers is expected to increase with the rise in computer networks and expanding Internet technologies. The highest growth areas in the industry include wireless and mobile technologies, website development, online software processing, systems software, and customized software solutions technology. The industry is becoming more competitive because firms are contracting lower-level tasks abroad; a software engineer needs to grow and develop their skills and education in order to stay competitive.

The median salary for a computer software engineer was $70,900 in 2002, with increasing options for those with certification and experience. Many computer software engineers are hired on a temporary or contract basis, and often work independently as a consultant. Related occupations include:

  • Computer systems analysts

  • Computer engineers

  • Statisticians

  • Database administrators

  • Computer support specialists

  • Computer network engineers


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