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INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CAREER GUIDES

Software Engineer Career

OVERVIEW

What Is a Software Engineer?


 

Software engineers stimulate technological transformation and create scalable software solutions. The application of computer science  and engineering principles to the design, development, and maintenance of reliable, efficient and user-friendly software. ​They may ensure applications and programs are running smoothly and effectively while also driving digital improvements. They create, test, and maintain networking control systems, computer programs, and business-wide operating systems

In 2019, there were 1,469,200 software engineer jobs, and demand is expected to continue increasing. Software engineer roles are highly valued and generally well-paying; a lucrative career option for those who enjoy solving problems and using technology to drive innovation.

RESPONSIBILITIES

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

With a blend of creative and technical skills, software engineers develop and maintain computer programs, applications, and systems. From cloud engineering to app development, software engineers are adept problem-solvers with a deep level of technical expertise. Launching and collaborating on new projects, assessing system problems, and making informed suggestions are just a few of the responsibilities of a software engineer

If you enjoy the technical side of things and are comfortable working both on a team and individually, consider software engineering. Here’s what software engineers are typically responsible for:  

  • Assess software needs. Software engineers must understand the needs of an organization and help provide software solutions. 
  • Design and build new systems. With a focus on cybersecurity and efficiency, software engineers design and develop systems to meet organization needs. In collaboration with other engineers and developers, you’ll create, upgrade, or fix software systems. 
  • Lead web development. Some software engineers are focused on front-end and back-end web development. Whether upgrading a small section of the website or doing a complete website overhaul, software engineers work with other developers and designers to make adjustments and meet an organization’s goals. 
  • Iterate and test new systems and applications. Software engineers need to be able to troubleshoot, test, and debug software. Your organization counts on you to keep systems running smoothly and efficiently.  
  • Provide documentation for future software engineers. Software engineers are sure to create and maintain accurate records and documents to pass down and sustain software maintenance among future software engineers. 
  • Separation of concerns: This principle states that software should be designed in such a way that each component has a single, well-defined responsibility. This makes the software easier to understand, maintain, and extend.
  • Modularity: This principle states that software should be designed in such a way that it can be easily decomposed into smaller modules. This makes the software easier to develop, test, and debug.
  • Abstraction: This principle states that software should be designed in such a way that it hides the details of implementation and exposes only the essential information that is needed by the user. This makes the software easier to use and understand.
  • Anticipation of change: This principle states that software should be designed in such a way that it is easy to change. This is important because software requirements often change over time.
  • Generality: This principle states that software should be designed in such a way that it can be used in a variety of contexts. This makes the software more reusable and adaptable.

EDUCATION & BEST DEGREES

How Do I Become a Software Engineer?

Employers need software engineers who have a working knowledge of and experience with relevant technologies. While some software engineers are self-taught, most gain their core IT skills by pursuing an education.  

Step 1: Earn your bachelor’s degree 

Combining technical skills and practical knowledge, earning a bachelor’s degree is an ideal first step for your software engineering career. A bachelor’s degree in information technology or in software engineering will help you understand data structures and artificial intelligence while gaining skills in logic and computer theory.

Step 2: Boost your résumé with industry certifications

Industry certifications not only prepare you with the skills you need for the field, but they also give you extra credentials to stand out to employers. Two common certifications are the ITIL® Foundation Certification and CompTIA Project certifications. 

Step 3: Practice coding and create your portfolio

Through an internship, full-time job, or on your own, practice coding and create your portfolio of work. One option is to build your own website to showcase your past projects and abilities. Or, list these experiences to build your résumé and boost your career outlook. 

Step 4: Consider specializing

There are many different specializations to choose from as a software engineer. For example, web developers are software engineers focused only on the web and apps. Front-end web developers work with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, while back-end developers work with programming languages like Java, Ruby, and Python. Or, you could do front and back end development as a full stack developer.

What Degrees are Best for a Software Engineer?

Information Technology – B.S.

Award-winning coursework and value-add certifications make this online...

Award-winning coursework and value-add certifications make this online program a top choice.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 48 months.
  • Tuition: $3,625 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 36 total courses in this program.

Certifications included in this program at no additional cost:

  • CompTIA A+ 
  • CompTIA Network+ 
  • CompTIA Security+ 
  • CompTIA Project+ 
  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist
  • CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist 
  • Amazon AWS Cloud Practitioner
  • ITIL®*^ Foundation Certification
  • LPI Linux Essentials

Job titles this degree may prepare you for include:

  • Application developer
  • Business systems analyst
  • IT manager
  • Database administrator

Software Engineering – B.S.

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger opportunities....

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger opportunities.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish similar programs within 40 months.
  • Tuition: $3,985 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 36 or 38 total courses in this program depending on your track.

Certifications included in this program at no additional cost are:

  • CompTIA Project +
  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner 
  • ITIL®1 Foundation Certification

There are a wide variety of job titles this degree program prepares students for, including:

  • Software Engineer
  • Application Analyst
  • Software Tester
  • Systems Analyst
  • Multimedia Programmer

Software engineers are in-demand across organizations in every industry. Secure your future with a degree and additional certifications.

Web Application Deployment and Support Certificate – College of IT

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey with the...

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey with the help of the Web Application Deployment and Support Certificate from the College of IT, powered by WGU Academy.

  • Time: 5 months from start to finish.
  • Cost: $2,950 for the certificate.
  • Courses: 4 courses total in this program.

This certificate also offers two industry certifications, Linux Essentials and AWS Cloud, which will add extra power to your portfolio of experience. You are also guaranteed admission into a WGU College of IT degree program. This certificate will prepare you for the next step in your career.

This program is ideal for individuals who have 3-5 years of IT experience and a basic understanding of scripting languages and SQL. Prerequisites include: Experience with either Python or Java or another high-order OO (object-oriented) programming language along with Git, experience with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and experience with a major DBMS (database management system) - MySQL (preferred), SQL Server, Oracle, MariaDB, etc.

 

Accelerated Information Technology Bachelor's and Master's Degree

Earn both your bachelor’s in IT and master’s in IT management at a faster...

Earn both your bachelor’s in IT and master’s in IT management at a faster pace with fewer courses.

  • Time: Approximately 5 years.
  • Tuition: $3,735 per 6-month term for the bachelor's degree; $3,940 per term for the master's portion.
  • Courses: 42 total courses in this program.

Certifications included in this program at no additional cost:

  • CompTIA A+ 
  • CompTIA Network+ 
  • CompTIA Security+ 
  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist
  • CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist 
  • Amazon AWS Cloud Practitioner
  • ITIL®*^ Foundation Certification
  • PMI CAPM
  • LPI Linux Essentials

This program allows students to earn their bachelor's degree in IT and move directly into a master's degree in IT management, cutting down on the total number of courses to complete.

How Much Does a Software Engineer Make?

$124,400

Software engineering is a lucrative industry. Because of the very specific skills you need for this profession, organizations are willing to pay well for these employees. Median income falls around $124,400, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?

22%

The BLS estimates the demand for software engineers to grow by 22%. Part of the reason for this growth is because almost all industries require software engineers. Because of the high demand, the BLS projects over 530,000 new jobs in the field. 

SKILLS

What Skills Does a Software Engineer Need?

Software engineers can analyze, design, and manage various technologies. More often than not, software engineers collaborate in a team of other developers and technology specialists. Because you’ll often work across departments, it’s important to be a strong communicator. 

Each role will require a different set of hard technical skills, such as programming languages or specific software. Here are some of the software engineering skills you’ll need: 

  • The skill to provide technological support and maintenance across systems. 
  • Strong analytical skills and an affinity for solving problems. 
  • The ability to collaborate across teams and functions, including project managers, designers, and data scientists.  
  • A knowledge of agile working environments and a willingness to solve complex problems.
  • A deep understanding of coding and program languages like Java, SQL, and Python.  
  • Strong communication skills to coordinate with team members and supervisors.
  • The ability to switch between tasks and prioritize deadlines. 
  • The ability to interpret key elements from technical specifications and documents.

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

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Interested in Becoming a Software Engineer?

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