Software Engineering Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-09-0825 min read

A software engineering degree from an accredited institution can set you on the path to a successful software engineering career.

Acquiring an education along these lines helps you develop the necessary skills to create software, build applications, and develop digital systems to improve business processes..

This resource explores software engineering careers, degree options, salary figures, job outlook, and other valuable information to improve career prospects.

Read on to discover everything you need to begin your software engineering journey today.

Why Choose Software Engineering Careers?

Like most tech jobs, software engineering offers impressive career paths with room for growth and job satisfaction. In addition, they provide flexibility and the ability to capitalize on your strengths while working in various industries.

You can explore sectors like healthcare, banking and finance, telecommunications, eCommerce, retail, and more. And according to BLS, software engineering careers command some of the highest salaries in the US.

According to Developer Survey results, software engineers are lifelong learners, with most teaching themselves new programming languages and frameworks. Their diverse skills and thirst for knowledge allow them to capitalize on a booming industry and render the services needed.

So, if you fit this bill, why not explore this lucrative career path?

How to Start Your Software Engineering Career Journey

Formal education can lead to a successful software engineering career.

While getting entry-level jobs in this field through self-study or certifications is possible, a college degree program does more. It teaches other crucial skills like project management and problem-solving techniques while stimulating your critical thinking.

Here are a few educational paths you can explore.

Education Requirements

Associate Degree

An associate degree teaches software engineering fundamentals like web design, computer programming, database management, and more. This degree program prepares you for entry-level roles in software engineering fields or further education.

In addition, completing software engineering projects or business and management courses improves your career opportunities.

You can work as a computer programmer or web developer in several industries with an associate's degree.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in software engineering covers more ground than an associate's. It improves on the basics and offers comprehensive lessons on software design, programming languages, networking, and user interactions.

Some college programs prepare students for managerial roles by teaching leadership and administrative skills for higher-paying IT roles.

After this four-year program, you can qualify for jobs like information systems management, software development, network system administration, and more.

Master's Degree

Master's degree programs in software engineering provide more hands-on strategies that prepare you for leadership and management roles. As a result, professionals in this field handle more complex projects and coordinate IT departments.

Most master's programs explore contemporary approaches to software development and help improve your skills in software modeling, design, and testing skills. They also analyze the latest technological advancements and innovations.

A master's degree prepares you for roles like senior software engineer, solutions architect, computer network architect, and more.

Doctorate in Software Engineering

A doctorate in software engineering is the highest academic qualification you can get in this field. Unfortunately, not many colleges offer Ph.D. programs in this field.

Professionals in Ph.D. programs can delve deeper into policy and privacy laws, user trends, and economic theories surrounding information technology. They also learn advanced design and prototyping tools and management strategies for complex systems.

Most doctorates take anywhere from four to five years to complete.

Employment Prospects

Software engineers enjoy lucrative career paths in numerous industries and sectors. The demand for professionals with unique skill sets contributes to high employment rates in this field.

Several factors can affect your job prospects in this career path, from academic qualifications and level of experience to industry locations. In addition, specializing in new tech areas like virtual reality or blockchain can also improve your chances with employers in lucrative industries.

Software Engineering Career Forecast

According to BLS data, software engineering roles have faster growth rates than other occupations, with a 25% increase in employment within a decade. The department also projects around 162,000 job openings for software developers and related IT careers each year.

Technological advancements in AI software development, the Internet of Things, and other automation applications mean increased demand in software engineering roles for the foreseeable future.

Rising cybersecurity threats will also see more organizations investing in software that protects their computer networks and infrastructure. As a result, software engineering occupations will always remain lucrative careers with high prospects.

How to Boost your Software Engineering Career

Software engineering roles demand continuous learning processes and skill upgrades. And you can do this by earning postgraduate degrees or through certifications.

If you don't have the time to run a master's or doctoral program, coding bootcamps are excellent substitutes. They provide relevant skills that prepare you for entry-level to advanced careers in information technology.

You can also improve your skills and competitive edge with certifications like:

These credentials demonstrate to employers that you have what it takes to excel at your job.

You can also update your knowledge and skills through open courseware from Coursera, edX, or other online training programs and workshops. Joining a professional organization and networking with other tech experts can help boost your career.

Lucrative Software Engineering Career Paths

Software engineering is a lucrative field thanks to technological expansions in artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

These are some of the high-paying career paths in the field.

Software Engineer

Software engineers analyze user needs and build computer systems and applications to tackle user problems. You can qualify for this role with a college degree and a knack for solving complex problems.

While many hiring managers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in software engineering or related fields, some hire professionals with associate's degrees for entry-level roles.

Average Salary

Software engineers command high salaries since their expertise is indispensable to various industries and companies. Entry-level roles with less than one year of experience pay over $69,000.

Professionals with advanced skills and years of experience earn median wages of over $120,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Build and maintain software systems

  • Write and test code

  • Evaluate new software programs and applications

  • Consult with other tech professionals and stakeholders on software issues

  • Optimize software for scalability and speed

Industries Employing Software Engineers

Software engineers and developers hold about 1.4 million jobs in the US. Here are some of the highest-paying industries:

  • Software publishers

  • Finance and insurance

  • Computer systems design and related services

  • Administrative and support services

  • Retail and manufacturing

DevOps Engineer

DevOps engineers combine their engineering knowledge and coding skills to handle development and operational processes. They introduce techniques, methodologies, and tools to shorten the systems development lifecycle and deliver high-quality software.

A computer science degree or software engineering qualifies you for a lucrative DevOps engineering career. However, some employers accept certifications and related work experience instead.

Average Salary

According to Glassdoor, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and PayScale, DevOps engineers earn average salaries of around $100,000 to $150,000.

The amount depends on experience levels and location, as some senior DevOps engineers earn over $150,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Plan and oversee code release

  • Strategize workflows

  • Investigate bugs

  • Analyze data

  • Project management

  • Design and improve network infrastructure

Industries Employing DevOps Engineers

Industries with high demand for DevOps Engineers include:

  • Information technology services

  • Software publishers

  • Healthcare sectors

  • Finance and insurance

  • Inventory management

  • Data processing and hosting

Software Developer

Software developers and software engineers have similar roles, and most times, their job responsibilities intersect. In most cases, they are extensions of software engineers and focus on designing specific computer systems and application software.

You can qualify for this role with a bachelor's degree in software engineering or other related fields.

Average Salary

Software developers earn median salaries of $120,000, with the lowest 10% making around $60,000 and the highest 10% earning over $160,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design, build, and deploy software applications and systems

  • Monitor for bugs

  • Release software updates and changes

  • Discuss and analyze user requests

  • Recommend software upgrades to clients and managers

Industries Employing Software Developers

Some top-paying sectors for software developers include:

  • Information Technology Services

  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

  • Scientific Research and Development Services

  • Finance and Insurance

  • Software Publishers

  • Computer Systems Design

  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services

Network Systems Administrator

Network system administrators handle the daily operations of computer networks and other data communications systems. They manage their organization's computer network needs and ensure they operate correctly.

You can apply for roles in this field with a bachelor's degree in software engineering or other information technology programs and basic networking skills. Network administrator certifications can also increase your chances for higher-paying roles and career advancements.

Average Salary

The annual median salary for professionals in this field is over $80,000, with the highest 10% earning more than $130,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Determine the organization's network system needs

  • Install network software and hardware that solves an organization's system needs

  • Manage network and system security

  • Perform necessary upgrades and repairs to computer networks

  • Update network security permissions and train other users on system protocols

  • Analyze and optimize system performance.

Industries Employing Network Systems Administrators

Network systems administrators work in both IT and non-IT organizations, some of which include:

  • Financial Investments and Monetary Authorities

  • Telecommunications

  • Cable and Other Subscription Programming

  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

  • Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other

  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects evaluate companies' needs and design technological solutions for them. They manage all types of networks, from small office connections to cloud computing infrastructure.

Most employers hire professionals with a master's degree or advanced certifications to fill this position in their organizations.

With over 11,000 job openings for this role, the demand for computer network architects is high.

Average Salary

Most computer network architects earn over $120,000 yearly in median wages.

The least paid workers make around $60,000, while the highest-paid professionals earn over $160,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Develop plans and implement network systems that meet the company's needs

  • Manage the organization's information and network security

  • Conduct maintenance and repairs of network equipment

  • Upgrade hardware to support computer networks (i.e., routers, software, network drivers)

  • Research new networking terms and terminologies

  • Access new technologies and adopt best practices for networks

Industries Employing Computer Network Architects

Some of the largest employers of computer network architects include:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services

  • Telecommunications

  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services

  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank

  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

  • Component Manufacturing

Solutions Architect

These professionals are responsible for the overall technical vision behind IT-related solutions in companies and organizations. Solutions architects design bridges between technological advancements and business problems.

They analyze the organization's needs and available software before suggesting possible solutions and improvement areas.

Average Salary

Solutions architects command median wages of over $120,000 annually. Entry-level positions with less than one year of experience earn around $70,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Develop roadmaps and plans for proposed solutions

  • Create a solution prototype

  • Communicate new software features with stakeholders and partners

  • Perform performance analysis on solutions

  • Debug and review software programs

  • Monitor new or upgraded systems

Industries Employing Solutions Architects

Solutions architects ensure that projects meet deadlines and effectively solve user problems. As a result, their skills are valuable across several industries like:

  • IT and software firms

  • Manufacturing

  • Finance and insurance

  • Telecommunications

  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting Services

Information Systems Manager

Professionals in this field manage and oversee their organizations' computer-related activities. They lead IT departments and ensure everyone works effectively together to meet deadlines and targets.

Most employers prefer candidates with postgraduate degrees or an MBA for higher-paying roles. However, some information systems managers start in lower-level managerial positions and advance to higher roles after several years.

Average Salary

Information systems managers earn over $150,000 in annual median wages, with the lowest 10% making less than $95,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Identify software problem areas and make improvements

  • Manage and direct other IT professionals

  • Analyze the company's software needs and recommend upgrades

  • Manage computer software installations and maintenance

  • Assess costs and benefits of company projects

  • Conduct software training

Industries Employing Information Systems Managers

Sectors with a high concentration of information systems managers include:

  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank

  • Software Publishers

  • Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing

  • Finance and Insurance

  • Information Services

  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services

  • Natural Gas Distribution

Web Developers

Web developers build websites and ensure they are visually appealing and accessible. These professionals are also responsible for the site's performance and capacity after launch.

Web developers specialize in categories like back-end, front-end, full-stack development, or webmasters. Full-stack developers handle front-end and back-end roles, while webmasters manage the website and ensure each page works correctly.

Average Salary

Web developers earn annual median wages of around $79,000, with the highest 10% making over $160,000 yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design user interface and the website's functionalities

  • Create mockups and prototypes

  • Monitor web traffic

  • Boost website traffic and consumer engagement with user-centered experiences

  • Troubleshoot website problems

  • Work with database administrators to determine the website's data content

Industries Employing Web Developers

These top-paying industries employ the most web developers to create websites for their businesses:

  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank

  • Specialized Design Services

  • Management of Companies and Enterprises

  • Insurance Carriers

  • Publishing Industries

  • Sound Recording Industries

  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Professionals in this field design and develop new software or programming languages to improve the efficiency of computer systems. They do this with algorithms.

Computer and information research scientists can decide to specialize in programming or robotics, where they improve programming languages or design robot software.

Most employers prefer candidates with a doctorate in software engineering for this role.

Average Salary

Computer and information research scientists earn annual median wages of around $130,000, at $63 per hour. And according to the Labor Department, it's one of the highest-paying roles in the tech field, with over 3000 openings yearly.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Identify computing problems and develop theories and models to solve them

  • Research and test new applications

  • Design and perform experiments to test software systems

  • Invent new computing methods, languages, and tools to improve user interactions with computers

  • Present findings in published journals or magazines

Industries Employing Computer and Information Research Scientists

Sectors with the highest employment rates for Computer and Information Research Scientists include:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services

  • Software Publishers

  • Scientific Research and Development Services

  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools

  • Other information services

Computer Systems Analyst

Computer systems analysts evaluate companies' software and hardware needs and design solutions to improve efficiency. You can qualify for this role with a bachelor's degree in software engineering or other computer science programs.

A master's degree also opens you to technically complex jobs and helps you navigate the business and management part of the job.

Average Salary

Computer systems analysts earn over $90,000 yearly in median wages, with the highest 10% making over $150,000. The lowest 10% earn around $60,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Conduct research on new technologies

  • Configure software and hardware and design new systems

  • Add new functionalities to computer systems

  • Analyze systems costs and benefits

  • Run network tests to ensure full functionality

  • Write instruction manuals and train users

Industries Employing Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts work in top-paying sectors like:

  • Oil and Gas Extraction

  • Finance and Insurance

  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

  • Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services

  • Scientific Research and Development Services

Pros and Cons of Software Engineering Careers

Software engineering careers are the creme de la creme of the tech field, with most professionals earning six-figure salaries. However, the career has a few downsides to consider.


  • High demand in several industries

  • Remote-friendly jobs

  • Impressive salaries and benefits

  • Room for career advancements

  • Freelance possibilities

  • High job satisfaction

  • Adequate work-life balance


  • Continuous learning process

  • Demanding hours

  • Highly competitive field

  • You have to stay updated on technological advancements

Skills You'll Develop With Your Software Engineering Degree

A software engineering degree provides valuable skills to enjoy a lucrative career, from advanced programming knowledge to effective communication.

These are a few of them.

Extensive Programming Language Knowledge

Most bachelor's degree programs in software engineering explore several programming languages and frameworks. And after you graduate, you can choose which languages to study further.

Java and JavaScript are the go-to languages for most software engineers, as many hiring managers prefer candidates who are proficient in them.

Python is another crucial language to learn extensively since over 50% of employers look for professionals fluent in Python. In addition, it's flexible and provides foundational knowledge of other programming languages like HTML and C.

Project Management

Software engineers work with IT and non-IT departments to ensure projects meet deadlines and satisfy industry standards. As a result, you need to hone this skill and learn how to work in group settings.

Excellent project management skills mean you can handle software issues without sacrificing quality or resources.

Analytical and Critical Thinking

These skills help you conceptualize and apply computer software principles. Taking the time to analyze the pros and cons of every approach before starting a project allows you to build strategy while avoiding preventable errors.

Critical thinking skills are one of the benefits of formal schooling, as you learn from past experiences and translate them into your work.

Computer Science Principles

A software engineering degree equips you with the processes, methods, and tools for designing and building computer software. In addition, these programs teach computer science principles that make it easy to analyze, code, test, and manage software systems.

Developing this skill helps improve your career options since it demonstrates your extensive knowledge of computer systems to hiring managers.

Effective Communication Skills

Software engineers are effective communicators, especially when relaying information and explaining business opportunities to stakeholders or investors.

Good communication skills create a better work environment for teams, save time, and reduce error margins in software development.

It also gives you a competitive advantage over other candidates in the job market and increases your value in an organization.

How to Prepare for a Software Engineering Career

1. Get a Degree or Certification

You have two options here.

You can choose the college route and earn an associate's or a bachelor's degree in software engineering or related disciplines. Or, you can enroll in a bootcamp program and fast-track the learning process.

Both options are great choices. However, a college degree provides foundational knowledge of computer science principles, and you learn from scratch.

Bootcamps teach coding fundamentals and help you gain work experience through internships and capstone projects.

2. Apply for Internships in Related Fields

After graduating from your preferred learning program, you need work experience to build a decent portfolio.

While you can find entry-level positions in software engineering that demand little to no work experience, it's not always the case. Sometimes you need to apply for unpaid internship positions to build your portfolio or contribute to open-source coding projects.

3. Pursue an Area of Specialization

You can decide to specialize in a single programming language or development type. For example, you can explore specialty areas like web development, DevOps, mobile development, or technical stacks like Ruby or Python.

Before specializing in a specific area, start with general roles and hone your skills. You can also apply for certification programs and boost your skillsets.

4. Network with Other Professionals

Education and skills open doors, but networking with the right professionals further advances your career. You can join professional organizations and learn from industry experts.

Join online communities and forums and make new contacts.

5. Keep Learning

Software engineering is a never-ending learning process as technology is constantly advancing. Therefore, you need to stay ahead of the curve by furthering your education and evolving with technological trends.

Learn new skills through online courses, side projects, or coding community involvement. Mistakes are inevitable sometimes, but the important thing is learning valuable lessons from your experience.

Software Engineering Resources to Help Your Career

This field has numerous helpful resources in online magazines and journals, open courseware, and professional organizations.

Online publications like Embedded, Linux Magazine, The Next Web, Computerworld, and more, offer tips and industry news on innovative tech solutions. You can also contribute ideas and stories to these websites and access community forums and events.

You can learn new programming languages or familiarize yourself with industry best practices with online courses from institutions like the University of Minnesota or Alberta. In addition, Duke University offers specialized courses that teach advanced Java programming concepts, algorithm designs, and more.

Professional organizations connect you to industry experts in the software engineering field, where members share ideas and growth opportunities.

Here are some good ones to join:

How to Switch to a Software Engineering Career

Transitioning to a career in software engineering depends on your ambitions and experience in tech. The process is less complicated if you already have a degree in computer science or related fields.

You can brush up on foundational software development courses online and take certification exams to boost your skill sets. Another option is to apply for a master's degree in software engineering or computer science.

However, if you are switching from a non-technical background or unrelated disciplines, you may need to earn a bachelor's degree. You have an advantage if you transfer from the business and project management fields.

If you can't wait four years to switch careers, enrolling in an intensive bootcamp or getting an associate's degree are other safe options.

Organizations like Udacity and The Software Guild host coding bootcamps and offer relevant certifications upon completion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is software engineering?

Software engineering is the technical branch of engineering that designs, develops, and tests software applications and systems. Tech experts introduced this field to address problems with low-quality software projects.

This career path adopts computing approaches for developing, operating, and maintaining computer software and networks.

What certification do I need for a software engineering career?

You can qualify for entry-level software engineering jobs with an associate's degree. However, you get higher-paying roles with a bachelor's degree or other postgraduate certifications.

These professional certifications enhance your skillsets and offer competitive advantages over other candidates:

Can I get a software engineering degree online?

Yes, you can.

Several online accredited colleges and institutions offer software engineering degrees, from associate to doctorate. An associate's degree prepares professionals for web design and computer programming basics, while a bachelor's offers electives in advanced courses.

Master's and doctorate degrees explore software development lifecycles and prepare you for leadership and management positions.

What fields can software engineers work in?

Software engineers can work in multiple industries and sectors, depending on their education, skills, and experience.

Some lucrative software engineering fields include banking and finance, healthcare, information technology, telecommunications, data processing, cybersecurity, video games, and entertainment.

Is there a high demand for software engineering roles?

According to the Labor Department (BLS), software engineering roles have higher average growth rates than other occupations. The site shows over 160,000 job openings yearly for software developers, software testers, and quality assurance analysts.

Final Thoughts

A career in software engineering offers numerous employment prospects, job satisfaction, and room for growth in a competitive industry. The employment outlook and job openings are unrivaled among other non-technical occupations.

Software engineers and related disciplines remain in high demand due to innovations in computing systems and cutting-edge technological solutions.

So, do you wish to join this lucrative career path and become a part of this growing number of software engineering experts?

Look no further. This resource covers everything you need to succeed on this journey.

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