If you've got an idea for a new computer app, you could make it happen in a software engineering job, where computers, math and engineering meet. In this field, user needs are translated into functional software programs for individuals or computer systems. As digital literacy continues expanding, more sophisticated applications will be required for computer security, mobile technology and website maintenance.
Math and science skills are cornerstones of bachelor's degrees in software engineering. Coursework covers basics like operating systems, programming languages and software development, with additional subjects such as these:
- Algorithms and data structures
- Analysis and design of software systems
- Calculus, physics and economics for engineers
- Cyber ethics and security
- Human/computer interface
- Probability and statistics
- Quality assurance and testing
- Software modeling
Students with aims of advancing in the field may take targeted classes like engineering project management or business information architecture. General education requirements such as English, psychology and speech can expand your communication skills, which are critical for team development projects. Many programs offer valuable internships, and some require a capstone project.
Software engineering career options, outlook and salaries
The majority of software engineers work in computer systems design and related services in companies such as Salesforce.com, Cisco and Microsoft. Jobs are also found in aerospace, electronic equipment manufacturing, finance, government, insurance and software publishing.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects impressive job growth between 2010 and 2020 at 27.6 percent for software applications developers and 32.4 percent for systems software developers. Median 2010 salaries were more than twice the national average for all occupations in these developer careers:
- Applications software: $87,790
- Systems software: $94,180
Almost half of software engineers have bachelor's degrees, and nearly 30 percent hold master's degrees, according to the Department of Labor. To increase your management potential or technical expertise, look at a master's degree; a doctorate is the path to industrial or academic research or to teaching tomorrow's engineers.
If you want to be at the forefront of the computer revolution and software development, think about ramping up your education. More schools are offering online bachelor's degrees in software engineering, and the web-based interaction with your professor prepares you to collaborate with remote colleagues in high-tech firms. If you have other obligations or need to work while you obtain your degree, an online program can be a convenient way to engineer your future.