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Businesses need software engineers

CareerBuilder | November 10, 2020

With the rise of the Internet of Things and smart technology, more companies are looking to create and improve software instead of focusing on the traditional business model of hardware creation. An exciting time to enter the field.

What Can You Expect From a Software Engineering Job?

Software engineers, sometimes also known as software developers, use math, computer science, and engineering skills to design and build computer systems for companies. From updating and debugging existing software to building new apps and infrastructures, software engineers can be found at virtually every company across every industry. And it’s an incredible time to enter the field: with the rise of mobile and smart technology and emerging technologies like virtual reality, software engineers are at the fore of exciting developments that promise to transform businesses.

Software engineer writing code and design computer systems for companies in every industry, on a laptop.

Software engineers write code and design computer systems for companies in every industry.


Software engineers design virtual solutions to business problems; as a result, they need to be creative and responsive in addition to technically savvy. Although responsibilities may vary between roles, here are a few software engineers are likely to possess:

  • Analyzing the system needs of users, customers, and companies.
  • Designing blueprints for different systems and ensuring functionality.
  • Developing and coding software using different programming languages.
  • Running tests to search for bugs and other issues.
  • Troubleshooting and developing software updates.
  • Analyzing system performance and finding opportunities for improvement.
  • Meeting with clients or users to discuss system functionality and potential additions

Work Environment

Because companies in every industry employ software engineers, work environments can vary widely. Usually, software engineers work in offices or labs, which are ideal places for collaboration among developers; that said, most work will be done on computers, so it isn’t always necessary to work in a large office. Depending on the company, workspaces may be shared or private.

Increasingly, companies are hiring remote software engineers because their work can typically be done from anywhere in the world. While this provides additional flexibility, some people may prefer working in more traditional offices with coworkers.


Most software engineers work traditional hours from Monday to Friday; however, they may be expected to work late or on weekends, especially on projects with strict deadlines or fixing issues that need to be resolved immediately.


Unlike some careers, educational requirements for software engineers tend to be very specific. Employers look for software engineers with clearly defined skills and knowledge, and while it’s possible to self-teach, traditional education is the route most prospective engineers take. Of course, experience can always make up for a lack of formal education in the right circumstances. Below are a handful of common degrees for software engineers:

  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Programming and Analysis
  • Information Systems
  • Mathematics

Many companies prefer to hire software engineers with little experience after they graduate so that they can train them on their specific software and programs. Training is very important for engineers and may take several months, longer than the average employee at many firms.


Over the last two decades, demand for software engineers has exploded thanks to the development of new technologies in every industry. Accordingly, many software engineers are younger than the average employee at companies, and very few have more than twenty years of experience.


Software engineers are often required to know multiple programming languages before starting in a position, and many will be trained in additional areas upon starting a job. Here are just a few of the skills you may need to succeed as a software engineer:

  • Programming Languages: Java, Ruby, PHP, and C++ are just a few of the programming languages you may be expected to know.
  • SQL and Access: Database knowledge is imperative for working with large amounts of information and will be required at many companies.
  • Project Management Software: Because you’ll often be managing multiple projects at different stages, it’s important to keep them organized and report accurately to superiors.
  • Attention to Detail: Because one small error in a line of code can lead to user issues and security breaches, it’s important to be careful and attentive.
  • Collaboration: Although much of their day-to-day work is independent, software engineers are usually part of teams and work with many people throughout a company to develop software and resolve system issues.
  • Composure: Meeting stressful deadlines and responding to dire problems quickly require calmness under pressure.
  • Retention: Software engineers may be expected to learn and retain information that they may not use for years.
  • Critical Thinking: As a software engineer, you’ll be expected to brainstorm creative solutions and find workable answers when a system or app is broken.
  • Focus: Because you’ll often be working on long projects for hours or days at a time, you’ll need to stay focused and sharp in order to be productive.

How Much Do Software Engineers Make?

Most entry-level software engineers earn at least $50,000 per year, though some can make up to $100,000 if they work for a higher-profile firm. More experienced or specialized engineers can make even more over time. Your salary may also depend on your location, though many areas where tech companies are based — such as Silicon Valley — are among the most expensive in the country, so living costs may be high.

Projected Growth

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a higher growth rate than average for software engineers: between 2014 and 2024, they predict an increase of 17 percent, or 186,600 jobs. This means that as long as you have the requisite skills, it’s a great time to enter this job market.

Career Trajectory

After a few years in their field, a software engineers may be promoted to senior positions, with more responsibilities and potentially leadership roles. Senior software engineers oversee projects and manage lower-level employees, so the success or failure of major initiatives at a company depends on their expertise.

Some software engineers leverage their experience to become entrepreneurs or start their own technology businesses, working with fellow developers and investors to make it big. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies are some of the fastest-growing businesses in the world, though it can be difficult to succeed in a market that’s quickly becoming saturated.

Still others become independent contractors or freelancers, lending their services to multiple companies in exchange for greater freedom and flexibility.

If you’re a natural problem solver with a background in math, engineering, or computer science, software engineering could be the career for you.


Open jobs (115,000+) in engineering: Engineers typically earn between $50,000 and $175,000 annually with a with a median salary of $91,000.

Software Engineer
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