The software engineer job description involves principles of engineering, computer science, and mathematics. However, the work settings and opportunities for these professionals are broad. Computers, smartphones, and the Internet dominate social, entertainment, household and business activities.
Firms in financial and industrial sectors also rely to a certain degree on applications or computer software. As the software engineer job description details below, these factors influence the duties, qualifications, job prospects and potential pay for software engineers.
Job Overview: What Does a Software Engineer Professional Do?
Software engineers oversee the design, testing, delivery and evaluation of computer software and applications. Many aspects of the software engineer job description are similar to those for software developers. However, software engineers do not involve themselves primarily in the creative aspects of these products. Instead, the engineer focuses on the scientific and technical aspects of the application or software.
Software Engineer Job Duties
- Interview clients or other computer users to determine needs for software.
- Design programs and applications based on user needs.
- Write algorithms and codes for computers and program.
- Develop and test prototypes of programs.
- Oversee development and deployment of final versions of the software.
- Assess the functionality, difficulty of use and other aspects of software or application performance.
- Recommend, create or implement upgrades, security enhancements, and other modifications.
- Report to or answer questions for Internet Technology managers.
- Consult with engineers or other professionals on construction or infrastructure projects.
Software Engineer Essential Skills
Programming Knowledge. Software engineers need to grasp various programming languages and data bases. The operating system in the computer or mobile device also impacts development of the app or software.
Communication Skills. As team leaders, software engineers need the ability to clearly instruct programmers and other developers.In fact, most users need explanations on how to use products and on troubleshooting. Communication also involves the ability to work with other engineers and other team members.
Analytical and Problem-Solving. Software engineers must draw from computer science, mathematics and engineering principles. The knowledge base helps them analyze and solve potential or actual problems and difficulties with software.
Ethics and Moral Skills. Software engineers often generate or handle sensitive data and information about software and systems. Typically, the company for whom the engineer works may claim the work product as its own. It may even become a trade secret protected by law. Thus, the software engineer must avoid appropriating the information for his or her own gain or selling it to competitors.
Becoming a Software Engineer Professional
The software engineer job description includes an educational mix of computer, engineering and also math skills. As software and applications play large roles in industrial, commercial and personal activities, software engineers need knowledge beyond technical or engineering matters. Prospective software engineers typically get experience starting in programming or development before working as engineers or otherwise leading projects. Those who serve the public may need licensing by a state engineering board.
Qualifications & Training
Software engineers usually hold bachelor degrees in software engineering or computer science degrees. Math majors may also enter the field. Certain employers may prefer those with master’s degrees. Typical classes for software engineering students include design and analysis, computer programming, algorithms, engineering principles and mathematics.
Aspiring software engineers may need skills and knowledge tailored to specific industries. Employers in these sectors may have particular needs or purposes for their software. For example, finance courses can prepare software engineers to develop online banking tools and apps for banks and their customers. Since software projects are protected by licenses and patents, prospective engineers should have some classes or basic training in patent, trademark and trade secrets law.
Depending on the state, a software engineer may be required to hold a state-issued license. The licensing requirement generally applies to those who consult on or oversee public projects. Where a license is required, applicants must pass a Fundamentals of Engineering exam and Principles and Practice of Software Engineering exam. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying administers these tests.
Organizations such as the Software Engineering Institute and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers certify software engineers. Although not mandatory in the software engineer job description, the certification can enhance job prospects and salaries.
Prospective software engineers gain experience in college through internships with software companies. As a result, upon graduation, some may start as computer programmers or work under the supervision of more experienced software engineers.
Where a license to practice software engineering is required, the candidate must log at least four years of work experience under a licensed software engineer.
Software engineers typically work full-time and beyond regular office hours. In many cases, schedules are dictated by completion deadlines. Software and applications, or their upgrades, often have anticipated release dates. Infrastructure and buildings may be controlled by software or applications or otherwise have these items integrated into them.
Thus, software engineers must finish their tasks to allow the overall project to proceed. Software engineers may be called to help organizations or software companies respond to data breaches or vulnerabilities or other emergencies. Many of the job duties often take software engineers to sites away from the office.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The software engineering field should experience a job growth of 22 percent between 2012 and 2022. Furthermore, banks, insurance companies and wireless and other service providers offer their customers convenience of conducting business online and wirelessly. Internet and wireless device users also play games and access apps to stream movies, video, music and other content. Software and apps function as tools in manufacturing, natural resources exploration, engineering, architecture, and finance.
The prevalence of smartphones and tablets will also spur growing demand for software engineers. A Pew Research Center report says 68 percent of American adults own a smartphone. Not only that but also according to a March 2016 Federal Reserve report, 53 percent of smartphone owners conducted banking business online. Sixty-five percent paid bills online.
Payscale reports software engineers earn a median pay of $80,825 per year. With a total yearly pay, after bonuses, commissions, and profit sharings of between $56,382 and $126,028.
The software engineer job description requires those in the field to integrate computer science, engineering and also math skills. Software engineers must supervise and oversee the development and adaption of software and applications in a variety of settings. Additionally, those who offer their services to the public may need a license.
Demand for software engineers should remain strong, as customers rely on computers and mobile devices for shopping, bill pay, and other activities. Industries will rely on these engineers for more efficient exploration, production, and provision of services.