A computer software engineer is a specialized programmer that creates complex computer software systems. Computer software engineers usually work in more detail that an ordinary computer software programmer, though the actual mechanics of the job are fairly similar. While a programmer might work on pieces of products such as web applications or API code, a software engineer usually has a broader view of the end product they are creating.
Computer software engineers make an average of $87,900 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Software engineering is a very detail-oriented position that requires determination, persistence, logic and an extraordinary wealth of information. Software engineers need to understand the basic components to computer systems and how they work, and they often need to know multiple computer languages fluently. The languages most often used in the industry are C++ and Java. There are many industries a software engineer could potentially work in, including the development of video games, corporate applications or web-based services.
What Does a Computer Software Engineer Do?
A computer software engineer will usually begin with a plan, unless they are subordinate to a software developer. Many computer software companies use an AGILE model of software development, which allows software systems to be developed as necessary and pushed forward as they can be completed. Other software companies will use the Waterfall model of software development, which requires very specific milestones to be completed on a set schedule. Computer software engineers will need to create a basic plan by which the software needs will be met.
If a software engineer has a developer working with them, the software engineer will usually work very closely with the developer to fulfill the needs of the client. The developer will usually provide the engineer with specification documents stating the desired behavior of the program and it will be up to the software engineer to actually create a program that suits these needs. Developers will sometimes, but not always, assist the engineer by suggesting ways in which this functionality can be accomplished.
How Do You Become a Computer Software Engineer?
Most software engineers have a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field, but this isn’t always true. Those that master programming languages and are able to develop their own applications based on deadlines will often be able to get a job in the industry even without formal training. Hobbyists who are interested in moving into the field of computer software engineering will often begin as computer programmers and will be able to move into the industry by displaying their skill. This is often done by producing a project independently and by creating a portfolio of work.
Degrees in the field can be obtained through many online schools, which makes it a relatively easy field to get training in. Associate’s Degrees are available for those that do not have the time investment that a Bachelor’s Degree program would take, and there are also accelerated courses available.
How Do You Advance as a Computer Software Engineer?
A computer software engineer can eventually become the lead of a software team or can develop their skills further and become a computer software developer. Software engineers usually increase their wages through experience, and those that are in the field for a significant amount of time will usually make extremely high wages. Computer software engineers can also move into software design or they can specialize in specific types of software. O*Net Online shows that systems software tends to be more lucrative than applications software specializations.