Computer software engineer job description: Computer software engineers create and design new software, applying theoretical principles of computing and mathematics in order to analyze, test and assess software systems. The duties and tasks involved in this line of work are constantly changing due to evolving technology and changing business needs. Software engineers evaluate and document user needs before designing and testing new software to meet those needs. This may involve analyzing and developing flow charts, models, diagrams and algorithms that instruct computers on what tasks to execute.
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There are two main categories of software engineering: applications and systems. Applications software engineers create, maintain and deploy software applications that fulfill various computing tasks for end users. Different programming languages are used for this type of work. Systems software engineers work on coordinating the construction, expansion and maintenance of an entire computer system. This may involve setting up a company intranet, ordering and installing software, and providing technical input and suggestions
Software Engineer Job Summary
- Most employers give preference to applicants with a degree in computer science, software engineering or computer information systems, as well as relevant work experience.
- Certification gives job applicants a competitive advantage and more employment opportunities.
- Since computer technology is constantly changing, many workers take continuing education courses to keep their skills updated.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in this field is expected to grow much faster than the average through 2018.
Work Environment for Computer Software Engineers
Most computer software engineers work in well-lighted, clean, temperature-controlled offices that house computer equipment. The majority of them work 40 or more hours per week. Work-related injuries are rare in this occupation; however, since computer software engineers sit in front of computer screens and type for long periods of time, they may experience back pain, eyestrain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Due to the nature of their work, many software engineers are able to telecommute. Travel may be required for those working for software consulting firms in order to meet with clients.
Education, Training and Licensing
Employers generally look for applicants that hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, computer information systems or a related field. For positions that involve more complex work, employers may prefer individuals who hold a graduate degree. Computer applications that require knowledge of science and engineering may necessitate a degree in mathematics, physical science or engineering. Some computer software engineers may also need specialized knowledge and skills directly related to the industry in which they work.
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Prior software design experience is preferred by employers for many jobs. One way for students to gain experience is through internships. In addition, many large computing and consulting companies provide training for new hires. Since computer technology is constantly changing, employers look for individuals who are proficient in many computer languages and up to date on the latest technological developments. In order to maintain and update their skills, many workers take continuing education courses offered by colleges, universities, training institutes, software companies and vendors.
Certification is available through various software companies and industry organizations and can offer job seekers more career opportunities, as it demonstrates their competency in a specific area.
Computer Software Engineers Salary and Jobs Outlook
According to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2009, computer applications software engineers held approximately 495,500 jobs and computer systems software engineers held about 385,200 jobs. The largest percentage of software engineers in both fields worked for computer systems design and related services companies and for software publishers. Computer applications software engineers were also employed by various companies and enterprises, insurance carriers, and architectural, engineering and related services firms. Computer systems software engineers held jobs with computer and peripheral manufacturing companies, scientific research and development services firms, and navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturers.
Employment in this field is forecasted by the BLS to increase by 32% from 2008 through 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The demand for computer software engineers will increase as the computer networking industry – which includes Internet technologies and electronic data-processing systems – continues to grow.
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How much money do software engineers earn? BLS records for May 2009 indicate that the average annual wage for computer applications software engineers was $90,170. The middle 50% earned between $69,230 and $107,710. While the lowest 10% had a yearly salary of $54,840 or less, the highest 10% earned upwards of $132,080 annually. Computer systems software engineers had slightly higher salaries, with average yearly wages of $96,620. Those in the middle 50% bracket earned between $74,520 and $116, 510. The lowest 10% had a comfortable income of $59,600 per year, while the highest 10% had annual salaries in excess of $139,930.