Everything You Need to Know About a Career in Software Engineering

Everything you need to know about a career in software engineering
Everything you need to know about a career in software engineering

In the digital transformation age, businesses leverage cloud solutions, the latest programming languages, machine learning, and other next-gen technologies to innovate, automate, and deliver elevated customer experiences. As a result, organizations need tailor-made, engineered computing solutions to keep pace in this environment, and careers in software engineering are gaining increasing attention. 

Professionals with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Science Physics, or other sciences may consider completing an Online Masters in Computer Science program with a concentration in Software Engineering. Graduates from this program gain access to the benefits associated with a career in software engineering, including high-paying jobs, flexible remote work opportunities, a positive job outlook, and the chance to work at some of the world’s leading companies. This blog addresses pressing questions like, “What is software engineering?” and explores skills needed for software engineering, top careers in software engineering, and more.

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is the domain of software development that deals with designing, developing, maintaining, testing, and monitoring software systems throughout the entire development life cycle. The software development process also comprises applications software developers, systems software developers, quality assurance engineers, analysts, and other related roles. 

Software engineers are skilled at software specification testing, object-oriented development, measurement statistical analysis (MSA) design and development, and writing concurrent and distributed systems for the cloud. Overall, software engineering allows businesses to build customized solutions and support development teams to deploy computer-science-enabled applications like e-commerce platforms, search engines, website user interfaces (UI), and more.

What Do Software Engineers Do?

A software engineer is a trained and certified professional who uses software engineering languages, methodologies, and infrastructure to develop anything from virtual reality (VR) applications to cloud-first software architecture. These professionals often come from STEM backgrounds and demonstrate advanced mathematical, analytical, and technical skills to enter the software engineering field. In their day-to-day roles, software engineers use tools, including coding languages like Python, JavaScript, Java, C#, and Go. 

Additionally, software engineers are proficient in coding, debugging systems, building database architecture, monitoring operating systems, using scrum project management, and communicating their work to internal teams and external clients and stakeholders. The most common roles and responsibilities of a software engineer include the following:

  • Designing and supporting software systems
  • Testing and debugging existing software systems
  • Managing the software development cycle
  • Improving the efficiency and speed of software systems
  • Writing code using the latest coding languages
  • Collaborating with other engineers, developers, business users, and organizational leaders
  • Identifying new products, areas for innovation, and business opportunities

Programming vs. Software Engineering: What’s the Difference?

A common question individuals researching jobs in computer science ask is, “What is the difference between a programmer vs. a software engineer?” According to Built In, an online community dedicated to startups and tech companies, there are several critical differences between programming and software engineering, including:

  1. Job responsibilities: Software engineers are the architects of entire computer software systems, whereas programmers must translate an engineer’s instructions for coding those systems.
  2. The development life cycle: Software engineers oversee the entire development life cycle compared to programmers, who focus on one aspect of the process. 
  3. Skills: Both software engineers and programmers must be familiar with the top programming languages; however, software engineers must also be proficient in Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services, React Native, and other components that impact the entire development life cycle.
  4. Work dynamic: Software engineers work in teams and communicate with external clients and stakeholders, whereas programmers often work independently. 

What Skills Are Needed for Software Engineering?

Software engineers are natural problem-solvers, excellent communicators, and collaborators. However, successful software engineers must combine their soft skills with a deep understanding of technical know-how. According to a survey by Hired, today’s most outstanding software engineers must demonstrate the following skills:

  • Go
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Scala
  • Ruby
  • React Native
  • Kotlin
  • Typescript
  • Kafka
  • React
  • Node.Js
  • Spring Boot
  • Objective-C
  • Redux
  • Angularjs
  • Django
  • Kubernetes
  • Angular 2
  • Vue.Js
  • AWS
  • Google Cloud Platform

It’s also essential for software engineers to understand the most popular, commonly used programming languages. The same survey by Hired outlines the hottest programming languages:

  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • TypeScript
  • C#
  • Go
  • HTML
  • C++
  • Ruby
  • C
  • Kotlin
  • PHP
  • Swift
  • Scala
  • R
  • Objective-C

What Are the Top Technologies Used by Software Engineers?

Digital transformation is accelerating rapidly; in response, technologies are evolving to meet the needs of businesses and consumers. In 2023, computer science professionals should look out for the following ten technologies that will redefine software programming:

  1. AI and AIaaS (AI as a service)
  2. Proof of work and proof of stake
  3. Quantum computing
  4. IoT
  5. Robotics and automation
  6. Cybersecurity and digital trust
  7. Blockchain 
  8. 56 / Wifi 6
  9. Edge computing
  10. Extended reality and VR

How Do You Become a Software Engineer?

There are multiple pathways for professionals to learn computer science skills and jumpstart a career in software engineering. Not all software engineering jobs require an advanced degree to apply; however, a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Computer Science with a focus on Software Engineering gives applicants a competitive advantage in the job market. If you’re interested in becoming a software engineer, there are three educational ways to attain relevant skills and experience. 

Complete a Computer Science degree

Applicants with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, or a related field are eligible to enroll in an Online Masters in Computer Science program with a concentration in Software Engineering. In this concentration, students develop the methods used to produce and maintain high-quality software systematically, controlled, and efficiently. In addition, this program teaches students to move beyond software delivery and harness computing software and new technologies to solve organizational problems.

Consider earning a relevant certificate

Another route to becoming a software engineer is through certification. A certification allows professionals to validate their skills and appeal to potential employers and companies. Many certifications align with specific software engineering roles, so professionals must research available career paths before choosing their type of certification. Here are examples of standard software engineering certifications:

  • Software Engineering Master Certification (SEMC)
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
  • Oracle Certified Associate - Oracle9i Database Administrator (OCA)
  • Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD)
  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)
  • Engineer In Training Certification (EIT)
  • Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • ISTQB Certified Tester Foundation Level (CTFL)

Gain hands-on experience

Whether you graduate from a computer science program, pursue a certification, or choose to obtain both, all software engineers must gain hands-on experience working with relevant programming languages, platforms, and applications. Completing an internship at a renowned company is one of the best places to start learning from mentors and peers. According to software engineer Joma Tech, the following list represents the top ten available software engineering internships in the United States:

  1. Two Sigma
  2. Palantir
  3. Twitter
  4. Facebook (Meta)
  5. Google
  6. A9.com
  7. Infusion
  8. Pinterest
  9. Yelp
  10. Microsoft

What Are Examples of Careers in Software Engineering?

Dipta Das is a graduate of Baylor University’s Master in Computer Science with a concentration in Software Engineering and currently works as a Software Development Engineer within Amazon’s Customer Trust and Partner Support (CTPS). In his role, Dipta helps identify fraudulent activities and makes Amazon a safe place for buyers and sellers. In addition, he collaborates with the Machine Learning teams to process data and identify common patterns that help filter out and ban illicit activities. Dipta’s career is one example of a possible career path for graduates with a Software Engineering concentration. 

Although working as a Software Development Engineer is one possible career, there are numerous career paths for graduates with a software engineering degree or certification to explore. For example, Meta is one of the largest employers of software engineers in the United States and offers the following roles:

  • AR/VR Software Engineer
  • Systems Generalist Software Engineer
  • Infrastructure Software Engineer
  • Director of Application Management
  • Business Intelligence Engineer
  • Machine Learning Software Engineer
  • Director of Enterprise Engineering
  • Computer Vision Engineer
  • AI Research Scientist for Neuromotor Interfaces
  • Engineering Manager of Security Infrastructure
  • Graphics Software Engineer
  • Product Software Engineer

What is the Average Salary of a Software Engineer?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Software Developers (an umbrella term that includes Software Engineers) earn a median annual wage of $120,730, and the top 10 percent of Software Engineers earn more than $168,570 annually. Additionally, the job outlook for Software Engineers is swelling at a 25 percent growth rate (much faster than average).

Upskill for a Career in Software Engineering at Baylor University

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in software engineering, Baylor University prepares students with the top industry skills and competencies in the Online Masters in Computer Science, Software Engineering Track.

In this program, Baylor’s experienced faculty members train future engineers worldwide in entirely online classrooms. The program does not require a bachelor's degree in Computer Science but accepts applicants with an educational background in related STEM degree programs. 

The Online Masters in Computer Science, Software Engineering Track offers a comprehensive curriculum with courses in areas such as:

  • Advanced Object-Oriented Development
  • Advanced Software Engineering
  • Distributed Systems
  • Software Verification and Validation

Baylor University's national reputation strengthens graduate résumés seeking senior engineering positions. Baylor University is recognized as one of the top educational institutions in the nation. In 2022, Fortune ranked Baylor as one of the Best Online Masters in Computer Science.

Learn more about the Online Master in Computer Science with a concentration in Software Engineering.