Here's What the Job Outlook and Desired Skills for Software Engineers Look Like in the Coming Years

Job Outlook and Desired Skills for Software Engineers
Job Outlook and Desired Skills for Software Engineers

Software engineers will see countless opportunities for employment, but why are they in such high demand? 

Futurist Ray Kurzweil wrote about the law of accelerating returns on technological advancement. He argued the evolution of technology builds on past work rather than adding to what has already been designed. This exponential growth creates a need for innovation, causing strong global demand for software engineers.

As a modern society, we are increasingly reliant on smart appliances, TVs, and phones to manage our day-to-day lives, thanks to the hard work of engineers. Technology is a rapidly changing industry with endless possibilities. A world of self-driving cars and automated factories is possible with a generation of graduates possessing talent and strong software engineering skills.

Learn more about Baylor University's Online Software Engineering Track

Demand for Software Engineers by the Numbers

As far as the software engineering job outlook, the industry is expected to show high demand and low unemployment. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 22% growth in software development jobs from 2020 to 2030. Hired reported a 3% unemployment rate among tech sector professionals compared to 6.7% for all occupations in the U.S.

Software professionals - including engineers - earned median salaries of $110,140 in 2020 based on BLS data. There are engineering jobs within this broader category that far exceed this salary. 

Stack Overflow's 2021 Developer Survey identified the following high-paying engineering roles:

  • Engineering manager ($165,000)
  • Site Reliability Engineer ($150,000)
  • Data Engineer ($129,250)

The 2021 State of Software Engineers by Hired identified engineering specialties in the highest demand. Engineers focused on backend and full-stack roles received more than half of interview requests in 2020. There was also a year-to-year growth in demand for frontend, data, and machine learning engineers.

Developing Trends in Software Engineering

Engineers, developers, and other stakeholders are needed to keep up with consumer demand. 

Software Products Global Market Report 2021 estimated a global software market value of $1.4 trillion by 2025. This projection represented an 11% annual growth from $930 billion in market value in 2020.

The software market is not monolithic; startups and industry giants alike need software to solve ongoing challenges. Engineers need to add new skills to stay ahead of new developments throughout their careers. We can look at trends on the horizon to see where software engineering skills will be best used in the future.

Rapid Pace of Business Digital Transformation

Companies hoping to stay relevant to their customers will drive up the demand for software engineers.

A Deloitte survey of executives found that 76% of respondents expected more business changes by 2026 than in the previous five years. These changes will be driven by startups and digital-native companies rather than brick-and-mortar competitors. 

Software professionals may wonder which areas are prioritized for businesses undergoing digital transformation. Engineers use this information to meet business needs and innovate on existing practices. 

Accelerated Strategies Group identified three key areas for companies that prioritized digital upgrades:

  • Contactless services (60.1%)
  • Cloud migration (52.25%)
  • DevOps activities (51.7%)

Increased Investments in Cloud Computing

Businesses, government agencies, and other organizations embrace the cloud as an operating system and internet-based data center for their digital processes. 

The widespread move to cloud services stems from flexibility, efficiency, and competitive value. Gartner estimated a $257.9 billion market for public cloud services in 2020.This development includes the development of cloud-native platforms and the migration of on-site data centers to cloud servers. 

Software engineers are in high demand for platform development and maintenance, especially for private cloud services. There is room to innovate in this space, including cloud security and interactions with the Internet of Things (IoT) systems.

Growing Importance of Artificial Intelligence

Forward-thinking engineers give their employers an edge by gaining expertise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) engineering.

AI offers a valuable tool for improved efficiency and data-driven decision-making. McKinsey found 50% of 2,395 businesses introduced AI into at least one of their operational areas. 

The most common uses of AI in the business world include:

  • Service-operations optimization (21%)
  • Product-feature optimization (21%)
  • Customer-service analytics (17%)
  • Risk modeling and analytics (16%)

Software engineers familiar with AI platforms and principles find career opportunities beyond the business world. Hospitals use AI analytics to improve patient outcomes, while government agencies expand access to public resources through AI-powered virtual assistants.

Software Engineering Skills for Future Challenges

The software development process is a repetition of iterations, tests, and sprints. Various stakeholders collaborate to introduce or improve software for their clients. In turn, engineers who aspire for leadership positions should equip themselves with strong technical and interpersonal skills to accomplish these goals.

Technical Skills in High Demand

Programming languages are essential skills for anyone in the software development process. 

Hired's 2021 State of Software Engineering Report analyzed employers' most commonly requested languages. This analysis found engineering applicants familiar with Go, Scala, and TypeScript received the most interviews regardless of experience. 

Engineers need to be familiar with the platforms, processes, and infrastructure enabling software functionality. Hired identified the most in-demand software engineering skills based on job postings in 2020, which included:

  • Redux.js
  • Google Cloud
  • React.js
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Continuous integration

Interpersonal Software Engineering Skills

One overlooked aspect of software development is the relationships built within each team. 

Software engineers collaborate via shared documentation, online chats, and pair programming with their colleagues. UnfoldLabs CEO Asokan Ashok identified the following soft skills as essential for software professionals:

  • Creative and Complex Problem Solving
  • Learning Agility
  • Time Management
  • Leadership

The team-building aspect of software development is not obvious to new engineers. Working on software projects for weeks or months at a time requires communication, camaraderie, and top-notch software engineering skills. 

Lindsey Redd, a software engineer with Stripe, described the value of mentoring to team dynamics:

"Software engineering is such a team sport, and I think a big skill is making sure that new people who are introduced to whatever it is that you're working on can work on it, be productive, and be an active member of the team."

Building Software Engineering Skills at Baylor University

Aspiring leaders in the software engineering world acquire advanced skills at Baylor University. 

The Online Masters in Computer Science program does not require a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, but successful applicants have succeeded in a STEM degree program. Experienced faculty members train future engineers around the world in entirely online classrooms.

The program includes a Software Engineering track designed to meet the needs of prospective employers. Online Masters in Computer Science students complete courses in:

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

Baylor University's national reputation strengthens graduate resumes seeking senior engineering positions. U.S. News & World Report ranked the university No. 75 in its National Universities category. The publication also placed Baylor among the nation's best in the following categories:

  • No. 34 in Most Innovative Schools
  • No. 82 in Best Value Schools
  • No. 111 in Best Colleges for Veterans

As a Baylor graduate, you’ll be prepared to lead the way in computer science and elevate your career.

Learn more about the Online Masters in Computer Science program.