What Is A Software Engineer?

Software EngineersIf you have a natural love of technology, you enjoy solving math problems and you have a strong desire to improve designs by making them more efficient, you’d probably make a great software engineer. These technical professionals work on teams to design software that meets the needs of clients or consumers. They’re the creative minds that make computer programs in response to the demands of the market, and they often develop new technologies that consumers don’t know about until they use them.

The title, software engineer, refers to the same job as programmer or software developer. Sometimes, companies may hire applicants with lower qualifications for the position of programmer, which is the job of typing the code designed by software engineers. In general, college graduates with a degree in computer science are called programmers, software engineers or software developers interchangeably.

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

In college, software engineers study the principles of software design, such as the various design patterns and techniques for working efficiently to create efficient software. Software design patterns include model-controller-view, event-driven architecture, peer-to-peer patterns and other structures that separate the components of an application into several layers of abstraction. This efficient design practice makes debugging easier, and it makes adding new components in the future much less problematic.

According to Try Engineering, in large corporations, software engineers work with teams of employees in all areas of specialization, including research and development, marketing, IT support and of course management. First-year developers may work in unit testing to look for bugs that were missed during the development stage, when only single components are usually tested. Test-driven development ensures that each component satisfies its requirements, but large corporations employ unit testers to experience the overall application as an end user does. The marketing department researches the demands of end users to give software engineers the basic design requirements, and the developers sketch out the initial designs with a pen and paper or possibly with pattern design software.

How Much Do Software Engineers Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers earned a median salary of $93,350 in 2012. The minimum requirement for becoming a developer is a bachelor’s degree, but some companies may hire applicants with an associate’s degree to do entry-level programming. Expected job growth for software engineers is 22 percent over the next ten years, which is above average for all occupations.

Related Resource: Database Administrator Salary

While software engineering jobs can easily be outsourced to countries with lower wages, companies often hire developers who live within a close physical proximity to their customers. The rapid rise in software engineering jobs is mainly due to the sharp rise in demand for computer software, especially in the healthcare industry. Additionally, Internet-based companies require software engineers to make their products secure against online attacks and other security breaches. As mobile devices become more common, software engineers will be needed to create ever-more-functional applications for them. For example, smart watches, smart glasses and other technological apparel all require software.

With software engineering positions predicted to increase for the foreseeable future, the time has never been better to learn the mathematics and architectural design patterns used by software engineers. As mobile devices increasingly rely on battery power, a software engineer must design software as efficiently as possible to conserve energy.