Software engineers, sometimes known as software developers, create software that performs a function needed by users. Software engineers develop applications, such as video games or word processors, and systems that keep computers functioning efficiently. Regardless of their specialization, software engineers design each section of an application or system, plan how these parts will fit together, and create instructions for programmers to follow when they write the software's code. The list below features some of the most common job duties of software engineers.
- Design, test, and develop software to meet users' needs.
- Suggest software upgrades to customers.
- Design a system and plan how each piece of it will work together.
- Work with other computer scientists to create the best software possible.
Approximately 32% of software developers were employed by computer systems design firms, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects employment in this field will grow 30% from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than average for all occupations. Growth will be due to the large increase in demand for computer software and new computer applications. Demand for software engineers in the healthcare industry will increase as well as more medical facilities transition to electronic medical records systems. However, there may be some outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries, but this will be mitigated by the need for software developers to be close to the customers, according to the BLS.
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Becoming a Software Engineer
A bachelor's degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related discipline is typically required for software engineering careers. Many software developers have computer science degrees, but you should be aware that these programs cover a wide variety of topics. To give yourself the best chance to find software engineering jobs after you graduate you should focus your studies on software development classes. Proficiency in computer programming and knowledge of the industry you'll be working in is also required. For example, software developers who work for a bank need to know about finance.
- Introduction to Programming
- Human-Computer Interface
- Systems Programming
- Database Systems
There are no continuing education requirements for jobs in software engineering. However, there are some optional certifications you can pursue if you want to advance your career. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers offers two certificates: the Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA) and the Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP). Both of these certificates allow you to demonstrate your proficiency in established software development practices as well as your willingness to learn.