Much like Frank Morgan was the man behind the curtain operating the Wizard of Oz, software engineers might be considered the human machines behind the technology that drives nearly every aspect of our computerized lives, whether it be manufacturing, entertainment, transportation, security, healthcare, banking, gaming – or the modern refrigerator. And while few people know who these behind-the-scenes people are, we would be lost without them.
So, let’s pull back the curtain to see what a software engineer does and how to become one of these wizards.
What Software Engineers Do
Companies in nearly every industry use software engineers to create, test, and maintain programs that drive product development, solve diverse problems, and make operations more efficient. A bird’s eye view of software engineering goes beyond the coding aspect of the job to encompass both systems development and application development, as well as systems analysis and testing.
Software engineers are trained in various programming languages, including object-oriented languages such as Python, C++, and Java, to design software that has nearly endless applications in the modern world. Whether on the back end (systems) or the front end (application/user-facing), software engineers can be involved in creating mobile apps, computer and web apps, database architecture, operating systems, cloud platforms, networks, and software updates. While the roles of systems and application development overlap, software engineers may find themselves focusing on one type of development more than the other.
Salary of a Software Engineer
One of the greatest benefits of starting a career in this industry is the salary of a software engineer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers was $110,140 in May of 2020. Jobs in software publishing tend to draw the biggest salaries. In addition to the high salary of a software engineer, career opportunities are in high demand.
Since nearly all businesses use software of some kind, career opportunities for software engineers exist across most industries and organizations. If you have an interest in a particular field, chances are there are software engineering job options in that sector. Currently, there are approximately 1.8 million software engineers, software developers, and quality assurance analysts in the U.S. Between 2020-30. That number is projected to grow by 22%, or 409,500 jobs, much faster than the average.
This industry also provides great flexibility. For example, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home is a good fit for software engineers because of the nature of the work. It is a perk that many employees are more comfortable with now than in the past. If you can meet your deadlines and deliver excellent work, working from home could potentially become a permanent option.
Jobs for Software Engineers
Many job titles are associated with software engineers. Jobs for software engineers across the computer science spectrum may include:
- Applications Software Developers
- Computer and Information Research Scientists
- Full-Stack Developers
- Quality Assurance Analysts
- Robotics Specialists
- Software Engineers
- Software Testers
- Systems Analysts
- Systems Software Developers
Types of Software Engineers
There are two main types of jobs for software engineers. These two roles often overlap. Generally, the tools each uses vary, with system developers focusing more on coding and application developers being more graphical and customer-facing.
Systems Software Engineers
- Building and testing computer systems and networks, from planning to roll-out
- Collaborating with a software development team
- Monitoring new technologies and updating systems as needed
- Ensuring that different software programs on the same platform communicate seamlessly
- Building IT standards and ensuring their compliance
- Working with front-end software engineers to coordinate, test, and support application development and usage
Applications Software Engineers
- Developing specialized applications for various mobile, computer, and web systems, such as Windows, iOS, Android, and others
- Testing and modifying software as needed
- Issuing software updates
- Collaborating with customer-facing departments
- Determining application goals, design parameters, creating customer interfaces, and setting development timelines
Degrees in Software Engineering
A bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering is typically the standard for those wanting to become software engineers. Graduates of Ottawa University’s online computer science program will gain the foundation, proficiency, and confidence in software engineering processes that handle and manipulate large amounts of information in business, education, game theory, modeling, health, information security, life sciences, manufacturing, and other related careers. Because the future will be characterized by rapid technological changes, intense global competition, faster product life cycles, and more specialized markets, students will be prepared to address the rapidly changing needs of organizations.
Computer programmers and systems analysts will learn to design and develop computer and information technology products, design and build information systems, manage sophisticated information resources, work on interdisciplinary teams, and communicate effectively with professionals within the organization and other end-users. In addition, OU’s capstone courses will give students practical design experience that employers will be looking for when hiring.
Online Classes in Computer Science
The courses in Ottawa University’s online computer science program prepare students to enter the workforce as a computer programming professional across various industries. Your classes may include:
- Calculus I and II
- Introduction to Computer Science
- Introduction to Networking
- Introduction to Database
- Introduction to Computer Programming
- Cloud Computing Architecture
- System Analysis and Design
- Intermediate Programming Techniques
- Special Topics Information Technology Systems
- Advanced Programming Techniques
- Senior Research CAPSTONE Design
- Senior CAPSTONE Project
Concentrations in Computer Science
Ottawa University also offers several concentrations that allow students to focus on a particular area of software engineering. Adding a concentration to your degree program gives you an edge when entering the computer science market.
Students can choose from the following Computer Science Concentrations:
If you’re dreaming of becoming the woman or man behind the technology curtain, Ottawa University’s bachelor’s in computer science degree will equip you with the skills to land a lucrative job as a software engineer with a phenomenal career outlook. Contact us today to get started!
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