Program Your Future With a Software Engineering Degree

Call them geniuses. Call them computer wizards. Just don’t call them software developers. Though software engineers, developers and programmers oftentimes have overlap in responsibilities, software engineers are the only ones who use engineering principals and procedures to design, develop, and troubleshoot software programs. These workers can be found developing anything from web applications to flight systems for airplanes to satellite technologies and may find work in obvious technology hotspots like computer companies, video game firms, healthcare, and automotive companies as well as defense contractors, government agencies, and private companies of all sizes.

Software engineers can break into their field with a bachelor’s degree, but many employers actively seek those with a master’s too. Coursework on the bachelor’s degree level is usually a mix of computer science, math, and information systems classes that center on embedded systems, data structures, programming, software architecture, operating systems, and problem-solving strategies. Some institutions may also require students to take physics, technical communication, or logic courses in addition to completing self-designed thesis projects.

What you’ll cover in a master’s software engineering degree depends on your college or university. Many programs simply continue to build on principles and technologies you’ve touched on during undergraduate study. Some incorporate new courses in areas like software distribution, management, mobile applications, or computer design. Students can earn their master’s degree in a generalized software engineering program, specialize in an area like software engineering management or embedded engineering or opt for a joint degree program that combines software engineering with an MBA. On both the undergraduate and graduate levels, students will have to complete individual projects and team-based assignments in an effort to prepare them to work as part of a larger team in the working world. On both the master’s and bachelor’s levels, you’ll have a number of choices when it comes to how you want to study. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of campus-based programs as well as online software engineering degrees you can earn without leaving home.

There’s a reason that software engineering has a spot on CareerBliss’s top 20 happiest jobs in America. Those who make it into this field enjoy good job prospects, a killer paycheck and, in many circumstances, the ability to work from home at least part-time. According to Payscale.com, those entering the field with a bachelor’s degree earn median starting salaries of $59,100 per year. Once they gain some experience, that figure shoots up to $90,700 by mid-career. Pay varies by employer and by state. In highly lucrative states like Washington and California, median software engineer salaries sit at $97,483 and $102,766 respectively.

The job outlook is also really positive for software engineers and developers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the field is set to grow 30 percent between now and 2020 due in large part to the rapid expansion of mobile technologies and the increased need of healthcare technology. The job is waiting. The paycheck is waiting. The degree is waiting. All you’ve got to do is go get them.