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By: Courtesy of Vault

Software engineers create or customize existing software programs to meet the needs of a particular business or industry. First, they spend considerable time researching, defining, and analyzing the problem at hand. Then, they develop software programs to resolve the problem on the computer. They may also create software applications that are used for informational purposes or entertainment. There are slightly more than 1 million software designers and developers, which includes software engineers, employed in the United States.

Employment opportunities for software engineers are expected to grow 17 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations through 2024, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Demands made on computers increase every day and from all industries. Rapid growth in the computer systems design and related industries will account for much of this growth. In addition, businesses will continue to implement new and innovative technology to remain competitive, and they will need software engineers to do this. Software engineers will also be needed to handle ever-growing capabilities of computer networks, e-commerce, and wireless technologies, as well as the security features needed to protect such systems from outside attacks. Growth in mobile technologies and the rapid increase in the number of products that use software will create excellent job opportunities for software engineers.

Outsourcing of jobs in this field to foreign countries will temper growth somewhat, but overall the future of software engineering is very bright.

Since technology changes so rapidly, software engineers are advised to keep up on the latest developments. While the need for software engineers will remain high, computer languages will probably change every few years and software engineers will need to attend seminars and workshops to learn new computer languages and software design. They also should read trade magazines, surf the Internet, and talk with colleagues about the field. These kinds of continuing education techniques help ensure that software engineers are best equipped to meet the needs of the workplace.

Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Applications Software Engineers, Systems Software Engineers
Duties Create new or customize existing software programs to meet the needs and desires of a particular business or industry
Salary Range $50,000 to $100,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Silicon Valley in northern California, Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Washington, and New York
Minimum Education Level
  • Bachelor’s Degree
School Subjects
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
Experience Internship; several years’ programming experience
Personality Traits
  • Hands On
  • Problem-Solving
  • Technical
  • Computer
  • Information Management
  • Math
Certification or Licensing Recommended
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Excellent
Advancement Prospects Good
Outlook Much Faster than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Software Manager, or Chief Information Officer, or Systems Designer
  • Software Project Team Leader
  • Software Engineer
  • Software Engineering Technician
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