May 27, 2008
What This Job Pays: Software engineer
Pay: The median pay of a software engineer in the Seattle area is $77,020, with most making from $68,565 to $87,072, according to salary.com.
Demand: Demand for computer software engineers will increase as computer networking continues to grow. For example, expanding Internet technologies have spurred demand for computer software engineers who can develop Internet, intranet and World Wide Web applications. Likewise, electronic data-processing systems in business, telecommunications, government and other settings continue to become more sophisticated and complex. Implementing, safeguarding and updating computer systems and resolving problems will fuel the demand for growing numbers of systems software engineers.
New growth areas will also continue to arise from rapidly evolving technologies. The increasing uses of the Internet, the proliferation of Web sites and mobile technology such as wireless Internet have created a demand for a wide variety of new products. As individuals and businesses rely more on handheld computers and wireless networks, it will be necessary to integrate current computer systems with this new, more mobile technology.
As with other information technology jobs, outsourcing of software development to other countries may temper somewhat employment growth of computer software engineers. Firms may look to cut costs by shifting operations to foreign countries with lower prevailing wages and highly educated workers. Jobs in software engineering are less prone to being offshored than are jobs in other computer specialties, however, because software engineering requires innovation and intense research and development.
Need to know: Most employers prefer applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree and broad knowledge of, and experience with, a variety of computer systems and technologies. The usual college major for applications software engineers is computer science or software engineering. Systems software engineers often study computer science or computer information systems. Graduate degrees are preferred for some of the more complex jobs. In 2006, about 80 percent of workers had a bachelor's degree or higher.
Because of increasing emphasis on computer security, software engineers with advanced degrees in areas such as mathematics and systems design will be sought after by software developers, government agencies and consulting firms.
Students seeking software engineering jobs enhance their employment opportunities by participating in internships or co-ops. These experiences provide students with broad knowledge and experience, making them more attractive to employers. Inexperienced college graduates may be hired by large computer and consulting firms that train new employees in intensive, company-based programs.
Systems software vendors offer certification and training programs, but most training authorities say that program certification alone is not sufficient for the majority of software engineering jobs.
People interested in jobs as computer software engineers must have strong problem-solving and analytical skills. They also must be able to communicate effectively with team members, other staff and the customers they meet. Because they often deal with a number of tasks simultaneously, they must be able to concentrate and pay close attention to detail.
As technology advances, employers will need workers with the latest skills. Computer software engineers must continually strive to acquire new skills if they wish to remain in this dynamic field.
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