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Working As A Computer Software Engineer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $98,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Computer Software Engineer Do

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Duties

Software developers typically do the following:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design each piece of an application or a system and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that instruct programmers how to write software code
  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or a system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program. They may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software. They must identify the core functionality that users need from software programs. Software developers must also determine user requirements that are unrelated to the functionality of software, such as the level of security and performance needs. They design the program and then give instructions to programmers, who write computer code and test it.

If the program does not work as expected or if testers find it too difficult to use, software developers go back to the design process to fix the problems or improve the program. After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance.

Developers usually work closely with computer programmers. However, in some companies, developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to the programmers.

Developers who supervise a software project from the planning stages through implementation sometimes are called information technology (IT) project managers. These workers monitor the project’s progress to ensure that it meets deadlines, standards, and cost targets. IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

The following are examples of types of software developers:

Applications software developers design computer applications, such as word processors and games, for consumers. They may create custom software for a specific customer or commercial software to be sold to the general public. Some applications software developers create complex databases for organizations. They also create programs that people use over the Internet and within a company’s intranet.

Systems software developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly. These could be operating systems for computers that the general public buys or systems built specifically for an organization. Often, systems software developers also build the system’s interface, which is what allows users to interact with the computer. Systems software developers are creating the operating systems that control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including the systems in phones or cars.

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How To Become A Computer Software Engineer

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and strong computer programming skills.

Education

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A degree in mathematics is also acceptable. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software in order to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. For some positions, employers may prefer a master’s degree.

Although writing code is not their first priority, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.

Software developers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.

Other Experience

Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college.

Some software developers first work as computer programmers and then are given more responsibility as they gain experience. Eventually, they become developers.

Advancement

Software developers can advance to become information technology (IT) project managers, also called computer and information systems managers, a position in which they oversee the software development process.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Developers must analyze users’ needs and then design software to meet those needs.

Communication skills. Developers must be able to give clear instructions to others working on a project. They must also explain to their customers how the software works and answer any questions that arise.

Computer skills. Developers must understand computer capabilities and programming languages in order to design effective software.

Creativity. Developers are the creative minds behind new computer software.

Detail oriented. Developers often work on many parts of an application or system at the same time and must therefore be able to concentrate and pay attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Software developers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software.

Problem-solving skills. Because developers are in charge of software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process.

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Average Length of Employment
Software Designer 3.2 years
Software Engineer 3.0 years
Top Careers Before Computer Software Engineer
Programmer 5.9%
Internship 3.6%
Engineer 3.0%
Top Careers After Computer Software Engineer
Engineer 2.6%
Internship 2.6%

Do you work as a Computer Software Engineer?

Average Yearly Salary
$98,000
Show Salaries
$75,000
Min 10%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Median 50%
$127,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Credit Suisse
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
4.6 years
How much does a Computer Software Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Computer Software Engineer in the United States is $98,508 per year or $47 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $75,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $127,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Computer Software Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Computer Software Engineer Business Strategy Group Inc. Dec 19, 2011 $135,655
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. May 16, 2012 $116,397 -
$116,397
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Nov 01, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Mar 09, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Mar 01, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Jul 27, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. May 20, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Jun 24, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Apr 29, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Aug 10, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software ENG, Applications Kourage Inc. Nov 18, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Oct 07, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software ENG, Applications Kourage Inc. Sep 08, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. May 02, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Oct 21, 2011 $114,296
Computer Software Engineer, Applications Fujitsu America, Inc. Jan 28, 2015 $107,702
Computer Software Engineer, Applications Fujitsu America, Inc. Nov 19, 2014 $107,702
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Jun 16, 2010 $105,000
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Howard Hughes Medical Institute Apr 09, 2010 $103,000 -
$115,000
Computer Software Engineer, Applications Fujitsu America, Inc. Jun 26, 2012 $100,090
Computer Software Engineer, Applications Fujitsu America, Inc. May 23, 2011 $98,405
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Aug 10, 2010 $96,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Communications Inc., & All Its Subsidiaries & Affiliates Dec 10, 2010 $94,800
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Communications Inc., & All Its Subsidiaries & Affiliates Dec 13, 2012 $94,000 -
$100,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applicatio VIP Communications, Inc. Apr 20, 2012 $91,300 -
$98,000
Computer Software Engineer Value Consulting LLC Mar 04, 2010 $91,000
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. May 20, 2010 $90,710
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. May 28, 2010 $90,710
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. May 19, 2010 $90,710
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Communications Inc., & All Its Subsidiaries & Affiliates Jan 19, 2011 $90,000
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Feb 05, 2010 $86,216
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Dec 09, 2010 $86,216
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Feb 03, 2010 $86,216
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Business Intelli Solutions, Inc. Oct 30, 2008 $85,600
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Mar 27, 2009 $85,000
Computer Software Engineer, Applications Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Mar 19, 2010 $85,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Nov 24, 2010 $85,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Technology Rivers LLC Mar 04, 2010 $85,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications KLS Engineering, LLC Jul 05, 2011 $84,656
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Ajace Inc. May 17, 2011 $83,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Imorphix Inc. Dec 30, 2010 $83,000
Computer Software Engineers, Systems Software Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Oct 21, 2010 $83,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Dfuse Technologies Jan 09, 2012 $82,514
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Apr 01, 2010 $81,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Oct 08, 2009 $80,000
Computer Software Engineer, Applications Fujitsu America, Inc. Apr 15, 2014 $78,150
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Accentuate Technologies, Inc. May 01, 2009 $76,107
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Pioneer Corporate Services Inc. Feb 04, 2010 $76,107
Computer Software Engineer, Applications Fujitsu America, Inc. Dec 05, 2013 $76,083
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Communications Inc., & All Its Subsidiaries & Affiliates Feb 23, 2009 $75,000
Computer Software Engineer Value Consulting LLC Nov 01, 2009 $66,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Verizon Business Network Services Inc. Apr 27, 2009 $65,300 -
$84,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications Value Consulting LLC Nov 20, 2009 $62,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications SDK Tech Corporation Apr 15, 2009 $61,000
Computer Software Engineers, Applications It Objects LLC Mar 30, 2009 $55,307

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Top Skills for A Computer Software Engineer

  1. Pl/Sql
  2. Computer Hardware
  3. Web Application
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed algorithms for replacement of some PL/SQL procedural elements with advanced SQL statements.
  • Monitored quality and current status of computer hardware along with electrical circuitry and electronics
  • Planned, developed and implemented successful large-scale web applications, e-commerce applications and net banking solution projects from conception to completion.
  • Developed programs to process inventory records from client distribution centers and update database with new inventory levels.
  • Developed and debugged embedded software components for flow-metering and water-cut measurement devices running on Windows XP Embedded.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Computer Software Engineers

  1. Washington
  2. California
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Oregon
  5. New York
  6. Massachusetts
  7. District of Columbia
  8. Virginia
  9. Utah
  10. Texas
  • (6,439 jobs)
  • (16,574 jobs)
  • (428 jobs)
  • (1,085 jobs)
  • (3,680 jobs)
  • (3,619 jobs)
  • (685 jobs)
  • (4,570 jobs)
  • (937 jobs)
  • (5,276 jobs)

Computer Software Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

71.8%

Female

19.2%

Unknown

9.1%
Ethnicity

White

50.7%

Asian

19.8%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

11.7%

Unknown

4.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Chinese

23.5%

Spanish

17.6%

Russian

11.8%

Mandarin

11.8%

Sami

5.9%

German

5.9%

French

5.9%

Belarusian

5.9%

Korean

5.9%

Arabic

5.9%
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Computer Software Engineer Education

Schools

Syracuse University

9.1%

Southern Methodist University

6.1%

Mission College

6.1%

University of California - San Diego

6.1%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

6.1%

Columbia Southern University

6.1%

Alabama A & M University

6.1%

University of Houston

6.1%

California State University - Dominguez Hills

6.1%

Cleveland State University

6.1%

University of New Mexico

6.1%

Stevens Institute of Technology

6.1%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.0%

Michigan Technological University

3.0%

University of Connecticut

3.0%

University of Maryland - University College

3.0%

University of Alabama

3.0%

Ohio University -

3.0%

North Carolina State University

3.0%

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

3.0%
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Majors

Computer Science

28.4%

Electrical Engineering

16.5%

Computer Engineering

11.9%

Physics

4.6%

Information Technology

3.7%

Business

3.7%

Psychology

2.8%

Computer Information Systems

2.8%

Management Information Systems

2.8%

Mathematics

2.8%

Mechanical Engineering

2.8%

Industrial Engineering

2.8%

Systems Engineering

1.8%

Management

1.8%

Biology

1.8%

Fire Science And Protection

1.8%

Information Sciences

1.8%

Computer Systems Security

1.8%

Elementary Education

1.8%

Computer Networking

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

44.2%

Masters

31.8%

Associate

11.6%

Certificate

7.0%

Doctorate

3.1%

High School Diploma

2.3%
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Updated May 18, 2020