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Become A Computer Software Engineer

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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

  • $90,710

    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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Computer Software Engineer jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Computer Scientist 4.7 years
Senior Engineer 4.3 years
Team Lead Engineer 3.4 years
Firmware Engineer 3.3 years
Software Engineer 3.2 years
Software Leader 3.2 years
Software Architect 3.2 years
Computer Engineer 3.0 years
Software Designer 3.0 years
Top Employers Before
Engineer 3.2%
Programmer 3.2%
Top Employers After
Manager 2.9%

Computer Software Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

69.1%

Female

22.2%

Unknown

8.8%
Ethnicity

White

66.7%

Asian

18.9%

Hispanic or Latino

9.9%

Unknown

2.7%

Black or African American

1.9%
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Languages Spoken

Chinese

23.5%

Spanish

17.6%

Mandarin

17.6%

German

11.8%

Sami

5.9%

French

5.9%

Korean

5.9%

Arabic

5.9%

Italian

5.9%
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Computer Software Engineer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

10.3%

Stevens Institute of Technology

10.3%

West Virginia University

7.7%

University of Washington

7.7%

Vanderbilt University

5.1%

Art Institute of Houston

5.1%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

5.1%

Capella University

5.1%

Case Western Reserve University

5.1%

University of Iowa

5.1%

University of Cincinnati

5.1%

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

5.1%

Drexel University

5.1%

Syracuse University

2.6%

University of Connecticut

2.6%

Texas Southern University

2.6%

Air Force Institute of Technology

2.6%

Elon University

2.6%

University of Maryland - University College

2.6%

Washington University in Saint Louis

2.6%
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Majors

Computer Science

25.0%

Computer Engineering

14.4%

Electrical Engineering

11.4%

Business

10.6%

Computer Information Systems

4.5%

Physics

4.5%

Information Technology

4.5%

Mathematics

3.8%

Systems Engineering

2.3%

Management Information Systems

2.3%

Education

2.3%

Accounting

2.3%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.5%

Finance

1.5%

Computer Systems Security

1.5%

Interior Design

1.5%

Theology

1.5%

Project Management

1.5%

Graphic Design

1.5%

Mechanical Engineering

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.4%

Masters

32.0%

Other

9.9%

Doctorate

8.1%

Associate

5.8%

Certificate

4.7%

License

0.6%

Diploma

0.6%
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Real Computer Software Engineer Salaries

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

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Top Skills for A Computer Software Engineer

VisualC++HardwareWebSiteDatabaseDesignSoftwareDevelopmentWindowsNTSQLServerCad/CamGUIUnixHtmlComputerSoftwareXMLC #LinuxPerlPCASPJavascriptResource

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Top Computer Software Engineer Skills

  1. Visual C++
  2. Hardware
  3. Web Site
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed multi-threaded application for violation processing using Visual C++.
  • Developed test system using embedded USB devices to emulate hardware.
  • Evaluated and improved modifications of company websites and database designs.
  • Entered a software development group prompting increased management and marketing activities.
  • Worked with Microsoft Access and SQL Server Databases frequently.

Top Computer Software Engineer Employers

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