What is a Software Engineer

Software Engineers get to apply lots of different areas of study into their everyday work. Whether it's science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, or even design, these engineers are able to use lots of different methods and techniques in their line of work.

Essentially, software engineers design, develop and test software applications for computers. They usually work in offices or labs during their average 40-hour workweek. Even though they use a wide range of study, typically software engineers only require a Bachelor's degree, although a Master's degree is appealing to most employers.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a Software Engineer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $45.98 an hour? That's $95,642 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 21% and produce 284,100 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Software Engineer Do

There are certain skills that many Software Engineers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed Communication skills, Creativity and Problem-solving skills.

Learn more about what a Software Engineer does

How To Become a Software Engineer

If you're interested in becoming a Software Engineer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 73.5% of Software Engineers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 19.9% of Software Engineers have master's degrees. Even though most Software Engineers have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a Software Engineer. When we researched the most common majors for a Software Engineer, we found that they most commonly earn Bachelor's Degree degrees or Master's Degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on Software Engineer resumes include Associate Degree degrees or Diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a Software Engineer. In fact, many Software Engineer jobs require experience in a role such as Software Developer. Meanwhile, many Software Engineers also have previous career experience in roles such as Senior Software Engineer or Programmer Analyst.

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the right jobs to get there.

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Meta Jobs (12,151)
  2. Google Jobs (47,700)
  3. Microsoft Jobs (23,348)
  4. Uber Technologies Jobs (1,864)
  5. eBay Jobs (4,495)
Average Salary
$95,642
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
21%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
397,535
Job Openings
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Average Salary for a Software Engineer

Software Engineers in America make an average salary of $95,642 per year or $46 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $129,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $70,000 per year.
Average Salary
$95,642
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12 Software Engineer Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Software Engineer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Software Engineer resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Software Engineer Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Meta Jobs (12,151)
  2. Google Jobs (47,700)
  3. Microsoft Jobs (23,348)
  4. Uber Technologies Jobs (1,864)
  5. eBay Jobs (4,495)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Software Engineer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Software Engineer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Software Engineer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
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Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
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Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume
Software Engineer Resume

Software Engineer Demographics

Software Engineer Gender Statistics

male

78.0 %

female

22.0 %

Software Engineer Ethnicity Statistics

White

52.3 %

Asian

33.0 %

Hispanic or Latino

6.9 %

Software Engineer Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

24.5 %

Chinese

11.4 %

French

10.2 %
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Software Engineer Education

Software Engineer Majors

Software Engineer Degrees

Bachelors

73.5 %

Masters

19.9 %

Associate

3.5 %

Top Colleges for Software Engineers

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

3. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

6. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,992
Enrollment
33,495

7. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

8. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

9. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Pomona, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,353
Enrollment
24,841

10. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568
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Online Courses For Software Engineer That You May Like

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udemy
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Learn how to create a maintainable Web API using ASP.NET Core 5, Entity Framework and Enterprise Level Design Patterns...

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Top Skills For a Software Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.4% of Software Engineers listed Python on their resume, but soft skills such as Communication skills and Creativity are important as well.

Best States For a Software Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Software Engineer. The best states for people in this position are California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. Software Engineers make the most in California with an average salary of $119,949. Whereas in Washington and Oregon, they would average $119,467 and $101,276, respectively. While Software Engineers would only make an average of $95,196 in Nevada, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Software Engineer Jobs:
6,948
Highest 10% Earn:
$164,000
Location Quotient:
2.42
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Software Engineer Jobs:
19,681
Highest 10% Earn:
$159,000
Location Quotient:
1.71
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Oregon

Total Software Engineer Jobs:
2,587
Highest 10% Earn:
$139,000
Location Quotient:
1.59
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Software Engineers

How Do Software Engineer Rate Their Jobs?

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SOFTWARE ENGINEERAugust 2019

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What do you like the most about working as Software Engineer?

Designing a new system or making changes to an old one. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Compensation. Pay and Benefits do not match the time spent on a project. Alabama is the Worst state to live in for SOFTWARE ENGINEER Salaries. 40 to 50 percent less than our peer States. Show More

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Top Software Engineer Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ Software Engineers and discovered their number of Software Engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Google was the best, especially with an average salary of $151,914. Microsoft follows up with an average salary of $143,682, and then comes Facebook with an average of $165,300. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a Software Engineer. The employers include Goldman Sachs, PayPal, and Salesforce

Most Common Employers For Software Engineer

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Software Engineer SalaryAverage Salary
1$165,300
2$151,914
3$143,682
4$137,605
5$134,691
6$132,302

What are the best companies to work for a Software Engineer?

Dr. Jonathan Geisler

Associate Professor, Taylor University

The best companies to work for are the ones that are responsive to both their customers' and employees' needs. They are the ones that have tried to be proactive during the pandemic and not just survive until everything got "back to normal." They know that a damaged workforce leads to a damaged company, and so they provide good management, encouraging everyone to be healthy mentally and physically.Show more

Software Engineer Videos

Becoming a Software Engineer FAQs

Are software engineers happy?

Yes, software engineers are happy. Though computer science is a demanding profession, most software engineers enjoy their jobs and consider the work challenging and rewarding. The combination of pay, flexibility, and job satisfaction leads to software engineers being quite happy compared to people in other professions.

On top of a lucrative salary, software engineers also enjoy more work perks. Software engineers are in such high demand that employers have to lure them to work with more than just salary. Engineers tend to enjoy free lunches, video games at the office, sabbaticals, and other benefits.

Another factor that contributes to happiness is job security. Companies have a strong demand for software developers, so people in this industry have the opportunity to work as an employee or freelancer, contractor or consultant, or create their own small business, which can be helpful if you're angling toward entrepreneurship.

Learn more about this question

Can software engineers work from home?

Yes, software engineers can work from home. The normal requirements for a software engineer to work are an internet connection, a sufficiently fast computer, and a quiet area to focus. This means that working from home is an option for most software engineers. However, some people find it hard to focus at home due to family, insufficient space to work, or the lack of feeling of oversight. So, while working from home is an option, it might not be the best option for every engineer.



Before the pandemic, software engineers were one of the few professionals that were already working from home. For the above mentioned reasons, software engineers can have flexible work schedules where they work for part of the day at home and part of the day at the office. In fact, surveys have shown that over 30% of software engineers were already working from home part time.


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How long does it take to become a software engineer?

It typically takes about four years to become a software engineer. This is because the main qualification for most software engineers is a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.

A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete, though this number can vary slightly. Thus, to become a software engineer, one can usually expect to invest four years in school.

Additionally, many high-paying software engineering positions will expect some experience or advanced qualifications. These can often be earned by spending a few years working in an entry-level capacity.

Most software engineers are expected to know several different programming languages and to be up to date on current technologies and practices. These languages are often learned during the completion of a software engineer's bachelor's degree.

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Is a software engineer a good job?

Yes, being a software engineer is a good job. Software engineers tend to earn high salaries. Software engineering can be challenging, and the competitive compensation for this career path reflects that.

Often, software engineers are made to "wear many hats" in the process of software development. The breadth of skills and knowledge a software engineer must have is daunting. However, the average salary of a software engineer often makes this rigorous career worthwhile.

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Is it hard to be a software engineer?

Yes, it is hard to be a software engineer. There are a number of qualifications that a software engineer is expected to have in order to succeed. On top of earning a bachelor's degree, software engineers are usually expected to be fluent and experienced in a number of programming languages.

Programming can be challenging work, but most software engineers are experienced in programming by the time that they earn their degree and enter the workforce. Software engineering can require a lot of knowledge and skill with regard to the entire process of software development.

Additionally, software engineers often work under tight deadlines and with busy schedules. The responsibilities of software engineering can be extremely taxing.

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Is there a high demand for software engineers?

Yes, there is a high demand for software engineers. The demand for software engineers has been on the rise and is projected to grow 21% by 2028.

The demand for software engineers has been attributed to a variety of things. During the pandemic, businesses adopted new technologies and platforms, from conference and collaboration tools to productivity software. Additionally, consumer technology - like video game development and social media platforms - started booming.

As the IT industry continues to rise and develop, it can be said that the demand for highly skilled software engineers is not going to diminish. In the U.S., demand for software engineering roles such as web developers and cloud engineers grew nearly 25% from April-October 2019 to April-October 2020, according to LinkedIn.

Businesses need websites or apps that oftentimes are created specifically for that organization. Trends like artificial intelligence, automation, virtual reality, and cryptocurrency also require a software engineer's expertise.

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What is the difference between a software developer and a software engineer?

The difference between software developers and software engineers is that software engineers generally work on projects larger in scale and are able to handle the complete architecture of a project.

Software developers take on more of a creative role and are responsible for putting together the pieces that bring projects together. The title "engineer" often refers to education and training, which allows them to employ scientific methods when designing software solutions.

Software engineers ensure that the structure and stability of systems are in order and make sure software is functioning properly. They apply engineering principles to the creation of computer programs and systems.

Engineers will typically outsource development tasks to software developers and focus on the entire construction of the project. Contrarily, software developers focus on building one part of the system at a time.

Software developers have more of a creative role, as they're responsible for building and executing development plans and programming software. Software developers use their skills to write, change and debug software for clients. Software developers sometimes perform the same tasks as engineers but on a more limited scale.

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What qualifications do you need to be a software engineer?

The qualification you need to be a software engineer is a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Additionally, most software engineers must be well-versed in several programming languages.

Programming languages can be challenging to learn, however in the regular course of earning a bachelor's degree in computer science; most prospective software engineers will have learned multiple programming languages.

Aside from programming languages, software engineers usually need to be up to date and well-read with regards to developing technologies and practices in the field of software engineering.

A good foundation of knowledge and many soft skills are necessary to succeed in software engineering. These skills can often be obtained through experience working in the field of software engineering.

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