If the modern world runs on technology, then that technology runs on software. It’s hard to think of a sector in business, government, or public sector services that doesn’t employ software engineers or rely on programs and operating systems that software engineers helped to develop. If you’re thinking of training as a software engineer, then you will be able to find work with a diverse choice of employers once you’re fully qualified.
Due to the wide range of sectors that they can work in and the ubiquity of the technology that they manage, software engineers are in huge demand all over the world. The US Labor Bureau has predicted job growth of 25% between 2021 and 2031. This is much faster job growth than the average across all occupations, with nearly 170,000 new openings expected each year. This means that qualified software engineers will always be able to find work and will be capable of commanding a very competitive salary.
What do software engineers do?
Software engineers create, fix, and update the software that all digital technology runs on. They design and build programs for a wide variety of devices and online applications. Using skills from computer science and engineering, they work on operating systems, hardware, and networks, making the apps, programs, websites, and systems that underpin so many aspects of modern life.
Three of the main categories of software that an engineer might work with are desktop programs, mobile app development, and web app development. A general software engineer, or one who focuses on apps, is described as a full-stack developer, while systems software developers are backend developers. They design and build behind-the-scenes technology in the form of operating systems and networks.
A systems software engineer or developer will work as part of a team that may also include data scientists, systems architects, and UX designers, among other tech professionals. Depending on the complexity of the project, a website or app developer might also work as part of a team or may operate independently, guiding a project to the finish line single-handedly.
How to qualify as a software engineer
There’s no one sure way to get a job as a software engineer, but earning solid qualifications from a reputable institution gives you the best grounding in the science behind coding and developing, as well as a credibility that your self-taught competitors in the job market may lack. Baylor University’s Master of Computer Science degree is taught fully online and can be completed in as little as 18 months. Ranked as one of the top 5% of universities in the US, a degree from Baylor will impress employers as they’ll know you’ve been given a comprehensive education in whatever subject you’ve studied.
Any budding software engineer would be advised to start with a bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject such as computer science, engineering, math, or physics. You can then go on to take a master’s degree in computer science. At the same time, an internship with a software engineering firm will give you valuable, real-world experience, and you can also start to earn industry certifications.
Once you’re qualified, put together a portfolio of your best work and start looking for work in a sector that appeals to you. Here are a couple of the areas where software engineers are in demand.
Retail isn’t about just selling stock over the counter anymore. Almost every retail business, from a one-stop local shop to a national chain, has a website where customers can browse the catalogue and order online. Retail businesses also need to be contactable by email, and many have a social media presence across multiple platforms.
Behind the scenes, a retailer will also use technology to order stock from suppliers and to check levels in company warehouses. In-store stocktaking also relies on digital auditing systems. We could go on, but it’s already clear that there are many roles for software engineers in the retail sector. Designing, maintaining, and troubleshooting the websites, apps, and programs that stores and e-commerce businesses use every day is an essential function that only qualified software engineers can fulfill.
Software engineers in retail need to be customer-focused as well as technically-capable. They need to design and calibrate programs to meet the needs of ordinary people, not just experts – specifically, the demographic the business employing them is aimed at. A strong sense of how to get the end user experience (UX) right is vital.
Health and medical care
Healthcare is one of the most technology-driven sectors in the world. If a new device, innovation, or process can help to save lives or improve patient outcomes, then it must be used as soon as it is proved safe and effective. Software engineers are required to make this technology work and to make sure that it’s programmed to perform tasks correctly.
From remote surgery using robotics to DNA analysis and research into new drugs and vaccines, software is increasingly enabling new innovations in the heath sector. In addition, software solutions are needed for keeping electronic medical records up to date as well as for providing digital portals for service users.
From clinical applications to information management to research and development, software engineers have a wide choice of career paths to follow within healthcare.
In the home
Today, the average home contains many consumer goods and essential items that rely on software to function. It’s not just obvious choices like the phone in your pocket, the desktop computer or laptop, and the TV set, but it’s also everyday white goods like refrigerators, washing machines, and electric ovens. As smart technology becomes more commonplace in our homes, so the demand for software engineers to design, program, and repair everyday devices will increase.
Household AI devices like Siri and Alexa are powered by complex software, while many other pieces of machinery are now programmable and will soon be able to talk to each other via the internet of things. Everything from your doorbell to your coffee machine is set to become more versatile and sophisticated, thanks largely to the work of clever, capable software engineers.
Whatever sector you choose to work in, being a software engineer is a job with a future.