As a software engineer, you might improve the payroll system for a corporation, create the next must-play animated 3D game, or build a supercomputer that is truly unbeatable on Jeopardy! The field is filled with extremely varied jobs and the possibilities for future career opportunities may be limited only by... your imagination.
Job openings should be plentiful for software developers trained in software engineering and similar disciplines. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates demand for professionals in this field will increase 30 percent through 2020.* You may be able to further your career in software engineering if you specialize in systems software, which requires you to develop the operating systems for a computer or other interactive platform such as tablets or computerized car systems. Developing individual applications is another area of specialization for software engineers. Demand is expected to increase 28 percent by 2020 for expert software application developers who can create specific games, word processing programs, internet applications, or similar pieces of software.
Growth in the field has been fueled in part by the expansion of mobile technology, but other innovations such as the use of computerized systems in healthcare, and the desire for a more personalized online experience has also lead to new career opportunities being created for software engineers. Strong programming knowledge and experience developing software is important to find a job in this field. However, to really succeed you need to be a creative thinker who can quickly learn new technology and be able to envision new software solutions that can solve a problem or meet users' diverse needs.
Entry-level jobs in the field usually require a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering. You may also be able to enter the profession with an undergraduate degree in mathematics as long as you complete some essential courses such as computer programming.
For more advanced positions, you will probably need a master degree. Both bachelor-level and master-level degree programs in software engineering are offered online so you can earn your degree while continuing to work full or part time. Whether you earn a bachelor or master degree, you should be committed to continuing your education via workshops, online tutorials, or independent reading and research.
In addition to your college degree, you may need to complete education in knowledge you will need for a job in a specific specialty area. For instance, software engineers might need to have knowledge of cancer or cancer treatments in order to effectively program equipment used to treat oncology patients. Some professionals in this field choose to earn graduate certificates in a specific subspecialty. You can also pursue a certificate in executive training that will better prepare you for a supervisory position. These programs are also often offered online through colleges and universities.
* The preceding information was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) online resource, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition," available at: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm