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Associate’s Degree in Software Engineering Online Programs

Software engineers, also known as software developers, touch nearly every aspect of our lives with their work. There are computers at our fingertips all the time these days,

and software developers are crucial for each and every operating system and application within. From the icemaker in the fridge to our smartphones, to the GPS recalculating our commutes to help us avoid traffic, software engineers (SEs) help make it all possible. That’s why U.S. News & World Report named software engineering #13 on their list of the 50 Best Careers for 2016. The reasoning behind this high position on the list includes a median salary of $100,690 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,i  and an industry unemployment rate of only 2.5% in 2016, as reported by U.S. News & World Report. 

Though the typical entry-level education into the field is a bachelor’s degree, 3% of software engineers who work in developing applications have earned an associate’s degree, while 4% of software engineers who work with systems software have also earned their associate’s.ii  Earning an online software engineering associates degree is usually about a two-year college commitment. Program lengths vary by school. You can earn an online software engineering associates degree.

Essentials of an Online Software Engineering Associates Degree

So, I’m loving the idea of software engineering. Sign me up! I’m ready to roll.

… OK, so what exactly am I signing up for? 

Software engineers are responsible for the development process for software programs, start to finish. Their starting point may be asking customers how they plan to use the software. They need to figure out what users want to get out of the software program. Software engineers must also figure out invisible user requirements that don’t affect the functionality of the software, but are nonetheless super important, such as security and performance. SEs design the program and then give it over to the programmer, who will write the computer code and handling testing.iii

If the programmer finds it doesn’t run as desired or if UX testers find it too hard to operate, software engineers reassess the design process and fix the problems to improve the program accordingly. After it’s released to the customer, the program may need occasional upgrades and maintenance from the engineers. You know those prompts you always get to update your apps or programs? Yep, you guessed it: software engineers.

Developers usually work collaboratively with computer engineers. But, in some cases, engineers write code themselves instead of giving it to the programmers.

So, at minimum, aspiring SEs need to develop proficiency with computers and computer language. So, it’s best if your interests line up with that course of study. Maybe you don’t know if you’re into coding or not. No problem! Give it a try on one of the free online platforms like codeacademy.com, and you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s easier than you might think. As long as you’re into math and computers, this could be an inspiring opportunity to potentially gain some skills and knowledge, all while having fun doing it. In fact, for those who work as software engineers, 70% of SEs love it so much that they continue to code in their off work hours just for kicks, or maybe to get that urgent project in on-time .

Software engineering focuses on software development initially and then goes beyond programming to include such things as designing and testing software for ease of use. SE students follow this same path in their coursework. So, at first it seems mostly technical because SE classes initially cover subjects such as XHTML, VB.NET, Javascript, C++, and Oracle. But at the core of it, developers don’t just code; they engineer ways to help people. That’s the end game with software developers and thus their education as well.

What Is a Possible Software Engineering Career Track?

You gotta start somewhere, and that may be pursuing an entry-level position as a software engineer. Then, with further education and experience, coders may earn a promotion to pursue a career as software architects or project managers. So, what kind of experience helps you enhance your career like this? First and foremost, in software development you’ve got to keep up with the latest advancements, because technology constantly evolves, and so does the competition.

We know that software engineers can potentially work in most every part of software creation, from writing code to debugging programs to launching new software and even managing information systems. But as your career evolves, you also may want to develop your interpersonal and management skills along the way. That’s because software engineers often collaborate with marketing and design professionals. In other words, you could work with all kinds of cool creative types. Meanwhile you foster an exciting and fun career doing what you love in a vital industry that is relevant to nearly everyone on the planet.

Potential Job Prospects for Software Developers

Software development can be comfy too. Don’t believe me? Well, maybe you haven’t tried working at it yet… in your PJs. Software engineering is one of those rare industries in which you can both earn your degree or perform the actual job without even getting dressed first.

Tell me more, you say. Well, many software engineers work remotely, nearly 30% on a regular basis.iv In fact, those who work remotely claim that they tend to earn significantly more than those who don’t. Basically, if you’re into math and computer science, then you too might enjoy a course of study and pursuing a career you can do on your couch in your workout clothes, and where the median salary in 2015 was $100,690 per year, according to reporting by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.v

Want to hear something else? Potential job opportunities for software engineers are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, with a projected growth rate of 17% from 2014 to 2024, also according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s a 17% increase over the 2014 number of 1,114,000 jobs currently in the profession.vi

The demand for software engineers continues to increase largely because of the continued expansion of technology and the internet, which means an increased demand for the software that power them, according to the BLS.vii   And when you’re job searching, there’s no better place to be than in demand, am I right?

You can get started looking for an online software engineering associates degree here on eLearners.com. We have lots of sponsored listings and information about online degree programs for you to explore. Be sure to reach out to the college you’re interested in as exact details and program requirements will vary.


[i]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-5 [ii]onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1132.00#Education [iii]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-2 [iv]stackoverflow.com/research/developer-survey-2015#work-remote [v]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-1 [vi]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-1 [vii]bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm#tab-1