Occupational Overview for Software Engineers
Software engineers are engineers who creatively design, develop, test, and evaluate different computer and electronic software systems. Some develop the applications that allow people do specific tasks on a computer, while others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks.
Employment can vary for software engineers. Most work as employees or contractors within the following industries:
- Government agencies
- Non-profit organizations
- Freelance projects
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that about 32 percent of software developers work for computer systems design and related services firms. Around 10 percent work in computer and electronic product manufacturing industries. Within the finance and insurance industry there are about eight percent of all software publishers, and seven percent work for specific software publishers.
Organizations typically hire software engineers for the entire development process for a software program. Within small projects, engineers may fill many engineering roles. Other times organizations will hire many software engineers for a large project, where each engineer will play an important and specific role.
Some specializations include:
- Technical Support
The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook states that the following duties are typical of software engineers:
- Analyze users’ needs, then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
- Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
- Design each piece of the application or system and plan how the pieces will work together
- Create flowcharts and other models that instruct programmers how to write the software’s code
- Ensure that the software continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
- Document every aspect of the application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
- Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software
Software Engineering Salaries:
Salaries for software engineers are typically quite high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has the median annual wage of applications developers as $87,790 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,360, and the top 10 percent earned more than $133,110.
In May 2010 the median annual wage of systems developers was $94,180. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $61,040, and the top 10 percent earned more than $143,330.