bachelor's degree commonly is required for software engineering jobs,
although a masterís degree is preferred for some positions. A bachelorís
degree also is required for many computer programming jobs, although a
2-year degree or certificate may be adequate in some cases. Employers
favor applicants who already have relevant skills and experience.
Workers who keep up to date with the latest technology usually have good
opportunities for advancement.
For software engineering positions, most employers prefer applicants who
have at least a bachelor's degree and broad knowledge of, and experience
with, a variety of computer systems and technologies. The usual college
majors for applications software engineers are computer science,
software engineering, or mathematics. Systems software engineers often
study computer science or computer information systems. Graduate degrees
are preferred for some of the more complex jobs.
Many programmers require a bachelor's degree, but a 2-year degree or
certificate may be adequate for some positions. Some computer
programmers hold a college degree in computer science, mathematics, or
information systems, whereas others have taken special courses in
computer programming to supplement their degree in a field such as
accounting, finance, or another area of business.
Employers who use computers for scientific or engineering applications
usually prefer college graduates who have a degree in computer or
information science, mathematics, engineering, or the physical sciences.
Employers who use computers for business applications prefer to hire
people who have had college courses in management information systems
and business, and who possess strong programming skills. A graduate
degree in a related field is required for some jobs.
addition to educational attainment, employers highly value relevant
programming skills and experience. Students seeking software engineering
or programming jobs can enhance their employment opportunities by
participating in internships. Some employers, such as large computer and
consulting firms, train new employees in intensive, company-based
As technology advances, employers will need workers with the latest
skills. To help keep up with changing technology, workers may take
continuing education and professional development seminars offered by
employers, software vendors, colleges and universities, private training
institutions, and professional computing societies. Computer software
engineers also need skills related to the industry in which they work.
Engineers working for a bank, for example, should have some expertise in
finance so that they understand banks' computing needs.
requirements for undergraduate engineering schools include a solid
background in mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and
calculus) and science (biology, chemistry, and physics), and courses in
English, social studies, humanities, and computer and information
technology. Bachelor's degree programs in engineering typically are
designed to last 4 years, but many students find that it takes between 4
and 5 years to complete their studies.
Internships and Coops
provide students with a great opportunity to gain real-world experience
while still in school. Students seeking
software engineering jobs enhance their employment opportunities by
participating in internship or co-op programs offered through their
schools. These experiences provide the students with broad knowledge and
experience, making them more attractive candidates to employers.
Inexperienced college graduates may be hired by large computer and
consulting firms that train new employees in intensive, company-based
programs. In many firms, new hires are mentored, and their mentors have
an input into the performance evaluations of these new employees. Many universities offer co-op and internship
programs for students studying software engineering.
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In a typical 4-year college curriculum, the first 2 years are spent
studying mathematics, basic sciences, introductory engineering,
humanities, and social sciences. In
the last 2 years, most courses are in engineering, usually with a
concentration in one branch. For example, a software engineering program
might include courses in digital circuit design, microprocessor systems,
data structures and algorithms, organization of programming languages,
analysis and design of software systems, software modeling, and software
quality assurance and testing.
Technological advances come so rapidly in the computer software field that
continuous study is necessary to keep one's skills up to date post
graduation. Employers, hardware and software vendors, colleges and
universities, and private training institutions offer continuing
education. Additional training may come from professional development
seminars offered by professional computing
Those interested in a
career in Software Engineering should consider reviewing engineering programs that are
ABET, Inc. If you choose to attend a program that is not ABET accredited, you should be sure that the university
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.