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Software Engineering Overview - Preparation - Specialty Areas -
Day In The Life - Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast -
Professional Organizations 


Preparation
A 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.

In 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 programs.

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.

Admission Requirements
Admissions 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.

Co-ops
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. Click here for more information.

Courses of Study
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.

Ongoing Study
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 societies.

Accredited Programs
Those interested in a career in Software Engineering should consider reviewing engineering programs that are accredited by ABET, Inc. If you choose to attend a program that is not ABET accredited, you should be sure that the university is regionally accredited


Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 


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