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Software Engineer

Career Overview

Computer software engineers develop or enhance software programs through the use of mathematics, computer science and the particulars of the software package they are working on. Many computer science programs employ specific "languages" for programming purposes such as C++; Java; COBOL; and Visual Basic.

Software engineering also has a variety of approaches to software development: among them are object oriented programming, structured programming, rule based programming and aspect oriented programming. This aspect of the work is called the "programming paradigm."


A bachelors degree in computer science or software engineering is usually required for entry level positions. Experience means a lot in computer science, so individuals with experience in one of the languages may be able to find specialty jobs without having completed a bachelors program.

Software vendors offer training courses and certification for their programs or languages. This type of certification is not enough to break into the field. Moreover, the speed of technology growth in the computer world applies to software as well. Applicants must be acquainted with new developments or be able to master them easily.

Current Employment

There were 857,000 jobs for software engineers in 2006, divided between application engineers and network or systems software engineers. Almost thirty percent of software engineers work in computer systems design or in related fields.

Job Outlook

The increase in software engineer jobs was projected to be 38% between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average rate for all job categories.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%  $25.04  $52,090
Median Salary  $39.97  $83,130
Highest 10%  $60.22  $125,260

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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