Software engineers work in one of the fastest growing industries in existence today. As technology evolves, carving out specializations in artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, big data, and other subfields, fresh opportunities continue to emerge. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS Dec. 2015) anticipated a 17 percent increase in positions for software developers between 2014 and 2024, nearly triple the growth projected across all occupations during that same decade (6.5 percent). These professionals unite the theories and methods of computer science, engineering, and math to create software applications, systems and networks, paying thought to their integration into existing technologies.
Read on to discover the typical responsibilities of a software engineer with discussions of the specializations and work environments.
As described above, software engineers apply traditional principles of computer science and engineering to create, test, and evaluate software applications and systems. More granularly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) describes the typical tasks in this high-growth profession:
Software engineers serve varied functions depending on their company. They may help design databases to store constituent information for a political action committee; assist in the development of a mobile ride-sharing application; or create project management software for public use. In sum, software engineers can work across virtually any industry, facilitating developments in healthcare, manufacturing, education, government, construction, aviation, and consumer products, among many others.
Software engineers can pursue unique specializations in their discipline, including:
These are a few of the most common specializations in software engineering, although the growing sophistication of technology will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Software engineers not only work at startups producing useful apps, but also with federal agencies that need assistance with the creation and maintenance of database software; healthcare companies which have pioneered new medical devices; automobile manufacturing plants seeking to optimize operations; or even non-profit organizations hoping to develop a new networking system. The most recent figures from the BLS (Dec. 2015) found the following were the most common employers of the 1.1 million software developers nationwide:
In general, the day-to-day tasks of a software engineer depend on their individual responsibilities within the greater organization. Here is an overview of sample responsibilities taken directly from job postings on Indeed.com across various subfields of software engineering:
Software engineer at a financial technology innovator
Field software engineer at a private defense contractor
Java software developer at a worldwide online payments system
As evident from the above descriptions, the responsibilities and competencies of software engineers vary widely. To learn about the most benevolent positions in software engineering, check out Software Careers in Service to Society.
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