Careers with a Software Engineering Degree

It may seem obvious that with a software engineering degree, you can become a software engineer. But what exactly does that mean? And what else can you do with this degree?



A career as a software engineer

So let’s start by outlining the most common career choice for graduates of this field…a career right smack dab in the middle of the field.


If you choose to work as a software engineer, you would be responsible for combining your expertise in computer science, engineering and mathematics to develop, create, maintain and operate software and software systems, for a variety of uses.


How do text messages get sent? Or, how e-mails get opened up? As a graduate, you know the answer to those questions inside and out, so why not be one of the wizards who designs and maintains the software behind this functionality, that is “over the heads” of the rest of us?


And communications technology is but one example of how you could apply your unique and financially valuable skill set. You could work in entertainment (video games and animation are two popular fields), scientific computing, financial systems, or many other areas. Best of all, you could choose to work for small, medium or large company, or even start your own!



Other Things You Can Do With a Software Engineering Degree

If you’re not necessarily interested in a career as a software engineer, that’s okay, you’re not limited to it with this degree. The skills, knowledge and competencies that you can acquire by studying software engineering can be applied to careers both in the field (such as a software sales rep), careers indirectly related to it (such as a patent agent), and even careers that aren’t related to software engineering at all!


With the skills you’ll be armed with, and your proven ability to handle a dense and demanding workload, you’ll be attractive to so many types of employers, for so many different roles.



Interested in refining your knowledge base and skill set, to gain true expertise in an area of software engineering? As luck would have it, you also have the option to go on to graduate studies in a more specific area of this field.


From there you can choose to work in industry, or you can apply your skills and knowledge to performing research in the field, or teaching at the high school, college, or university levels.


But your academic options don't end there. An education in software engineering also provides a sound technological background for further studies in physics, medicine, law, and many other areas.






What Does a Software Engineering Program Teach You?

Software engineering degree programs are designed to allow you to gain expertise in the design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and software systems that enable computers to perform their many applications.


By earning a degree in this field, you will also gain the requisite software skills and competencies to analyze and understand how software can be effectively developed and maintained as an integral part of a physical system.


Overview of Coursework

Software engineering programs typically include introductory and advanced courses in math, computer science, computer programming, data structures, operating systems, hardware, software architecture and many other areas. Some examples of possible coursework include:


• Applied Advanced Calculus

• Applied Ordinary Differential Equations

• Data Structures and Algorithms

• Introduction to Theoretical Computer Science

• Introduction to Web Applications

• Management, Measurement and Quality Control

• Mathematics for Computer Science

• Object-Oriented Programming

• Operating Systems

• Principles of Electrical Engineering

• Principles of Programming Languages

• Probability and Statistics in Engineering

• Professional Practice & Responsibility

• Software Architecture and Design

• Software Process

• Software Requirements and Specifications

• Sustainable Development and Environmental Stewardship

• System Hardware

• Technical Writing and Communication

• User Interface Design


Methods of Teaching

As a student in one of these programs, you will likely have to participate in both classroom-based theoretical work, as well as laboratory and project based hands-on work. This combination of teaching methods allows you to gain theory-based knowledge base, as well as a practical skill set in various areas of software engineering.


Final Project

Many software engineering programs also involve a project in the final year, for the purpose of allowing you to practically apply the skills you have acquired in the classroom prior to graduating. This final step helps make your transition from software engineering student, to software engineering professional much easier.



Careers Relevant a Software Engineering Degree

Below, we’ve chosen careers in our database that we feel relate to this degree, either because the subject matter of the degree relates to the occupational field, or because the skills you’ll need to be an effective employee can be gained in a software engineering degree program. Please note, this is not an inclusive list:


• Application Architect

• Applications Analyst

• Applications Programmer

• Blogger

• Computational Linguist

• Computer Programmer

• Computer Service Technician

• Computer Systems Engineer

• Consumer Advocate

• Cryptologist

• Cyber Security Specialist

• Data Processing Director

• Database Administrator

• Electrical Engineer

• Electronics Engineer

• Embedded Software Engineer

• Entrepreneur

• Flash Programmer

• Game Tester

• Information Systems Designer

• Java Developer

• Multimedia Programmer

• Patent Agent

• PHP Developer

• Product Development Engineer

• Production Engineer

• Project Engineer

• Quantitative Analyst

• Research Engineer

• Robotics Technologist

• Sales Representative

• Software Designer

• Software Engineer

• Software Quality Assurance Engineer

• Software Sales Representative

• Software Testing Engineer

• Systems Administrator

• Systems Integration Engineer

• Technical Sales Engineer

• Telecommunications Engineer

• Test Engineer

• Toy Designer

• University Professor

• User Interface Designer

• Video Game Audio Programmer

• Video Game Developer

• Webmaster





Employable Skills You Can Gain as a Student

As a software engineering graduate, you will be armed with a set of skills that will enable you to work as a competent software engineer. These skills include, but are not limited to:


Mathematical Abilities

• Skills in applied advanced calculus

• Knowledge of applied ordinary differential equations

• Knowledge of data structures and algorithms

• Knowledge of statistics and probability, as they relate to engineering


Skills in software engineering and development

• Project planning

• Project requirements and specifications analysis

• Software design, coding and testing

• Configuration management

• Quality assurance, and documentation

• Knowledge of programming languages

• Skills in user interface design



Other Transferrable Skills You Can Gain

In addition to skills in software engineering, you will also develop a set of skills that are applicable to careers outside of the field. These skills include (but are not limited to):


• Basic entrepreneurial skills

• The ability to work as part of a team

• The ability to meet tight deadlines

• Organizational and time management skills

• Technical Writing and Communication



What Sectors of Industry Employ Graduates?

There is a lot you can do with a software engineering degree, since software now plays such a crucial role in virtually every type of organization, and in designing every type of device. There is essentially no restriction as to the type of industry that you could work in when you enter the workforce, and as you progress in your career. Some examples of the industries that commonly employ software engineers include:


• Aeronautics

• Energy and Utilities: Hydro, Gas, Water and Sewage

• Engineering Consulting

• Entertainment (video game development and animation)

• Finance, Banking & Insurance

• Healthcare

• Government (Municipal, Regional or Federal)

• Information Technology

• Management Consulting

• Manufacturing

• Oil and Gas

• Scientific & Technical Services

• Software Developers

• Transportation




Typical Salary Level of Graduates

The salary level you could earn as a graduate of this field can vary quite a bit, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education (bachelor’s, graduate etc.)

• Whether or not you end up working as a software engineer

• If you achieve the designation of Professional Engineer (PE)

• The amount of work experience you’ve accumulated

• The size and type of your employer

• The industry in which you find work

• The region in which you find work


That’s a lot of factors that can influence your earnings. To make it easier to determine what you could earn, let’s just look at the average salary level of a software engineer.


Typical Salary in Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Software Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $78,662 per year.


Typical Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Software Developers occupational group is $93,350 per year.






Relevant Scholarships

If you're looking for help paying for your degree, and who isn't, check our database. We have a bunch of Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to software engineering, as well as scholarships that are open to any field of study!


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Professional and Student Associations

To find out more about careers directly related to your degree, consult the following student and professional and student association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.



Canadian Society for Professional Engineers

CIPS - Association of Information Technology Professionals

Engineers Canada

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers


United States

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association

National Society of Professional Engineers

The Entertainment Software Association



International Association of Engineers

Technical Council on Software Engineering



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