Online Computer & Software Engineering Degree Programs

Computer software engineers work on the front lines of the IT industry, designing, testing, and maintaining computers and their integrated systems. Although much of what you do as a computer software engineer can be learned on the job, formal training is highly recommended for this field. Because technology advances at such a fantastic rate, having a strong foundation in math, science, and programming can be extremely advantageous. Whether you work with business applications, network distribution, computer games, or word processing, the tools you learn through formal training can provide the requisite problem-solving skills necessary for success and adaptability.

Computer Software Engineering Degrees

While it is possible to enter this field with an associate's degree or less, most employers prefer those with a bachelor's degree or higher. Without at least four years of extensive training in applications software, software engineering, or computer science, you could find yourself at a severe disadvantage when you search for career opportunities or long-term employment options. In addition to exposure to the latest technology information that degree coursework provides, you also might not have access to internships and co-ops, experiences that offer real-world exposure in an incredibly dynamic field.

Coursework for Computer Software Engineering

The bulk of the coursework focuses on software, programming, math, science, and information technology. But because computer software engineers typically work in a variety of fields, you should consider focusing on areas relevant to your intended career path. Computer software engineers who want to work on Wall Street, for example, should pursue a foundation in finance and economics. Similarly, engineers who want to work in medical facilities should understand the health care industry.

Online Degrees and Distance Study Options

Not surprisingly, computer software engineering is a field well suited to online study. You spend the bulk of your time in front of a monitor or reading books, so whenever you have free time and an Internet connection, you can tackle your studies. But again, you should consider supplementing this training with internships and real-world experience.

Career Options for Computer Software Engineers

Although a substantial number of professionals (30 percent) in this field work in computer systems design, numerous career opportunities are available in a variety of industries. From insurance companies to government agencies to start-ups to universities, job openings exist for those with sufficient training and experience. A growing number of independent software engineers also offer freelance consultations.

Salary Ranges and Career Outlook

Salaries for computer software engineers can be quite generous, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a median range of $80,000 to $85,000 in 2006. In the same year, even novices fresh out of college earned a median income over $55K. Equally encouraging are the growth prospects for the larger industry. Career experts predict computer software engineering to become one of the fastest-growing fields over the next five to ten years. From 2006 to 2016, roughly 324,000 new positions could emerge, representing nearly 40 percent growth or more than three times the national average for most other career fields.

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