A bachelor's degree in software engineering is a common path to pursuing a career in software development, and more and more jobs for graduates with software development degrees are opening up. According to O*NET OnLine, 77 percent of systems software developers and 75 percent of applications software developers working in 2013 had earned a bachelor's degree, while just 17 percent in each segment had gone on to complete a graduate or post-graduate degree.
Students pursuing a software development degree can choose to specialize in one of many aspects of the discipline. Systems software engineering and applications software development are the most common specializations, but students may also choose to focus on development of software for the Web, or on enterprise-oriented specialties like project management or database administration
Path to a bachelor's degree in software engineering
Students earning a traditional or online bachelor's degree in software engineering are typically required to take classes in software design, programming languages, database structure and other core concepts of computer science. Here are a few courses that students can expect to take on the path to a software development degree:
- Digital imaging
- Computer graphics software
- Application development lifecycle
- Software testing
- Differential equations
- Data warehousing
Students who specialize in database administration or information systems management while earning their degree in software development may take some classes dedicated to the organization and maintenance of large data storage systems:
- Data structures
- Database design and implementation
- Structured query language (SQL)
- Programming languages
- Query design
- Oracle databases
Graduates with software development degrees can also go on to earn certifications from various training companies and professional organizations in the industry. Certifications can be an asset to software professionals, and some employers may require certain certifications for particularly specialized positions.
What can I do with a bachelor's degree in software development?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects robust job growth in careers that employ graduates with software development degrees. Applications developers should see 23 percent growth, systems software engineering positions are expected to grow by 20 percent and database administrators are projected to see a 15 percent increase in employment between 2012 and 2022.
Here's a list of several positions that may be available to graduates with software development degrees, along with their 2013 mean annual salaries and job growth as reported by the BLS:
|Discipline||2013 Median Annual Wage||2012-2022 Job Growth|
|Software Developers, Systems Software||$104,480||20%|
|Software Developers, Applications||$92,660||23%|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$77,910||12%|
|Information Security Analysts||$91,210||37%|
|Computer Systems Analysts||$85,320||25%|
Graduates may also go on to pursue master's and doctoral degrees in software engineering, which are often necessary for positions involving independent research or employment within academia. Students who wish to take their software development degree beyond the bachelor's level should speak with an adviser about ways to make a smooth transition into a master's program after graduation.
"Software Developers, Systems Software," Occupational Information Network, www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1133.00
"Software Developers, Applications," Occupational Information Network, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1132.00
"Bachelor of Software Engineering," Atlantic International University, http://www.aiu.edu/Bachelor%20of%20Software%20Engineering.htm
"Bachelor of Science in Information Technology," Colorado Technical University, http://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/bachelors/it
"Bachelor of Science in Software Systems Engineering," Colorado Technical University, http://www.coloradotech.edu/degrees/bachelors/it/software-systems-engineering
"Software Developers," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Software-developers.htm#tab-6
"Database Administrators," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm#tab-6
"May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
"Computer Systems Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
"Information Security Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm