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Computer software engineering is a field of study focusing on the design, development and maintenance of the software upon which so many modern devices rely, including computers, tablets and smartphones Since this is a highly technical field, the right training is a must, and in many cases comes in the form of formal degree programs and professional certifications.

Programs typically emphasize math and computer science, plus a variety of the computer languages prevalent in the field today. These basic skills are typically applicable to a wide array of careers, many of which are in high demand.

What do computer software engineering students study?

The College Board advises future computer software engineering majors to remain flexible with respect to their future careers and, in turn, the scope of their studies. As computer technologies evolve, so do the jobs associated with them.

Thankfully, most programs in technology in computer software engineering help students hone the scientific and mathematical knowhow necessary to adapt. Courses are typically diverse, and may touch upon website design, systems analysis, programming languages and more. Other majors related to software engineering, like computer science, game design or computer programming; include many of the same courses, making computer software engineering an adaptable field of study.

Computer software engineering credentials range from certificates to advanced doctoral degrees, though, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most entry-level computer software engineers obtain bachelor's degrees.

Each degree level is more intensive than the last. Some computer and software engineering professionals invest in additional, voluntary professional certifications to validate specialized knowledge and to show employers they are committed to the lifelong education such changeable fields often demand.

What careers can computer software engineering students pursue?

The College Board states that there are a number of careers well suited for people with computer software engineering degrees.

The following are just a few of them, along key employment and education trends, as reported by the BLS. Note that in some cases, computer software engineering professionals choose to specialize in an area like applications or systems software:

  • Software developers: Software developers design and code computer programs and applications for a number of devices, and may even design the underlying systems that run them. These professionals usually earn a bachelor's degree in computer software engineering or a related field. Applications-oriented software developers collected a 2013 median income of $92,660 according to the BLS. Demand for software developers is expected to grow by 22 percent between 2012 and 2022, much faster than the average for all U.S. occupations.
  • Computer programmers: Computer programmers write code that translates programs designed by software developers into instructions that a computer can follow. Programmers tend to hold bachelor's degrees, but some employers will accept associate degrees for experienced candidates who are fluent in a few different key computer languages. BLS numbers place the median annual income for programmers at $76,140 in 2013. Demand for computer programmers is expected to grow by 8 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all U.S. occupations over the same term.
  • Computer analysts: Computer analysts study organizations' computer systems and procedures and design and implement changes to improve efficiency and security. Most computer analysts earn bachelor's degrees, though employers increasingly prefer candidates with master's degrees. The annual income for computer analysts was $81,190 in 2013 according to numbers from the BLS. Demand for these professionals is projected to grow by about 25 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the average for all U.S. occupations over the same term.

These are just a few of the many careers software engineering graduates might pursue. More potential fields include computer science and networking, among others. Potential students can learn more about computer software engineering programs and related careers through organizations like the BLS, or by contacting specific schools directly.

"Computer and Information Technology Occupations," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm
"Computer Programmers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm
"15-1131 Computer Programmers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151131.htm
"Computer Systems Analysts," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
"15-1121 Computer Systems Analysts," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151121.htm
"Major: Computer Software Engineering," The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/engineering-computer-engineering-computer-software-engineering
"Software Developers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Software-developers.htm
"15-1132 Software Developers, Applications," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151132.htm

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