Why Demand of Software Engineers Is High (Plus Job Tips)

Updated February 3, 2023

If you're contemplating a career as a software engineer, the job outlook for this profession is likely one of your primary considerations. With the demand for new software and mobile applications, the need for software engineers continues to rise. Learning why demand is high, along with steps you can take to advance your career in this field, can help you decide if a job as a software engineer is for you.

In this article, we discuss what a software engineer is and how the role differs from that of a software developer,  plus we take a look at the job outlook and average salary for software engineers and ways you can advance in your software engineering career.

What is a software engineer?

A software engineer is a computer science professional who applies engineering principles and their knowledge of programming languages to the design, development, testing, evaluation and maintenance of computer software. Software engineers have extensive knowledge of computer operating systems, software development and programming languages. They apply engineering principles at every stage during the development process to create customized software systems for clients.

Read more: Learn About Being a Software Engineer

Software engineers vs. developers

There's an overlap in some of the responsibilities of software engineers and developers. Some employers use the two terms interchangeably, but there are some key differences, including:

  • Education: Although both careers have limited options for professionals without a degree, a minimum of a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is common for both fields. Due to the increased demand for software engineers, an aspiring engineer may also pursue an advanced degree.

  • Focus: A major distinguishing factor between the two career paths is the type of work they commonly complete. Software engineers are more likely to spend time working on back-end software and solutions, while developers often focus on front-end operation and the client experience.

  • Skills: Although many skills that developers have also apply to software engineers, there are some key differences. Software developers often require higher levels of interpersonal skills, for example, because of their increased interaction with clients or collaborators.

  • Salary: Compensation in both fields varies based on several factors, including experience, professional qualifications, employer size and location. Generally, software engineers earn more than developers, who make $78,061 per year, to account for the increased professional requirements and expectations.

Read more: Software Engineer vs. Developer: What's the Difference?

Job outlook for software engineers

Software engineers fit within a broader category of computer development professions in the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. The BLS expects employment for software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers to grow by 25% from 2021 to 2031. This represents a significantly higher projected growth than the average for all occupations.

Reasons for the demand for software engineers

There are a number of reasons for the increased demand to hire software engineers, including:

Need for innovative software

As technology becomes more important for businesses across many industries, the need for innovative software and engineers to develop it grows as well. When a company identifies an area for improvement, it may hire software engineers to help in the development of systems and software to take advantage of the opportunity. This creates a broad range of career options for individuals trained as software engineers.

Read more: 10 Business Plan Software Systems (With Pros and Cons)

Limited life span of code

Another important consideration for companies relying on software for their daily operations is the need to keep their code updated. This helps to maximize the efficiency and capability of work software. It's also important to keep software updated for security concerns, as it allows a company to respond to new threats and provide the required protection.

Read more: What Is Patch Management and How Does It Work?

Accelerated growth in technology

The modern technological field continues to expand rapidly. Companies working in industries that previously used minimal technological conveniences may benefit from modern technology in a variety of ways. This expanded demand for technology creates a demand for professionals who are capable of creating and maintaining it, such as software engineers.

Read more: 10 Inventory Management Software Options (With Features)

Increased complexity of projects

As technology grows more advanced, it often becomes more complex as well. This further adds to the value and demand for software engineering professionals. More complex technology requires employees with more complex training, such as the specialized training of a software engineer.

Software engineer salary

The average annual salary for a software engineer is $93,959 per year. Senior software engineers make an average of $115,741 per year. Some of the primary factors that impact salary for software engineers include years of experience, educational level, specialization and geographic location. Among the highest-paying cities for software engineers are San Francisco, San Jose, New York City, Seattle and Chicago.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided.

Read more: 10 Best Cities for Software Engineers

How to advance in your career as a software engineer

Here are some steps you can take to advance your career as a software developer:

1. Practice coding

You can learn to code through practical experience. Completing project prompts, either of your own creation or that you find in other sources, presents you with software challenges to complete. This can allow you to develop new skills, troubleshoot problems to learn new information and build a professional portfolio.

Related: 12 Elements of a Career Portfolio

2. Get experience at large companies

Consider applying for an entry-level position as a programmer, developer or related role. Companies commonly look for experienced professionals to fill their software engineer positions, and these entry-level jobs often list lower work and education requirements. This allows you to gain practical experience, which can enable you to seek more advanced positions in the future.

Related: 8 Entry-Level Software Developer Jobs (With Typical Duties)

3. Develop your soft skills

It's important to build your professional skills to become a well-rounded employee. Besides having highly technical skills, having strong soft skills such as communication, organization and teamwork can be valuable as a software engineer. By working on your skill set and improving it, you may make yourself a more appealing employee to a potential employer.

Related: 10 Important Skills for Computer Engineers

4. Pursue leadership experience

You may request the opportunity to take leadership roles on projects. Doing so allows you to develop your skills as a team leader and may show professional initiative to potential employers. This can be valuable when you're seeking advancement into a position such as a software engineer.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Tips for working as a software engineer

If you're interested in a career as a software engineer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Follow your passion. Software engineers have the potential to work across a broad range of industries, so this role provides significant freedom to choose a field you're passionate about.

  • Keep your skills updated. Just as the technological field is constantly changing, it's important for professionals within it to build on and develop their skills. Remaining updated on the latest developments and keeping your programming and engineering skills strong can be beneficial as a software engineer.

  • Build your professional network. Your network may help you find an opportunity within their organization, serve as a reference when you're seeking an opportunity with another employer or help you with issues you encounter during your work.

  • Get certified. Certification shows a potential employer that you've completed advanced study on a topic, such as a programming language or style of software engineering, which might make you a more appealing candidate for a position.

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