12 Different Types of Software Engineers (With Salaries)
Updated March 10, 2023
The technology industry offers a range of rewarding engineering roles. Different systems require different kinds of software engineers, so learning about the various types of engineering roles available can help you determine which one is best for you.
In this article, we explore 12 different types of software engineering roles and average salaries, and we discuss the differences between software engineers and software developers.
What is a software engineer?
A software engineer applies the principles and systems of engineering to develop programs and operating data for computers. Their responsibilities include:
Analyzing user needs and creating objectives and goals for projects
Collaborating with system programmers, analysts and other engineers to determine the needs of a project
Using mathematical models and scientific analysis to project outcomes and capabilities as well as design systems
Consulting on design elements and determining performance interfaces
The scope of a software engineer's work is diverse and demanding, requiring hard and soft skills that vary across the industry. However, programming languages are the fundamental skill required of any software engineer. These nuanced tools are used to create instructions for computers to follow, and the ability to use coding languages fluently allows software engineers to convert their ideas into functioning commands through coding.
Here are some of the most commonly used coding languages for software engineers:
Structured Query Language (SQL)
Software engineers with more specific skill sets may find themselves using a combination of lesser-known programming languages, such as Ruby, PHP, Rust and Swift.
Related: How To Become a Software Engineer
What is the difference between a software engineer and a software developer?
A software engineer applies the principles of engineering to design, develop, maintain, test and evaluate computer software. This is often a highly collaborative activity that requires teamwork skills. A software engineer uses components of a hardware system to create the tools to develop software and tends to solve issues on a large scale.
A software developer, in contrast, builds software that runs across various types of computers, using finished tools to build apps and write complete programs. This is role tends to be more solitary, allowing developers to use many of the same skills as their engineering counterparts but on a limited scale.
Types of software engineer
Because software engineers and software developers rely heavily on one another to function, they are often positioned together on the job market. Some major tech companies refer to both paths formally as software engineers, while others make the distinction between the two. For this reason, you may find both titles listed below as we take a look at some of the most common careers in the world of software engineering.
National average salary: $95,328 per year
Primary duties: A video game designer, also called a game developer, has specialized knowledge in designing and implementing gaming systems that are both engaging and interactive. They use creative skills like storytelling and world-building to program complete environments in which a game can take place. From setting to props to characters, game developers code all the factors that create the gameplay experience for a user.
National average salary: $67,361 per year
Primary duties: A QA engineer, also referred to as a "software engineer," tests, reviews, assesses and writes software to validate the quality of an application. These individuals create automated tests, tools and methods to make sure systems are running as expected, catching errors and working to account for their solutions.
Skills: Python, Ruby, Selenium WebDriver
National average salary: $85,483 per year
Primary duties: A customer relationship management ( CRM) project manager or developer works with systems that collect user and consumer data, creating programs that gather useful metrics for adjusting the needs of a given program. They may be tasked with improving customer satisfaction or sales by optimizing the tools used by customer support and sales representatives.
Skills: SAP, Salesforce, SharePoint, Enterprise resource planning
National average salary: $108,392 per year
Primary duties: In the modern era of smart devices and the internet of things, software integration engineers (also referred to as embedded systems developers) use coding languages to program hardware like consumer devices, home security alert systems, electronics, interfaces, real-time systems and serial data transmissions.
Skills: C, C++, Assembly, Java, proprietary technologies/frameworks/toolkits
National average salary: $75,560 per year
Primary duties: Security engineers, often referred to as "white hat" or "ethical" hackers, work to create systems, methods and procedures that test the security of a given software. Their main goal is to exploit security flaws and discover vulnerabilities to fix them before the systems reach the end-user to provide an optimal experience.
Skills: Python, Ruby, C, C++, reverse engineering
National average salary: $92,910 per year
Primary duties: A front-end engineer, sometimes referred to as a web developer, specializes in the development of user interface ( UI) design for the user-facing side of an application or website. This involves visual design elements, including layout and aesthetics, and a thorough understanding of how people interact with and use computer programs.
They also need to know code that runs on different operating systems, browsers and user devices to ensure cross-browser compatibility. They also focus heavily on optimizing visual presentation using principles of user experience (UX) design.
National average salary: $100,504 per year
Primary duties: A software engineer who is fluent in front-end and back-end skills and responsibilities is referred to as a full-stack engineer. These individuals possess all the skills necessary to create a fully functional web app, from the front-facing user experience to the complex systems behind it.
National average salary: $99,086 per year
Primary duties: A 3D graphics developer uses specialized knowledge to create software for rendering, lighting, shadowing, shading and management of scenes. They work closely with game developers to code graphic assets for both the gaming and video production industry. Their skills are also useful in front-end development, creating visually engaging and intuitive user interfaces.
Skills: DirectX, OpenGL, Unity 3D, WebGL, C, C++, Assembly
National average salary: $102,139 per year
Primary duties: A data scientist, or data engineer, develops software programs that analyze information. This often puts them in charge of statistical analysis, machine learning, data visualization and predictive modeling, providing an organization with metrics that can help determine how a product will grow to fit the needs of the business.
Skills: SQL, R, Python
Related: Learn About Being a Data Scientist
10. Mobile developer
National average salary: $93,961 per year
Primary duties: Mobile developers write code for applications specifically designed to run on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets.
Skills: iOS and Android operating systems, Java, Swift, Objective-C
11. DevOps engineer
National average salary: $115,992 per year
Primary duties: DevOps (development and operations) engineers apply processes and methodologies to streamline product development, improvement and maintenance as well as facilitate communication between development and operations teams.
Their work requires familiarity with the processes used by back-end developers to build, deploy and integrate across technologies, like cloud computing services. These engineers are familiar with cloud storage applications such as OneDrive, GitHub and Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Skills: Kubernetes, Docker, Apache Mesos, Jenkins, HashiCorp stack (Terraform, Vault, Consul, Nomad)
Related: Learn About Being a DevOps Engineer
National average salary: $95,307 per year
Primary duties: A back-end engineer, or back-end developer, works within complex systems to create smooth functions behind the user interface, focusing on the core logic, design, implementation, scalability and performance of a system. They mainly create and manage databases, integrating data systems, logging systems and caching systems using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
Skills: Java, C, C++, Ruby, Perl, Python, Scala, Go
Explore more articles
- Law Firm Partner vs. Associate: What's the Difference?
- What Is Mechatronics Engineering? Definition and Examples
- Loan Originator vs. Loan Officer: What’s the Difference?
- How To Become a Genetic Engineer
- What Is a Cargo Agent? (With Career Steps and Salary)
- Dentistry Guide: How Long Does It Take to Become a Dentist?
- 17 Biology Degree Careers (That Don't Require Med School)
- What Are Logistics Jobs? (Plus 12 Popular Career Choices)
- How To Become a Hand Model
- How To Become a Certified Bike Mechanic (With Salary Info)
- How To Reapply for a Job After a Rejection (With Tips)
- What Does Human Resources Do? (With 12 Key Functions)