If you are interested in engineering and computer science there are many things to consider as you choose a specific area of study or as you seek a particular career. Computer professionals often have different definitions for Software Engineering and other related fields but here we describe the field in terms of common requirements within academia, within the profession in industry and government and also give a brief comparison to other related fields.
The field of Software Engineering focuses on applying engineering processes to the creation, maintenance and design of software at every level. Careers can be in industry as well as in government. Each of the most affordable online Master’s degrees in Software Engineering prepares you for a career in software engineering in any arena with plenty of opportunities for advancement in the field.
Software Engineering in Academics
Most often Software Engineering is housed within the Engineering Department in universities for both undergraduate and graduate programs but can also be found within the Computer Science department or even in Computer Engineering at larger schools. A set of curriculum guidelines was revised in 2014 by the Joint Task Force on Computing Curricula, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society that states that academic study within the field will focus on core topics including mathematical and engineering fundamentals, computing essentials, software modeling and analysis, professional practice, software design, software verification and validation, software process, and software security and quality among others. There are sometimes specializations within the field available for undergraduate study including modeling and simulation, network-centric systems, games and entertainment systems, digital and embedded systems and many others. In graduate programs of study there are often not specific areas of specialization but students have the opportunity to tailor their degree through elective courses and through the choice of a final thesis or capstone course depending on career goals.
Software Engineering as a Profession
Software engineering is a practical field with careers available in both industry and government. The profession began in earnest in the 1980s as computers became more widely prevalent in homes and offices. Software engineers are needed for every level of software development from design and architecture to implementation and testing to data storage and retrieval. There are a few different career paths within software engineering that you can take including applications development, systems development, web development, and embedded systems development. Many software engineers work on their own or as lead managers, but a more current strategy within the field is to build a team of software engineers who can tackle new problems and needs together. Regardless, those entering the Software Engineering field need to have the ability to work independently, remotely, and on a team either as a team player or as a team leader. Software engineering as a field is growing and the median salary is around $100,000 per year.
Software Engineering Unique in the Field
Software Engineering is a unique career because it requires a strong working knowledge of mathematical and engineering skills as well as logic. Software Engineers must be able to architect a system, define the processes, and create technical specifications in addition to being able to write code in one or more programming languages. In addition, Software Engineers have to thrive in all types of work environments whether that means working alone or remotely, as a team member, or as a team leader. Software Engineering is a growing field that is in need of people who are capable of this level of complex work responsibilities and environments.