You might know that you want to enter the field of computer science for your master’s degree program, but beyond that, you might have questions. One area in the tech field worth exploration is software engineering. It’s an often-bandied term in the tech industry, but are you 100% sure what it is, what people do in it, whether you have the skills and interests needed for success, or how to become a part of it?
Since the computer sciences are growing at breakneck speeds, it’s little wonder that some areas like software engineering are shrouded in mystery, even for the savviest graduate students. If you’d like to learn more about software engineering and whether it’s the right path for you, keep reading.
What Is Software Engineering?
Software engineering is a computer science discipline that focuses on developing software applications needed on computers. Software engineers rely on and apply well-defined scientific principles and procedures to design, produce, deliver, and maintain an effective, efficient, and reliable software product.
Essentially, software engineering is an academic discipline where technology meets traditional engineering philosophies and practices. It treats software development as a formal process, such as those found and regularly used in traditional engineering programs.
Empathy Is an Essential Component of the Software Engineer’s Soft Skills Set
One of the first steps that software engineers take in any project is to consider and analyze user needs. It requires a certain degree of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) empathy, which is true in any software development strategy. An empathetic approach to software design is crucial because if your end-user can’t use your product with ease and confidence, it will fail. Users are generally the primary reason for creating your program for a product, making it vital that students take this component seriously. Successful software engineers ask themselves key questions as they work through the process, including:
- “How will it make the UI and UX better, so they use it regularly and with confidence?”
- “Would I be able to use this product easily and with confidence?”
Software Engineers Work Hand-in-Hand with Computer Programmers
Once a software engineer seeks and gains insights into user interactions with the product, they design, deploy, and test it for quality and ease of use. After that, they maintain the product, providing repairs, patches, and updates.
Software engineers lead computer programmers, instructing them on how to write the code needed to ensure the product’s success and for UI and UX metrics. Software engineering professionals might not write any code for a product themselves, but they must possess strong computer programming knowledge and practical skills to communicate with programmers easily. That means that you might need to become fluent in several programming languages to ensure organic communication for various projects and programmers.
Is Studying Software Engineering Worth It?
If you are passionate about software development and have a background in or a propensity for engineering, there’s no question studying software engineering through a master’s program in computer science is worth it.
As you consider following this path, you’ll want to ensure it is right for you. Will it lead to professional pursuits in software development? Is it a promising field that pays well?
Consider these factors to determine if becoming a software engineer is worth it for you:
1. The Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for professionals with a background in software engineering is strong. For 2019-2029, career opportunities within the industry are set to grow 22%, which is much faster than average, adding to the existing 1.5 million existing jobs in related industries today. As technology becomes an increasingly central component of life for businesses and individuals, software engineers are needed to respond to an ever-increasing demand for computer software that considers the abilities and needs of potential users.
2. The Pay
As of July 2021, Salary.com listed the median annual salary for software developers as $115,510, while the overall pay range runs between $63,110 and $169,910, depending on factors including your education, special skills, and experience.
3. The Risks and Rewards
In competitive arenas such as software engineering, there are inherent risks, especially in high-stakes areas like aerospace, aviation, auto, medicine, fire detection, and nuclear power. In any of these fields, the consequences of failed projects or components can be daunting. However, many professions involve risks, and when working in software engineering, your successes have the power the change an industry and maybe more.
What Does It Take to Become a Software Engineer?
To become a software engineer, you need to dedicate yourself to specific education and training. While some employers might accept talented professionals with a bachelor’s degree, you will feel and be seen as more qualified when you pursue and earn a master’s degree in computer science.
Here are some important courses, skills, and concepts the right master’s program will provide to help you succeed in software engineering and become a software developer or engineer:
- The software development process, models, and ethics
- Different software process methods, including agile and waterfall methods
- Embedded systems design
- Software architecture, design, and evolution
- Software testing, quality assurance, and security using a traditional engineering approach
- Effective communication with programmers and monitoring software development project management
What Exactly Does a Software Engineer Do?
As a software engineer, you will develop, design, and build any software your future employer might need for their industry or projects. With a master’s in computer science, you will find that there are no limits to your capabilities in developing and providing software products that are both meaningful to users and profitable for employers. Some of the best-known software engineering projects created for desktop applications include PowerPoint, Google, and Instagram.
And how might one go from entry-level software engineer to software development superstar? Here are a few things a software engineer does daily:
- Know and use one or more programming language
- Evaluate the program’s needs through analytics and user empathy, then use a problem-solving approach to design a software solution
- Design and analyze graphs, diagrams, and other visual methods to communicate effectively with team members
- Monitor the project’s progress, focusing on functionality throughout testing, development, production, and deployment phases
- Collaborate with designers, software engineers, and data scientists to ensure the best result
A Master’s Degree in Computer Science Is Essential for a Successful Career as a Software Engineer
As noted earlier, some computer science professionals can work their way into a software engineering career, but there is no guarantee of employment when you hold only a bachelor’s degree. When you commit to earning your master’s in computer science at Lewis University, you increase your potential for success.
Reach out to us to request more info to determine whether a master’s in computer science and software engineering is right for you.