Software Engineers


Employment Prospects


Nearly 1.5 million software engineers are employed in the United States. Software engineers work in many industries, including medical, manufacturing, military, communications, aerospace, scientific, and other commercial businesses. About 33 percent of software engineers—the largest concentration in the field—work in computer systems design and related services. Another 11 percent work in manufacturing and 9 percent are employed by software publishers. Many software engineers work at software firms that are located in Silicon Valley and San Francisco, in northern California, as well as in Texas, Virginia, Massachusetts, Washington, and New York, among other places.

Starting Out

As a student of software engineering, you should work closely with your school's career services office, as many professionals find their first position through on-campus recruiting. Career services office staff are well trained to provide tips on resume writing, interviewing techniques, and locating job leads.

Individuals not working with a school placement office can check the online postings for job openings. They also can work with a local employment agency that places computer professionals in appropriate jobs. Many openings in the computer industry are publicized by word of mouth, so you should stay in touch with working computer professionals to learn who is hiring. In addition, these people may be willing to refer you directly to the person in charge of recruiting.

Check out job-search Web sites such as https://www.dice.com and be sure to create a profile on LinkedIn so that recruiters can learn more about your educational background and skill set.

Advancement Prospects

Software engineers who demonstrate leadership qualities and thorough technical know-how may become project team leaders who are responsible for full-scale software development projects. Project team leaders oversee the work of technicians and engineers. They determine the overall parameters of a project, calculate time schedules and financial budgets, divide the project into smaller tasks, and assign these tasks to engineers. Overall, they do both managerial and technical work.

Software engineers with experience as project team leaders may be promoted to a position as software manager, running a large research and development department. Managers oversee software projects with a more encompassing perspective; they help choose projects to be undertaken, select project team leaders and engineering teams, and assign individual projects. In some cases, they may be required to travel, solicit new business, and contribute to the general marketing strategy of the company.

Other advancement possibilities for software engineers include manager of information systems, chief information officer, systems designer, or independent consultant.

Many computer professionals find that their interests change over time. As long as individuals are well qualified and keep up to date with the latest technology, they are usually able to find positions in other areas of the computer industry.

Tips for Entry

Apply to small or startup firms where you will probably receive more responsibility and be asked to handle a wider range of job duties.

Read publications such as IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering and Computer (both are available at https://www.computer.org/publications) to learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:

  • https://www.upwork.com
  • https://jobs.computer.org
  • https://jobs.acm.org
  • https://jobs.awn.com
  • https://www.dice.com
  • http://www.gamejobs.com
  • https://www.gamasutra.com

Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office. Additionally, visit https://jobs.computer.org for a list of internship opportunities.