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Software Engineers get to apply lots of different areas of study into their everyday work. Whether it's science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, or even design, these engineers are able to use lots of different methods and techniques in their line of work.

Essentially, software engineers design, develop and test software applications for computers. They usually work in offices or labs during their average 40-hour workweek. Even though they use a wide range of study, typically software engineers only require a Bachelor's degree, although a Master's degree is appealing to most employers.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a software engineer. For example, did you know that they make an average of $45.98 an hour? That's $95,642 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 21% and produce 284,100 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Software Engineer Do

There are certain skills that many software engineers have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed communication skills, creativity and problem-solving skills.

Learn more about what a Software Engineer does

How To Become a Software Engineer

If you're interested in becoming a software engineer, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 73.5% of software engineers have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 19.9% of software engineers have master's degrees. Even though most software engineers have a college degree, it's impossible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a software engineer. When we researched the most common majors for a software engineer, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or master's degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on software engineer resumes include associate degree degrees or diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a software engineer. In fact, many software engineer jobs require experience in a role such as software developer. Meanwhile, many software engineers also have previous career experience in roles such as senior software engineer or programmer analyst.

Software Engineer Career Paths

Average Salary for a Software Engineer

Software Engineers in America make an average salary of $95,642 per year or $46 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $129,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $70,000 per year.
Average Software Engineer Salary
$95,642 Yearly
$45.98 hourly
$70,000
10 %
$95,000
Median
$129,000
90 %

What Am I Worth?

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Software Engineer Education

Software Engineer Majors

Software Engineer Degrees

Bachelors

73.5 %

Masters

19.9 %

Associate

3.5 %

Top Colleges for Software Engineers

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

3. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

6. Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN • Private

In-State Tuition
$9,992
Enrollment
33,495

7. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

8. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

9. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Pomona, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$7,353
Enrollment
24,841

10. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

Top Skills For a Software Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.4% of software engineers listed python on their resume, but soft skills such as communication skills and creativity are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Software Engineer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Software Engineer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Software Engineer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Software Engineer Demographics

Software Engineer Gender Distribution

Male
Male
78%
Female
Female
22%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among software engineers, 22.0% of them are women, while 78.0% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among software engineers is White, which makes up 52.3% of all software engineers.

  • The most common foreign language among software engineers is Spanish at 24.5%.

Online Courses For Software Engineer That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  The courses listed below are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the course, we may receive a commission.
Building an Enterprise Application with ASP.NET Core MVC
udemy
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Full-Stack MVC Web Application with ASP.NET Core 3.0, ASP.NET Core 2.2 & Entity Framework Core...

SOFTWARE TESTING MASTERCLASS-2021 JIRA AGILE DB Testing
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Database Testing API Testing by Postman End to End JIRA Mobile Testing Agile Linux Realtime Interview Question...

Ultimate ASP.NET Core 5 Web API Development Guide
udemy
4.5
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Learn how to create a maintainable Web API using ASP.NET Core 5, Entity Framework and Enterprise Level Design Patterns...

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Best States For a Software Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a software engineer. The best states for people in this position are California, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. Software engineers make the most in California with an average salary of $119,949. Whereas in Washington and Oregon, they would average $119,467 and $101,276, respectively. While software engineers would only make an average of $95,196 in Nevada, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Software Engineer Jobs:
6,948
Highest 10% Earn:
$164,000
Location Quotient:
2.42 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Software Engineer Jobs:
19,681
Highest 10% Earn:
$159,000
Location Quotient:
1.71 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Oregon

Total Software Engineer Jobs:
2,587
Highest 10% Earn:
$139,000
Location Quotient:
1.59 Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Software Engineers

How Do Software Engineer Rate Their Jobs?

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SOFTWARE ENGINEERAugust 2019

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Zippia Official LogoSOFTWARE ENGINEERAugust 2019

What do you like the most about working as Software Engineer?

Designing a new system or making changes to an old one. Show More

What do you NOT like?

Compensation. Pay and Benefits do not match the time spent on a project. Alabama is the Worst state to live in for SOFTWARE ENGINEER Salaries. 40 to 50 percent less than our peer States. Show More

Working as a Software Engineer? Share your experience anonymously.
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Top Software Engineer Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ software engineers and discovered their number of software engineer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that Google was the best, especially with an average salary of $151,914. Microsoft follows up with an average salary of $143,682, and then comes Meta with an average of $165,300. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a software engineer. The employers include Salesforce, VMware, and USAA

Most Common Employers For Software Engineer

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
1Meta$165,300$79.4714,909
2Google$151,914$73.0456,365
3Microsoft$143,682$69.0830,638
4Uber Technologies$137,605$66.162,025
5eBay$134,691$64.764,889
6LinkedIn$132,302$63.612,617
7PayPal$128,309$61.695,106
8Yahoo$127,919$61.502,815
9Salesforce$124,616$59.914,201
10Walmart$121,950$58.634,239

What are the best companies to work for a Software Engineer?

Dr. Jonathan Geisler

Associate Professor, Taylor University

The best companies to work for are the ones that are responsive to both their customers' and employees' needs. They are the ones that have tried to be proactive during the pandemic and not just survive until everything got "back to normal." They know that a damaged workforce leads to a damaged company, and so they provide good management, encouraging everyone to be healthy mentally and physically.Show more

Software Engineer Videos

Becoming a Software Engineer FAQs

Data Scientist vs. Software Engineer

A data scientist is a tech professional that uses algorithms and statistics to draw insights from data, while a software engineer is someone who uses programming and engineering skills to design software.

Devops Engineer vs. Software Engineer

Devops engineers work in both the development and operation of software, this means they work on code with the developer team, oversee the code releases, and also manage the deployment and operation processes. Some of their duties include accessing technological automation tools, managing cloud deployment, maintaining compliance and security controls, and monitoring operations.

Network Engineer vs. Software Engineer

A network engineer is concerned with designing, configuring, and deploying computer networks and networking infrastructure, while a software engineer applies engineering principles and approaches to software development.

Product Manager vs. Software Engineer

A product manager is responsible for understanding a user's needs, setting the product roadmap, and designing deliverables, while a software engineer does the designing, coding, and execution of software.

Software Architect vs. Software Engineer

A software architect works on the design of an overall development process but doesn't involve coding in their work, while a software engineer does the designing, coding, and execution of software.

Software Engineer vs. Computer Engineer

A software engineer is a tech professional who develops, creates, and maintains software applications, while a computer engineer is a tech professional who develops computer systems using computer science and electrical engineering skills.

Software Engineer vs. Programmer

A software engineer is someone who designs and develops software applications and products, while a programmer is a tech professional who writes, modifies, and tests computer code.

A software engineer designs and creates computer systems and software applications.

Are software engineers happy?

Yes, software engineers are happy. Though computer science is a demanding profession, most software engineers enjoy their jobs and consider the work challenging and rewarding. The combination of pay, flexibility, and job satisfaction leads to software engineers being quite happy compared to people in other professions.

Can software engineers work from home?

Yes, software engineers can work from home. The normal requirements for a software engineer to work are an internet connection, a sufficiently fast computer, and a quiet area to focus. This means that working from home is an option for most software engineers. However, some people find it hard to focus at home due to family, insufficient space to work, or the lack of feeling of oversight. So, while working from home is an option, it might not be the best option for every engineer.



Before the pandemic, software engineers were one of the few professionals that were already working from home. For the above mentioned reasons, software engineers can have flexible work schedules where they work for part of the day at home and part of the day at the office. In fact, surveys have shown that over 30% of software engineers were already working from home part time.


How long does it take to become a software engineer?

It typically takes about four years to become a software engineer. This is because the main qualification for most software engineers is a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field.

Is a software engineer a good job?

Yes, being a software engineer is a good job. Software engineers tend to earn high salaries. Software engineering can be challenging, and the competitive compensation for this career path reflects that.

Is it hard to be a software engineer?

Yes, it is hard to be a software engineer. There are a number of qualifications that a software engineer is expected to have in order to succeed. On top of earning a bachelor's degree, software engineers are usually expected to be fluent and experienced in a number of programming languages.

Is there a high demand for software engineers?

Yes, there is a high demand for software engineers. The demand for software engineers has been on the rise and is projected to grow 21% by 2028.

What is the difference between a software developer and a software engineer?

The difference between software developers and software engineers is that software engineers generally work on projects larger in scale and are able to handle the complete architecture of a project.

What qualifications do you need to be a software engineer?

The qualification you need to be a software engineer is a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. Additionally, most software engineers must be well-versed in several programming languages.

Data Engineer vs. Software Engineer

A data engineer is an IT professional who conceptualizes and builds platforms that gather, manage, and analyze data, while a software engineer is an IT professional that creates software applications for computers and mobile devices.

Developer vs. Software Engineer

A developer is a designer or project manager who is able to understand, write, and use code, while a software engineer applies engineering principles to create computer programs and data management systems.

Software Engineer vs. Web Developer

A software engineer is a tech professional that focuses on designing software for desktops and mobile devices, while a web developer is a professional who designs and maintains websites and web applications.

Systems Engineer vs. Software Engineer

A systems engineer is a professional who works on the overall management of engineering projects, while a software engineer is someone who designs and develops software applications and products.

Web Developer vs. Software Engineer

A web developer is a professional that works on websites and web applications, while a software engineer is someone that focuses on designing computer programs for desktops and mobile devices.

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