What is Software Engineering?

Nearly every business, industry and organization that is active today uses computers for managing data, tracking business, contacting customers, and managing finances. In the entertainment industry, computer games of today are as different from the old screen burning Atari as the jet aircraft is from the horse and buggy. The primary difference between computers and other developments is the speed with which it has happened. If you want a job in the engineering field, you can hardly go wrong with software engineering.

In the early days of computers, businesses competed just to be the first to convert their decades worth of files to DOS programs. Nearly everyone used one version or another of DOS, and within a few years, some version of Windows and some office software. Today, businesses have recognized that it is possible to have completely unique software programs that are customized to accomplish specific tasks. Of course, it takes a software engineer to design and then to maintain such programs. read more »

Browse schools offering an online degree in Software Engineering

Nor is computer engineering limited to business applications. Nearly every sport uses computers in some way, from the elaborate score boards over a football field to the new interactive WII that is taking the place of Game Boy in consumer living rooms.

A software engineer may begin with a BS in Computer Science. You must learn to understand the special forms of computer language, the commands based on a deceptively simple number system that directs the computer to perform every action from simply opening a program to performing a complex calculation. You need to be attentive to detail and patient with the tedious process that is often part of debugging a program. Something as simple as a missing punctuation mark in a line of code, for example, can keep an entire program from functioning. You must also be able and willing to work independently, sometimes in isolation in a computer cubicle, and for long hours.

At the same time, a computer software engineer needs to be able to communicate with both company personnel and sometimes with the customer. He needs to understand the concept of “user-friendly,” to remember that, rather than yielding to a natural temptation to design massive, complex programs, simplicity is generally preferred.

A software engineering career is not necessarily the easiest career to pursue; the competition is fierce. Nevertheless the field is open and expected to keep growing. The rewards are also great. First, you have the opportunity to use your creativity and design programs a bit better than the competition. You are limited only by your imagination and by the needs of your customer. Secondly, the financial rewards are attractive. An expert in software engineering can expect a salary from $50,000 to $70,000 in the first four years, depending on the size of the company.

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