Computer Software Engineers and Computer Programmers

An individual with a computer science degree, whether earned the traditional way or through distance learning, can choose from many careers, but computer software engineering and computer programming are two of the careers that are most commonly associated with a computer science degree. Computer software engineers and computer programmers are in extremely high demand because individuals and organizations need these professionals to design and program the software that they use on a regular basis to perform a variety of different tasks.

The computer software engineer and computer programmer each focuses on a different aspect of the software design process. Computer software engineers analyze the tasks that a specific program or a specific computer system needs to perform to determine the best way for that program or system to perform those tasks. In other words, a computer software engineer plans how a program will accomplish a specific task or how an entire computer system will accomplish a series of tasks. As a result, a computer software engineer may be required to create a plan for a program or identify the appropriate software and install the software that an organization needs. (Engineers who work only in program design are known as computer applications software engineers, and engineers who identify the appropriate software and install software systems are known as computer systems software engineers.) Computer programmers, on the other hand, are individuals who use the plan that a computer software engineer creates to actually construct a computer program or change the way that a computer program functions. These individuals use programming languages such as C++ to write the basic code that tells the computer what the program is supposed to do.


Both of these careers will allow an individual to work in the field of software design, and the number of jobs in the software design field is expected to grow dramatically over the next 10 years. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that there will be nearly 300,000 new jobs for computer software engineers in the United States alone over the next decade. Careers in the software design field typically offer health insurance, paid vacations, and a number of other benefits in addition to a salary of $50,000 to $130,000 a year, so these careers can be extremely rewarding.

There are a few things that you should keep in mind, however, if you are considering a career in the software design field. First, the number of jobs in the software design field is expected to grow dramatically, but this does not necessarily mean that there will be an increase in the number of jobs for every software career. In fact, the BLS is expecting there to be a dramatic increase in the number of computer software engineering positions, but a decrease in the number of computer programming jobs.

Second, most employers will require you to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science, mathematics, software engineering, or any other field in which you can prove that you have successfully completed a series of programming courses to obtain a position. (Although some computer programmer positions require only an associate’s degree, these are becoming more and more rare.) Individuals interested in a position as a computer software engineer may actually need a master’s degree in computer science and several years of experience in a computer-related field to obtain a position with some employers.

Finally, if you’re looking for a career that doesn’t require you to learn new things on a regular basis, you may want to consider a different career. Computer software engineers and computer programmers are constantly required to learn new things because they have to know how the latest technology works to create programs that work with that technology. Individuals who work in software design have to understand the tasks to be performed in an organization before they can create a program that will perform those tasks; consequently, they also are constantly required to learn new information about the individuals and organizations using the software.