Everything You Need to Know about a Career in Computer Software

Computer software engineers are responsible for writing computer programs. Computer programs are used to tell a computer how to perform a certain function. Software engineers can be either system developers or application developers. Application developers specialize in writing programs that end users will use like customer management systems or accounting programs. System software developers develop operating systems or utilities that are used by either computers or computer technicians. This career path can be very rewarding; however, it can also be stressful.

The Average Annual Salary

Software engineers can enjoy a lucrative career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for software system developers was $96,630 in 2009. Application engineers' salaries were similar coming in at $87,900. According to job forecasts, the growth rate of both of these career paths is expected to grow at a rate of 32 percent. In 2010, the U.S News and World Report listed a software engineering career as one of the top careers.

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The Work Environment

The work environment for software engineers is typically clean and well lit. Most software engineers work in cubicles. This arrangement allows numerous software designers to work together while allowing for some privacy. Some software engineers leave the office setting and go on customer calls. Because software development can be stressful, some companies offer game rooms to help employees unwind and de-stress throughout the day.


Software engineering jobs can be quite stressful, especially when you are facing looming deadlines. Software engineers must be able to communicate and deal with demanding and difficult users and customers. When a program is not working properly, the software engineer must debug the program to find out what is causing the glitches and develop timely fixes so the software runs properly from their customers. This can be quite stressful when customers need the software program to run their businesses. According to Redline this is one of the reasons to work as a software engineer.

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Software engineers typically work 40 hours each work and their hours are usually from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. However, project demands may require overtime and weekend work. Software engineers are typically salaried, which means these extra hours do not result in extra pay. Conversely, many companies offer engineers compensatory time off once the project is completed, which can help make up for the long hours and weekends that the software engineer works when developing a program for their employer.

Training Required

Software engineers use the latest technologies, which means that it is imperative that the software engineer stays up to date and keep their skills relevant. This means that software engineers must have continuing education. Many companies will pay for this formal training, which is a benefit; however, it also takes up much of the software engineer's time.

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