Computers are a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives. Software engineers work with developing the software or the systems that help to run the software as part of a computer system. These professionals need to identify needs for software development, design the software, and build functional models of that software. They also must work with other computer professionals to ensure the software works in the system. Read this article to learn more about the software engineer job description, how to become one, work experience, and career prospects.

Software engineering performing network diagnostic.

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineers rely heavily on the engineering design process in their job. They must analyze needs, design solutions, problem solve, and iterate on their initial designs. These professionals need to embrace a flexible work environment in which skills transfer to different tasks.

The working environment for software engineers is widely project dependent. There will be weeks where they work 30 hours a week and weeks where they will work many evenings and weekends to complete a project. It is common for a software engineer to need a bachelor’s degree and gain experience through internships. The expected salary for a software engineer working on applications was $98,260 dollars and for an engineer working on systems was $105,570 dollars. The job outlook for these professionals is very favorable.

Software Engineer Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

Since there are so many responsibilities that a software engineer can have, it is essential to clearly communicate the skills you do have so employers know what you can do.

  • Utilizes the engineering design process to identify a problem, discover the needs of users, identify a solution, develop the solution, and iterate on the solution.
  • Use a variety of programming language and network within those communities to share common language.
  • Work closely with computer programmers to develop the code needed for the software.
  • Conduct regular tests of existing software and systems to detect possible bugs or security risks.
  • Create technical records of the software so that information can be preserved across working teams.
  • Develops a systems solution to communication needs of a business so that all of the computing pieces easily talk to each other.
  • Analyze the security and risk of a software system.

Software Engineer Essential Skills

Searching skills. Software engineers are immersed in code. They must be able to join a community of practice, find code, iterate on old code, and share the code that they find. This reduces replication of work and promotes the advancement of more complex systems.

Learning skills. Technology is constantly changing and software engineers need to be willing to adapt to a changing environment and learn how to effectively design in those environments. It is important to embrace change and become fluent in more than one coding language.

Detail oriented skills. Developing systems and writing code is complicated and attention to detail is absolutely necessary. In that environment missing a semicolon or a bracket can break an entire line of code. Software engineers need to quickly analyze code, find possible errors, and ensure that they are always completing the code language.

User-centered design skills. Systems that are not user-friendly are clunky, hard to use, and lead to a bad experience with the software. Good software engineers should be able to design a system that is easy to use and accomplishes the main goals that it was designed to accomplish.

How to Become a Software Engineer

Software engineering is one of those fields where projects can be completed in school that can be used as experience for what a student can do. The majority of software engineering jobs require a bachelor’s degree. Experience is extremely important so internships and project development are encouraged. These professionals can also take courses through companies to engage in continuing education.

Education & Training Requirements

A quick glance at a job description of software engineers shows that post-secondary education is an expected component of an applicant’s job profile. A typical major is computer science.

There are some entry-level positions that only require an associate’s degree. For students who did not major in computer science, there are networks to join and crash courses such as Coding Bootcamps that prepare people for a new career in a short period of time. In addition, many massive open online courses focus on things like C++ or Ruby On Rails so some students choose to take these courses as well.

The content areas that future software engineers need to know are math, science, programming, and systems thinking. There are no requirements for licensing or recertification but continuing professional development is a condition of the job.

Work Experience

As the software engineer job description outlines, work experience is a valued part of these professional’s portfolio. For students who are in school, they can complete internships or do research under their professor to gain experience. Being able to show an employer a project that you worked on is highly desirable.

To gain additional experience, some software engineers will start their job as computer programmers and then progress in the position as they acquire more knowledge. In addition to the computing skills, software engineers need to learn about the industries they work in. One of the first tasks of these professionals is to analyze the needs of the system and it is impossible to do that without knowing the industry.

Work Schedules

When reading software engineering job descriptions, some might get excited about the high pay and the excellent job opportunities. However, they might express disappointment about the expected hours. Many software engineers work more than 40 hours a week and will have to work into the evening and weekends to complete projects on a deadline. In addition, because computer systems and code are constantly evolving a task that was considered complete may come back on the radar when something in the system breaks.

Software engineers typically work in an office, but there are positions that allow for some flexibility with remote work.

Career Prospects

Software engineers enjoy working in a comfortable environment and do not have to worry about manual labor responsibilities. However, the job can be stressful and the long hours can impact a work/life balance. There is an opportunity for advancement as a typical career trajectory is computer programmer, software engineer, and then an IT project manager. The 10th percentile of earners made between $57,340-$64,600 dollars. The 90th percentile of earners made between $153,710 and $159,850 dollars.

The market to become a software engineer is very favorable. Jobs are expected to increase 17% by the year 2024. The increase is due to computing technology being used in more devices, a focus on security in computers, and industries needing good products to deliver to their customers. That being said, the market is competitive for good software engineers. To stand out from the crowd, internships, project history, and experience matter in a job application.


It is clear from reading this software engineer job description that this is a profession that is in demand, evolving, and exciting. These professionals get to create through computer programming and need to be innovative with strong technical skills. They enjoy a good salary and comfortable work environment, but will frequently work long hours to complete projects.