How to Become a Software Engineer

Illustration of a woman at a desk.

Good news for software engineers: The coming year is likely to be a good one for you, similar to the previous one.

"Demand is very high for software engineers and software developers, and IT managers often find it challenging to hire them,” says Refawne Acarregui, Robert Half Technology Division Director in Seattle. “Top candidates may receive multiple offers and are not 'on the market' for more than one or two weeks.”

In addition, software engineer jobs are projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

Let's take a close look at a software engineer salary and job description.

Software engineer salary on the rise

Perhaps it’s not surprising given the demand for these IT professionals that a starting software engineer salary is projected to increase 5.2 percent in 2017, with compensation ranging from $108,250-$164,500. 

You can use our Salary Calculator to adjust an entry-level software engineer salary for your city.

Software engineer job description

If only we could all be software engineers, right? In case you’re wondering what it takes to make it in this specialty, here’s a list of qualifications:

  • Broad information systems experience, as well as a bachelor’s degree in computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering or a related discipline.
  • Several years’ experience in specific programming languages, such as C#/C++, Java or Visual Basic .NET, depending on the employer.
  • Excellent communication and problem-solving skills, and the ability to work well in a team environment.

A typical software engineer job description includes:

  • Designing and creating engineering specifications for software programs and applications
  • Working with quality assurance to develop software test plans
  • Collaborating with hardware engineers to assess and test hardware and software interaction
  • Implementing a specific development methodology
  • Documenting software specifications

Acarregui adds, "In Seattle, we continue to see a demand for software engineers with C#, .NET and SQL skills."

It's not just about the money

A few final words of advice for software engineers in the job market: While you’re in demand and a starting software engineer salary is on the rise, remember it’s not always about the money. Candidates often only focus on bonus or salary, but it’s also important to look at the overall strength of a firm, and the company’s technology and leadership to get a complete picture.

In addition to information on a starting software engineer salary and a software engineer job description, you’ll find information on starting compensation for 75 IT jobs in 150 North American cities in our Salary Guide.

More resources:

This post originally appeared in November 2013 and has been updated to reflect more current information.