Why Software Engineering Makes Sense (and Dollars)

Money Mondays is a weekly column highlighting average starting salaries and job responsibilities for different IT positions from Robert Half Technology’s 2015 Salary Guide. We’ll also include industry and job insights from our experts in the field, or give you a snapshot of a position in a particularly hot market.

First Up? The Software Engineer

Let's take a look at a software engineer salary and a software engineer job description. These masters of programs and applications may have had more video game partners than dance partners in high school, but today their dance cards are full – in the job market, at least. Just how popular are software engineers? “Most hiring managers find it challenging to hire an experienced software engineer. The market for this position is off the charts competitive,” said David Knapp, metro marketing manager of Robert Half Technology in San Francisco. “Top candidates are receiving multiple offers.”

On the Rise: Software Engineer Salary

Perhaps it’s not surprising given the demand for these IT professionals that a starting software engineer salary is projected to increase 7.5 percent in 2014, with compensation ranging from $89,750-$137,250. (You can use our Salary Calculator to adjust an entry-level software engineer salary for your city.)

Find Out What it Takes: 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 would include:

  • 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

Software Engineering: 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,” said Knapp. In addition to information on a starting software engineer salary and a software engineer job description, you’ll find information on starting compensation for 70 IT jobs in 150 North American cities in our 2015 Salary Guide.