What does a software engineer do?

Software engineers analyze problem statements and design scalable solutions using various software engineering principles and techniques. They're also responsible for the acquisition, designing, and security of data and test case design and documentation. Software engineers communicate with stakeholders at each phase of the software development cycle. With the right skills and experience, these professionals may also double as product managers. Their duties also include meeting with business professionals or clients to plan ideas for important software applications. Their other responsibilities include coordinating with other professionals to design beneficial software and run tests to catch any coding errors. 

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What is the average salary of a software engineer?

The salary of a software engineer can range between $89,000 and $226,000. According to a 2018 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median software engineer salary was approximately $105,000. In many cases, the compensation levels of a software engineer will shift based on your position in the software engineering hierarchy. 

Factors affecting salary

There are many software engineering areas, and every area differs in responsibilities and salaries. For instance, the salary for a senior software engineer will be higher than that of an entry-level candidate. A software engineer's salary may vary depending on other factors, including:

  • Specialization (systems vs. applications)
  • Level of experience
  • Industry 
  • Geographical location
software engineer

What industries hire software engineers?

Pursuing a software engineering career allows you to work in different fields and industries since almost every business uses software applications. Whether you prefer working in the real estate, entertainment, or finance industry, there is a good chance you'll get a job there as a software engineer. However, the responsibilities and duties of these professionals vary according to industry, company, or given role. Some of the common sectors that employ software engineers include:

  • Websites and organizations that manage websites
  • Software development firms
  • Technology consultancies
  • Public sector organizations
  • Telecommunications companies
  • Engineering firms
  • Financial services firms and banking institutions
  • Product and equipment manufacturers

Working as a software engineer

As a professional software engineer, you will work in an ever-evolving environment due to the changing strategies of the company you work for and the technological advances. You'll develop, maintain, and improve different systems to meet specific needs. The role may also involve testing software and hardware systems to identify and solve system problems. You'll also write diagnostic programs and design code for software applications and operating systems to ensure business efficiency. When needed, you will make some recommendations for future business developments. 

What are the responsibilities of a software engineer? 

Software engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and troubleshooting software applications. From prototyping and planning functional code to writing code and testing, these professionals take ownership of software applications until they are handed over to the clients. Here are some of the most common duties and responsibilities of a software engineer:

  • Applying different software engineering techniques and principles to analyze problems and design software solutions
  • Creating technical specifications
  • Developing and overseeing software validation and testing techniques
  • Directing software development initiatives
  • Working with cross-functional departments and clients to communicate project proposals and statuses 
  • Analyzing data to successfully coordinate the modification of existing systems and installations of new systems 
  • Directing software development process
  • Developing and executing software project plans
  • Performing predictive maintenance and monitoring system performance
  • Ensuring proper documentation of software projects

What type of equipment does a software engineer use? 

A software engineer uses different tools for software development, code review, and version and bug control. Here are some of the common and useful tools a software engineer needs to work effectively:

  • ProofHub – This tool offers different features, such as custom project reports, tablet and mobile compatibility, and seamless team communication, that enhance project management.
  • Github – This web-based service provides hosting for software development and version control, collaboration, and other project management features.
  • Code Climate – Software developers use this tool to determine whether or not to merge code and automate code assessment.
  • Condenvy – This software development tool is used for debugging and coding software apps using version control, resource limits, and APIs and extensions. 
  • Bitbucket – This hosting tool allows software engineers to share their Git repositories and develop software, and it's useful for smart mirroring, issue tracking, and branch permissions.

What is the work environment of a software engineer? 

Software engineers normally work in laboratories or cozy offices with computers. Those working for software vendors or consulting companies often travel long distances to see or meet with clients. Self-employment and contract or freelance work are possible since there's a growing market for software engineering experts with specialist knowledge. However, career breaks may be challenging due to the need to keep up with technical knowledge advancements in a rapidly evolving environment. 

Who are your colleagues as a software engineer? 

Depending on the industry and company you work for, you may have a more defined role that involves managing the support systems needed to run the company effectively. In large organizations, software engineers report to the senior software engineers, and those in small and medium companies report to the IT managers. You will work with a team of IT professionals, including IT support technicians, system designers, and system analysts. Software engineers also regularly consult with clients, security specialists, and programmers.

What is the work schedule of a software engineer? 

The working hours of a software engineer are typically from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. However, longer working hours may be necessary, especially during a project's testing phase and as deadlines for software projects approach. In some cases, computer software engineers might need to be on call to handle any upcoming problems. This arrangement may involve weekend and evening work in shift patterns, but allowances might be available in such cases.



What is the career outlook for a software engineer?

The career outlook for software engineering is very good. According to the BLS, job opportunities for software engineers will increase by 22% through 2030. The increasing demand for software applications and systems security is the biggest reason for this growth. Generally, a software engineer career has a lot of room for potential growth and opportunity. You can choose the path you want to take (systems or applications) and how far you would like to progress with it. Based on your career goals and interests, you can advance toward positions such as a senior computer software engineer, systems manager, or project manager. As a professional software engineer, you have the mobility and flexibility to create the most appealing career experience for yourself.

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a software engineer? 

Spherion is one of the best staffing organizations with countless local connections with establishments and industries. Whether you love working from home or in an office setting, Spherion has the right job for you. Working with Spherion as a software engineer offers you many other benefits, including:

  • Access to your region's most sought-after jobs
  • Flexible working solutions
  • Access to career development resources, skills, and training to boost your resume
  • Permanent and temporary working contracts
  • Smooth and fast job interviews
  • Respected and seasoned recruiters to assist and provide advice during a job search

What education do you need as a software engineer?

If you would like to work as a professional software engineer, you'll require at least a degree in computer software engineering, mathematics, computer science, or any other related field. Most importantly, work on getting sound computer programming skills since these are the foundational skills required to perform the basic duties of a software engineer. A good background in programming and fluency in languages such as Python, C#, and Ruby will make your work easier. 

Advanced degrees and certifications

For career advancement or stronger job prospects, you can earn a master's degree in any computer science specialty. The degree will allow you to qualify for different leadership and management positions in the industry. Software engineering is technical and precise, and getting certifications verifies your abilities and knowledge. Along with your academic qualifications and industry experience, certifications can enhance your marketability with professional organizations and technology vendors.

Skills & competencies

While technical expertise in programming languages is a core competency in software engineering, a software engineer should also have the capacity to help their team members set benchmarks, troubleshoot issues, and upgrade existing systems. Due to the iterative nature of computer software engineering roles, you also need a wide range of other important skills, including:

  • Effective communication skills and interpersonal skills, including the capacity to communicate different technical aspects and ideas to non-technical stakeholders
  • Collaborative skills and the ability to work with teams
  • Flexibility and the ability to learn, grow, and adapt to various situations
  • Strong technical skills
  • Good analytical skills
  • Excellent time-management skills
  • Effective problem-solving skills


Software engineers provide digital solutions for real-world and industry-specific problems. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about working as a software engineer. 

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