Everything we do today involves the use of software. From our mobile phones, entertainment systems and kitchen appliances in the home, to computers, software systems in the workplace and the cars we drive. They all contain software that provides a set of operating instructions in the background, talking to you, directing you in traffic, ensuring your maximum entertainment and promoting efficiency. We interact with software daily as we do our banking, play games, listen to music, chat on social media and access information, all online.

Teams of software engineers are committed to the success of each of these facets of technology as they design, develop, test, improve and implement a vast range of sophisticated systems and applications.

The escalating need for these skills means that the job outlook for software engineers is one of high demand, good remuneration and high employment rates. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, physics or engineering, as well as sound programming experience in an object-oriented programming language, a master’s degree with a focus on software engineering obtained through a reputable institution such as Baylor University will enhance your prospects of employment in the dynamic world of technology.

Baylor’s online Master’s in Computer Science allows students to gain expertise in advanced software engineering, distributed systems, software verification and validation and advanced object-oriented development. Offered 100% online, this program is ideal for students who require the flexibility to continue to meet existing commitments.

In addition to your studies, you will constantly be learning new skills to keep up with accelerating advances in technology, ensuring an interesting and satisfying career. The technical knowledge you have today may become obsolete in years to come as you move on to exciting new technologies, learn new skills and enjoy your job immensely. However, the principles and concepts learned in your basic computer science education will remain a solid foundation for your career.

Job opportunities

Software engineering (SWE) is a very broad field, and to find your niche within this discipline, it may be necessary to work in the industry for a year or so, learning various skills and deciding where your interests lie. Below, we outline some of the employment options and the skills required:

Applications development

Application developers design and engineer games, commercial software, healthcare systems, research tools, databases, analytical and statistical algorithms, and much more. They require a thorough knowledge of the programming and database languages relevant to the application they are working on.

Additional skill requirements may include project management and the ability to use software applications that facilitate this function. Software engineers test and evaluate systems, create operating standards and document processes. As they frequently interact with customers to identify needs, good communication is an advantage.

In addition to technical software skills, knowledge of various software applications, such as presentation software or reporting tools, is often sought after.

Systems development

Systems developers have a slightly different skill set than application developers, although the two may overlap. Systems developers create operating software, or machine code, that consists of a basic set of instructions to control computers and other electronic equipment. They also write intermediary software as an interface between low-level software and high-level application software. System developers create operating systems for phones and laptops so that you can download apps, access a network and store your contact lists and documents.

Database engineering, administration and cloud computing

Organizations such as businesses, hospitals, engineering and research institutions that require the storage of large amounts of data make use of substantial databases. Today, most of this is done in the clouds. Cloud software and databases are stored offsite by large organizations, which charge a fee for this service.

Cloud technology means that commercial organizations no longer need to employ a full team of technical personnel as a substantial amount of their hardware and software requirements are outsourced to cloud service providers. Never fear though, as this creates positions within the larger, cloud-based service provider companies. These organizations are more geared toward technology solutions, and employment in this environment is likely to offer invaluable experience and career prospects. Working with the algorithms and programs for the storage, retrieval and manipulation of data on cloud-based platforms is a skillset on its own.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI makes use of machine learning and deep learning techniques, robotics and natural language processing to simulate human intelligence. When dealing with huge amounts of data, AI is used for fast and intelligent analysis, decision-making and problem-solving.

The growing concern among software engineers regarding the obsolescence of their jobs as AI takes over is unfounded according to experts. Data science and machine learning have become essential skills for software engineers with an interest in AI.

AI opens up new avenues and assists software developers in many areas. It may be able to perform many of the tasks that until recently were exclusive to software engineers, but this has just created a need for them to learn a new set of skills.

Data mining and data analysis

Data storage, mining, retrieval, analysis and reporting are all sought-after skills with today’s tendency towards mega-sized databases. Software engineers consult with clients to obtain their specific requirements and then write user applications that request information and store it in a specified format in the database. Software engineers write algorithms to mine the data, analyze, sort and present it in a format that can be used by the various reporting applications.

Additional opportunities in software engineering

For effective design and support of application and system software as well as database facilities, additional positions in the software technology environment exist in analytical and supportive roles. These include team leaders, quality control and testing teams, training and documentation teams, systems analysts, data security specialists, system implementation specialists and project management teams.

These positions all require expertise in the particular software they are analyzing, presenting, supporting and training people to use. Good knowledge of systems and how to apply them in the real world is paramount.

Your future in information technology

For a secure future that promotes continuous learning and offers unprecedented job security, a career in computer science, and particularly, software engineering, is worthy of consideration. With your interest in technology and an aptitude for math and science-related subjects, you should find working in a software engineering environment extremely interesting and rewarding.