The Scope of Software Engineering Degree Programs
Whether you choose to learn online or on campus, software engineering degrees can help you develop in-demand skills for a rapidly growing area across all industries. Bachelors and masters programs in software engineering can be taken on campus or online to prepare you for a career in this rapidly growing field. Software engineering degrees are similar to computer engineering degrees, but more specialized. In fact, since many degree programs in this area are so new, many engineers who work in this area hold computer science degrees. If you have a natural knack for working with computers, and tend to excel in the subjects of math and science, this could be a great career path for you.
It is amazing how much technology has crept into every aspect of our daily life. Gone are the days when about anyone with mechanical skills can tinker with their car in their driveway. Now our cars equipped with computers, and mechanics often need more specialized skills that require working with computers just to make them run. You could apply that example to almost every career where mechanics are involved. Software engineers are the ones who design computer software so the mechanical and electrical components of computers communicate with each other for a desired result: whether it's to make a car run, protect data from vulnerabilities, or help web applications work. Software engineers are also responsible for a lot of the fun and entertainment we use. Behind every best selling video game or big budget action movie, software engineers are the ones who are behind the scenes bring those things to life with their high tech skill sets.
Bachelor's Degrees in Software Engineering
There are many benefits to pursuing your bachelor's degree in software engineering. First of all, you can choose from online or campus programs. This degree choice is perfect for online work. That's why schools such as Arizona State University offers a completely online bachelor of science in software engineering. Through this program students are able to collaborate, complete projects, learn critical thinking and professional skills, without having to travel to a campus to learn. Every semester, students are expected to complete projects that involve creating web applications and other critical skills to this career. Students will even learn leadership skills that can help them become project managers even before they complete their graduate studies. Most graduates of the program go on to become application software engineers.
In the online bachelor's program students will take a variety of courses that will help ensure success in the field. Students explore core courses such as database management, web-based applications and mobile systems, emerging language and programming paradigms, advanced data structures, and more.
Upon completion of a fully online program, students can be equipped to work as programmers, engineering teachers, software developers, and computer and information systems managers.
Master's Degree Programs in Software Engineering
If you choose to study online at a school like Arizona State, you can also take advantage of their online Master of Science in Engineering program. Several other schools offer graduate programs online as well. For example, Penn State offers a masters in software engineering that is identical to the campus based degree program they offer. Students learn 100% online by the exact same teachers to instruct students at their ground campus. Even through an online experience, students still collaborate with their peers and receive valuable mentorship from their instructors who are professionals in the field. In the final project, students will complete a final project that proves they are proficient enough to apply their learning in the real-world.
This online program requires 36 credit hours of courses that consist of 12 courses that are broken up in seven week terms over a two year period. Courses are highly advanced and can help students understand the most innovative topics in the field, including: pattern oriented design, database design concepts, software systems architecture, enterprise integration, human computer interaction, web security and privacy, and of course software testing.
Career Outlook for Software Engineers
As this one example shows, software and computer engineering is a field where you can receive a nice return on investment for your tuition costs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Hardware Engineers can make a median annual wage of $110,650 per year. There are several industries that hire computer software engineers at wages that compete with that range, including: computer manufacturing, communications equipment, navigational design, software publishing, financial investment activities, and scientific research and development (source).
Organizations for Software Engineers
Like any profession there are many organizations and associations where you can connect with your peers and mentors for helpful networking and insight into the latest happenings and developments in your area. The IAENG Society of Software Engineering is an organization that hosts workshops and activities that connect engineers from all over the world. They also work to encourage collaboration with engineers in many areas, since the field is so interconnected (source).
For students, the Association for Computer Machinery is a must-join. This is a hub of people and information where you can be a part of collaborative discussions to tap the knowledge of students and professionals who make an impact in the field. Plus, you can connect with peers who are facing the same challenges that you are. They host conferences where you can meet face-to-face with leaders across the field (source).
The field of software engineering is seeing growth for women who want to work in the field. That's why women who want to enter this field should look into joining the Association for Women in Computing. This group is dedicated to helping women join and advance in the field. Professional growth and networking opportunities are the backbone of this organization. If you are a female seeking a software or computer engineering education, visit their site and learn more (source).
Whether you want to learn on campus or take a 100% online degree program in software engineering, the next step is speaking directly to schools to compare their programs. It is recommended that you compare at least 3-4 programs to be sure you make the best decision.