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Software engineers look at some of the problems in the world and find ways to solve those issues through both programs and operating systems. They often handle multiple projects at the same time and spend a lot of time working on their own. Learn more about why this profession pays so much and where you can earn the most before you decide to become a software engineer.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places software engineers in the same category that includes software developers, testers, and quality assurance experts. BLS data shows that the median salary for this type of work is more than $110,000 a year. If you work part-time for yourself or as a freelance contractor, you can expect to earn a median hourly wage of nearly $53.
Software engineers have the chance to earn even more. The base salary for most positions is more than $127,000 a year, but it can take two years or longer before you start making this amount. You also need to consider some of the perks that come with the job.
Software engineers often receive cash bonuses when they complete big projects as well as paid time off and insurance. Many positions also allow you to work from home and pay when you refer others to your employer.
Working as a software engineer isn’t something you can do right out of high school because you don’t have the proper training. These engineers usually attend boot camps when they’re in school to learn basic coding skills. According to a slack survey with more than 90,000 responses, around 46% of the professionals working in this field have a Bachelors degree, which takes an average of four years to earn. If you want to skip college, you need to make sure that you have the skills that firms look for in engineers.
Software engineers make so much simply because they invest time in their education. Many students do internships in college to get more experience, which helps them get a leg up on other graduates. They also take time to stay up to date on new technology.
When you use a job site to look for open positions, you might notice that there are many software engineer positions available that include both office and work from home options. They earn more money because they have skills that make them in demand.
While developers and coders handle similar duties, software engineers can often tackle their job duties and others. Employers know that hiring engineers may cost more but will help them save more, too.
The BLS noticed that computer jobs will grow at a high rate in the coming years. With some workers nearing retirement age or taking early retirement and new technology popping up, they need workers who understand that technology to replace their leaving workers.
It’s not just tech and development firms looking for them either. Hospitals and government agencies are some of the other employers who hire software engineers.
Working as a software engineer helps you earn a lot of money because you have more duties than other workers do. Your company might call you in the middle of the night and expect you to immediately log in at home or come into the office to fix a problem. If they can’t find someone to fix things, the problem can cost them a lot of money.
The duties that you have also include those you do during normal working hours. You may need to take an existing project and find a way to scale it up as a client’s business grows. If they find a new problem, you need to figure out how to fix it. Software engineers also build new programs and apps from scratch.
When you work in other fields, you only need to know the knowledge you started with because your job duties will rarely change. Software engineering is different because technology constantly changes. If you think that you can get one of these jobs with a college degree and keep it for years, think again.
Most software employers today expect workers to continue their education. You might enroll in college courses to earn a graduate degree or take online classes to learn new skills. It’s even easy to pick up new skills as you work and look for ways to solve new problems.
Every app and program that you use relies on lines of code. Software engineers earn so much because they understand code and know how to identify errors and problems. Not only do they write the code that allows a new app to work, but they also look through the lines to find issues that can keep it from working with certain operating systems or devices.
They can also look through a piece of code to determine if it is a legit product. Counterfeiting is common in the tech field as people take apps and adjust the code to pass it off as something new. A software engineer can quickly go through the code and look for the hallmarks and signs that it’s real or fake.
Do you love the idea of sitting behind a computer screen and spending long hours working by yourself? Though you might think that working as a software engineer is a dream job, keep in mind that it is also quite stressful. Many engineers do not realize how much stress they face until they spend six months to 12 years working in the field.
Software engineering is a stressful profession because of the deadlines. When you work on a new project, you must meet multiple deadlines. They can include finding out the best solution to a problem by a specific date and incorporating data or details that your clients need. The last deadline is usually the most stressful because you must have a completed project ready to go by that date.
You may experience more stress when you work with others. When you’re part of a team, you need to handle your tasks and make sure that others finish their duties. Working with people who take a more relaxed approach to their jobs can make you worry about getting projects done on time and what will happen if they don’t finish the steps they need to complete.
Problem clients are a big issue in this field. While some clients know the hard work that you do and look for ways to reward you, others expect more from you. They can keep changing what they want and give you deadlines that are impossible to reach. Problem clients may promise a bonus and then fail to deliver it, too.
While some find this type of work very stressful, others find that it’s more relaxing. With other jobs, you need to work the same hours every day and deal with one or more supervisors who keep an eye on your work. Software engineers often work unusual hours and have more freedom. You’ll find jobs that let you set your own hours and determine when you want to complete each step.
Another reason engineers love their jobs is because there is such a high need for these professionals. The BLS found that software engineering is growing at a much faster than average rate of 22% and that more than 400,000 new jobs will become available.
If you have issues with one employer, you can easily walk away. There are always recruiters looking for new software engineers on sites like LinkedIn, too.
Some of the other reasons this job is less stressful than you might think include:
- You can take time off whenever you want.
- The job helps you achieve a better balance between your time at work and at home.
- Software engineers often use free tools and sources to get the help they need.
- Some firms offer perks such as free meals and company cars.
- You will have fun learning how to solve complex issues.
Another reason why this job isn’t as stressful as others are is that many positions allow you to work from home. You don’t need to clock in every morning and worry about what will happen if you’re late because you can roll out of bed and head into your home office to get to work in seconds. Some firms even offer stipends that give you money to pay for the supplies and equipment your home office needs.
Earning a six-figure salary every year is a dream for many people. If you live in the Midwest or an area with a low cost of living, you can buy a home and purchase a new car with your salary as well as put money in your savings account and pay off your student loans. Before you decide to become a software engineer, keep in mind that the job can get boring for a few common reasons.
One reason why software engineering gets boring is that some positions require you to follow a set schedule. You clock in at 8 in the morning and do the same tasks every day before you take a break for lunch and then clock out. Some employers also require that you work in the same small groups or the same place day after day. Other positions give you more freedom and let you set your own hours.
Even if you find a position working from home, the job can still feel boring. It’s often hard to separate your work and personal lives. You might have family members who think they can stop by whenever they want or a partner/roommate who wanders into your office every few hours to talk. Working out of your home allows you to decompress on your way home, but if you work from home, you don’t have the extra time you need to relax.
As we mentioned before, software engineering requires sticking to many deadlines. If you do not have strong time management and organizational skills, the chances are good that the job will feel more demanding than it should. When you need to keep track of every little thing that you do and complete multiple tasks by a specific deadline, the job can feel boring. You may even find yourself wishing that you had more freedom.
Working for an engineering firm can come with problems you never expected to find, especially when it comes to office politics. You’ll work with people who claim that the job is the best and that your company is the greatest in the world. Even if you don’t feel the same way, you might worry about speaking out because your coworker can go to HR and complain about you. Office politics can also be complicated if you work with people who have different views than you do.
While we already looked at the median wage for a software engineer, the amount you make in this field will depend heavily on where you work. The best place to work as a software engineer is California because workers there earn 22% more than the national average. Working in New York can help you earn 12% more while working in Maryland or Massachusetts helps you earn 5-6% more than the national average.
Other states have a much lower salary range for these professionals. Mississippi is one of the worst places for software engineers to work because they earn 28% less than the national average for the position. Some of the other states where you’ll earn less include Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Before you narrow down your search to open jobs in Massachusetts and California, keep in mind that those states offer higher wages because they also have a higher cost of living. The cost of living is a term that describes how much money you need to make to live or survive. California has big cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles where you will pay around $2,700 or more for an apartment. Boston also has a high cost of living as do cities like New York City where you may need a roommate to help you pay for your apartment.
The states that pay software engineers the least are also those with a low cost of living. Take Kentucky, for example. While Louisville and Lexington have high rent prices, you can live in a smaller town and pay much less. Some small towns let you rent an entire house for less than $1,000 a month or buy a home and get a mortgage payment that is even lower. Make sure that the area you look for work has starting salaries that let you support yourself.
Though you may not realize that there are different types of software engineers, certain positions within this industry earn more than others do. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) engineers usually make more money. They are responsible for creating AR and VR apps and games that work with new systems such as the Oculus Quest. These consoles let you download games that pull you into a virtual world that you play with a headset rather than a console.
Engineers just starting out in this field can earn as much as $120,000 to $160,000 right out of college. While the median wage for these engineers is $165,000 a year, you can reach $200,000 within a few years.
Designing AR and VR apps on your own that you add to your portfolio or resume can help you earn even more as a new engineer. Keep in mind that these positions come with great perks on top of your salary such as a 401(K) retirement account, parental leave, profit sharing, and discounts on tech products.
Software engineers usually make more than $100,000 a year, but you have the chance to earn more or less depending on where you live. These professionals earn high salaries because they are in demand and have skills that others do not. Working as a software engineer is both rewarding and exciting but can also come with some stress.