Computer Software Applications Engineer Careers: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a computer software applications engineer? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a computer software applications engineer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Computer Software Applications Engineer Career

Computer software applications engineers create and upgrade computer applications that are used by the general public and specific customers. Read the pros and cons below to learn more about this career field.

Pros of Becoming a Computer Software Applications Engineer
Good pay ($99,530 annual average salary in 2014 for software developers)*
Employment is expected to grow (22% for software developers during the decade of 2012 through 2022)*
Can work anywhere nationwide/worldwide*
Telecommuting opportunities may be available*

Cons of Becoming a Computer Software Applications Engineer
You may frequently work more than 40 hours each week*
Continuing education is crucial for job security*
Work may be affected by outsourcing to foreign nations*
Employers may require that your experience be industry specific

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

A computer software applications engineer is a type of software developer who focuses on creating specific applications, such as games or databases. As a computer software applications engineer, your work would center on research, design and project management. For example, you might research and analyze consumer or client needs and then design computer applications to meets those needs.

In creating each component of the application, your design process may include developing flowcharts, models and prototypes. You might work with other specialists in your field to create the best possible software solution. You would be responsible for managing the development process and possibly updating the application after its launch. You might make applications that can be sold to the general public or that suit a particular organization's needs.

Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual average salary for computer software developers was approximately $99,530 in 2014. However, there is a broad salary spectrum to the career. While the lower ten percent received an annual salary of about $56,000 in 2014, the upper ten percent received approximately $149,000 in the same year.

What Are the Requirements?

The minimum education requirement to become a computer software applications engineer is to have a bachelor's degree. Professionals in the field usually have degrees in disciplines such as computer science, engineering, software engineering or a related major. In conjunction with or in addition to your standard program curriculum, taking a considerable amount of coursework in software development and computer programming is essential, according to the BLS. Also, professional skills you will need include: experience with development environment and Web technologies software, proficiency in object/component development software, analytical skills, and problem-solving skills.

Job Postings From Real Employers

Your potential employers could operate in a variety of industries, such as software publishing, telecommunications, computer systems design, insurance, computer manufacturing and consulting. Most of them will require you to have a bachelor's degree and experience in software development. Here are just a few of the job listings for computer software applications engineers that were posted April 2012:

  • A major government contractor and information service firm in Virginia wanted to hire a software applications engineer with a bachelor's degree and at least five years of work experience. Applicants must have had experience in working with Web technology development (e.g., HTML, Javascript), SOAP or REST Web services and Java. Experience with widget development and Rich Internet Application (RIA) User Interface Development was preferred.
  • A software company in Washington was looking for a software applications engineer with 3-5 years of experience in developing software for mobile operating systems. Experience with Silverlight and Expression Studio was also required. Successful candidates would have excellent communication, multi-tasking and leadership skills.
  • A telecommunications firm in Colorado wanted to hire a software applications engineer that had at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering or a related disciple. However, a master's degree was preferred. Applicants must have had at least two years of MS-Windows GUI development or similar experience, and C++ development and object oriented design experience. Expertise in Java, Android OS and Borland / Embarcadero was desired. Familiarity of cellular communications was a plus.

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

Earning a master's degree in a field where bachelor's degrees are dominant may be advantageous for highlighting your skills in the marketplace. Master's degrees in disciplines such as computer science and software engineering are available through campus-based and distance-learning delivery formats. You may also want to consider obtaining certification in software applications that are prevalent in your field, such as Java. Professional certifications are usually obtained through the software applications' manufacturer.

Alternative Career Paths

Computer Programmer

If you are more interested in the programming aspects of applications as opposed to design, then you may want to consider becoming a computer programmer. As a computer programmer, you would translate application design protocols into a system language that computers can operate from. While the degree requirement of a computer programmer parallels that of a software applications engineer (bachelor's degree), computer programmers earned an annual median salary of about $73,000 in 2011, which was $16,000 less than that for computer software applications engineers.

Computer Support Specialist

If you would like to work with computers, but don't want to undergo a 4-year undergraduate program, then you may find a career as a computer support specialist to be of interest. In this position, you would help individuals and/or organizations use their computer systems by providing information and assisting with troubleshooting. The entry-level requirement is some college coursework coupled with on-the-job training. However, the 2011 annual median salary was about $48,000, which was $41,000 less than annual median salaries earned by software applications engineers in that year.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
      • B.S. - Mobile Development
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Information Technology/Multiplatform Software Development
      • BSIT: Network Admin
    Associate's
      • AAS in Information Technology - Multiplatform Software Development
      • AASIT: Network Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    3. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
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    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • PhD in Business Admin - Management of Engineering and Technology
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Management of Engineering and Technology
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    Master's
      • MBA - Management of Engineering and Technology
      • MSTIM - Engineering Magagement
  • Campus and Online Programs
    5. The Art Institutes

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    Bachelor's
      • Software Development for Creative Technologies (BS)
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    6. CDI College

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    Certificate
      • Diploma in Programmer Analyst / Internet Solutions Developer LEA.9C (Programmeur-Analyste Orient Internet LEA.9C)
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    7. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Towson, MD

    Towson University

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    9. Purdue University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Engineering Technology

Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
  • B.S. - Mobile Development

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • BS in Information Technology/Multiplatform Software Development
  • BSIT: Network Admin
  • AAS in Information Technology - Multiplatform Software Development
  • AASIT: Network Admin

Which subject are you interested in?

University of Delaware

  • Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • PhD in Business Admin - Management of Engineering and Technology
  • Doctor of Business Admin - Management of Engineering and Technology
  • MBA - Management of Engineering and Technology
  • MSTIM - Engineering Magagement

What is your highest level of education?

The Art Institutes

  • Software Development for Creative Technologies (BS)

What is your highest level of education?

CDI College

  • Diploma in Programmer Analyst / Internet Solutions Developer LEA.9C (Programmeur-Analyste Orient Internet LEA.9C)

What year did you graduate high school?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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