As the world increasingly relies on technology, the workforce has seen booming growth in the tech industry. Software engineering is one of the fastest-growing fields, with a projected increase of 409,500 new job openings come 2030. Predicted to expand by 22% in a decade, the field of software engineering offers security and stability. Encouraged by this prospect, many people ask what a software engineer is and how to start a career in software.

In this article, we'll discuss what software engineering is, the differences between software engineering and software development, specific aspects of the field, and how software engineering bootcamps are rising in popularity and readying people for the workforce.

What is Software Engineering?

Much like a mechanical engineer handles the production of machines, a software engineer oversees the production of software. Their job involves building, testing, managing, and implementing applications and programs, but not strictly for computers. For example, cell phone apps, video games, websites, and even medical equipment rely on software experts to build and oversee their functionality.

In a nutshell, software engineers are the forces behind building and optimizing software for efficiency and effectiveness. Software engineers use engineering principles to solve problems systematically through designing, testing, or analyzing.

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineers rely on their skills to test, debug, oversee, and maintain programs for computers, cell phones, and more. Their tasks vary, but here are the primary duties: 

  • Design software programs

  • Perform technical analysis of existing software

  • Apply algorithm and data structure principles to troubleshooting

  • Unite relevant team members for problem-solving

  • Consider finances during the development and design

Our hyper-digitized world is possible due to software engineers. Things like phone apps that track exercise, computer programs, remote work platforms, government websites, and film editing software needed software engineers' help during the developmental stages. 

Software engineers have become even more critical in 2022. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have shifted to working remotely, creating a need for more work-from-home software and computer platforms. This means a greater need for people to engineer such software.

What is the Difference Between a Software Engineer and a Software Developer?

Developers and engineers are often thought of interchangeably. However, while their duties might cross over, there is a distinction between the two fields. 

A software engineer typically deals with higher-level computing and engineering principles, tending to see the bigger picture. Their long-term goals are concerned with maintaining the overall infrastructure of a company. Objectives include system maintenance, implementation, and ensuring everything aligns with stakeholder interests. They are less focused on individual application designs; instead, they take a holistic approach and make sure all projects work together cohesively.

A software developer, on the other hand, handles more or less the same tasks but on a narrower scale. Their focus is on individual development teams and programmers, so a developer must excel in communication skills. Developers work closely with end-users to figure out what their issues are. Their focus is more hands-on and creative, while an engineer tends to adhere to a systematic approach to problem-solving.

Both developers and engineers must be familiar with programming languages and operating systems. The most significant difference is how engineers and developers implement their knowledge. Software engineering bootcamps are an excellent resource for building those technical skills required for a career in software engineering.

How Much Does a Software Engineer Make?

With such a demand for software engineers, the compensation is pretty lucrative. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay is $110,140, or roughly $53 per hour. Compare that to the median yearly income for all employees in May 2020, which was $41,950.

Software engineering is a unique field in that employers are primarily interested in skillsets rather than a college degree. And the good thing is many of the required skills are technical and can be learned at home. So, if you're worried about not having a college degree, you can still hope for a well-paying salary if you've acquired the right skills through the software engineering bootcamp USF offers.

Is a Web Developer a Software Engineer?

Much like engineering versus developing, there's a difference in skill application regarding web development versus software engineering. Web developers and software engineers perform some of the same tasks, but their focus might differ.

A web developer could be a software engineer, but not all web developers are engineers, nor is that required. Engineers focus more on building OS software, network, and cloud-based platforms. On the other hand, web developers primarily develop websites or web applications. Therefore, they would not perform the higher-level tasks of an engineer.

Additionally, a web developer wouldn't be expected to know the same programming languages as an engineer. Their goal is functionality and design, not performance. Common markup languages for a web developer include HTML and CSS.
A web developer's annual median salary is $77,200 per year. Jobs for web developers continue to increase, with a predicted 13% growth in employment opportunities by 2030.

Get Started with a Coding Bootcamp

Now that you understand what software engineering is, take the next step toward starting your career in the field. Due to the high demand for software engineers, bootcamps are becoming increasingly popular. With a bootcamp, you can learn the most up-to-date and relevant tools on your own time. The University of South Florida's Software Engineering Bootcamp is 100% online, with lessons on the most popular programming languages, such as React, Node, and Python. Touch base weekly with your mentor, an expert who will give you personalized feedback on your work and share insider tips on a career in the tech field. Graduate with an impressive portfolio that showcases your experience and skill.

Hone marketable skills with USF's bootcamp, and set yourself up for a successful career in this fast-growing and lucrative industry.