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A computer software engineer is an expert at the theory of computing systems and designs and maintains software. These engineers typically fall into two categories: computer applications software engineer and computer systems software engineer. Typically a computer software engineer will work on a host of projects, including manufacturing, industry, government, and educational institutions. These professionals are often analytical and extremely detail-oriented, and generally possess a college education in computer software or software engineering. A software engineer constantly needs to keep up with his profession, as new programming languages and technologies emerge.
When given a project, a computer software engineer analyzes the situation and uses his computer science, engineering, and mathematical background to complete the task. Typically, a person in this position will use system flow charts that detail how data will flow through the computer. After creating a program, a software engineer will test it to make sure there are no mistakes in the data.
A computer applications software engineer creates applications programs that have a precise purpose. Typically, a computer applications software engineer uses specific programming language such as C, C++, and Java. This type of engineer may work on a project by himself or in groups.
The professional who is a computer systems software engineer is generally responsible for designing software that is needed to make a computer system run properly. A computer systems software engineer also helps to organize the computer requirements for various departments of an organization and aids in making communications among departments run as smoothly as possible. This type of computer software engineer makes sure the systems they are constructing are secure.
The work environment of a computer software engineer generally consists of an office, laboratory, or other workplace that contains computer equipment. Typically, a software engineer will work 40 hours a week, but may work longer hours if he is under a deadline. Some software engineers who work for a consulting business will travel to visit clients, sometimes internationally. A software engineer spends a great deal of time at a computer screen and may develop eye strain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
A person may only need a two-year degree or certificate to become a software engineer in some cases, but a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, computer information systems, or mathematics is often preferred by employers. Most software engineers will have national certification in major computer languages. For more technical positions, a graduate degree may be needed.
To keep up with an ever-changing profession, a software engineer generally takes continuing education courses and professional development seminars. The profession requires ingenuity and strong problem solving techniques. As a software engineer gains more experience, he may advance to a project manager or manager of information systems.
Oddly, some of the best software engineers out there never went to college or dropped out after a year or two. These are the cats who were building their own systems and learning new programming languages while the rest of us were goofing around in high school.
Sure, there's a lot to be said for getting a degree, but that's not the only way to tell if a software engineer knows his job or not.
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