What's the Salary of a Recent Grad with a Software Engineering Degree?

The salary you can expect with a software engineering degree depends on several factors, such as the type of software in which you specialize, your location and your employer. Read on to find out how much you can expect to earn as a recent grad. Schools offering Software Development & Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, in May 2014 the annual median salary for a computer applications software developer was $95,510, while the annual median salary for computer systems software developers was $102,880. Depending on your company or the industry in which you work, the starting salary may be lower. The lowest-paid ten percent of application software developer salaries were $56,310 or less per year, while the highest-paid ten percent of these workers earned $143,540 or higher. For systems software developers, the lowest-paid ten percent of workers made $63,140 or less, while the highest-paid ten percent earned $149,480 or higher.

Important Facts About a Career in Software Engineering

Work EnvironmentTypically in an office with the option to telecommute
Key SkillsAnalytical, communication, computer, creativity, detail-oriented, interpersonal, and problem-solving
SpecializationsFinance, insurance, software publishing, computer and electronic product manufacturing, computer systems design, and management
Similar OccupationsComputer hardware engineers, computer network architects, computer programmers, computer support specialists, computer systems analyst, and computer and information systems managers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salaries by Industry

Your salary will also be determined, in part, by the particular job and industry in which you work. Many jobs fall into one of two categories: computer applications software developer or computer systems software developer. Typically, systems developers make higher salaries than applications developers.

The following shows average applications developer salaries for selected industries in May 2014, as reported by the BLS:

  • Computer systems design: $97,490
  • Software publishers: $109,030
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $96,340
  • Securities and commodity contracts intermediation and brokerage: $125,360
  • Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing: $115,140

The BLS also reported the following systems developer average salaries in May 2014:

  • Computer systems design: $104,780
  • Software publishers: $106,210
  • Navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing: $110,680
  • Communications equipment manufacturing: $109,970

Salaries by Locations

According to the BLS, states with the highest average salaries for applications developers in May 2014 included California ($119,970), Maryland ($108,300), Washington ($115,370), Massachusetts ($109,670) and New York ($107,020). Systems developers earned the highest average salaries in states that included California ($124,070), Vermont ($113,610), New Jersey ($113,620), Massachusetts ($114,350) and Washington ($113,610).

While applications developers in the lowest-paying states (including Idaho, Iowa and Kentucky) made $51,930-$80,260, systems developers in the lowest-paying states (including West Virginia, Arkansas, Nebraska and Montana) earned average wages of $62,660-$84,350.

Salaries by Experience

According to PayScale.com, software engineers in general earned a median of $72,027 with 0-5 years of experience, as reported in September 2015. Those with 5-10 years of experience earned a median of $83,818, while software engineers with 20 years of experience or more made a median of $102,832.

Required Education and Skills

Typically, the minimum educational requirement for a software engineer is a bachelor's degree, though employers also look at any relevant professional experience. A recent graduate with a software engineering degree may find an entry-level position in a variety of industries. Job listings may not differentiate between those who have a bachelor's or master's degree, but are seeking a similar skill level for entry-level workers. Software engineering job listings on the Internet list some of the skills that employers are looking for, including:

  • Meet software standards
  • Test and debug software/systems logically
  • Determine user's needs
  • Analyze system and resolve problems
  • Design and develop operating systems and utility programs

Job Outlook

The BLS predicts that software developer employment will grow at a rate of 7 percent from 2014-2024. Applications developers will have 19 percent growth, while systems developers will have 13 percent growth.

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