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 2018 the annual median salary for a computer applications software developer was $103,620, while the annual median salary for computer systems software developers was $110,000. 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 made $61,660 or less per year, while the highest-paid ten percent of these workers earned $161,290 or higher. For systems software developers, the lowest-paid ten percent of workers made $66,740 or less, while the highest-paid ten percent earned $166,960 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 2018, as reported by the BLS:

  • Computer systems design: $106,830
  • Software publishers: $117,270
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $106,260
  • Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities: $125,050
  • Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing: $130,460

The BLS also reported the following systems developer average salaries in May 2018:

  • Computer systems design: $112,810
  • Software publishers: $113,540
  • Navigational, measuring, electromedical and control instruments manufacturing: $122,860
  • Communications equipment manufacturing: $116,100

Salaries by Locations

According to the BLS, states with the highest average salaries for applications developers in May 2018 included Washington ($131,790), California ($127,950), New York ($116,830), Virginia ($113,690) and the District of Columbia ($112,510). Systems developers earned the highest average salaries in states that included California ($131,700), New Hampshire ($126,790), Colorado ($124,410), New Jersey ($123,370) and Washington ($121,250).

While applications developers in the lowest-paying states (including Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana) made $52,760-$87,120, systems developers in the lowest-paying states (including North Dakota, Arkansas, Michigan and South Dakota) earned average wages of $60,750-$90,430.

Salaries by Experience

According to PayScale.com, entry-level software engineers in general earned a median of $73,186, as reported in June 2019. Those with 5-9 years of experience earned a median of $90,869, while software engineers with 20 years of experience or more made a median of $109,096.

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 24 percent from 2016-2026. Applications developers will have 31 percent growth, while systems developers will have 11 percent growth.

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