Embedded and systems software engineers hold about 340,700 jobs (this number excludes another 357,000 involved primarily with IT, mainframe and financial applications development), making this the largest sement of the engineering community. This number is expected to increase 3.5% by the end of 2015. An increasing number of software engineers are employed on a contract basis - many of whom are self-employed - working independently as consultants. Consulting opportunities for software engineers should grow as businesses need help designing, developing, implementing, testing, upgrading, and customizing increasingly complex software products and systems. Nearly 33,000 (<10%) software engineers are self-employed.
Software Engineering Salaries
Software engineer salary range for the middle 50% is between $67,130 and $101,520. Software engineer salaries for the lowest 10% are less than $53,180. Software engineer salaries for the highest 10% are more than $144,240. Median annual software engineer salary in the industries employing the largest numbers are:
Computer, networking and office equipment: $87,220
Computer services: $81,430
Engineering contract services: $77,560
Professional and consumer products: $86,190
Software engineer starting salary for new graduates with a BS - Computer Engineering averages $62,680. New MSCE graduates have an average starting salary of $68,590. Starting salary offers for graduates with a BS - Computer Science average $60,410, while MSCS graduates starting salary offers average $66,820. New PhD graduates (CE or CS combined into one group) have starting salary offers averaging $89,760.
The highest starting salaries are on the west coast, many in the high $80s to mid $90s (due to higher cost of living issues). The highest consistent wages are concentrated in Boston, Washington DC, MD, VA, NH, New York City, Dallas and San Jose / San Francisco. Many employers are offer premium incentives for advanced degrees, and almost 40% were offer either a starting bonus or performance bonus to new software engineer hires at all levels (or both). Company-paid relocation is common. Top engineering schools draw top salaries. Companies are using school rankings as a criteria for starting salary adjustments.
Software Engineering Employment Outlook
Software engineering is projected to be the second fastest growing segment through 2015, behind electrical and RF engineering - in terms of both salary and opportunities.
Rapid growth in consumer and industrial product development, which employs the greatest numbers of embedded software engineer and firmware engineer professionals, should result in very favorable opportunities for experienced individuals. All indicators point to continuing strong demand for software engineers that are keeping their skills current with the latest technology.
Software engineer employment is expected to increase much faster than the average for most non-engineering and all engineering occupations, as companies continue to adopt and integrate new technologies requiring more complex software to keep their products competitive - and offer new or updated software to attract and retain customers. Competition among businesses worldwide (and constant demand from end-user consumers) will continue to drive the requirement for sophisticated technological innovations. In addition to employment growth, many software engineer job openings will result annually from the need to replace workers who move into managerial positions, transfer to other occupations, or who leave the software engineering labor force.
As software engineering requirements in consumer products, telecommunications, networking, instrumentation, biomedical, defense and other settings continue to become more complex and feature rich - companies will require a growing number of software engineers who can keep them competitive. Software engineer consulting opportunities should also continue to grow as firms increasingly need specialized outside help on a short duration basis to enhance their software, and integrate new technologies and standards. Outsourcing software engineering projects (mostly by smaller firms) is becoming essential if they want to remain price competitive.
A major growth sector will be defense sector companies subcontracting to the federal government. Military and intelligence agencies (including homeland security) are increasingly outsourcing software design and development to private sector defense vendors. Homeland security has been recently added to this mix, for a total of 24 federal agencies and the U.S. military contracting defense related software. Software engineers and software engineering managers with Secret and Top Secret clearances are always in demand.
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