July 19, 2024

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8 of the top software engineering jobs

7 min read
8 of the top software engineering jobs

If you’re looking to make a move into software engineering, there’s good news: Demand for these roles is on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs available in the field is expected to grow by 25% by 2032. 

To enter the software engineering industry or advance your career with a new job title, you’ll need to know the most common options, their pay rates and day-to-day responsibilities, and the skills needed to handle the workload. 

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8 jobs for software engineers

Below are the top eight jobs for software engineers, ranging from data-heavy roles to creative-centric ones. Note: This list is alphabetical, and the salaries were sourced from Glassdoor. Pay may vary from company to company.  

Data scientist 

Average yearly salary: $157,000

For the past few years, data science has topped CompTIA’s State of the Tech Workforce report as the fastest-growing tech occupation, and for good reason. Data scientists are crucial in almost every industry, including healthcare, urban planning, and social media. 

By utilizing models and algorithms to explore, analyze, and optimize data, their work involves solving problems and communicating results to stakeholders. There are two main routes to becoming a data scientist: obtaining either an undergraduate or graduate degree or attending bootcamps. 

Skills: Proficiency in programming languages like Python, R, and SQL, as well as skills in machine learning, data visualization, and data mining, are essential. Additionally, soft skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective communication are important for success in this role, especially when working collaboratively in a team.

Cloud computing engineer

Average yearly salary: $147,000

According to Acumen Research and Consulting, the global cloud computing market accounted for $495.3 billion in 2022 and is estimated to grow 17.8% by 2032. Also simply called “cloud engineers,” these highly skilled people are responsible for designing, developing, refining, and maintaining cloud-based infrastructure, applications, and storage services. 

Cloud engineers typically have a background in computer science, information technology or a degree in a related field. Proficiency in Google Cloud, Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) is also a must. 

Skills: Cloud engineers’ technical skills revolve around understanding system architecture and automation while balancing soft skills like problem-solving and communication. 

Cybersecurity engineer

Average yearly salary: $162,000

According to tech staffing agency Mondo, cybersecurity engineers are among the highest-paid professionals in the cyber field. They play a crucial role in implementing and testing new security features, responding to data breaches, and overall playing digital defense against threats. Typically, people in these roles hold either a bachelor’s or master’s degree in cybersecurity or alternatively earn certifications like the CompTIA Security+ or the GIAC Security Essentials certification.

Skills: Python, JavaScript, SQL, PowerShell, and Bash are among the most common programming languages for cybersecurity professionals. Some soft skills include adaptability, attention to detail, and an eye for computer forensics. 

Machine learning engineer

Average yearly salary: $164,000

As artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to advance, there is an increasing need for people skilled in developing, training, implementing, and updating automation and AI systems. Machine learning engineers dedicate their time to gathering and preparing data, constructing and refining models, and collaborating across teams to get these models into production. Think: The team behind OpenAI’s GPT-4o. 

Skills: This role involves coding languages like Python—the language of choice in machine learning—or Java and C++ while using data libraries like TensorFlow, Microsoft Azure, and PyTorch.  

DevOps engineer

Average yearly salary: $140,000

A DevOps engineer is a professional who excels in both software development and operations, serving as the bridge between development and IT teams. They establish an effective workflow, enabling developers to introduce new features and build applications while ensuring that operations teams maintain the stability of released applications.

This job is typically reserved for people with university-level education, postgraduate degrees, or industry certifications. Microsoft offers a free 9-module, self-paced DevOps engineer training course with an expert-level certification. 

Skills: Experience with programming languages, data management, library updates, and security systems is essential for this role. Familiarity with Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) is also required. Strong analytical, problem-solving, and teamwork skills are a must.

Full-stack developer

Average yearly salary: $120,000

Becoming a full-stack developer involves tackling both the front-end and back-end of web development and taking responsibility for designing, building, and maintaining an application or website. This includes using tools like Figma for UX/UI design and APIs and databases for processing and storing site data. 

To land a job in this field, whether as a freelancer or full-time employee, it’s essential to build a strong portfolio showcasing various projects on the client and server side. 

Skills: There are several regularly used programming languages in full-stack web development: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for the front end and C++, Python, and Ruby for the back end. Similar to cloud engineers, full-stack developers should also have a good understanding of streaming technologies for internet-based tasks. Lastly, continuous learning and a growth mindset are crucial aspects of this role, as they enable developers to understand and fix coding issues when they arise.

Game developer 

Average yearly salary: $116,000

The gaming industry is projected to reach $312 billion by 2027, making it one of the hottest industries on the planet, but for video games to exist, there must also be game developers. These professionals merge sleek user interfaces with game logic, artificial intelligence, and creative visual design. They collaborate closely with game designers to translate concepts into code. These developers iterate and refine gameplay for production on a day-to-day basis.

Full Sail University offers video game development programs, but learning the basics of programming independently or through regular computer science classes is entirely possible with dedication and a study routine. 

Skills: Game developers should know how to code for console, computer, or mobile and also understand new trends like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and extended reality (ER). Common programming languages in the video game industry are Java, Python, HTML5, and JavaScript. 

Mobile app developer 

Average yearly salary: $117,000

There are more than 1 billion active iPhones and more than 3 billion active Android devices. Mobile app developers are responsible for products like Safari, Google Chrome, Instagram, TikTok, your cell phone’s calculator, and everything in between. More specifically, they conceptualize, program, debug, maintain, and update platforms ranging from video games to utility. 

Skills: Apps either run on Apple’s proprietary iOS or the Android open-source operating system. The former is typically coded in Swift, and the latter is typically coded in Java. 

Why choose a job in software engineering?

Software engineering is a rewarding career choice for several reasons. Just think about it—software is everywhere, from smartphones and smart home appliances to computers, wearables, chatbots, satellites, and content management systems. It’s omnipresent, and someone has to design, test, and develop it. 

Other reasons to dive into a software engineering job include:

  • It’s a fast-paced and challenging industry.
  • Your expertise will be valued across the globe, as programming serves as a universal language.
  • Due to the substantial demand and specializations needed for this role, it is one of the most lucrative professions. 

Whatever your reason for selecting a software engineering job, it’s important to prioritize roles that resonate with your career goals and passions. Whether you have transferable skills, a strong affinity for numbers, a natural inclination for coding, or a passion for video games, finding a role that aligns with your strengths is important. 

Remember that the positions we mentioned are typically not entry-level, as they demand years of experience in programming and project management. If you’re aiming for such roles, consider gaining relevant experience through internships or by filling your portfolio with projects related to the field.

Frequently asked questions

What do you need to become a software engineer?

To become a software engineer, it’s important to have strong technical skills such as programming proficiency and a deep understanding of computer systems. Additionally, a passion for problem-solving, attention to detail, and patience are essential traits for excelling in this field. While a formal degree is not always necessary for entry-level positions, showcasing your skills through a portfolio filled with relevant projects can be an effective way to demonstrate your qualifications to potential employers or clients.

What is the highest paid software engineer job?

From our research, we found that machine learning engineers are among the top-paid professions in the software engineering field, with an average yearly salary of $164,000. 

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