Today the United States has over 100,000 software and IT services companies, 99% of which are considered small and medium sized firms under 500 employees. With a workforce of nearly 2 million people and continued growth during the past decade, the software industry offers a great deal of opportunity for those seeking a career.1

What is a Software Engineer?

Although many people use the titles software developer and software engineer interchangeably, they are actually two distinct jobs. A developer writes the programs that crunch data and control hardware. A software engineer guides the development process by applied time-tested approaches to gathering customer requirements and then designing and implementing software that aligns with those requirements. In other words, the software engineer creates and manages the framework with which the software developer writes software that meets customer needs. Both types of professionals are necessary, but they require different skill sets.

Software Engineer Education

You can distinguish yourself with quantifiable advanced skills in a high demand field with a software engineer education from Lewis University. Their online Master’s in Computer Science program offers concentrations in Cyber Security, Intelligent Systems, and Software Engineering, allowing you to personalize your education for the job you want. Through the Software Engineering track, you learn both the tools and languages the software developers use, but you also learn the techniques software engineers employ to increase the quality and correctness of the software the developers produce.

Which career path is right for you?

  Software Developer Software Engineer
  • Programming languages
  • Database design
  • Object-oriented design
  • Algorithms and Data Structures2
  • Programming languages
  • Software modeling
  • Software testing
  • Requirements gathering
Software developers use their skills to create a particular software feature or program. Software engineers use the same skills to explain how the programs or features work together for different purposes. Effective engineers focus on the maintainability and evolution of the code from its first line. They must learn to focus on the bigger picture over the lifetime of the project so that the end-result is high-quality, extensible software.
  • Scripting
  • Software testing
  • Scripting
  • Software testing, knowing how to focus on testing only the essential parts
  • Reusing internal infrastructure and use of third-party libraries
  • Refactoring, the ability to improve code without changing what it does
Software developers use their knowledge to test the products they develop. Software engineers use their knowledge to make sure essential features align with the needs of the customer.
  • Analysis
  • Communication
  • Social skills
  • Analysis
  • Communication
  • Social skills
  • Time efficiency
  • Understanding how to make a system simple and usable
Software developers use their abilities to understand how their team will work together. Software engineers use their abilities to interface with the public and their company to ensure that end users understand and appreciate the products and their seamless integration.

Software Engineer Salary

The median salary for a software developer is $67,841, while a software engineer’s is $79,888. Software development is viewed as a mid-level position in a company, while software engineering is viewed as an upper-level position.3 Software engineers’ base salary could potentially reach over $128,300.4

An online Master of Science in Computer Science degree from Lewis University can help you further develop the in-demand computing and IT skills you need within a competitive field. Call (866) 967-7046 to speak with a Graduate Admissions Counselors or request for more information.