There has been tremendous growth in the importance of technology in the past 20 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of computer and information technology professions will see a 13% increase through 2026, which is faster than average when compared to other occupations. That is why earning a software engineering degree is such a smart move in terms of job demand and potential salary.
But before you earn a degree in software engineering, it is wise to consider what salary you may earn after you get out of school. Important factors to consider are:
- Whether you get a bachelor’s or master’s degree
- The type of computer or technical career you choose
- How many years of work experience you have
- Geographic location
After you have considered this important information, you will have a solid idea of what your salary will be with a software engineering degree.
Level of Software Engineering Degree
Whether you earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in this field will affect your salary from year to year. It is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that earning a master’s degree will gain you $12,000 more in income over your career over a bachelor’s degree alone. But how much more money you will earn depends upon the speciality and occupation.
BLS notes the following salary premiums with a master’s degree in the computer science field:
- Web developers: $61,000 salary with bachelor’s, $75,000 with master’s, $14,000 salary premium
- Network and computer systems administrators: $70,000 salary with bachelor’s, $88,000 salary with master’s, $18,000 premium
- Information security analyst: $85,000 salary with bachelor’s, $100,000 with master’s, $15,000 salary premium
Also, Payscale.com reports the following salaries for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in software engineering:
- Software engineer: $70,100
- Software developer: $60,300
- Senior software engineer: $92,000
- Web developer: $54,500
- Engineering analyst: $54,900
- Embedded software engineer: $89,400
For a master’s degree in software engineering, Payscale.com reports the following:
- Software engineer: $85,500
- Senior software engineer: $97,100
- Software developer: $66,600
- Senior software engineer: $104,000
- Senior technical consultant: $97,700
- Business analyst: $72,500
In a technical field such as software engineering, you can anticipate a higher salary and more responsibility over time with a master’s degree.
Type of Software Engineering Career
The type of career that you choose with a software engineering degree will have a substantial effect on your salary. Below are some of the most common career choices with this degree and typical salaries:
A software developer is the creative mind behind computer apps and computer programs. Some software developers handle the creation of applications that allow us to do tasks on computers and smart devices, while others create the underlying systems that run these devices or control computer networks.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary for software developers for applications was $101,700 in 2017, and the top 10% earned a salary of $164,000. The top industries for these workers were:
- Software publishers: $112,300
- Manufacturing: $109,000
- Finance and insurance: $105,000
- Management of companies and enterprises: $100,400
- Computer systems design and related services: $98,400
The median salary for systems software developers in the following industries were:
- Manufacturing: $115,400
- Engineering services: $113,500
- Finance and insurance: $109,000
- Software publishers: $108,600
- Computer systems design: $106,100
Information Security Analyst
An information security analyst is charged with planning and carrying out computer network security measures to protect the company’s networks and systems. They are heavily involved with creating the disaster recovery plan for an organization. This is a procedure that IT workers follow if there is some type of emergency. Such plans allow for the organization to continue to operate at an IT level even in the case of an emergency. Information security analysts need to stay up to date on the latest IT security measures and on all of the latest methods attackers are using to break into computer systems and networks.
BLS reports the median salary for information security analysts in 2017 was $95,500, with the top 10% earning $153,000 per year. Salaries in different industries were as follows:
- Computer systems design and related services: $98,100
- Finance and insurance: $97,600
- Information: $96,400
- Administrative and support services: $91,500
- Management of companies and enterprises: $90,900
Computer and Information Systems Manager
A computer and information systems manager is sometimes referred to as an information technology manager or IT project manager. He is responsible for planning, coordinating, and directing computer related activities and functions in the organization. These managers help to determine what the IT goals are for the company and then are responsible for implementing the systems and processes that are needed to meet these needs.
Depending upon your degree level and experience, you may qualify for one of these types of computer and information systems manager roles:
- Chief information officer: Determines the technology and information goals for the company and oversees implementation for the entire organization.
- Chief technology officer: Evaluates new types of technology and determines how it can help the company. The CTO tends to have a more technical background than the CIO.
- IT director: In charge of the company’s information technology departments and provide supervision for other employees.
- IT security manager: Provides oversight for the company’s network and data security.
The median salary for computer and information systems managers was $139,200 as of May 2017. The top 10% earned more than $208,000 per year. Salaries for the most popular industries were:
- Information: $153,000
- Computer systems design and related services: $146,400
- Finance and insurance: $146,300
- Manufacturing: $141,300
- Management of companies and enterprises: $140,900
How many years of work experience has a major effect on your salary in software engineering. For example, Payscale.com reports the median salary for a software engineer is $82,500 with a range between $59,000 and $120,000. However, the salary will vary according to these levels of experience:
- Software engineers with less than five years of experience earn a salary of $77,000.
- Software engineers with five to 10 years of experience earn a salary of $91,000.
- Software engineers with 10 to 20 years of experience earn a salary of $102,000.
- Software engineers with more than 20 years of experience earn a salary of $110,000.
Where you work in the US also will greatly affect your software engineer salary. The national average for this occupation per Payscale.com is $84,400, but this salary will vary widely based upon where you live in the US:
- Mountain View CA: +49%
- San Francisco: +36%
- San Jose CA: +30%
- Seattle WA: +22%
- New York City: +15%
- Los Angeles CA: +6%
- Boston MA: +5%
- Washington: +2%
- Chicago: -4%
Glassdoor.com also reports these cities are the best in terms of salaries for software engineers:
- Seattle WA: $105,700
- San Jose CA: $100,900
- San Francisco CA: $99,700
- Madison WI: $97,200
- Raleigh NC: $94,100
- Austin TX: $91,100
- Boston MA: $90,100
Earning your software engineering degree is an excellent choice to earn a great salary and enjoy a productive career.
- 25 Best Cities for Software Engineers. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/25-best-paying-cities-software-engineers/
- Computer and Information Technology Overview. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm