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Software Engineering Career Pathway

A software engineer works on the designing, building and maintenance of software systems. Software engineering as a job is extensive and varied. If it's online, it's had a software engineer involved: websites, video games, mobile apps. The list is endless and growing daily as more and more people globally have, and use, devices such as smartphones.

You can order your food online, study, organise your to-do list online, bank online, do your accounting for your business online and socialise online. The list truly is endless. Behind all of these everyday things, we've come to expect code and software. And when it's designed and made well, most of us don't give much thought to it. But when there are issues, they can range of privacy and security, to not being able to complete the task you need (renew your licence or book in for a haircut!)

Two prominent software engineering jobs are Systems Software Developers and Applications Software Developers. And depending on skill level, software engineers will complete different tasks, working in the frontend or backend (or both) of software programming.

What does a Software Engineer do?

Software engineering can be quite a collaborative job. For some software engineers, they work closely with product managers, designers and other engineers. The day to day of a software engineer could be a mixture of reading, writing and fixing code, as well as catch-ups with team members about projects. Some days could look like all day coding, and some could be all-day meetings. Again, this is depending on specialisation, and whether or not you're working on client-facing apps, within databases or developing systems.

For more junior/entry-level software engineers, some everyday tasks include learning new languages, like Ruby or Python and maintenance of existing code, debugging and refactoring. Debugging is the process of working out where in the code an issue is, isolating it, re-writing and retesting. Bugs happen, and it is a process of creativity (and perseverance) to fix. Refactoring preserves functionality while changing code that impacts design/structure. As for more senior software engineers, some everyday tasks include deciding on frameworks, architecting API endpoints and data models, mentoring junior engineers and reviewing code. While by no means an exhaustive list, the above are ubiquitous regardless of the industry you work within.

Where does a Software Engineer work?

Software engineers often work in an office, their clients office, at an agency or freelance. 

How much do Software Engineers earn in Australia?

Software engineering has strong future growth in Australia. Weekly pay, according to Job Outlook, are $2,003 per week. 


Software Engineer Career Outlook at a glance

Average full-time hours worked: 42 hours a week

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Employment level trends & growth - strong future growth

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Source: Job Outlook, Software Engineering


Software engineering career skills and knowledge

Below are some of the skills a software engineer uses in their day to day job:

Constant learning - software innovation happens at a rapid pace. Software engineers apply to learn throughout their entire careers. 

Creativity - sometimes you need to think outside of the box to fix a bug, not to mention applying creativity to create software can help create better software. 

Ability to collaborate with others - it's common to work with others in your role as a software engineer. You'll work with designers and product managers and need to collaborate to get things ready to ship. 

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What education do you need to be a software engineer?

Ask around, and it becomes clear that there are many, many paths into software engineering, all completely different. Studying a Bachelor of Computer Science is one pathway to take to become a software engineer. Sometimes, some people are entirely self-taught, although most software engineers in Australia have a vocational level certificate. 

There is an increasing demand for software engineers, and one look at the devices we use in our everyday lives can help to show why. There are applications we use in our daily lives that were never around ten years ago. Today you can order food (securely) at the tap of a couple of buttons, get a car to drive you from point a to b and track your to-do list from your mobile. 

Smartphones have changed the way people do business and communicate, from WhatsApp to Facebook Marketplace, right around the world. Not to mention the impact digital innovation has had and will have on law, medicine and consumer products over the next decade. 

What are some specialisations?

Software engineering specialisations include computer applications engineer, database designer and systems architect. As for specialties within software engineering, you could have a focus on mobile or web-based software, or your specialisation could be even more granular at an industry-level, for example, you could work exclusively in the healthcare sector or within the emerging creative class (on app development such as Patreon, as one example). You might be an expert in one language, although many will say you should know several to stay competitive. Or at least, be willing to learn more programming languages as technology evolves day by day. 

What are some related job titles? 

Some related job titles include analyst programmers, developer programmers, software testers, other software applications programmers. 



Software Engineering, Australian Government Job Outlook


100% Online Postgraduate Courses

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Whether you're a software engineer looking to move into a more senior leadership role, or even into more project management role, SCU Online has a range of courses designed to help you achieve your career goals. 

Our MBA is 100% online and is designed for those looking to take the next step in their business career. Are you looking at moving beyond your software engineering career, combining advanced business knowledge and skills to create your own software company? An MBA has endless career application. Postgraduate study is what you make it. 

In addition to our online MBA, we offer a 100% online Master of Information Technology (MITM), which is designed to help you bridge your IT knowledge with advanced business know-how. 

Contact us today to chat about your postgraduate study goals. 

For more details about the Southern Cross University Online courses, download your brochure below. You'll receive in-depth information on:

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  • Industry-related work
  • Student support
  • Careers pathways

Download a course guide