Software Engineering

Salary: £30,000 – £90,000
Software developers (also known as programmers) design and build computer programs that help organisations and equipment work effectively.

As a software developer, your work could involve:

  • designing computer controls for industrial and manufacturing machinery
  • building administrative and financial databases
  • developing software for home entertainment equipment (known as embedded controls).

You would work closely with senior programmers and business analysts, and create technical plans to meet the needs of the client.

A typical project would include:

  • programming a test version of a piece of software
  • testing installation and compatibility issues
  • checking test results and fixing technical problems (known as bugs)
  • installing a full version and carrying out final checks before going ‘live’
  • maintaining and supporting systems once they are up and running.

You may write computer programs from the beginning, or amend existing programs to meet the needs of the project.

You could work with a range of web-based technologies, and you would need to understand how databases integrate with these systems.

Career Entry Requirements

While Software Engineering jobs value reputation above accreditation most candidates will have a strong academic background.  You will be expected to have the following attributes in order to apply for a graduate developer role:

  • Strong object oriented programming skills in either Java or C++
  • Experience of using a scripting language either Python, PHP  or Perl
  • 2:1 Honours Degree from a ‘good’ university
  • BBB at A-level including Mathematics
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Portfolio of projects

Many Software engineers gain a degree in Computer Science as it equips them with the programming knowledge and analytical skills that are required for the skills.  This being said graduate recruiters are equally willing to employ graduates from all Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines.  Degree courses generally require you to have studied Mathematics at A-level.  If you do choose to study a degree in Computer Science the following institutions are a selection of the best:

  • Imperial / Cambridge (A*A*A)
  • Oxford / Southampton / Bath / Bristol (A*AA)
  • Glasgow / Edinburgh / St Andrews* (AAB)
  • Strathclyde / Queen Mary’s London (BBB)

*Somewhat enigmatically St. Andrews is consistently rated to be in the top 4 for Computer Science and yet has comparatively low entrance requirements.