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Career Development, Coding

Explore Software Engineering Career Paths

General Assembly
June 12, 2024

Our Software Engineering Career Guide Series:

Our world runs on software.

It’s how we work, share, celebrate, plan, spend, and socialize. How we schedule, organize, optimize, and document our lives.

The web is how we get our weather and learn our news. How we discover new ideas, look for work, entertain ourselves, stoke our interests, and kindle relationships.

You get the gist. It’s safe to say that software runs our world.

In fact, the global application development software market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.3% from 2021 to 2028. Between health services coming online during the pandemic to the rapid proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the “demand for application development software is anticipated to gain steady traction over the coming years owing to the need for scalable and customized software.”

Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this brave new world unfolding before us?

Who wouldn’t want to help architect the future?

Who wouldn’t want to leave their mark on the technology of the times?

Enter the software engineer.

What is a software engineer, exactly?

Let’s break it down:

  • The term software was coined to differentiate it from hardware: the physical components of a computer system. Software refers to the programs used by a computer to perform specific tasks, manage hardware resources, and provide an interface for users to interact with the system. 
  • An engineer is a professional who uses scientific principles to code, invent, build, analyze, and design solutions to various problems, aiming to improve the world.

Put them together and you get the branch of computer science that deals with the design, development, testing, and maintenance of software applications. 

Engineers have always worked to build our physical world, designing, delivering, and maintaining the structures that define our cities and collective gathering places. But the web is a whole new dimension for creation. It’s another universe where you can envision and build structures that people pass through each and every day — conduits to modern life. 

The software engineer career path is available to you.


Lasting and lucrative software engineer careers adapt to the skills and tools of the day. They stay on the leading edge, where change is constant and vision reigns supreme. It’s an exciting place to be. This Software Engineer Career Guide is designed to help you better understand the lay of the land as you venture forth into this exciting new territory. 

Are software engineers in demand?

Over a decade ago, tech visionary Marc Andreessen famously wrote: “Software is eating the world.” 

It’s a statement that rings true to this day.

People are consuming more digital media than ever. There are 5.44 billion internet users worldwide, according to Statista, which amounts to 67.1% of the global population. Of this total, 5.07 billion, or 62.6% of the world’s population, were social media users.

Devices are on the rise as well, offering more ways for people to remain digitally connected. At CES® 2024, market intelligence provider Parks Associates announced new research showing the average U.S. internet household has 17 connected devices.

And, well, there’s more people, too. There are 4.9 billion active internet users worldwide, according to Zippia. That’s 62% of the world’s total population — up from just 6% of the world’s population in 2000.

Someone needs to build this burgeoning digital world.

And so, the demand for software engineers is high and climbing.

Recent business trends reflect a shift toward a “digital-first” world:

  • Cloud computing is revolutionizing the way organizations store, manage, and process data, requiring skilled engineers to develop and maintain scalable, efficient cloud-based solutions. 
  • Rapid advancement of AI and machine learning technology creates a new need for experts who can design, implement, and optimize complex algorithms and intelligent systems. 
  • From the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to cybersecurity concerns, to the continuous push for digital transformation across industries – there’s never been a greater demand for proficient software engineers who can navigate and innovate within this evolving digital landscape.

And this emphasis on a digital-first organization will only increase the demand for developers, analysts and related roles.” 

Not only does software serve the connected world, but it also gives companies a market edge. McKinsey found nearly 70% of the top economic performers, compared with just half of their peers, are using their own software to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

With 90% of technology managers stating it’s a challenge to find and recruit top talent, including software engineers, it’s safe to say there’s a market for trained, skilled tech professionals in this niche.

Examples of software engineer jobs 

Being a software engineer affords you flexibility and options, making it a smart career choice. Not to mention it pays well: $130,160 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But what, exactly, are the types of jobs software engineers do day in and day out? The best software engineering jobs, according to Indeed, include the following:

Job Title Job Description National Average Salary 
Video game designerBrainstorm, design, test, and revamp video games. $76,887 per year
Mobile engineerDesign, code, and test applications for phones and other mobile devices. $129,017 per year
Full-stack engineerDesign, code, and test the front and back-end components for software programs and applications.$114,395 per year
Cloud engineerArchitect, implement, and maintain cloud storage systems using cloud providers. $121,261 per year
iOS engineerCreate applications for Apple devices. $129,942 per year
Android engineerDesign, code, and test applications for Android mobile devices.$126,922 per year
Data scientistMine data and write code that helps company leaders improve their business. $119,380 per year
Machine learning engineerWork closely with data scientists to build models that automate data selection based on business needs.$152,244 per year

What do software engineers do on a daily basis?

What’s a day in the life of a software engineer?

Search YouTube for “what does a software engineer do on a daily basis” and you’ll find a whole lot of lifestyle content featuring software developers getting ready for their day — dressing, sipping coffee, sometimes even taking a shower.

But like all great trades, being a great software engineer is largely about doing the basics well.

And what are those basics?

Glad you asked.

The real story begins at the top of the workday when, on any given day, you might engage in pair programming, collaborating closely with another developer at a single workstation to design, code, and test user stories.

Or you might immerse yourself in test-driven development, an iterative methodology that emphasizes writing tests before code, ensuring each stage of development meets quality standards.

Beyond coding, your day could involve participating in team meetings, conducting code reviews, and continuously learning new technologies and practices to refine your skills and improve the software you create.

As your skills develop, you can, within an average of five to 10 years, graduate to a senior software engineering role, where you’ll be responsible for:

  • Selecting frameworks and libraries
  • Building data models and API endpoints
  • Architecting scalable systems
  • Collaborating with product managers and designers
  • Refactoring legacy code
  • Mentoring junior engineers

There’s no end in sight for opportunity for those willing to invest in themselves.

What makes a good software engineer?

Excited yet? Here’s the best part: tech bootcamps offer a fast-track path to a desirable, lucrative software engineer career in as little as 12 weeks.

That said, getting started may feel like a puzzle where you need so many different pieces to fit together — skills such as:

Attention to detail
Cloud computing
Data structure and Algorithms
Operating systems
Problem solving
Programming languages
Software development
Source control
Software testing

The good news?

General Assembly teaches these skills. 

Learn everything you need to code and conquer. 

A great software engineering job begins with great software engineer training.

And the best available comes from General Assembly.

GA’s online software engineering bootcamps are beginner-friendly, offering an accelerated, project-based curriculum filled with relevant, real-world applications. As you progress, you build a vast array of technical and soft skills, preparing you comprehensively for the demands of the tech industry.

Take advantage of:

  • Flexible full-time or part-time coursework
  • Live, online instruction from working experts
  • Exclusive mentoring, career counseling, and job placement assistance
  • Access to workshops, events, and alumni networking opportunities

Since 2011, we’ve led the field and continue to grow our partnership network. General Assembly is a trainer of choice for global leaders including:

“GA has a great reputation among bootcamps, especially since they have a large employer network. I wouldn’t be where I am now — which is in a much happier place — without GA.”

Senior UX Designer, JP Morgan Chase & Co

Wondering if a career in software engineering is a good move? Sign up for our next info session to learn more.


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