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What is software Engineering?

Kansas is probably best known for its agriculture. Corn, wheat, and other food products are the basis of the Kansan economy, or so it would seem. In reality, Kansas' economy is led by its manufacturing sector, which naturally may include food manufacturing. That industry is in the #28 spot nationwide and yields over $27 billion in annual revenue.

Other top industries in Kansas include real estate, professional and business services, social services including education and healthcare, and wholesale trade. These sectors each fall in the 30th or 31st spot when ranked nationally. Interestingly, Kansas' highest-ranking industry is its information technology sector, which generates $6.5 billion annually and is ranked 26th nationally. Finally, another important industry in Kansas is its mining, as mining operations are found in nearly every single county in the state.

A software engineer is a technology worker who focuses their career on the design, creation, and maintenance of software packages. They apply engineering principles alongside their programming knowledge to create solutions for their employers or clients. They have a broad knowledge of the various coding languages, hardware platforms, and operating systems and can thus make the choices that best address the problems they face.

Software engineers can create any sort of software. Some work on consumer products such as mobile apps, word processors, or web applications. Others may work on the software we're hardly aware of, such as the software that runs a windmill or the software that controls a washing machine.

Each software engineer will find that their career begins to focus on particular product sectors. They may even focus on cyber security software or video games. There are countless opportunities which each engineer pursues depending on their specific talents and preferences.

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Online Software Engineering Education in Kansas

Given that Kansas' 4th largest industrial sector includes education, it's clear that the state places a high value on helping its citizens join the economy with the best possible training. While we mainly think of a state's educational system as being comprised of primary and secondary schools, it also includes a university system, with four-year colleges and community colleges. Postsecondary education is where Kansans raise their knowledge and skills to a professional level. Most employers prefer to recruit their professionals from postsecondary institutions, especially those with four-year degrees. Those with an associate degree are also hired for entry-level positions.

When it comes to software engineers, Kansas' postsecondary institutions are provided with ample resources from the state legislature. After all, the state's information technology sector is its highest ranked industry when compared to other states. This large sector spans a range of tech workers, but software engineers are often considered drivers of the tech world.

Kansas' college and universities therefore seek out the nation's strongest computer science professors to join their faculties. Since the legislature supports them with funds, they are able to offer attractive salaries and other compensation so that top minds will come to teach the state's students. Faculties also look to their local areas for talented minds.

Software engineers with a computer science foundation and a master's software engineering degrees can teach at the undergraduate level. They often enjoy teaching and sharing their knowledge with eager learners. The students also appreciate when members of the local economy make time to teach them. They may appreciate their anecdotes which reflect the peculiarities of the Kansan economy. Students interested in attending a university in-state can choose from private and public institutions all over the state including Kansas State University, Park University, University of Kansas, Friends University, etc.

Online Associate Degree in Software Engineering (AS)

Kansas community colleges can help students launch a career in software engineering with an associate degree. Employers always appreciate when candidates can show academic credentials on top of coding skills. This may be because they know that an associate computer science, software development, or software engineering degree includes all the core college curriculum required in a bachelor’s degree program. Thus, software engineer candidates have taken courses that have improved their communication and critical thinking skills in topics that include history, social science, and hard science. You should be aware that associate degrees are usually focused on less specific options, such as information sciences or computer science majors rather than software engineering specifically.

An associate software engineering degree or computer science degree is also a good idea from a practical standpoint. Kansas community colleges charge far less per credit hour than their four-year counterparts, so students can graduate from these programs with far less debt. Students also choose a community college, or an online associate degree program, so that they don't have to move away from home. Staying put can save a lot of money and avoids all sorts of problems associated with relocating to a new, unfamiliar city.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Software Engineering (BS)

Most employers seek software engineers who have at least a bachelor’s software engineering degree. This is because a full four-year bachelor's degree covers a lot of the subjects that they expect employees to understand. Bachelor’s degrees also include a lot of group projects that prepare students for the real world of software development. Students are also able to take courses that broaden their view of the professional world. At the bachelor's degree level, there are more software engineering degrees awarded, but you might also major in computer science with a concentration in software engineering.

Courses can also add up to a minor or concentration on top of a computer science degree. Some good choices for a software engineer to minor in include software development, finance, economics, statistics, and marketing. Students can also complete an internship that provides them with real-world experience in computer science or software engineering firms or otherwise alongside professional software developers.

Finally, a bachelor’s software engineering, computer science, or computer engineering degree can be good preparation for some certifications. While many don't require any specific academic degree, there are many that do require a bachelor’s or even a master's degree. These credentials can make a huge difference in a person's career.

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Online Master's Degree in Software Engineering (MS)

A master's software engineering degree is where many careers take off to the next level. Students in the computer science department can earn a computer science degree with a focus in software engineering and take their knowledge and skill to new heights. They might focus their graduate work on subjects such as artificial intelligence, data science, or cyber security, to name a few possibilities. Graduate school can also help students broaden their knowledge of business and leadership.

These days, many software engineers enter into dual MBA programs where students can earn a graduate business administration degree alongside their software engineer graduate work. These intensive programs help students earn two master's degrees in a mere three years. However, they often require that students cease work during their years in school.

No matter what, any master's software engineering degree is sure to result in higher pay and better long-term prospects for those working in the computer science industry. Most consulting firms like to hire software engineers with master's degrees so that their clients know they're getting the best consultants possible. Plus, those who are thinking of striking out in a software start-up of their own will surely meet their partners and employees while in their master's software engineering degree program.

Online PhD Degree in Software Engineering (PhD)

A doctorate degree in computer science or some other high-tech field can certainly help a graduate reach new heights. While many businesses don't necessarily seek a PhD for their staffing needs, computer technology can. Savvy business owners understand that a PhD who has mastered programming languages, algorithms, and specific technologies in computer science can be a boon to their organization.

For the worker who has devoted years to study and research in computer science or computer engineering, it can be gratifying to be hired to continue researching their favorite subjects. For instance, there are firms that hire PhDs who have specialized in cryptography and cyber security. They need these software engineers to create new cyber security products for them, or they may simply need cryptography experts to keep their databases and networks safe from hackers. A doctorate can also help a person land a position with a Kansas college or university. Their academic credentials will help them land a tenure track position and some may join the faculty as research faculty. Thus, they can continue pursuing their passions without having to teach or lecture.

Become a Software Engineer in Kansas

Kansas has as very strong foothold in the technology sector. Their information technology sector is ranked 26th nationwide and state leaders are eager to attract and cultivate even more tech firms. On top of this, it's widely known that tech offers one of the best pathways to success.  Thus, Kansan students and professionals are interested to know how they can enter this exciting industry.

In what may be something of a mixed blessing, there are innumerable ways to become a software engineering or computer engineering professional in Kansas. This is because the field doesn't require any specific credentials or licensure. In fact, many of the industries’ top experts have little or no formal training. What they do have is a strong portfolio and a natural talent for coding and technology in general.

To create an eye-catching portfolio, one must first obtain the necessary skills. This is a process that can start as soon as one has the desire and opportunity. It can start as early as high school, when many students are starting to develop a curiosity for the technologies that surround them. Students can focus their curiosity and talents with online courses that are often free or affordable. There are also many books and other resources that anyone can pick up and use to learn their favorite coding language.

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There are also affordable certifications available to those who are so inclined. In fact, a motivated high school student can learn one or more coding languages, earn a certificate, and find part-time gigs to earn extra money. Meanwhile, they should also focus on earning formal academic credentials.

In their third and fourth year of high school, students should look for the best software engineering degree program for them. This can include a local community college or University of Kansas. Students should seek a fully accredited software engineering degree program, if not one with ABET accreditation. An ABET-approved program will provide a degree that is recognized and highly valued nationwide.

After graduation, students should continue learning. After all, the tech sector is continually evolving with new coding languages, ever-better hardware, and stronger demands for software packages. Students can continue learning by way of certificate programs, but they should also consider a master's degree in software engineering or a master's degree in computer science.

Potential Careers for Software Engineering Graduates

  • Software Developer:
    Software developers work on specific software packages that are designed for certain audiences. They may work on applications that are designed for consumers, such as a word processing application. They can also work on software packages that are mostly invisible to users, as in the software that runs an automobile's transmission or steering.
  • Web Developer:
    These tech professionals focus their computer programming and tech skills on web pages and web apps. The best web developers can both code and design attractive and easy-to-use websites for their clients. Web developers tend to focus on front-end, back-end, or full-stack web development.
  • Game Developer:
    These software developers are perhaps the most well-rounded tech workers in the industry. This is because they have to satisfy the demands of a video game including the look of the game, in-game physics, the game story, strategy, and the back-end code that makes it all work. While larger video game development firms may have specialists for each part of a game's development, independent game developers need to cover more bases.
  • Information Security Analyst:
    Information security, also known as InfoSec, analysts are a key part of any firm's cyber security team. These cyber security professionals keep constant tabs on their firm's networks, databases, and other areas of exposure. They also continually research the cyber security landscape for new software solutions, information about new viruses, or new trends that criminal hackers are following. InfoSec analysts ensure everyone's safety.
  • Web and Digital Interface Designer:
    Interface experts are a key part of any web development team. After all, their work is what users see when they visit a website. They must be able to work effectively with the back-end developers who write the code that makes every part of a website work.
  • Database Administrator:
    These days, most firms rely on their databases to conduct business. Database administrators oversee their firm’s databases to keep them updated and safe. They may oversee the various permissions granted to certain employees and their duties may also include cyber security protocols. Database professionals often need to have strong skills in SQL and perhaps a few of its variants.
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager:
    These tech workers sit in between the IT department and the businesspeople in their firm. They are somewhat of a liaison between the two. They keep tabs on what solutions are needed on the business side and then help keep the business folks apprised of matters in the IT department. To succeed in this position, a strong working knowledge of business and technology is needed, on top of strong communication skills.
  • Computer Programmer:
    Computer programmers have varying skills and educations; most programmers have an expertise in one or two computer coding languages and good familiarity with others. Programmers tend to also specialize in specific areas of business which have need of their skills. They may lead teams of developers or they might work as debuggers who inspect code and implement small fixes, as an editor might.

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