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What is Software Engineering?

Maryland is a state with a strong and diversified economy. It has two primary economic hubs: one in Baltimore and the other comprised of the DC Metro area. It includes a red-hot tech sector, strong services industry, and even an important food/agriculture sector. Maryland is also well-positioned, smack dab in the middle of the Eastern Seaboard. Philadelphia is a short ride away and New York City is within a reasonable drive or train ride. This creates a large and easily accessible market for all Maryland's goods and services.

A software engineer is a technology professional who specializes in creating, developing, and maintaining software for a variety of purposes. Software engineers must have expertise in computer coding languages, and they often specialize in a few related languages they use to create certain types of software. For instance, an engineer who specializes in web technologies may focus on languages such as PHP, Ruby, and SQL, while also having a working knowledge of JavaScript and HTML. These engineers each have an individual set of tools that are perfect for creating or maintaining specific sorts of software.

Many software engineers work for software development companies or larger firms who support a computer engineering or software engineering department. Sometimes, these engineers work within an IT department or even product development. On the other hand, some work as independent consultants who step in to help firms create or otherwise develop the software needed to solve their individual problems.

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Online Software Engineering Education in Maryland

Maryland's geographic advantage is reflected in the fact that its top industry is real estate, an industry whose mantra is, location, location, location. Further, the state's real estate sector is bolstered by the DC Metro area, where the workforce is known to turn over in sync with shifts in the political climate. Unsurprisingly, Maryland's second strongest industry is its business and professional services sector, which generates over $58 billion in annual revenues. This may at least partially reflect the number of government contractors that serve governmental agencies with IT, managerial, and other services.

Other top industries in Maryland include manufacturing ($24 billion), finance ($22 billion), and information ($17 billion) in the 9th position. Each of these sectors, in fact the entire Maryland economy, relies on technology in the form of software to thrive. It goes without saying that survival in the contemporary economic climate requires websites, apps, internal network solutions, database software, and much more.

With that in mind, it's no wonder that Maryland's leadership supports the state's colleges and universities with budgets that bolster technology degree programs. After all, Maryland wants to remain competitive as a state economy, and students want to study tech subjects that will result in well-paid jobs and successful careers.

To help the state maintain its strong economic position, computer science faculty members seek to provide students with instructors who can either deliver a cutting-edge approach to software engineering or computer engineering from either a purely academic perspective or one wrought in practical experience. With so many software engineers in the state, Maryland's community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities have no trouble finding experienced instructors who can enlighten and inform their students. Those looking to attend a school in-state, whether local, out-of-state students, or international students, might want to consider Towson University, the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, etc.

Online Associate Degree in Software Engineering (AS)

A two-year associate software or computer engineering degree from a Maryland community college may be hard to find, but computer science degrees of all kinds are a great way to launch a career. During the course of the two-year curriculum, students are introduced to the fundamentals of software engineering or computer engineering while also completing core college courses in general education. This is a terrific first degree for any budding engineers who are looking to learn technical knowledge as undergraduate students.

This is because, even students who learn their programming skills independently have much to gain from an associate degree, and core college curriculum courses will expose them to the soft skills that are vital in today's corporate environment. Computer engineering and software engineering students can also study subjects such as economics, statistics, and higher math courses that can inform their engineering career. Furthermore, Maryland's community colleges are a terrific value in higher education.

Community college students can knock out the first two years of a bachelor’s software engineering degree at a tremendous discount. And those who do transfer to a university and complete their bachelor’s degree may end up with far less financial burden than their friends who started out in four-year institutions.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Software Engineering (BS)

A four-year software engineering degree from one of Maryland's colleges or universities is probably the best foundation for a successful career in software development. Computer science programs at larger universities are often where the top computer science faculty members teach. A full, four-year institution is also able to support a wider range of courses and even specialty degrees that aren't possible at the community college level. Those learning about this kind of engineering will take coursework in software design, development, information technology and computer science, techniques to create a website, etc.

Employers like to hire graduates with bachelor’s computer engineering or software engineering degrees because these candidates commonly have a well-rounded education that can better suit the needs of the firm. A software development student in a larger institution can diversify their intellectual development with courses in economics, finance, fine art, and business, for instance. Thus, a computer engineering or software engineering student can hone their learning to reflect their long-term goals. Students who take minor concentrations in art, for example, may aim to create software for graphic artists. After all, the engineers behind Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator must have had an awareness of what their artistic end-users needed.

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Online Master's Degree in Software Engineering (MS)

A master's software engineering degree is often the key to long-term success and advancing in the job market. Students who continue their academic career with a graduate degree typically enjoy higher salaries and better jobs than those without advanced degrees. In the field of software development, software engineering, or computer engineering, there are many choices for master's degree students.

Those who want only an MS in computer science can focus their work on bleeding-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence or even quantum computing. They can also focus on more tried-and-true software solutions in areas such as databases, networking, or even cyber security. Software engineers are also known to delve into the world of business and enroll in an MBA program.

MBA students can focus on computer engineering or software engineering program for their second-year concentration, but others may go even farther and find a dual-MBA degree program where they can complete an MS in computer science alongside their MBA. This is an intense option, but graduates may find great success as consultants or as the CEO of the next hot tech start-up.

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Online PhD Degree in Software Engineering (PhD)

The business world isn't often known for having many PhDs in its ranks. However, STEM fields like software engineering or computer engineering are a notable exception. Those with a doctorate in computer science, software engineering, mathematics, and cryptography, for example, are often highly sought by top firms. They may even take their doctoral research and use their cutting-edge work to start their own firm. Many entrepreneurs have become billionaires in just this way.

Those engineers who focus on cryptography for their doctoral research may even be hired by firms who support them in their research. Naturally, that research becomes the intellectual property of the firm, but PhDs may appreciate a corporate level salary in return for continuing their academic research into this vital field.

Naturally, a doctorate in computer science will help students find career opportunities in academia. Maryland's colleges and universities hire PhDs for full-time, tenure-track positions that may provide job security for years to come. PhDs in universities can also work as research faculty members who continue their doctoral research without having to teach courses.

Become a Software Engineer in Maryland

Maryland's economy is increasingly focused on technology and its software engineers. Meanwhile, students are growing up inundated with software packages that inform their daily lives. After all, pandemic-area students found that they relied on software to learn and even to find social outlets. Many of them may now be curious about how they might create software of their own and become full engineers.

The answer is that there are many routes to a career in computer engineering, software development, or a software engineering specialization. However, the field still places the most value on one's skills and experience as opposed to degrees and academic accolades. Thus, many students who are passionate about technology can begin to learn the core skills necessary for a software or computer engineering career before they even step foot into a computer course at school. There are many free or affordable outlets online for budding software engineers. They are mostly available for any learner who is willing, with little or no attention paid to their background.

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The self-taught may be able to earn certifications and other credentials that help them land a job without a college degree, but engineers of this kind can always benefit from formal education. Thus, tech-focused high school students should start seeking the best computer science degree program they can. They should look for a Maryland college or university that is fully accredited and whose computer science degree program offers the sorts of courses that students feel will support their long-term goals. For accreditation, Maryland's public community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities will have CHEA-approved regional accreditation. This is a minimum qualification that students should seek, but they should also pay special attention to computer science degree programs with ABET credentials. ABET exclusively accredits STEM degree programs, including all information technology programs and engineering degree programs.

Software or computer engineers should seek out a bachelor’s degree and then a master's software or computer engineering degree. This way they will have the strongest possible foundation for future learning and leading. Those who want to land a position in the C-suites may want to seek out an MBA with a tech-focused concentration, if not a dual-MBA that combines a MS in computer science with an MBA. These dual degree programs are completed in three years and are well-known to launch graduates into the stratosphere.

Careers for Software Engineering Graduates

  • Software Engineer
    Software engineers design, build, and maintain various software packages. Hiring managers typically look for engineers who have proven credentials in programming languages. Each hiring manager may look for different programming languages, so engineers tend to specialize in certain sorts of software packages. Some create software designed for financial uses, for instance, and others create web technologies.
  • Application Developer
    The term ‘app’ usually refers to mobile applications we use on our phones, tablets, and Chromebooks. However, an application is any piece of software that runs on a computing device, including laptop and desktop computers. Application developers plan, design, and create applications for a variety of end-users. They may even work on updating and maintaining existing software packages.
  • Web Developer
    Web developers are crucial to any website, especially websites that generate revenue based on content and E-commerce. Web developers work on the back end of a website, connecting the user experience with databases, ensuring safety, and facilitating communications within the site and with the firm. Web developers typically work hand in hand with web designers who are responsible for creating and implementation of an attractive and user-friendly interface for consumers.
  • Information Security Analyst
    Information security is a top priority for many firms and government agencies. These professionals are often called cyber security or InfoSec experts. Either way, their job is to keep constant tabs on their firm's cyber security software, hardware, and protocols. They ensure that the firm's data is safe in the near and long term. They must keep a constant watch on cutting-edge cyber security software packages and help to implement the ones that make the most sense for their firm.
  • Game Developer
    The IT field is full of highly specialized individuals who perform focused tasks daily. Game developers, on the other hand, need to master a variety of tasks to create a video game. They need to have a strong aesthetic sense to create an attractive game while also knowing how to craft computer code that will bring the game to life.
  • Web and Digital Interface Designer
    These technology professionals work on creating good-looking websites and other applications. Where the back-end developers work on the underlying technical aspects of a piece of software, the interface designers choose the colors and arrange the various elements of a piece of software on a screen. They even make sure the software will translate across a variety of hardware packages.
  • Data Scientist
    These days, firms are finding it necessary to reckon with huge troves of data. This data is often unwieldy and requires specialized technology workers to make sense of it all. Thus, data scientists have emerged to use their programming skills on top of statistical expertise to parse and analyze data as needed by their employer.
  • Computer Network Architect
    Large and mid-sized firms all rely on their computer network to share information, facilitate communications, and more. Computer network architects are then called upon to design the most efficient network for the firm in question. They must be able to account both for the firm's size and growth rate, as well as its security issues.

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