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What is Software Engineering?

Mississippi may be one of the most fun-to-spell states in the nation. It's a home to Elvis, blues music, and a diverse economy that supports millions. While Mississippi's economy is mostly based on agricultural products such as catfish, cotton, poultry, and dairy products, it also has much more to offer. Its manufacturing sector leads the economy, with $19 billion in revenues that rank it 33rd nationwide. The lower cost of living and generous tax packages serve to lure northerly concerns to the state for their production needs. Much of that manufacturing activity is also directed toward creating textiles and food products.

A software engineer is a technology professional who conceives, designs, and creates software packages for a variety of users. We may be most familiar with consumer software products such as the operating systems that run our mobile devices and laptops or the word processors, browsers, and games we run on those machines. Software engineers certainly create and develop those applications, but they also create software that runs behind the scenes on servers, in robotics, and in seemingly non-tech items such as our refrigerators and ovens.

Software engineers actually have a deep impact on nearly every industry imaginable. Even the most analog craftsperson will use software to help market and sell their wares. Software engineers may work in environments ranging from high-rise office buildings in Jackson, MS to their home office in Biloxi. In fact, more and more software engineers are working from remote locations, whether as employees for larger firms or as independent developers who contract with companies throughout Mississippi and the world.

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Online Software Engineering Education in Mississippi

The state's second strongest sector is found in its real estate. This is a key driver for most states, and Mississippi generates $12 billion annually from its housing market, the 39th largest such market in the nation. There is also a lot of activity in the state's social services sector, retail trade, and healthcare.

The fifth strongest economic driver in Mississippi is its professional and business services sector. This industrial category includes a variety of services such as waste management, property management, business consulting, and technology support. This sector is the 39th largest of its kind in the nation and it generates $8 billion for the Mississippi economy.

Software engineering is a key part of Mississippi's future. While the state isn't quite known for its tech industry, every part of the Mississippi economy relies on software development and maintenance for success. There are software engineers in the state's professional and business service sector and even its manufacturing facilities need software experts to ensure that the plants operate at maximum efficiency.

To foster more growth in the software development field, Mississippi works hard to provide adequate funds to its colleges and universities. There, the funds are used to fuel the growth and development of computer science degree programs and information technology degree programs. Every institution of higher learning, from Mississippi's community colleges through to its very best universities, receives these funds, ensuring continuing intellectual growth throughout the state. Perhaps the state will soon start attracting top software start-up firms who are attracted to properties along the Gulf Coast, where the cost of living is low but the value of life is high.

Those students looking to earn a competitive degree from the best school offering graduates degrees in this field might be planning to choose from schools across the whole nation, but don't ignore the options available closer to home. There are plenty of college or university options in the state of Mississippi that offer a bachelor or master's in software or computer engineering. These options might include Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi, etc.

Online Associate Degree in Software Engineering (AS)

Students who are eager to get a jump-start on their software development careers should consider an associate software engineering degree. These degrees tend to be far cheaper, on a per-credit basis, than degrees from a four-year institution. Community colleges are also typically more conveniently located, since nearly every county in Mississippi has one nearby. A two-year from one of Mississippi's community colleges is a great way to gain exposure to the core concepts needed by a software engineer while building on soft skills that can make such a difference.

During a two-year software engineering degree, students learn the fundamentals of computer programming and software development. They may start mastering the computer coding languages that will propel their careers to the stratosphere, while also gaining the less tech-focused skills that will help them work better with their colleagues. Every associate degree student must complete the core college curriculum that covers writing and composition, lab sciences, social science, and mathematics. This core knowledge base can ease communications with non-engineers and perhaps spark insights and inspiration for new software applications.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Software Engineering (BS)

top 15 online software engineering bachelors

Perhaps the best platform for a successful software engineering career is a four-year bachelor’s software engineering degree from one of Mississippi's outstanding colleges or universities. A four-year degree allows students the time to dive deeper into the core concepts related to software engineering, while also offering the opportunity to take specialized courses. Four-year degree institutions also offer students the opportunity to take minor concentrations or even double majors.

Some bachelor’s degree students might take courses in finance or economics, for instance, as a way to combine the disciplines. After all, finance firms and economic think tanks rely on software to crunch the big data and achieve great results. Students could take courses in art and literature alongside their software engineering degree so that they have the artistic skills to create the next cutting edge video games. There are many options available for those who want to carve their own path in this field.

Online Master's Degree in Software Engineering (MS)

best online software engineering masters

Given the increasing competition in the tech space, software engineers need to start thinking of a master's software engineering degree even before they complete their undergraduate computer science degree programs. This level of expertise and academic credentials will ensure raises and promotions, often before the program is complete. There are many options when it comes to a master's degree.

One strong option that many computer programming experts choose is an MBA with a concentration in software engineering. This route can lead to great things, including a position as CTO or CIO. Those who can take time away from work might even look at a dual MBA program, in which they can earn a master's degree in computer science alongside their MBA program, which may include a tech-focused concentration. Graduates from a dual MBA program are often considered a double threat because they can master management issues as well as anything related to software development.

Online PhD Degree in Software Engineering (PhD)

A PhD in software development, computer science, or some related tech field can bring great rewards to the holder. While businesses don't typically look for doctorate-level workers, technology is a notable exception. Some firms are offering high salaries for cryptography experts who can enhance a firm's cyber security systems. These jobs are not unlike what a research faculty member would do for a university.

In fact, many computer scientists who earn a doctorate do pursue work in Mississippi's colleges and universities. One popular choice is to work as a teaching professor who works with undergraduate and graduate students, including doctoral candidates. Another option is to take a tenure-track position as a research faculty member. Research faculty focus on developing their field without working with students. They often consult with Mississippi businesses who need special coding work, including cyber security protocols or algorithms to help manage their operations.

Become a Software Engineer in Mississippi

Mississippi's economy is constantly growing and evolving. While from the outside the state may look like little more than an agricultural economy, a closer inspection reveals more technology and advancement than many assume. Much like everywhere, Mississippi households are full of tech devices such as laptops, smart televisions, smartphones, and even tech-forward automobiles. In large part because of this, students might be interested in knowing how to become a software engineer in Mississippi.

One of the first steps on the way to becoming a software engineer is to have a passion for technology. Many students discover this passion when they start to wonder how all the tech around them really works. They become curious about how computer programs are written, revised, and rolled out onto devices. These students need to start studying programming languages using some of the free or affordable classes available online. Many will start off by creating web pages using HTML, or maybe they'll discover an online tool for creating simple games.

As students grow in their knowledge and ability with programming, they should start considering a certificate program. This level of achievement can be a great confidence booster and these programs are easily accessed through online programs. In fact, many high school students who earn a certificate in, say, C++ or JavaScript are able to land part-time coding projects that earn them a bit of money over summer break.

As for formal education, Mississippi students should focus on learning as much mathematics as possible. They should strive to complete at least Calculus I during high school. Some may be lucky enough to have a local charter school that focuses on STEM subjects, including computer science. Motivated students who enroll in such a school are sure to build an impressive transcript or even a portfolio that can pay dividends when it comes time to apply to colleges and universities.

Aspiring software engineers should seek out undergraduate degree programs that have full accreditation. Mississippi's public colleges and universities will have CHEA-approved regional accreditation. However, high-achieving students should seek out computer science and information technology degree programs that are accredited by ABET, an agency that focuses solely on STEM degree programs. A degree from an ABET accredited program will be likely to open doors nationwide.

Potential Careers for Software Engineering Graduates

  • Web Developer
    These computer experts focus their work on the back-end tech that ensures optimal functionality for websites. There are many computer programming languages a web developer might choose but some popular choices include PHP, HTML, Java, JavaScript, Python, and Ruby.
  • Software Engineer
    This job title goes to tech workers who build and maintain software packages. They may focus on any sort of software including network software, databases, or stand-alone applications such as a word processor or a spreadsheet program. Software engineers should have expert-level skills in one or more programming languages. Some popular options include Python, C++, Java, or R.
  • Computer Programmer
    These software experts focus on writing code for software packages. They tend to specialize in software for specific uses and thus specialize in certain languages. For instance, a computer programmer who specializes in database technology will have expertise in SQL and its variants, though they may augment their skillset with languages that complement their work.
  • Information Cybersecurity Analyst
    As cyber security becomes more and more important, information security analysts likewise become more important. Experts in information security can find well-paid positions with any sort of firm that relies on its database or network. Some examples include hospitals, banks, and even government agencies.
  • Web and Digital Interface Designer
    Every website and internet application needs a pleasing and intuitive interface to help users make the most of the material available there. To succeed in this field, designers need to master HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. They must also have a keen aesthetic sense of design, colors, and logical order. It's imperative that web designers also have a mastery of imaging software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Blender, among others.
  • Game Developer
    This profession blends the world of art with high technology. Game developers who work for a large firm such as Electronic Arts may be specialized in areas such as game physics or artwork. However, independent game developers must have not only a strong artistic sensibility but also a mastery of the computer code and technology that makes each game fun and seamless.
  • Software Developer
    Developers may work at any stage in the life of a piece of software. Some conceive of the initial plan for the application and then work in dedicated teams to bring the project to life. Once the software package has been developed and released, developers seek to update the software and debug it as needed. Most software uses multiple languages, so developers need to have facility with multiple coding languages. However, most developers specialize in certain sorts of software packages, such as games or databases, so their language set will reflect the skills that are best for their area of specialty.
  • Database Administrator
    These tech workers focus on a company's most precious asset: its database. Database administrators oversee a company’s database and monitor its day-to-day operations. They may provide permissions for specific workers while also entering new data to the database.

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