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What is Software Engineering?

Many colleges and universities in New Hampshire offer degrees in software engineering and other related subjects. The major may be particularly appealing to students interested in the development of applications, systems, and software. The knowledge and skills gained from studying this subject can be extremely helpful when pursuing various employment opportunities related to the information technology (IT) field. Companies in almost every industry seek qualified IT professionals, but some of the most engaging occupations exist in the telecommunications, healthcare, finance, and insurance sectors.

Software engineers create and maintain the underlying systems needed to run devices and/or control networks for computer applications. While most of these professionals are expected to have a broad view of project system and software requirements, their responsibilities can vary significantly.

Notably, some software engineers take on more active roles than others. Those with limited involvement may only be tasked with designing and developing single mechanisms to meet user needs. Those with more responsibility contribute more, often by creating every piece of the application and/or system. They may be expected to determine and explain how all the pieces work together when completed, as well.

Other common duties include performing regular maintenance and testing of software. They also spend a lot of time creating corresponding reference documentation for the systems they work with. This ensures others have access to pertinent information during upgrades and when issues arise. In some cases, software engineers will also be expected to supervise other information technology workers.

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Online Software Engineering Education in New Hampshire

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is projected to grow 25% from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will result in an increase of about 162,900 job openings each year.

Information is the ninth largest industry in New Hampshire. It accounts for $3.3 billion of the state’s revenue each year. Additionally, many of the state’s other primary sectors utilize software engineering professionals, as well. Graduates may be able to find employment in real estate, professional and business services, education, manufacturing, finance, retail, wholesale, entertainment, and construction.

Based on data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), New Hampshire employed 8,350 software developers in May 2022. Overall, however, the state maintained 24,040 computer and mathematical occupations. The annual mean wage for these professionals ranged between $103,150 and $125,600. Notably, both are significantly above the state’s reported annual mean wage of $62,550 for all occupations.

Software engineering degree programs are available throughout the United States, with many departments offering remote learning options. While online enrollment can be more flexible than traditional academic settings, school location may be a significant factor, as well. Those planning to seek employment in New Hampshire often benefit from attending local academic institutions as these schools provide the most geographically relevant curriculums. This ensures that graduates possess the knowledge and skills that employers in the state covet most during the hiring process. New Hampshire institutions may also provide more targeted assistance for individuals planning to seek state certifications and licensures. Options for those looking for schools in New Hampshire include Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, and engineering schools and other institutions throughout the state that offer computer programs teaching programming languages, software architectures, and more.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related major are standard for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers throughout the nation. Prospective students can also study these subjects at the associate, master’s, and doctoral levels, with most colleges and universities offering relevant programs in the field. Some academic institutions also provide professional certificates for undergraduate and graduate students.

Education standards for information technology (IT) occupations can vary significantly from job to job, however. Opportunities are even available to those with little or no higher education. Because employers tend to care more about ability than academic record, it’s sometimes possible to obtain entry-level employment with only a high school diploma or GED. If you can demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills in creating software solutions, some employers may be willing to consider your candidacy.

Notably, hiring expectations are not the only thing that differs; position titles may also be somewhat interchangeable. In some cases, job titles may be identical but have entirely different responsibilities. As a result, those interested in the field will need to carefully examine postings to ensure they meet hiring requirements prior to applying.

Online Associate Degree in Software Engineering (AS)

Associate degrees in software engineering or computer science generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. As undergraduate degrees, these programs often incorporate both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Every curriculum is different, but those enrolled are likely to study various topics in communication, mathematics, and science in conjunction with programming, web design, database management, business, and management. Programs at this level typically provide students with a broad introduction to the field, as well as the basic knowledge and skills needed for future learning.

It's also important to realize that associate degree graduates are unlikely to qualify for jobs as software engineers. Rather, individuals who complete these programs should be prepared to pursue entry-level employment as computer programmers and web developers. Pursuing further education is often necessary to obtain more advanced positions in the field.

Notably, associate degree graduates are often closer to obtaining traditional four-year degrees than they realize. Undergraduate credit hours can be transferred to other colleges and universities. Most institutions accept up to 60 or 90 credits from other properly accredited schools. After prior transcripts are received and assessed, credits from courses taken previously may be applied toward current academic requirements.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Software Engineering (BS)

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A bachelor’s degree in software engineering or computer science with a specialization in engineering generally consists of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Notably, it may be possible for some students to graduate sooner. Prior undergraduate credits from advanced placement (AP) course examination and/or previous degrees may help satisfy various academic requirements.

As undergraduate degrees, these programs continue to incorporate both general liberal arts and major-specific classes. Curriculums vary, but those enrolled are likely to study various topics in communication, mathematics, and science in conjunction with mobile software development, cross-platform engineering, programming techniques, software design, data science, and information technology security. It’s also common for students to receive instruction in leadership and business.

In addition to the standard program curriculum, some colleges and universities allow software engineering majors to select concentrations, or specialty areas of study. This provides opportunities for those enrolled to take classes that focus on content in relevant sub-fields. Individuals who plan to seek specialized employment may find this option particularly appealing.

This type of degree typically leads to entry-level employment as software engineers, software developers, information systems managers, computer systems analysts, information security analysts, and network systems administrators. Graduates may also find jobs in other industries, as companies and organizations in most sectors seek professionals with information technology (IT) expertise.

While unnecessary for most occupations in the field, further education can lead improved employment prospects. In particular, those interested in supervision, research, and higher pay will do well to enroll in master’s degree programs. Prospective graduate school students should be prepared to meet established minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by their chosen institution.

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Online Master's Degree in Software Engineering (MS)

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Master’s computer engineering or software engineering programs generally range from 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete after you've already finished an undergraduate degree. At the graduate level, curriculums rarely incorporate undergraduate or general liberal arts classes. Students may, however, need to prove they have the knowledge and skills necessary to study advanced topics in this field. Many colleges and universities require prior transcripts to verify that certain lower-level courses have already been completed.

Program specifics vary, but students can usually expect to study various concepts related to the software development lifecycle, management, innovation, information trends, and the latest technology developments. Students may also be given opportunities to participate in residencies or internships. These help prepare participants to join the workforce by providing real-world experience. Additionally, many colleges and universities require capstone projects prior to graduation.

Graduates with master’s degrees in software engineering often possess superior knowledge and skills in the field. As a result, they tend to receive preference during hiring processes and have the potential to make more money. Some of the most common jobs available include software engineer, software developer manager, computer network architect, senior software engineer, and solutions architect.

Online PhD Degree in Software Engineering (PhD)

PhD or doctorate in software engineering programs consist of between 60 and 120 credit hours that can take full-time students up to seven years to complete. These are terminal degrees, representing the highest level of education available. These programs tend to be academically intensive, with extensive instruction in the research and the development of software systems. Every curriculum is unique, but those enrolled can generally expect to study the various techniques and tools used during advanced design and prototyping. They are also likely to receive instruction in economic trends, privacy laws, maintenance, and security strategies.

Students typically participate in traditional classroom instruction and coursework during their first couple years of enrollment. This gradually changes over time, however, as students begin to conduct more independent study, research, and writing. These degrees typically culminate in the presentation and defense of dissertations prior to graduation.

As this level of education is rarely required for employment in the field, graduates tend to qualify for many of the same occupations as those with master’s degrees do. The distinction comes when applying for upper-level management positions, which often offer higher salaries. Individuals with doctoral degrees are often considered better candidates for these professions and frequently receive preference during the hiring process. Graduates are also qualified to for jobs as research scientists and post-secondary professors.

Become a Software Engineer in New Hampshire

The first step to becoming a software engineering professional in New Hampshire is recognizing your interest in the field. There are actually many different employment options available, each with their own unique hiring standards and expectations. Researching the various options and their corresponding requirements will help you map the most direct course to success. This ensures you obtain the necessary education, training, and experience to apply for jobs.

In most cases, software engineering professionals possess either a bachelor’s degree or master’s degrees. It’s not, however, always completely necessary to pursue software engineering as a major. Depending on your intended profession, you may benefit more from studying computer science, computer information technology, or cyber security. As a result, it’s important to consider the education requirements for your desired career carefully before enrolling in a degree program.

Some employers give preference to candidates with hands-on experience in the field. While in school, the best way to meet this expectation is by participating in internship opportunities. Many colleges and universities have career services programs that can help you connect with prospective employers. After graduation, you can gain professional experience by obtaining entry-level employment. The longer you work in the field, the more competitive you will be when applying for more advanced positions.

Additionally, you can benefit from obtaining one or more relevant certifications. These credentials indicate dedication to the field, as well as highlighting unique expertise in specialized subjects. Both qualities can help you stand out among other candidates when applying for jobs.

Certification is not generally necessary for entry-level employment, but most employers do give preference to individuals who possess relevant certifications. Some companies and organizations even pay professionals more when they are certified in certain designated areas.

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There are numerous credentialing opportunities available to software engineering professionals. New Hampshire does not specify which certifications are necessary or best, so you are free to pursue any of options you believe will enhance your portfolio. Some credentials are more reputable than others, however. As a result, it’s a good idea to pursue certifications offered by well-known and trusted organizations. The Institute of Certification of Computer Professionals (ICCP), for example, is a highly recognizable certifying body in the field.

Some of the most popular certification options available to software engineering professionals include:

  • Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)
  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)
  • Certified Software Engineer (CFE)
  • CIW Certified Web Development Professional
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer
  • Oracle Certified Master (OCM)
  • Salesforce Administrator
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

Many software engineering students and professionals also join professional associations and organizations. These groups offer many benefits to their members, such as access to helpful resources and various development opportunities. It’s also common to receive event discounts, monthly publications, and access to relevant academic journals. Participants also get to interact with other like-minded individuals in the field. While there are many associations and organizations relevant for information and technology professionals,

some of the most prominent examples include:

  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
  • Association of Software Professionals (ASP)
  • Association for Women in Computer (AWC)
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society
  • Python Software Foundation (PSF)

Careers for Software Engineering Graduates

  • Application Developer
    Application developers create, develop, manage, and maintain new programs and software used on smartphones, computers, tablets, and other electronics. Much of their work revolves around incorporating and utilizing the latest technologies and web developments in order to keep their employers technologically relevant. While some function as independent contractors, they more commonly work full-time for companies and organizations. In some cases, they may be expected to collaborate with other web and information technology professionals. According to PayScale, application developers make an average base salary of $72,463 per year.
  • Computer Information Systems (CIS) Manager
    Computer and IS managers generally supervise teams of other IT professionals. Duties vary, but their primary responsibilities typically revolve around troubleshooting IT problems, administering computer system updates, and installing new hardware/software. They may also perform various administrative duties such as budgeting, hiring employees, training new workers, monitoring performance, delegating assistance requests, and researching new business technologies. According to PayScale, information systems managers make an average base salary of $87,717 per year.
  • Computer Network Architect
    Computer network architects design and build data communication networks. In many cases, they must also explain why and how various networks are beneficial. Other common tasks include presenting installation and upgrade proposals, and performing technology hardware and software updates on routers, adapters, and network drivers. According to PayScale, computer network architects make an average base salary of $121,498 per year.
  • Computer Systems Analyst
    Computer systems analysts design and implement improvements to computer systems and procedures. While this may be achieved in a variety of ways, they generally analyze current configurations before consulting with managers to determine how IT can best be utilized. They also spend time researching the most appropriate ways to increase overall efficiency. Other common responsibilities include working to make existing computer systems more functional and presenting upgrade cost/benefits analysis details to leadership. According to PayScale, computer systems analysts make an average base salary of $73,224 per year.
  • Security Information Analyst
    Information analysts collect and analyze network, software, and/or hardware data for IT departments at companies. While they may have many duties, they are generally responsible for anticipating and identifying problems within various systems. Additional expectations can include evaluating networks and systems, as well as providing assessments of their findings to stakeholders. They may also provide relevant feedback and recommendations. According to PayScale, information analysts make an average base salary of $69,335 per year.
  • Software Engineer
    Software engineers develop computer software using various engineering principles. They are usually responsible for analyzing and modifying existing software to ensure it meets user needs. Some employers expect them to design, construct, and test new applications. Notably, they usually work with complex and large systems rather than individual networks. According to PayScale, software engineers make an average base salary of $90,649 per year.
  • Computer Systems Administrator
    Systems administrators ensure local area networks, wide area networks, and other data communication systems work properly. This entails organizing, installing, and supporting various systems, as well as managing, troubleshooting, and proactively updating associated hardware and software assets. Additionally, they often take steps to prevent issues from developing, share project statuses with supervisors, monitor project activity, and highlight achievements with partners. According to PayScale, systems administrators make an average base salary of $64,989 per year.
  • Web Designer & Developer

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