Pros / Software engineers are highly paid and opportunities for employment are plentiful.

Cons / This career path demands a very specific and complex skill set.

 Verdict / This computer career is ideal for people who can combine logic with creativity.

Software engineers are the builders of our digital world. They create everything from our computers’ operating systems to our internet browsers and the apps we have on our smartphones. All our high-tech devices would have no use at all if it weren't for brilliant coders writing the software that makes it work.

As such, software engineers are in high demand. Skilled coders are well paid and should rarely have trouble finding work. This is a highly flexible field that allows individuals to work as freelancers or private consultants. It also is diverse enough to accommodate those who work better by themselves or in a large group. The unemployment rate for this career is consistently below the national average.

For these reasons and more, the software engineer career path earned the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award in the computer careers category.

  • Highest Wage
  • Mid-range Wage
  • Lowest Wage
  1. 90th percentile of salary range of this job.
  2. 1  Software Engineer
  3. $122090.0
  4. $135600.0
  5. Category Average


The pay scale for software engineers not only is well above all the other computer specializations, but it is also better paying than most other job markets. With the lowest-paid coders still earning around $55,000 a year, software engineers are among the highest-paid professionals in the world today.

The median wage of a software engineer in the United States is around $90,000 a year. This means that about half of coders earn less than that number and half make more. So, even if you’re not the best software engineer you have the potential to make a very good wage.

The top tier of software engineers can earn up to $138,000 a year. This number doesn’t represent the ceiling of your earning potential, however. If you happen to be the person who creates the next massively popular mobile app or innovates a brand new online service, the compensation can be massive. You are only limited by your ability to create something users want or need.


Because a great deal of our modern economy revolves around software, creating and marketing that software is a large and lucrative business. As such, those who create software are a valuable asset for many organizations. Even when the economy lingers and sputters, software coders remain in high demand. This is reflected in the fact that the unemployment rate for this job is regularly less than the national average.

Currently, there are over a million software engineer jobs across the United States. By 2022, more than 200,000 new coding jobs are expected to be added to the economy. This represents a 22 percent increase for the field and is growing and a more rapid and consistent rate than the rest of the economy. This occupation is about as recession resistant as you can hope to get from a career path.

In short, opportunity for software engineers is super abundant. Coders command high wages and are rarely unemployed for long.


Most firms that hire staff coders require potential employees to have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, a degree is not necessarily a requirement to launch a career in software engineering. You always have the ability to build your own applications or to work freelance until you have a portfolio or a reputation that negates the need for a formal degree.

As with most bachelor’s degrees, a computer science degree takes about four years to complete at a conventional college or university. There are other options that take less time such as online universities and trade schools. These options are less expensive but don’t offer the more rounded education and wide recognition found in their conventional counterparts. However, depending on your potential employers, this may or may not matter.

Computer science is also a field where there are advanced degrees available. A coder with a master’s degree can demand a higher wage than one with a bachelor’s degree or no degree at all. There are also Ph.D. programs around the country in computer science. Although, as with most terminal degrees, a Ph.D. in computer science is somewhat limited in its practical utility.

Additionally, there are certifications and further education available for software engineers. Certifications generally deal with specific coding languages like C++ or major industry players like Microsoft. A certification indicates that a coder is proficient in that particular area. A strong portfolio of certifications can be more useful than a degree from a university. These certifications convey to a potential employer or client that a programmer is skilled and worth his salary or fee.

Work Environment

Arguably the most compelling aspect of the software engineer career path is that it can accommodate every personality type. If you prefer to work in an office environment, there is plenty of opportunity for that. If you like to work from home, many software firms allow you to telecommute and choose your own hours.

If 9 to 5 office life isn’t for you, being a software engineer affords you the ability to become a freelancer. This means that you work on your own for clients and customers that you find yourself. This can be a great option for those who can market themselves and don’t care for the workaday environment of traditional employer-employee arrangement.

There is also the option of developing software completely on your own. This type of business is relatively easy to start, and if you have the right idea and the talent to pull it off, there’s nothing stopping you from making the next great mobile app.


The software engineer career path is an excellent choice for anyone who has a creative mind, good coding skills and an appetite to learn and create. Opportunities are plentiful and the pay is much higher than other career paths, including computer careers. The field is also expanding at a quick pace, and that looks to continue for at least the next decade. Employment is not limited to the 9 to 5 office life but can accommodate every temperament and working preference.

Specifications and Benchmarks


High Wage
Median Wage
Low Wage

Work Environment

Freelance or Independent Consultant
Work Solo
Work in Teams
Telecommuting Possible
Interaction with Customers or Consumers


Entry-level Education
Bachelor's Degree
Work Experience Needed
0 Years
Master's Program Available
Doctorate Program Available
Additional Certifications or Education Available


Projected Job Openings
Percentage of Growth
Unemployment Rate
Number of Nationwide Jobs