Engineering, Technology and Design

Is it worth it? Can you afford NOT to be a Software Engineer?


Is it worth it? Can you afford NOT to be a Software Engineer?

Software engineering on an ICB

Programmers and software development professionals (software engineers) earned, on average, £42,984 per annum in 2019[1] at the same time web developers and designers earned £32,000 and the UK average salary was £30,420. Very few non-managerial roles attract a higher salary than software engineering. Software engineering skills are in high demand and are likely to continue to be in high demand. It is predicted that in 2020, once again software development jobs will be in the top 20 in terms of demand[2].

How does a degree in Software Engineering help you get into these well paid and in-demand job roles? One of the things that a degree in Software Engineering can do is teach you how to be a programmer. You will lean how to create effective, working, code quickly and accurately. Yes, you can teach yourself the basics of how to program, but just because you can get a program to work, it doesn’t mean that you have written a good program. It may have taken you far longer to write than it would take a trained software engineer, it may be inefficient, the logic may be defective, it may have undiscovered bugs in it, you may not have documented it.

A Software Engineering course will teach you how to write good programs. It will teach you how to code efficiently, to a professional standard, it will teach you how to understand the logic you need, how test your software to make sure it is bug free, how to identify the errors in the code and how to correct them. It will also teach you how to document your code so that you and other people can see how it works.

We have all written that “quick” program which has then been forgotten about until it has to be amended.We have all sat there looking at the code thinking “Why did I do that?” and “What does that variable do?”.  A Software Engineering degree can save you days, weeks, possibly years, of misery as you sit there trying to fix and amend code. It will help you keep your temper, your hair and reduce your desire to throw your computer out of the nearest window.

A degree in Software Engineering, because it teaches you how to program rather than how to use one specific programming language or paradigm, gives you transferrable skills. It’s a bit like learning to read and write. Once you have learned about syntax and grammar in English, for example, learning about syntax and grammar in French or German or Italian is easy because it’s the same but with differences. The difficult part is learning to read and write in the first place. The same with software development, once you have learned to program, regardless of the language used, then learning a new language is easy. Anybody who has worked in software for any length of time will have used more than one programming language. Languages come and go, some last longer than others, some are more popular than others, some are designed to be generally useful and others are designed for a specific purpose.

This video[1] shows the way that the popularity programming languages changes. In a career spanning 30 years you might need to learn five or six different languages, possibly more, how much easier is that if you only need to learn the syntax and grammar of each language?

At a time when money is tight and the future uncertain, one thing you can be sure of is that a career in Software Engineering will pay dividends in terms of enhanced salary and opportunity compared with not having a degree but also compared with a degree in most other disciplines.


[1] (accessed July 2020)



Share this page: