5 In-Demand Career Options for Software Engineers

A look at five of the most in-demand career options for software engineers, including a description of each one, pros and cons for each career, and the salary that software engineers can expect to earn in these positions.

what field is best in software engineering

Software engineering isn’t one homogenous monolith. It is an ecosystem of multiple moving parts, each unique in purpose and impact. For instance, a software engineer on the IBM Watson team might be deploying machine learning algorithms to production, while a software developer at Uber might be developing distributed systems. One software engineer might be developing front-end technology, while another focuses on back-end systems. Desktop, server, web, and mobile applications are now paving the way for apps for augmented reality, virtual reality, and wearable devices.

So: which field is best? There are a number of factors to consider, such as high demand job opportunities; salary; growth paths; the complexity of skills in various software programs and programming languages; and expected educational qualifications, like a software engineering degree or a bachelor's degree or master's degree in computer science, information technology, or related fields. In this article, we’ll explore five in-demand fields in software engineering when considering all of the above factors.

  1. Front-end developer
  2. Back-end developer
  3. Web developer
  4. Data scientist
  5. Video game developer

what field is best in software engineering

Front-end developer

A front-end developer is responsible for the code and architecture of the interface through which users interact with applications and products. This can be the front-end of web applications, mobile applications, or desktop applications. Front-end developers work closely with user experience designers to convert their designs into working software and integrate it with the application’s back-end.

Today, there are over 12,000 front-end developer vacancies listed on LinkedIn. Typical responsibilities and expected skills include:

  • HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Java, Node.js, Ruby, Go, .NET, Scala etc.
  • Experience in front end frameworks such as React and Angular, and test frameworks such as Jasmine and Selenium.
  • Understanding of layout and rendering technologies
  • Proficiency in software and UX design concepts
  • Experience with cloud computing, agile software development, and continuous integration processes

According to LinkedIn, the average salary for a front end developer is $75,000, with 8% of them earning in six figures at most technology companies. Front-end engineers report higher salaries—an average of $107,000.

front-end software engineer salaries

Back-end developer

The role of a back-end developer is to build server-side application logic and databases. Back-end developers are responsible for application architecture, data structures, workflows for data management, developing APIs, and so on. For instance, a back-end developer is often the person behind your Google search result page. It’s their code that gives you the answer to the most elusive questions. (Try asking Google what the answer is to "life, the universe, and everything.")

Sometimes, back-end developers might also be called application engineers or platform developers. Indeed lists over 5,000 back-end developer vacancies in the United States today. The common qualifications necessary for back-end development are:

  • Knowledge of Java, C, C++, Ruby, Perl, and Python
  • Kotlin or Swift for mobile back end development
  • The intuition of automation and developer tooling
  • Comfort with agile development practices, unit testing, code reviews, troubleshooting, and so on

software engineer salaries

Source: PayScale

Web developer

The dotcom era marked the initial rise of the web developer. While that career path has grown and changed over time, web developers continue to shape experiences in a digitally connected world. With more than 50,000 jobs worldwide on LinkedIn, it is arguably one of the most in-demand roles today.

Full-stack web developers have a typical skill set in HTML and CSS, as well as server-side and database technologies. Senior positions in web application development might ask for more. Web developers take home an average of $62,500, going up to six figures depending on the role, organization, and experience.

Data scientist

While data science is a lot more than just programming, it is an important software role for 2020 and beyond. Combining concepts from statistics and mathematics, data scientists use their programming skills to make sense of data. The sexiest job of the 21st century is also in demand and lucrative.

From Walmart to Google, there are 18,000+ roles in data science open today. Data scientists earn an average of $100,560 annually, to say nothing of director-level leadership roles that pay twice as much.

A typical data scientist is expected to have experience with:

  • Statistical software such as R or Python
  • Database languages such as SQL
  • Data analysis, model building, and data mining, and other data management processes
  • Big Data such as MapReduce, PIG, HIVE, Spark
  • Specialized fields such as natural language processing, and web intelligence

Data science roles no longer expect applicants to have PhDs or master's degrees. A candidate with skills in data science and demonstrable hands-on experience is just as good. A bootcamp like the Springboard Data Science Career Track, which also includes portfolio projects, will empower you to confidently apply for several of the positions available.

Video game developer

The video game industry has seen a 73% growth since April 2020. But, are video game developers qualified software engineers? Many of them are.

While user experience design and animation play a significant role in game development—far more than in applications—software development is the foundation of games. It’s really code that makes games work.

Here’s what a software engineer in gaming might do:

video game developer responsibilities

Source: LinkedIn

The qualifications expected for this role are:

  • C/C++
  • Multi-platform code
  • Debugging
  • 3D gaming experience

LinkedIn suggests that the average salary for a game developer is around $70,000, rising to around $130,000 based on experience.

What field is the best in software engineering?

In addition to the top five software engineering fields covered above, there are several other software engineering roles, including blockchain developer, artificial intelligence engineer, platform engineer, and mobile application developer. Each of these roles offers a unique set of opportunities and challenges.

If you love gaming and want to build a piece of it, game development might be the perfect fit for you. If you are great with numbers and insights, consider data science. If you love design, front-end development takes you pretty close to user experience.

So the real question becomes: what field in software engineering is best for you?

Ready to switch careers to software engineering?

Springboard offers a comprehensive software engineering bootcamp. You’ll work with a one-on-one mentor to learn key aspects of front-end web development, back-end web development, databases, and data structures and algorithms. Modules include learning resources, practice exercises, projects, and career-related coursework. 

Check out Springboard's Software Engineering Career Track to see if you qualify.

Not quite ready to dive into a software engineering bootcamp?

Springboard also offers a Software Engineering Prep Course, where you can learn the foundational web development skills (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) needed to pass the technical skills survey for the Software Engineering Career Track.

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