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Are Software Engineers Happy?

Computer science is a demanding profession. But most computer software engineers say they like their jobs and consider the work challenging and rewarding. Learn more about why software engineers consider themselves happy.

are software engineers happy

The United States Bureau of Labour Statistics has found that opportunities for software engineers are expected to grow by 21% by 2028, much faster than average. Software engineering salaries are equally exciting. But are software engineers happy?

The common perception of software engineers and software developers is that they work long hours, experience high stress, and spend most of their life at work. If you love coding and want to have a rewarding computer science career as a professional developer, here are a few factors to consider.

Are software engineers happy with what they do?

A software engineer typically builds software applications that hardware products require to function. A regular day will see a software engineer or web developer architecting software, writing code, putting it to use, testing, and maintaining it as part of the software development process.

If you’re a software engineer at Microsoft, for example, here are some of the things you’d be likely doing:

are software engineers happy

Source: LinkedIn

While the role might include collaboration, teamwork, communication, and so on, the fundamental responsibility of a software engineer tends to be the code and the technological environment it functions in.

So, if you think this is fun and sounds appealing, you’ll likely be very happy as a software engineer.

Is software engineering stressful?

An important aspect of an employee’s happiness depends on the organization or environment they work in. Here are a few places where software engineers find themselves:

  • Tech companies. Places like IBM, HP, and larger tech companies in Silicon Valley hire hundreds of software engineers each year. You’ll get to work in a team that might build products or solutions for your employers’ clients across various domains and industries.
  • Other major organizations. Given that every company is now a tech company, there are strong technology teams across all organizations. Whether it’s a toothpaste manufacturer or toymaker, you can develop software for both internal and customer-facing needs.
  • Startups. This is seen as the most exciting place for engineers to work. If you enjoy building innovative products for complex real-world challenges in fast-paced and rapidly evolving environments, this is the place for you.
  • On their own. There are plenty of independent consultants and freelancing software engineers who enjoy remote work. Doing only the work they love, working with teams they enjoy, and having the freedom to shape their life is what keeps some software engineers happy. If you’re one of them, this is a perfectly lucrative career path.

Across these environments, the number of hours a software engineer works might vary. For instance, a recognized freelancer might work 80 hours a week, while established teams in large enterprises might hover around an average of 40-50 hours a week. Startups can be erratic given they are small teams with big goals. Whichever kind of organization you’re in or who your team members are, a software engineer’s work environment is rife with deadlines, complexities, and pressures. This goes across the board, from entry-level positions to team leader positions. The culture of an organization also plays a key role in ensuring things like work hours and a good work-life balance. Employees in organizations that cherish collective ownership and collaboration tend to be happier than in highly cut-throat and competitive environments.

Are software engineers happy with their skills?

A typical software engineer has skills in front-end and back-end programming, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking. However, a fundamental skill every software developer needs is the ability to always be learning. As Nader Mowlaee writes, an engineer who thinks they have got it all figured out has only gotten "stuck." As a software engineer, you need to constantly be learning new programming languages and upgrading your skills.

If you are motivated by learning and evolving, and are excited by taking on new challenges every day, you’ll be a happy software engineer.

are software engineers happy

Are software engineers happy with their pay?

Software engineering is one of the best paying careers in the United States. The average pay, according to LinkedIn users, is $97,000. With experience, it can go as high as $200,000. With annual bonuses, joining bonuses, and stock options, the total pay a software engineer takes can be significant.

This is true of freelancers and consultants too. The average hourly wage of a full-stack developer is $81-$100. At simply 20 hours a week, you can make upwards of $100,000 as a freelance software developer. Senior software developers and specialists charge around $160 an hour.

In addition, it is also normal for software engineering positions to have an array of other perks. Healthcare, dental, retirement benefits, parental leave, work-from-home opportunity, a cafeteria on campus, gyms, child care, college tuition support, car charging stations, massages and more are all standard at most startups and large tech companies.

Companies today are willing to go beyond just money to make the lives of their employees better, which keeps them happier.

Are software engineers happy with their career growth?

Software engineers have several kinds of growth opportunities. The traditional way is when they get promoted to management and lead teams. That’s not the only option, though. Experienced software engineers, who don’t like management, often turn specialists: think a blockchain developer, cybersecurity engineer, and so on. Some become independent consultants, while others set up their own startups. The opportunities to grow are endless.

In essence, there is a general trend of high satisfaction among software engineers. Payscale reports a satisfaction rating of 3.96 out of 5, based on 8,322 responses. While answering the question of happiness though, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone is equal. Opportunities for women and people of color leave a lot wanting. Studies show that a disproportionate number of women and people of color leave the profession after being passed over for a promotion.

There is slow progress, however. Tech giants, including Apple and Facebook, report their diversity status publicly and say they are committed to building an equitable workplace. Organizations like the BRAID initiative are helping get more people from marginalized backgrounds to STEM college courses.

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