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From a Software Engineer’s Perspective: How lucrative are the careers for Computer/IT professionals? (1st Part)

This write-up is dedicated to senior high school students seeking career advice, and to career professionals contemplating on shifting careers and are particularly interested in computers or IT (Information Technology). Otherwise, this just aims to provide general information on what great opportunities are available for computer professionals.

With a bachelor degree in Computer Science (CompSci) and more than 5 years of experience in the computer software industry, here’s my perspective.

A bit of background before College

There was a time when I didn’t know what field of study to chase for college. But as soon as I heard that computer courses were fast becoming relevant (never had the chance to use computers by then), I figured that would be something to explore.

Without an idea on the course outline, I chose CompSci when we took qualifying exams for scholarships of some colleges and universities. Then I took up the course in UP Cebu College.

The rest is history.


The following Q&A will reference mostly about my experience in Accenture, a multinational company engaged in providing management consulting, technology and outsourcing services.

What are included in the course outlines of Computer courses?

There are a number of courses developed for computer studies. With computer courses, these are among the areas you focus your study or learning on: programming, software engineering, hardware design, and networking. The difference usually lies in the level of treatment or exposure on the different focus areas or subject matters.

What is software?

According to Webopedia, computer software or simply software means program or data. Designed for specific purpose/s, a program can perform pre-defined set of functions for specific or general types of users to use. (Note that a computer is useless without the softwares loaded into it.)

From a non-technical user’s view, examples of software or program are Facebook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Google Earth, or those softwares running in banking firms, cash registers, and mobile phones, among others.

From a technical Software Engineer’s perspective, there are two categories of software: systems software and applications software. Systems software includes the operating system and all the utilities that enable the computer to function or operate. Applications software includes programs that are available for users, like the ones mentioned earlier.

Who creates programs? Who creates or designs software?

Programmers write or create programs. These programs are written with language-specific sets of codes which are readable and understandable by the computer machine. There are hundreds of programming languages available although the most popular ones are less than 50. Some short computer courses are designed to focus on specific programming language/s only.

Software Engineers or Software Developers, on the other hand, are normally a level above the Programmers. These computer professionals have usually been trained and skilled in the application of software engineering discipline to the creation of software. They are responsible for the design, building or development, and installation of softwares typically of medium to large scale.

Senior Software Engineers’ bulk of responsibilities covers not only the technical aspects of building software systems, but also non-technical functions, such as client facing, supervising programming teams, scheduling, and budgeting. There are many tools, methods, and trainings to be had on the job to become more efficient with all these tasks.

Some senior Software Engineers are referred to in the industry as Systems Analysts, Software/IT Consultants, Software Architects, Project Managers, and many other job titles, depending on their specialized skills sets and proficiency levels.

Do you need a CompSci degree or equivalent to become a Software Engineer?

It depends.

As mentioned earlier, there have been quite a few courses developed for computer studies, with variations in the level of treatment or exposure on the different focus areas or subject matters.

But just like in some fields of study, you can do your own research and add in some relevant experience to become a computer professional or even expert.

BUT a bachelor degree in CompSci, for instance, aside from the study on both hardware and software design, also includes in its course outline some broad disciplines like artificial intelligence and software engineering. The skills acquired over the years of education and training promotes better understanding and perspective on the skills and principles required of the profession.

What are my career chances as Computer software professional?

Non-IT companies only hire skilled computer professionals to build and maintain their softwares. Medium-sized to large IT companies accept qualified fresh graduates of computer courses in entry-level positions.

For some large global IT companies like Accenture, they also hire qualified and highly trainable non-computer graduates as entry-level Programmer or Associate Software Engineer. Then they spend thousands (even millions) of dollars annually just to train them on technical and non-technical skills.

Note, however, that the reason why Accenture accepts non-computer graduates is because the company doesn’t only breed Programmers and Software Engineers. Throughout their careers, the company develops in them (based on their preference) a broad set of other skills focused in Technical Architecture, Software Testing, Quality Assurance (QA), Technical Writing, Project Management, Business Analysis, and many other skills.

What is IT Outsourcing?

More and more non-IT business organizations prefer to outsource some, if not all, of their IT functions. IT outsourcing means subcontracting or delegating the IT functions (e.g., creation and maintenance of software systems) to recognized IT companies.

By tapping the expertise of IT companies, (1) they can keep their focus on their core businesses, and (2) they get to employ the most relevant and best suited technologies in their business functions and operations.

This approach proved to be a win-win situation for both the non-IT business organizations and the IT companies. Then again, the subcontracting “clients” rely heavily on the integrity of the software systems delivered to them to generate millions (even billions) of dollars in income.

With the stiff competition in the industry to get more clients, it is therefore considered top priority for reputable IT companies to continuously upgrade the skills of their people, to ensure that their outputs are of high quality and that their organizational processes adhere to industry standards.

How lucrative are the careers for Computer/IT professionals?

Going back to the original question I posed, the answer is very lucrative. Generally, Programmers, Software Engineers, Software Developers and other computer professionals are paid rather handsomely in the country and abroad, because they have key skills that are too relevant in today’s world.