Many prospective software engineering students wonder how much education they need in order to possess the necessary know-how to meet industry standards while simultaneously earning the highest salary they can. Is a master’s degree essential to achieve this standard?
A master’s degree in software engineering is worth it. It means a faster career progression, a higher salary than a bachelor’s graduate, and an improved understanding of software designs and structures. However, it can prove too costly for some and will always be less important than experience.
This article will be explaining all matters related to a master’s degree in great detail, including but not limited to the curriculum, possible salary earned, and much more. Keep on reading to find out if a master’s degree in software engineering is worth it.
How Does a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Differ?
A bachelor’s degree in software engineering is meant to teach you the basics of coding, software design and architecture, software testing, and project management. This degree will last four years and allow you to get an entry-level job as a software engineer.
A master’s degree will elaborate upon the concepts that you have already learned as an undergraduate. You can expect to learn more about database design concepts, software testing, systems design, and increasing your creativity and problem-solving methods when tackling a software project. You can choose to do a full-time degree, lasting one year, or a part-time degree while working, lasting two to three years.
Will a Master’s Degree Make More Money?
According to PayScale, a master’s degree in software engineering will average $104,317 per year. This is approximately $20,000 more than the median amount a software engineer makes, which is $86,000.
However, before deciding to do your master’s degree, you need to consider if you are prepared to invest the requisite amount of money. Depending on your university, whether you decide to do a part-time or a full-time degree, fees can range from $34,000 to more than $100,000. As a fresh graduate, you will also likely need to pay back the student loan that you took out for your bachelor’s degree.
Based on your unique financial situation, it is vital to assess your background and then decide if doing a master’s degree is feasible for you. You should keep in mind that if you’re a bachelor’s degree graduate, your career will progress enough to make the same amount of money or more than a master’s degree graduate after a few years.
Why Is a Master’s Degree Valuable?
A master’s degree will give you in-depth knowledge and design experience that can’t be found on a bachelor’s degree. This will let you take on more challenging assignments and be promoted to the advanced senior and head positions quicker. As you will be participating in a variety of challenging projects that mimic real-world software projects, you will be able to advance faster than a regular bachelor’s graduate.
If you want to work with the biggest and most famous acclaimed companies in any given field, a master’s degree is a big plus.
Simply take a quick scroll through job listing sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, which will show you many companies listing their preference for a master’s degree to apply for various senior positions and even some entry-level positions, depending on the field.
With all that being said, the most important factor in obtaining a job is experience. All your employers will be looking for this quality. Suppose you’re a fresh candidate with a master’s degree and no experience competing against another candidate with a bachelor’s degree and two years of experience. In this scenario, the company will choose the other party over you.
As no university teaches all the skills and qualifications that you need on the job, you will be undergoing the same learning curve that a freshly graduated bachelor’s degree student will. The only difference is that you will be progressing faster than them as you have a greater understanding of the theory and foundation.
When Is the Best Possible Time to Do Your Master’s?
A master’s degree should be completed after you have finished your bachelor’s. It is up to you if you want to undertake a part-time or full-time degree, but it is necessary to complete it before seriously entering the workforce.
This is because upon entering the workforce, many find it difficult to re-adapt to student life and endure the stress and income hit that comes with being a student again. As a result, though most adults promise they will complete further education after a few years in the workforce, they usually never get around to it.
However, if you’ve already been in the workforce for a long time, and just considering getting a master’s degree to upgrade your skills, that is also viable and encouraged.
What Are the Specializations Available?
A master’s in software engineering has a variety of specializations available depending on your interests.
Here is a list of majors:
- Software Development. This major focuses on the technicalities behind software development, allowing holders to work in various environments.
- Cybersecurity. This major will give you an in-depth understanding of how applications and software are constructed.
- Game Systems. You will learn how to design real-time games and interactive simulations, along with gaining an understanding of systems architecture, computer graphics, and game physics.
- Software Architecture. This major will make you better equipped to handle large-scale software development projects, teaching you more about the design and architectural components.
- Project Management. This major gives you the understanding needed to lead teams through the entire software development process – from the creation to implementation. If you’re aiming to work as a senior software engineer in the future, you should be following this course.
What Jobs Can You Do With Your Master’s Degree?
Here is a list of prospective jobs that you can do:
- Software Developer. A software developer creates well-designed software applications for businesses.
- Computer and Information Research Scientist. This job entails finding creative solutions to existing computing problems in various fields, from healthcare to government. These solutions might be found by improving upon existing software, or by designing and creating completely new technology.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager. Popularly just called an IT Manager, this post involves determining a company’s technological needs, and recommending and creating necessary software as needed.
- Information Security Analyst. As a cybersecurity specialist, you will be creating solutions to prevent hackers from stealing data and compromising the system’s security.
- Computer Network Architect. This person designs and builds data communication networks, from local area networks (LAN) to wide area networks (WAN) and also the intranet.
With an increase in degree saturation in the 21st century, getting a master’s degree will make you stand out from other candidates who pursue a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree. However, in an increasingly technologically oriented world, you will never face a shortage of software-related jobs.
Ultimately, you should be pursuing a master’s degree only if you have the financial means to do so, and interested in working with the top companies, or in a governmental organization. Otherwise, you might end up in serious debt that you might be unable to pay off in the future.