An associate degree in software engineering could equip you to enter the tech world. These days, almost every business uses a software application program to help with daily operations. As a result, companies in varied sectors rely on software engineers and other IT professionals.
Software engineers combine technological know-how and creative thinking to provide businesses with new solutions.
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If you have an interest in computers and welcome the challenge of finding technological solutions to different problems, you might consider studying software engineering.
Online Associate Degrees in Software Engineering
Software engineering involves analyzing user needs and then designing, developing, testing, implementing, and managing software application systems that meet those needs. Software engineers can develop solutions for mobile devices, computers, and tablets.
A 2 year software engineering degree program often covers essential topics, such as:
- IT project management
- Cloud computing
- Web applications
- Database systems
- Information systems
- Operating systems
Some software engineering programs tend to focus on career-oriented courses, like electronics and computer technology. Others may emphasize courses that are more suited for learners intending to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Software engineering combines technological skills and engineering principles to develop products. Roles in this field require analytical thinking, creative thinking, collaborative skills, and problem-solving skills. A software development associate degree covers how to develop and focus on the entire system’s architecture.
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It’s also necessary for students to learn project management. Once a client presents a problem, the software engineering team handles the software application—from assessment, design, and development to maintenance.
Software engineering can require hands-on learning, and you can gain experience through internships, personal projects, online jobs, and freelancing. Through these avenues, you can also build a portfolio to showcase your technical skills.
Software engineer schooling can lead to various career paths. Generally, you can either specialize in software or systems development or software applications. Here are some of the occupations that associate-degree holders tend to pursue:
- Junior software developer
- Software tester
- Computer or network support specialist
- Web developer
- Junior software engineer
- Cloud engineer
Most graduates enter entry-level positions, but experience and relevant industry certifications could help you advance in your career over time.
Software Development and Engineering Careers & Salaries
The majority of industries need software for many aspects of their operations. The job descriptions of software development and engineering occupations is versatile.
A software engineer may be asked to provide an assessment of project requirements and provide an engineering solution. In some cases, clients call in software engineers in the maintenance phase of a project. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some of the career options related to software development and engineering.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||$98,220|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$80,600|
|Web and Digital Interface Designers||$79,890|
|Computer Network Support Specialists||$62,760|
|Computer User Support Specialists||$49,770|
|Data Entry Keyers||$35,630|
The field of software engineering offers various career paths. An associate degree can help prepare you for entry-level IT roles, and it can also act as a stepping stone toward a bachelors. A bachelors-level education could help you qualify for more positions in the field.
Those with a background in software development and engineering are in high demand, and they can work in a variety of fields. For instance, software professionals can work in the manufacturing, robotics programming development, hospitality, and financial sectors.
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A degree program in software development or engineering can also help you develop skill sets that are applicable in a variety of computer science and IT roles. Some graduates pursue positions in software support, programming, web development, data analysis, and related roles.
Software Engineering Associate’s Curriculum & Courses
Here are some examples of core and elective courses that commonly appear in software engineering programs:
- Web Development: This course covers web application architecture and programming languages, and it also touches on client and server solutions.
- Operating Systems: This course exposes you to theories, principles, and concepts of the design and functioning of various operating systems.
- Networking: This course explores networking principles, network types, designs, security protocols, and the relationship between networks and software.
- Object-Oriented Programming: You’ll learn object-oriented programming concepts, like abstraction, encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism, and you’ll also study various object-oriented programming languages.
- Advanced Math: You’ll cover relevant math concepts like complex numbers, calculus, vectors, and polynomials.
- Data Structures: This course covers simple and advanced data structures—like lists, graphs, queues, stacks, and trees—as well as the algorithms used in modifying the data structures.
- Software Engineering: This course covers how to analyze user needs as well as how to design, develop, test, deploy, and document software solutions.
- Software Assurance: This course covers security principles as well as how to map out vulnerabilities in a software application, review designs, and create secure systems.
- Web Design: This course covers web design principles, concepts, languages, and procedures to enable you to build and manage websites.
- Software Application Development: This course explores the methods, techniques, and process of developing software applications.
Many of these courses also lay the foundation for learners who wish to pursue a bachelors degree in software or hardware engineering, programming, computer science, game design, or related fields. Also, a growing number of universities offer both on-campus and online software engineering masters degree programs for students needing advanced degrees in the field.
Some of the common admission requirements for software engineering associate degree programs include:
- High school diploma or GED equivalent
- Personal statement
- Letters of recommendation
- SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
Programs might have an application fee as well. In addition, some schools conduct interviews in order to get to know you and determine your compatibility with their program. Admissions criteria can vary, so it’s beneficial to research the specific requirements of your prospective schools.
Regional accreditation is an indication of high academic quality. An institution’s accreditation status can affect your access to federal financial aid and employment prospects. Plus, if you need to change schools or decide to pursue a bachelor program, accreditation can affect your credits’ transferability as well.
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To verify a school’s accreditation status, you can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website and search their school database. Engineering programs can also be accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Although an associate degree can cost less than other degree programs, it’s still an investment. You can complete the FAFSA form to see if you qualify for federal loans, grants, or work-study programs. Your FAFSA results can also impact your eligibility for other forms of need-based aid, such as state aid.
Scholarships are another aid option to explore. There are various types of scholarships that cater to different categories of learners. These opportunities could be offered by your school as well as outside organizations. Some employers also offer tuition benefits to workers who are pursuing further education.
Is Software Engineering a Good Career?
Yes, software engineering is a good career for many professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for computer and information technology positions is $97,430.
This sector is also expected to experience faster than average job growth over the next decade, as most businesses need software application solutions. The field of software engineering also encompasses many career paths, including cloud engineers, product managers, application developers, and software developers.
There are opportunities for software engineering professionals in various industries, with the possibility of working on diverse projects.
Can You Be a Software Engineer with an Associate’s Degree?
Although many employers prefer software engineers to have at least a bachelor’s degree, an associates degree can make it possible to qualify for entry-level positions.
Technical skills are also essential for a software engineer, and you can continue to improve your skill level through experience as a junior or associate software engineer. It’s also beneficial to remain current with programming and related areas.
In addition, some schools might allow you to credit your associate degree toward a bachelors program in software engineering or another computer science-related field.
What Degree Do You Need to Become a Software Engineer?
Software engineers generally have a bachelors degree in software engineering, computer science, or a software-oriented IT field.
Associate degree holders can often qualify for entry-level software engineering roles, though they may have more limited job access. It’s necessary for software engineers to have programming knowledge, technology skills, and coding expertise. Some people enter the field by enrolling into online coding bootcamps. These bootcamps offer intense, practice-oriented learning over a shorter period of time.
A good number of professionals who venture into software engineering are from different fields but have an immense interest in technology and programming.
What Can You Do with an Associate’s Degree in Software Engineering?
An associate’s degree in software engineering can be an entry point to junior positions in information technology and computer science.
Some graduates become employed as entry-level software developers, web developers, software testers, computer support specialists, or data clerks. An associate degree for software engineering could also act as a foundation for further studies, should you choose to pursue a bachelors degree.
Depending on the institution, you might be able to transfer your associate credits into a bachelors program related to computer science.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Software Engineering Associate Degree Online?
It generally takes 2 years to earn a software engineering associate degree online if you follow a traditional, 16 week semester and attend full-time.
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Many engineering degree online programs follow an 8 week semester, which could enable you to finish in less time if you stay continuously enrolled year-round. An associate degree typically has half the units of a bachelor’s program and, as a result, can often be completed in half the time.
Is Software Engineering Hard?
The degree of difficulty varies with the individual. Factors such as aptitude, interest, or familiarity with various topics could affect a learner’s perception. Some common course topics include computer programming, networking, electronic systems, advanced math, databases, and software development.
Your coursework can introduce you to various engineering principles and technology skills, and you can study how to apply critical and creative thinking to create software applications. Some coursework may require working with others—similar to a professional setup—to find solutions.
What’s the Difference Between a Software Developer vs. Software Engineer?
Software developers and software engineers have some overlapping skills, but they are not one and the same.
|Software Developers||Software Engineers|
Whichever degree path is best for you will likely depend on your interests and long-term goals.
Is a Software Engineering Associates Degree Worth It?
Yes, a software engineering associates degree is worth it for many professionals. This area of study could give you access to entry-level roles in the tech world. There’s also an increasing demand for technical skills like programming, which could lead to a wider range of job prospects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 13% job growth for computer and IT occupations over the next ten years, which is faster than average. Employment for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is expected to grow by 22% over the same period.
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An associate is software engineering can also act as a solid foundation for further study in a number of computer science fields.
Universities Offering Online Associates in Software Engineering Degree Program
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Champlain College offers an Associate in Software Development. The program is designed for students who are interested in joining the quickly expanding profession of software engineering. The program requires the completion of 60 total credits. Classes can be completed entirely online, and students can access their coursework at any time so they may fit their education around their schedules.
Champlain College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Chippewa Valley Technical College offers an Associate in Information Technology with a specialization in Software Development. Graduates of the program often become application system administrators, computer engineers, programmer analysts, and software developers. The program can typically be completed in 2 years of full-time study and may be completed online or in-person.
Chippewa Valley Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College offers an Associate in Computer Programming and Database Management—Software Engineering Technology. The curriculum aims to provide students with a comprehensive education in software, from design and development to implementation and maintenance. In addition to standard in-person classes, many courses are offered with online or evening scheduling options.
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Dakota State University offers an Associate of Science in Software Development. The curriculum is designed to teach students how the software and devices they use everyday function. This 60-credit program covers how to write code, navigate the process of development, manage and leverage data, assess user needs, and deliver exceptional products.
Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
East Coast Polytechnic Institute offers an Associate of Science in Computer and Information Science. The program’s courses can be attended at one of several campuses or fully online. The curriculum covers key concepts in the field of computer science, such as structured query language, server-side scripting, web interface design, and principles of cybersecurity.
ECPI University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Fox Valley Technical College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Software Development. The program is designed for students with existing problem-solving skills and interests in complex systems. The degree requirements consist of 60 credit hours of combined instruction and hands-on practice at the college’s Appleton College. Classes are offered in the day and evening.
Fox Valley Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Herzing University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Ivy Tech Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Software Development. Graduates of the program may join the workforce or continue to a bachelor’s degree program. The program is offered both online and in-person. Each option requires the completion of 60 credits over the course of 4 semesters.
Ivy Tech Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Lakeshore Technical College offers an Associate in Information Technology—Web and Software Development. The program utilizes game and simulation development to teach programming, web application development, web design, and database administration. This 100% online, 60 credit degree can typically be completed in 4 terms and offers two start dates per year, in August and January.
Lakeshore Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Lorain County Community College offers an Associate of Applied Business in Software Development. With the awareness that software has become an increasingly essential element of daily life, the program is dedicated to preparing students for careers in this high-demand field. Students begin by studying software development fundamentals and move on to programming with a variety of platforms and languages.
Lorain County Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Madison Area Technical College offers an Information Technology Software Developer Associate. It is designed for students who intend to pursue careers as web developers, web software engineers, or web architects. The program is offered in on-campus, online, and hybrid formats. Full-time students can typically complete the program in 2 years.
Madison Area Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Minneapolis Community and Technical College offers an Associate in Computer Software Development program.
The curriculum covers how to support existing information systems, troubleshoot a wide array of issues, contribute to a team, and create and configure systems. The program encourages students to become lifelong learners in the field. Students must complete 60 credits to graduate. All classes must be taken on campus.
Minneapolis Community & Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Minnesota State College Southeast offers an Associate of Applied Science in Software and Web Development. It aims to prepare students for diverse software roles across multiple sectors, including business and education. The curriculum covers fundamental concepts in the field, such as graphic design, server management, programming languages, and database design and management.
Minnesota State College Southeast is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northcentral Technical College offers an Associate in Information Technology—Software Developer. The program may be taken at one of six campuses or entirely online, ensuring the flexibility needed for many working students.
NTC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers an Associate in Software Development. The curriculum covers how to design software systems and applications, produce thorough technical documentation, and integrate database technology.
Full-time students can typically finish the degree in 2 years. The program consists primarily of on-campus courses, but some classes may be taken online to help ensure flexibility for students with busy schedules.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northwood Technical College offers an Associate in IT—Web and Software Development. The program features small class sizes, expert faculty, and a curriculum that covers essential concepts and skills for the software industry. To help meet the scheduling needs of all students, the program offers part-time scheduling, weekend and evening classes, and online learning options.
Northwood Technical College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Rasmussen University offers an Associate in Software Application Development. The program offers specializations based on students’ professional and future academic goals, including Software Application Development and Data Analytics. There are 8 start dates each year. On average, full-time students can complete this 90 credit, 25 course program in 18 months.
Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
South Puget Sound Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Software Development. The program is designed for students who enjoy creative problem-solving, experimentation, and working with innovative technology. The curriculum covers several key coding languages, database management, server-side programming, and software development tools, including cloud and mobile-based software.
South Puget Sound Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Spokane Community College offers an Associate in Applied Science in Software Development program. It aims to help students develop the professional skills needed to excel in the software industry. The curriculum covers teamwork and communication, coding in several languages, and troubleshooting procedures. Accepted students can start in fall, winter, or spring quarters, and classes may be attended online or in-person.
SCC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The University of Toledo offers an Associate in Programming and Software Development that can be completed in a convenient online format. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in a variety of software programming, development, and support roles. The curriculum covers fundamentals, like workplace communications, computer hardware, application programming, and network technologies.
The University of Toledo is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Associate Degree in Software Engineering Online
An online associate degree program in software engineering could help you begin your professional journey in the software sector.
If you’re unsure about your preferred computer science specialization, an associate degree could give you a taste of various specialty areas to help you make an informed decision. In addition, online associate degree programs tend to be more affordable than on-campus classes. Online software engineering degree programs are also known for having more flexible schedules.
If you’re ready to begin your educational journey in this lucrative field, you can start exploring software engineering associate degrees from accredited schools today.