July 30, 2016
Entry-Level Software Engineer Job Guide
“Entry-Level Software Engineer” is a broad term. It’s often one used by larger employers to recruit computer science majors and other student seeking software development positions. During the interview process many of these employers will ask candidates to think about what specialization they’d like to focus on (e.g. front-end, back-end, etc.). These engineers spend most of their day writing code to make products and services function. The vast majority of employed entry-level software engineers work for large technology companies or startups.
Entry-Level Software Engineer Job Guide
Specialization under the software engineering is particularly common in an entry-level role. Most teams are composed of several specializations of engineers. Here are the most common types of software engineering roles:
- Back-end engineers spend much of their time writing services, algorithms, and architecting the core bits and pieces of a system and the way it works.
- Front-end engineers make the services that the back-end engineers are writing accessible to the end user through a UI. It’s not uncommon for front-end engineers to have some experience with UI design or partner often with a designer at the company.
- Operations engineers are responsible for ensuring the infrastructure that supports a product or service is reliable and stays up and running. Another primary responsibility is ensuring a system’s scalability.
- QA or test engineers are responsible for building systems that test the code that the other engineers are writing to ensure it’s stable and reliable.
- Full-stack engineers do everything (back-end, front-end, operations, testing). These are less common as entry-level roles unless they work at a small startup.
Common Responsibilities of Entry-Level software engineers
The tasks that software engineers perform vary greatly depending on their specialization. Here are a few examples of what they do:
- Building an RESTFUL API for consumption by another team at the company or a 3rd party. (Back-end)
- Spinning up infrastructure to support a new mobile app that the company is building, paying careful attention to how it might scale if the app takes off ala Pokemon Go.
- Writing tests that automatically ensure that the new app remains reliable and can handle a large load of traffic.
Types of Entry-Level software engineer Jobs
As you know by now, specialization is important. However, when searching for entry-level jobs, it’s even more important to become familiar with all of the different verbiage that an employer might use to describe their position. If you know what terms to search by, you’ll be far more likely to be able to find all of the available positions and narrow them down to the ones you’re most interested in.
Another great search strategy is to use software languages as keywords. Employers are often working on a Java or C stack and need engineers that can work in those languages.
Here are a few search terms you could use to search for entry-level software engineering postions:
- Entry-Level Front-End Engineer
- Entry-Level Back-End Engineer
- Entry-Level Software Developer
- Web Developer
- iOS Developer
The median salary for entry-level software engineers is $75,275.
The range is $54,084 – $110,908.
The higher end of this range is quite high and is often skewed significantly by the larger tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) and the competitiveness for their entry-level positions. They’ve been known to give $500,000 signing bonuses to the best recent grads. Crazy!
Location is one the largest factors in calculating salary, so it’s particularly helpful to consider the entire salary range.
The Bureau of Labor expects the number of software engineer jobs to grow by 17% over the next 10 years. That’s incredible growth. It’s no secret that software development is one of the most promising career choices.
Who Typically Gets These Jobs
Every year, we survey over 20,000 students and recent grads in an effort to understand the internship and entry-level job market. Based on the results of our State of Hiring report, the students or recent graduates that apply to these entry-level jobs have several things in common:
- While many students are willing to look at jobs unrelated to their major, computer science majors are not. 72% of them only want to consider software development jobs.
- San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle are the most popular destination for computer science grads.
- Surprisingly enough, 75% of graduating computer science majors have worked a paid side job. Employers see this as a major benefit, as one of their primary concerns with engineers is how they will fair in a post-college work environment.
- Only 28% of graduating seniors majoring in software engineer have no internship experience.
- Most computer science students will not have any student debt when they graduate.
- Almost 56% of seniors majoring in computer science have taken an online course related to their major.
Related Entry-Level Fields
Despite it being somewhat rare that software engineer majors seek jobs outside of their immediate major, it does happen. When they do go outside, here are the areas they’re most likely to look at:
- It never hurts to brush up on a few software engineer topics. You can take a few online courses to get back in the swing of things.
- For more salary information, head over to Payscale.
- For more advice on starting your entry-level job search, check out our guide!
- And finally, to prepare for an entry-level job interview, prepare for the top 20 entry-level job interview questions.