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We’ve seen many people with humanities and social science degrees get junior software engineer jobs with high salaries, just through learning on their own or through coding bootcamps. Work-life balance in software engineering is generally better than in jobs with higher or comparable pay. According to one survey, software engineers work 8.6 hours per day (though hours are likely to be longer in higher-paid roles and at startups). There are recurring opportunities for software engineers with a range of technical skills . However, the experience of working in small organisations varies wildly. You’ll be less likely to have many very senior experienced engineers around to give you the feedback you need to improve.

software engineering

Because we’re always looking for new ways to innovate, your ideas and contributions are welcome from the beginning. If you think software engineering might be a great option for you, but you need help deciding or thinking about what to do next, our team might be able to help. As a result, you should think of the figures below as representing salaries for early- to mid- career software developers. If you’re interested in working on biosecurity and pandemic preparedness as a software engineer, you can find open positions on our job board. Pay at startups is very variable, as you will likely be paid in equity, and so your earnings will be heavily tied to the success of the organisation.

Software Engineering Pay In Other Countries

Anyone with a good understanding of how to build software can be useful in these small organisations, even if they don’t have much experience. However, if you want to work in this space, you’ll need to be comfortable getting your hands dirty and doing whatever needs to be done, even when the work isn’t the most intellectually challenging. For this reason, it could be particularly useful to have experience working in a software-based startup.

As you grow, you’ll also be able to explore opportunities with many teams in various locations across our company. Basic computer programming skills can be extremely useful whatever you end up doing. You’ll find ways to automate tasks or analyse data throughout your career. This means that spending a little embedded software definition time learning to code is a very robustly useful option. For figures on total compensation, especially at top companies, we can again look at Entry-level compensation is around $150,000, rising to $300,000 to $400,000 for senior engineers, and above $500,000 for late-career engineers.

These very best software engineers are often people who spend huge amounts of time practising. This means that if you enjoy coding enough to want to do it both as a job and in your spare time, you are likely to be a good fit. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22% growth in US employment of software engineers from 2020–30, which is much higher than the growth rate for all occupations (8%). The main reason given for this growth is a large projected increase in the demand for software for mobile technology, the healthcare industry, and computer security.

Learning To Program

The Centre for Effective Altruism‘s tech team supports a variety of projects across the effective altruism community, such as the Effective Altruism Forum. Ought is an AI research lab attempting to build systems that apply machine learning to the task of helping people think. You should make sure they think you are seriously considering the company or you may not get an offer. If you don’t get an offer, ask for feedback (though it’s not always possible for companies to give detailed feedback). If you need more time to think , tell them in advance, and they may choose to wait to give you details when you’re more ready to go through with an offer. For smaller companies, you may have to reach out directly and through your network.

  • They use software engineers to design and maintain their online platform.
  • As a result, he decided to teach himself programming and has been a software engineer at 80,000 Hours since 2018.
  • In general, you will gain broadly transferable skills through either of these options.
  • With funding from Open Philanthropy, she cofounded Hofvarpnir Studios, a nonprofit providing support and GPU clusters for AI safety researchers.
  • You can get this from a relevant degree; working on a job at a smaller, less prestigious company; or from a bootcamp .

We’re looking for those who are intellectually curious, collaborative and open to new challenges, as well as being able to take ownership of projects to bring them to fruition. If you can find internships, ideally at your target employers , you’ll gain practical experience and the key skills you otherwise wouldn’t pick up from academic degrees (e.g. using version control systems and powerful text editors). You’ll need different skills, and work at different jobs, depending on whether you want to be a front-end, back-end , or full-stack developer.

Software Engineering

There’s a growing trend for a few companies to hire globally for remote roles, and pay US-market compensation. If you manage to get one of those roles, you can earn a lot from anywhere. We think that most people with good general intelligence will be able to do well at software engineering. And because it’s very easy to test out , you’ll be able to tell early on whether you’re likely to be a good fit. Our World in Data, founded by Max Roser, collects and presents data on many of the world’s most pressing problems. They use software engineers to maintain their website, analyse data, and develop their open-source data visualisation tool.

Here at 80,000 Hours, our team includes two software engineers working on our website and other technology. Aside from direct work on these crucial problems, while working for startups or larger tech companies you can gain excellent career capital , and, if you choose, earn and donate substantial amounts to the world’s best charities. He has continued to learn as much as he can and went to a Codeworks software engineering bootcamp in 2021. After studying philosophy at university, Roman thought he would be a good fit for research and moved to 80,000 Hours to become our director of content. But he found that our applied practical research into careers was more different from writing philosophy essays than he had anticipated. As a result, he decided to teach himself programming and has been a software engineer at 80,000 Hours since 2018.

Across all projects and businesses, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your coding skills, work with innovative technologies such as machine learning, and build solutions using agile methodologies and more. Through our fulltime Software Engineer Program, you’ll develop innovative solutions that impact the day-to-day lives of customers, clients and businesses around the world. You’ll benefit from a $12 billion annual investment in technology, working in one of the world’s biggest tech companies. You could design, build, deploy and run innovations across our cloud, cyber, digital, markets and payments businesses. You’ll work in an open, collaborative and supportive culture, where our agile teams are constantly innovating, learning new skills, and at the forefront of developing new technologies and solutions.

Wave is a startup building a way for people in developing countries to access financial services. With the scale of our business, you could impact millions of consumers, thousands of enterprise clients, and 250,000+ employees. We’re committed to advancing your career, helping you acquire new skills, opportunities and a global network of support that will help take your career in any direction imaginable. The Software Engineering concentration is designed to produce designers for large, complex software systems.

software engineering

You also gain responsibility much faster at a fast-growing startup, as there is a desperate need for employees to take on new projects and gain the skills required. This can make startups a very fertile learning ground, if you can teach yourself what you need to know. If you work at or found a startup, your earnings will be highly variable.

Expertise in adjacent fields such as data science could also be helpful. At this point you may have the skills to leave and become a technical founder or CTO of a startup. This is a highly variable option , but could be one of the highest expected value ways to earn to give given a chance of wild success. In general, if you can find a job you can do well, you’ll have a bigger impact working on a problem directly than you would by earning money and donating.

Progressing past senior engineers, you’re typically responsible for defining as well as doing your job. You may go into management positions, or could become a staff engineer. Staff engineers, while still building software, also set technical direction, provide mentorship, input an engineering perspective to organisational decisions, and do exploratory work. At this level, at top firms in the US, you can earn upwards of $500,000 and sometimes more than $1,000,000 a year. You’ll begin with a comprehensive induction program to learn about our businesses, build on your knowledge of development methodologies, and develop your professional skills.

What Does A Software Engineering Career Involve?

More data is available at, which collects data from people self-reporting their total compensation, and also has data on the distribution of what people earn, rather than just averages. Founding an organisation yourself is more challenging, but can be even more impactful. And if you’ve worked in a small organisation or a startup before, you might have the broad skills and entrepreneurialism that’s required to succeed. Engineering for a small organisation likely means doing work across the development process, since there are few other engineers. Much of the work in biosecurity is related to handling and processing large amounts of data, so knowledge of how to work with distributed systems is in demand.

software engineering

You should also make sure you gain a really deep understanding of the basics of software development. Many people we’ve spoken to at these and other organisations have said that they have real difficulty hiring extremely talented software engineers. Many nonprofits want to hire people who believe in their missions , which indicates that talented, altruistic-minded software engineers are sorely needed and could do huge amounts of good.

Join Our Next Generation Of Technologists

However, the expected value of your earnings may be comparable to, and in some cases higher than, earnings at large companies. Median salaries in Australia are around 20% lower than salaries in the US (approximately US$80,000), and around 40% lower in the UK, Germany, Canada, and Japan (approximately US$60,000). While much of your earnings as a software engineer come from bonuses and equity, rather than just your salary, these are also lower outside the US.

Software Engineer Program

Lightcone Infrastructure builds software-based infrastructure for longtermist projects. Software engineers are in a position to meaningfully contribute directly to solving a wide variety of the world’s most pressing problems. This career will be some people’s highest-impact option if their personal fit is especially good. Initially, it could be relatively challenging to gain skills quickly compared to some other jobs, as you need a particular concrete skillset. Our presence in over 100 markets around the globe means we can serve millions of consumers, small businesses and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients.

Once you know the fundamentals, try taking an intro to computer science and programming class, or work through free resources. After moving through various institutions and startups , Nova realised that, through her focus on high-compute infrastructure, she had built a unique and important skillset for working on AI safety. With funding from Open Philanthropy, she cofounded Hofvarpnir Studios, a nonprofit providing support and GPU clusters for AI safety researchers. While working at Hofvarpnir, she is now also a Senior Systems Infrastructure Engineer at Anthropic, an AI safety research company. Reducing global catastrophic biological risks — for example, research into screening for novel pathogens to prevent future pandemics — is likely to be one of the most important ways to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

Reasons Not To Go Into Software Engineering

As a senior engineer, you write complex applications and have a deep understanding of the entire software lifecycle. You may lead small teams or projects, and you’ll be expected to provide mentorship and guidance to junior engineers. You can stay in this role for much of your career, though it becomes harder to compete with younger talent as you get older. Compensation in 2022 at this level is around $300,000 to $400,000 in the US.

Current best practices and process models of the software development life cycle are covered with detailed study of all process phases from requirements elicitation through operations and maintenance. Emphasis is on design attributes that make it possible to efficiently implement, extend, and maintain large systems. If you’re in university, this is a great option because it allows you to learn programming while the opportunity cost of your time is lower. It will also give you a better theoretical understanding of computing than a bootcamp will , a good network, some prestige, and a better understanding of lower-level languages like C. Having a CS degree also makes it easier to get a US work visa if you’re not from the US. Try out writing code — as a complete beginner, you can write a Python program in less than 20 minutes that reminds you to take a break every two hours.

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