What can I do with a degree in Software Engineering?

Engineering and Physical Science library computer suite

Our society relies on software or software-based systems, for example in transportation, entertainment, telecommunications, government, business, health, avionics, and many other areas. These systems often have a high degree of complexity, consisting of millions of lines of code produced by large teams of engineers or programmers.

We also critically depend on the timely and cost-effective completion of such systems, and on their reliable and efficient operation. To meet all these targets, a disciplined and well-founded approach to the design, creation and operation of software (or software-based systems) under real-world constraints (economical, ethical, technical, legal) is needed.

The software engineering programme provides a unique blend of foundational courses in computer science and engineering, and practical work through a series of projects. The projects provide excellent opportunities to develop skills as a team player, to develop creative solutions to complex and challenging problems, to implement these solutions and turn them into usable systems, and to work with recent and exciting software technologies.

Through their Software Engineering degree graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Analytical, logical and quantitative thinking
  • Practical application of engineering technology and science
  • Problem solving that applies to real-world issues
  • Ability to design, code, test and maintain software
  • Experience working in a software development team
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Commercial awareness and entrepreneurship
  • Coping with rapid technological changes.

Applied learning is an important part of your degree through lab work, work placements, and project courses in the professional years. These experiences can deepen your skillset, awareness of
others, working knowledge and employability.

There is a strong demand for software engineers. Graduates are not only needed in software production companies, but also in many companies whose products involve significant amounts of software.
Employers such as these have recruited Aotearoa New Zealand graduates for software roles:

  • IT eg, Intergen, ICM Asia Pacific Group
  • Web giants eg, Google, Microsoft Corporation
  • Smart technologies and network companies eg, Allied Telesis Labs, Aviat Networks
  • Banking and financial services eg, ASB, KPMG, Optiver, FNZ
  • Consultancies eg, The Testing Consultancy, Assurity, Soltius NZ
  • Testing eg, Planit Software Testing Australia
  • Tech companies eg, Liverton Ltd, Palantir
  • Not-for-profits eg, Asia New Zealand Foundation
  • Gaming industry eg, New Zealand Racing Board
  • Automation companies eg, Macro Automation, Tui Technology
  • Government eg, Government Communications Security Bureau
  • Software companies eg, Hilltop Software, Atlassian
  • Education eg, University of Canterbury, University of Otago
  • Film and audio production eg, Weta Digital, Fusion Entertainment
  • Healthcare eg, Orion Health, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

Software Engineering graduates are employed in a wide variety of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Software engineer, graduate software engineer

  • Analyses customer needs, evaluates computer software and researches new technologies
  • Develops software programs for new products
  • Manages software development projects

Programmer, software developer

  • Determines specifications and writes code
  • Builds prototypes of software programs
  • Tests and fixes computer programs and systems
  • Maintains and upgrades programs and systems
  • May develop and integrate technical aspects of websites/mobile apps along with other workers

Network engineer

  • Installs, maintains and supports computer communication networks
  • Sets up computer network systems and access
  • Analyses and resolves faults in networks

Game developer

  • Researches the user market to meet their needs
  • Writes computer code, sources graphics/sounds
  • Tests games and fixes any issues
  • Creates new and improved version releases

Database coordinator / administrator

  • Supports an organisation’s data infrastructure and analytical needs
  • Maintains the database and controls access
  • Ensures data is stored appropriately

Systems programmer / engineer

  • Writes programs to interface with the hardware
  • Designs diagnostic programs, operating systems and software
  • Works with both hardware and software systems to resolve faults or improve efficiency

Software test engineer

  • Designs and creates testing tools
  • Carries out software compatibility testing with hardware and operating systems
  • Develops standards to determine the quality of software and when it is ready for release

Embedded software engineer, firmware engineer

  • Creates and codes embedded software (firmware) in electronic devices
  • Assists in manufacturing and design
  • Works on debugging and testing firmware

Applications / support analyst

  • Pre-loads standard applications on computers
  • Instructs computers through tasks and computer languages
  • Plans software upgrades and provides staff training for an organisation

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

For more information

see the Software Engineering subject page