Software engineer

Computing and ICT

Career outlook for software engineer

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

Software engineers create, maintain, test and improve information systems to meet the needs of a business. In this job, you could work in a digital or technical team, developing and building computer system software and programs. 

You’d need a good knowledge of programming languages, computer operating systems and software development.

You could work with computer games, fintech (financial technology) operating systems, websites or business applications. If you like to aim for the stars, you could even write code for rockets and spacecraft.

Working with clients, you'd find out what their needs are to make a plan. Then you'd design, develop and test the software to make sure it meets those needs. You'd collaborate with others in a team to see a plan through from start to finish.

What you might do:

  • come up with solutions to fix or improve software 
  • deploy new or update existing programs 
  • maintain and support systems after deployment 
  • write or modify computer code 
  • attend technical design progress meetings 
  • develop quality assurance procedures 
  • produce and update records of development processes and changes 
  • carry out system testing and quality checks before launching new or updated systems 

Working conditions


Working hours can vary, but full-time hours will usually be Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Project deadlines and testing stage might mean you’ll have to work longer hours or at weekends, but this depends on the circumstances and the organisation.


You’ll usually be office-based but remote-working is becoming more common. You might work alone or within small teams.


You might work as a contractor, which could mean you might move from job to job a lot.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Adaptability
  • Working with technology
  • Written communication
  • Creative
  • Problem solving
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Making decisions
  • Analysing

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You can develop the necessary skills for this role through a variety of routes.

Many software engineers will have a Higher National Diploma (HND) or degree in the following subjects:

  • Information Technology
  • Computing – Software Development
  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Applied Computing

Employers will consider graduates from non-computing subjects if they are able to demonstrate essential technical knowledge. There are also postgraduate IT conversion courses available to graduates who need to strengthen their technical skills.

Useful subjects

Many colleges and universities will have required subjects that you must have for entry.  They might also highlight additional subjects that they would value. Have a look at individual institutions websites for specific entry information.

Useful subjects would be:

  • physics
  • computer science
  • graphic design

Helpful to have

Not all employers list specific qualification requirements but they might ask for relevant (usually work based) experience that demonstrates a range of transferable skills.

You would also need to demonstrate an up to date knowledge of software and programming developments.