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Software Engineer

Software engineers design and work on software used in applications, operating systems, information warehouses, databases, and telecommunications.

Also Known As

Big Data Software Developer, Computer Specialist, Data Scientist, Design Engineer, Engineer, Information Technology Specialist, Professional Engineer, Software Developer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Software Engineers and Designers (2173) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Software Engineers (C073) 
  • 2011 NOC: Software engineers and designers (2173) 
  • 2016 NOC: Software engineers and designers (2173) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Software Engineers and Designers

2006 NOC: 2173

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to design, develop and test computer-based systems

METHODICAL

Interest in precision working to assess, troubleshoot, document, upgrade and develop maintenance procedures for operating systems, communications environments and applications software

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting to plan, design and co-ordinate the development, installation, integration and operation of computer-based systems; may lead and co-ordinate teams of information systems professionals in the development of software and integrated information systems

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Software engineers design, develop, modify, research, test, and maintain software. Examples include:

  • Business and engineering applications
  • Databases
  • Process control systems
  • Systems software

They may develop software that can be adapted for more than 1 application. They may develop custom embedded software for use in computer-controlled products such as consumer electronics or car engines.

Software engineers may also manage projects or work on architecture design for end-to-end solutions. They:

  • Consult with system users
  • Study users’ needs
  • Develop design specifications
  • Develop strategies to assure fault tolerance performance and system security
  • Design software products and user interfaces
  • Change existing software to fix errors, adapt to new hardware, increase performance, or upgrade user interfaces
  • Test and validate programs
  • Study performance
  • Integrate programs with legacy and third-party systems

They may also:

  • Prepare proposals
  • Write product documentation
  • Obtain quotes from suppliers
  • Determine system performance standards
  • Manage software projects
  • Help with marketing and selling software
  • Supervise technical staff
  • Mentor junior technical staff

Software engineers must keep their knowledge and skills up to date. This can be difficult because of rapid changes in technology. They often work as members of design teams. These teams may include:

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Software engineers spend most of their time on computers in office settings. They may work a lot of overtime. They may feel pressure to meet deadlines.

They may have to travel to:

  • Attend meetings
  • Give briefings
  • Obtain user requirements
  • Oversee the creation of prototypes or products
Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Software engineers need:

  • Patience and persistence
  • Programming skills
  • A strong ability to learn new computer languages and other tech stacks
  • An aptitude for math, science, and programming
  • Excellent speaking and writing skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • The ability to teach others
  • Time-management skills
  • The ability to think logically and analytically
  • Teamwork skills

They should enjoy:

  • Being creative
  • Performing tasks that require precision
  • Having a structured approach to their work
  • Being up to date on the newest technology trends and changes

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2011 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Software engineers and designers

2011 NOC: 2173

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 94 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Nov 10, 2021 and Sep 26, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Plan, design and co-ordinate the development, installation, integration and operation of computer-based systems
Tasks: Develop data, process and network models to optimize architecture and to evaluate the performance and reliability of designs
Tasks: Collect and document user's requirements and develop logical and physical specifications
Tasks: Assess, troubleshoot, document, upgrade and develop maintenance procedures for operating systems, communications environments and applications software
Tasks: Research, evaluate and synthesize technical information to design, develop and test computer-based systems
Personal Suitability: Team player
Tasks: Lead and co-ordinate teams of information systems professionals in the development of software and integrated information systems, process control software and other embedded software control systems
Plan, design and co-ordinate the development, installation, integration and operation of computer-based systems
Personal Suitability: Organized
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Employers prefer software engineers who have a 4-year bachelor’s degree in software engineering. They also accept bachelor’s degrees in a related discipline such as electrical engineering, computer engineering, or computer science. Many employers will accept an equivalent amount of work experience.

Some employers only hire software engineers who have a master’s degree. Software engineers generally need a doctoral degree for a career in research and development.

Programming experience in high school is an asset. The first year of post-secondary study is the same for all engineering disciplines. Students specialize in software engineering in their second, third, and fourth years.

Some universities offer cooperative education or internships in engineering. Students can combine periods of academic study with work experience. Students usually take 5 years to complete these programs.



To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

Engineer

Professional engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor, and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes, and structures.

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering.

You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word “engineer” in your job title.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Engineer.

Information Systems Professional

Information systems professionals investigate, analyze, design, develop, or manage information systems based on computer and related technologies. They do so objectively applying specialized knowledge and professional judgement.

Legislation

Information Systems Professional is a protected title under Alberta’s Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act [pdf].

To call yourself an Information Systems Professional or use the ISP designation, you must register as a member of the Canadian Information Processing Society of Alberta (CIPS Alberta).

You do not have to register if you do not call yourself an Information Systems Professional.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Information Systems Professional.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Software engineers work for:

  • Companies that make embedded software
  • Companies that develop industrial instruments and process-control products
  • Consulting companies
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Energy companies (such as oil and gas companies)
  • Schools
  • Research institutions
  • Governments
  • Internet-based businesses
  • Software marketing companies

Working in a smaller company requires a broader range of skills. Duties with larger companies may be more specialized. With experience, software engineers can move into:

  • Other areas of engineering
  • Consulting
  • Starting their own companies
  • Management

Those who want to manage may need additional training in business administration.

Senior software engineers with project lead or project management experience could become software architects.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2173: Software engineers and designers occupational group, 82.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2173: Software engineers and designers occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 77 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2022

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Software engineers and designers

2016 NOC: 2173
Average Wage
$49.08
Per Hour
Average Salary
$100,625.00
Per Year
Average Hours
39.5
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2173 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $20.19 $60.00 $37.66 $34.82
Overall $32.55 $68.86 $49.08 $48.08
Top $37.86 $95.53 $69.22 $64.90

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation
Manufacturing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
47%
47%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
33%
33%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
8%
8%
Vacancy Rate
3%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Computer and Information Technology
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2022

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apega.ca

Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) of Alberta website: ab.cips.ca

Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) website: www.ictc-ctic.ca

Technology Alberta website: technologyalberta.com

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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