Most employers prefer applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree and experience with a variety of computer systems and technologies. In order to remain competitive, computer software engineers must continually strive to acquire the latest technical skills. Advancement opportunities are good for those with relevant experience. Education and training. Most employers prefer applicants who have at least a bachelor's degree and broad knowledge of, and experience with, a variety of computer systems and technologies. The usual college major for applications software engineers is computer science or software engineering. Systems software engineers often study computer science or computer information systems. Graduate degrees are preferred for some of the more complex jobs. In 2006, about 80 percent of workers had a bachelor's degree or higher. Academic programs in software engineering may offer the program as a degree option or in conjunction with computer science degrees. Because of increasing emphasis on computer security, software engineers with advanced degrees in areas such as mathematics and systems design will be sought after by software developers, government agencies, and consulting firms. Students seeking software engineering jobs enhance their employment opportunities by participating in internships or co-ops. These experiences provide students with broad knowledge and experience, making them more attractive to employers. Inexperienced college graduates may be hired by large computer and consulting firms that train new employees in intensive, company-based programs. Certification and other qualifications. Systems software vendors offer certification and training programs, but most training authorities say that program certification alone is not sufficient for the majority of software engineering jobs. People interested in jobs as computer software engineers must have strong problem-solving and analytical skills. They also must be able to communicate effectively with team members, other staff, and the customers they meet. Because they often deal with a number of tasks simultaneously, they must be able to concentrate and pay close attention to detail. As technology advances, employers will need workers with the latest skills. Computer software engineers must continually strive to acquire new skills if they wish to remain in this dynamic field. To help keep up with changing technology, workers may take continuing education and professional development seminars offered by employers, software vendors, colleges and universities, private training institutions, and professional computing societies. Computer software engineers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Engineers working for a bank, for example, should have some expertise in finance so that they understand banks' computer needs. Advancement. As with most occupations, advancement opportunities for computer software engineers increase with experience. Entry-level computer software engineers are likely to test designs. As they become more experienced, engineers may begin helping to design and develop software. Eventually, they may advance to become a project manager, manager of information systems, or chief information officer, especially if they have business skills and training. Some computer software engineers with several years of experience or expertise find lucrative opportunities working as systems designers or independent consultants. For the source and more detailed information concerning this subject, click on the related links section (U.S. Department of Labor) indicated below.