While there may still be self-taught computer software engineers working in the computer industry, most companies look for engineers and programmers who have college or graduate-level degrees in computer science or computer engineering. The training in a college degree program helps students develop industry-standard skills that employers look for. They also help to ensure students learn correct and efficient methods by analyzing and discussing common errors.

Software Engineer Degrees

Universities offer a number of undergraduate degree programs that high school students can enroll in to learn the skills necessary to become a computer software engineer. Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science or computer engineering both teach students the basics of computer science, including the programming languages, network issues and data structures that underlie the creation of software applications.

Mathematics

One of the cornerstones of all computer science and engineering programs is mathematics. Students must take extensive classes in math as a prerequisite for the upper-division coursework in computer science and engineering. Many programs require calculus 1, 2 and 3, linear algebra and differential equations as part of the computer science degree. These mathematics classes are essential because advanced programming concepts require algorithms that are based upon matrix computation and linear algebra equations.

Programming Languages

There is a variety of different languages that programmers use to create software applications. Computer science and engineering degrees offer courses to introduce students to the most commonly used languages and the best practices in coding and documentation. Classes include web design, which teaches students to program in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Other classes, like C++ for Java programmers, object oriented application development and C for embedded programming, give students the opportunity to learn more complex programming concepts like memory organization, system architecture, operator overloading and exception handling.

Data Structures

Another important element of computer software engineering is designing and managing database structures, and organizing how programs create, store and access information. These topics are often taken together or as part of a programming class. Classes in computer science programs that deal with data structures include object oriented programming and data structures, parallel and sequential data structures and algorithms and matrices and linear transformations. These classes allow students to explore concepts in data structure and organization such as linked lists, stacks, queues and trees that are essential building blocks of larger programming projects.