Software engineers and designers (NOC 2173)

High opportunity occupation

About this job

Software engineers and designers research, design, test and maintain software applications, technical environments, operating systems, embedded software, information warehouses and telecommunications software.

Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a software engineer is like.

Common job titles
  • architect, application / software
  • architect, systems / technical
  • designer, AI (artificial intelligence)
  • engineer, computer applications
  • engineer, system integration
  • engineer, telecommunications


Software engineers and designers perform some or all of the following:

  • Explore how, where and why the software will be used to meet the needs of the end user
  • Research, review and use data and technical information to design, develop and test software systems
  • Test the software design to make sure it’s useful and will work
  • Develop and manage database systems
  • Put forward ideas that improve the software and put those improvements in place
  • Plan, design and co-ordinate software development, installation, integration and operation of computer-based systems
  • Troubleshoot, test and develop ways to maintain operating systems and other software
  • May lead or co-ordinate teams to develop software

Work environment

Software engineers and designers may work in a variety of settings. Some may work in an office or studio (for game design), others may work from home or split their time between a home and company office. Project management and video conferencing technologies allow people to work remotely at least some of the time, if their company agrees to it.

Depending on the work they do, software engineers and designers generally work a regular 40-hour week. Sometimes, people in this job may need to work overtime to meet deadlines. Those with this career could have flexible work schedules. They may work some nights or weekends on a regular basis and some might prefer this schedule as it allows them to manage other parts of their life, such as childcare, in a way that benefits them.

Software engineers and designers work for both the private and public sector. This includes information technology (IT) consulting firms, IT research and development organizations and video game companies. They also work in the aviation, transportation and healthcare industries to name a few. Some with this job may be self-employed and work as a contractor or consultant to larger companies.

People in this job spend a lot of time sitting at a desk and working on a computer. This can cause wrist, back or neck strain. To help stop this from happening, it’s important to make sure that workstations are set up properly.

Insights from industry

Software engineers often work for companies that are involved in the development of safety critical software and systems. These are systems such as aircraft, cars and medical devices – which means if they fail, someone could die. People who work in this job must be detail oriented, responsible and have a commitment to making sure that each part of their job is done well.

Those in this career need to continue to update their skills regularly since improvements and changes in technology often affect their work. More and more, employers want their software engineers and designers to have graduated from a CEAB-accredited program and be licensed with Engineers and Geoscientists B.C. (EGBC).

The health-care sector increasingly needs software engineers to design, develop, evaluate and maintain safe and secure eHealth information systems.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

As software engineers and designers gain experience, take more training or earn a degree, they can move into higher-level positions, such as chief software architect.

With business and management experience, software engineers and designers may become managers of large software groups or hold other senior positions in the company. Some choose to open their own consulting firms.

Additional resources