Software Engineers and Designers

(NOC 2173)

in All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

Software engineers and designers research, design, evaluate, integrate, and maintain software applications, technical environments, operating systems, embedded software, information warehouses and telecommunications software. They work for information technology consulting firms, information technology research and development firms, and information technology units throughout the private and public sectors, or they may be self-employed.

Job Outlook

Good

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  • Estimate Strong growth employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 205 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate Low rate of unemployment in 2019

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

  • Estimate 705 employment change, 2019-2021
  • Estimate 2585 openings due to growth and retirements, 2018-2020
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Relatively few workers in this occupation were laid off because of COVID-19. Many employees were able to work from home or in office spaces adapted to meet physical-distancing requirements. The widespread adoption of remote work has increased the number of opportunities for jobseekers in Nova Scotia to apply for jobs with employers in other provinces (and vice versa). This trend may apply upward pressure on wages in areas of the province where local businesses are now competing with employers in other cities for talent.

Employment in the information technology field has increased greatly in Nova Scotia in recent years. As such, many vacancies in this occupation result from employment growth. Most positions are in the Halifax region. Prospects for employment in this occupation should continue to be good. In some areas of Nova Scotia where the supply of qualified applicants is scarce, employers are recruiting from other provinces. Recent graduates of computer science programs should be able to find work easily, even without much experience. Having a master’s degree is an asset.

The median employment income for the 75% of Software Engineers and Designers who worked full-time, year-round in 2015 was $73,568. Across all occupations in Nova Scotia, the 59% of those who worked full-time, year-round had a median employment income of $43,600. (Source: 2016 Census)

Hourly Pay

$27.88

Minimum

$37.08

Median

$51.28

Maximum

Annual Pay

$24,845

Minimum

$71,270

Median

$106,614

Maximum

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

Hourly Pay

$18.00

Minimum

$37.80

Median

$48.46

Maximum

Annual Pay

$13,568

Minimum

$60,422

Median

$107,009

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Software engineers and designers research, design, evaluate, integrate, and maintain software applications, technical environments, operating systems, embedded software, information warehouses and telecommunications software. They work for information technology consulting firms, information technology research and development firms, and information technology units throughout the private and public sectors, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

Software engineers and designers:

  • Collect and document users' requirements and develop logical and physical specifications.
  • Research, evaluate and apply technical information to design, develop and test computer-based systems.
  • Develop data, process, and network models to improve architecture and to evaluate the performance and reliability of designs.
  • Plan, design and coordinate the development, installation, integration, and operation of computer-based systems.
  • Assess, test, troubleshoot, document, upgrade and develop maintenance procedures for operating systems, communications environments, and applications software.
  • May lead and coordinate teams of information systems professionals in the development of software and integrated information systems, process control software, and other embedded software control systems.

Sample job titles

  • application architect
  • artificial intelligence (AI) designer
  • cloud administrator
  • cloud architect
  • software designer
  • software engineer
  • software technical architect
  • systems applications engineer
  • systems architect

Skills

Software engineers need an understanding of computer languages and IT terminology. You need to be analytical, have a solid grasp of mathematics, and be both innovative and methodical. Accuracy and proofreading skills are necessary to detect, locate, and avoid errors in code. Good communication skills are required to understand user requirements and to lead and coordinate teams of information professionals.

Job requirements

  • A bachelor's degree, usually in computer science, computer systems engineering, software engineering or mathematics or completion of a college program in computer science is usually required.
  • A master's or doctoral degree in a related discipline may be required.
  • Licensing by a provincial association of professional engineers is required to approve engineering drawings and reports and to practice as a Professional Engineer (P.Eng.).
  • Engineers are eligible for registration following graduation from an accredited educational program, three or four years of supervised work experience in engineering, and passing a professional practice examination.

Other considerations

Experience as a computer programmer is usually required. Rapid changes in computer technology mean that people in this field should be prepared to keep up-to-date with new developments in computer hardware, software, and networking technologies.

By the numbers

Quick look

875

employed in 2016

94.3%

employed full-time

6.3%

self employed

14.9%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
85.1%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
36.1

median age

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

25,875

employed in 2016

91.5%

employed full-time

7.6%

self employed

20.0%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
80%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
42.8

median age

Where will I likely work?

85.1%

Halifax

6.3%

Southern

5.2%

North Shore

3.4%

Annapolis Valley

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

64.7%

Professional, scientific and technical services

7.8%

Information and cultural industries

6.6%

Manufacturing

6.0%

Public administration

3.6%

Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services

What is the age of Employment?

42.0%

25-34

25.0%

35-44

19.0%

45-54

9.0%

55-64

5.0%

15-24

1.0%

65+

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

24.2%

25-34

23.5%

45-54

23.4%

35-44

16.4%

55-64

7.7%

15-24

Top levels of education

57.7%

Bachelor

$68,456 median annual income
17.1%

Master

$75,309 median annual income
14.9%

College Diploma

$66,345 median annual income
4.0%

High school

$68,633 median annual income
2.9%

Diploma Above Bachelor

N/A

Compared to: All Engineering, Math, Science, and Information Technology

33.1%

College Diploma

$59,986 median annual income
29.8%

Bachelor

$63,965 median annual income
11.9%

High school

$45,835 median annual income
9.9%

Master

$65,105 median annual income
6.9%

Apprenticeship

$57,773 median annual income

Education & training

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

College or University Program

These programs focus on the symbolic inference, representation, and simulation by computers and software of human learning and reasoning processes and capabilities, and the modelling of human motor control and motions by computer-driven machinery. They include courses in computing theory, cybernetics, human factors, natural language processing, robot design, and applicable aspects of engineering, technology, and specific end-use applications.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

St. Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, NS

Computer Programming

College or Trades Program

These programs focus on writing and implementing generic and customized programs to drive operating systems and that prepares students to apply the methods and procedures of software design and programming to software installation and maintenance. They include courses in software design, low- and high-level languages and program writing, program customization and linking, prototype testing, troubleshooting, and related aspects of operating systems and networks.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Annapolis Valley Campus

Middleton, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus

Halifax, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus

Sydney, NS

Computer Programming - Specific Applications

College or Trades Program

These programs apply the knowledge and skills of general computer programming to the solution of specific operational problems and customization requirements presented by individual software users and organizational users. Includes training in specific types of software and its installation and maintenance.

Institutions providing this program

Academy of Learning Career College - Halifax

Halifax, NS

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus

Halifax, NS

Computer Science

College or University Program

These programs focus on computers, computing problems and solutions, and the design of computer systems and user interfaces from a scientific perspective. They include courses in the principles of computational science, and computing theory, computer hardware design, computer development and programming, and applications to a variety of end-use situations.

Institutions providing this program

Acadia University

Wolfville, NS

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

University of King's College

Halifax, NS

Mount Saint Vincent University

Halifax, NS

St. Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, NS

Saint Mary's University

Halifax, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Institute of Technology Campus

Halifax, NS

Nova Scotia Community College - Marconi Campus

Sydney, NS

Mathematics

College or University Program

These programs focus on the analysis of quantities, magnitudes, forms, and their relationships, using symbolic logic and language. They include courses in algebra, calculus, functional analysis, geometry, number theory, logic, topology and other mathematical specializations.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

University of King's College

Halifax, NS

Mount Saint Vincent University

Halifax, NS

St. Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, NS

Saint Mary's University

Halifax, NS

Cape Breton University

Sydney, NS

Medical Informatics

College, Trades, or University Program

These programs focus on applying computer science and software engineering to medical research and clinical information technology support, and the development of advanced imaging, database, and decision systems. They include courses in computer science, health information systems architecture, medical knowledge structures, medical language and image processing, quantitative medical decision modelling, imaging techniques, electronic medical records, medical research systems, clinical decision support, and informatics aspects of specific research and practice problems.

Institutions providing this program

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Professional Engineer

Right to Title and Practice: This job is regulated. The job title is protected, and you may not use it without a professional licence. A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to legally do this work.

Regulating body:
Engineers Nova Scotia
1355 Barrington Street
Halifax, NS B3J 1Y9
(888) 802-7367
(902) 423-9769

Contacts

Information and Communications Technology Council
Ottawa, ON
Digital Nova Scotia
Halifax, NS

Additional resources