Software engineering is one of the highest-paying bachelor’s degrees. If you really want to push the envelope on your career and salary potential, you may benefit from choosing a minor that complements your software engineering curriculum. There are several different avenues you could pursue, depending on what you want your minor to do for you. Students who really enjoy the computer aspect of the work may do well with a minor in computer science or information technology. If you’d like to broaden your engineering skills, minoring in either electrical or mechanical engineering – fields in which a software engineer often collaborates – may be a good option. If you hope to work in a leadership role or harness your entrepreneurial spirit to launch your own tech startup, business could be the right fit for you. Other software engineering students choose a major that fits with an industry in which they hope to work.
A Minor in Computer Science or Information Technology
One of the positives of minoring in a field like computer science is that there’s so much overlap between this field and software engineering that you may be able to apply a good chunk of your coursework to both your major and minor programs of study. In fact, many students don’t really understand the distinctions between these two programs. Generally, both software engineering and computer science learn how to create software programs and applications, but they focus on different aspects of this field. Software engineers usually focus more on product design and development, the practical application of computer technology. Computer science is a more mathematically heavy study that digs deeper into the theories, principles and concepts of computer technology.
If you’d like to branch out a little farther from your major program of study but still keep your focus on technology, consider a degree in information technology, or IT. Information technology is a field that applies computer technology to solve problems in businesses and other organizations. Like software engineers, IT professionals in information technology may perform tasks like programming software and interactive media applications. They also develop, implement and administer systems and networks used to store, process and analyze data of all varieties. When you minor in IT, you might take classes in systems analysis and design, business analytics and information systems, data science fundamentals, accounting information systems, IT network security and accounting information systems.
Before you decide to declare a computer science minor, check out your school’s curriculum and requirements, and talk to your academic advisor. Some programs restrict software engineering majors from pursuing a computer science minor (and vice versa).
A Minor in Electrical or Mechanical Engineering
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If your software engineering program includes a broader foundation of engineering core coursework, it’s already laying the groundwork for you to pursue a major in another area of engineering. There’s plenty of reason to expand your engineering knowledge beyond the confines of the software engineering major. Many software engineers work on projects that require interdisciplinary collaboration. Over the course of your career, you may work on developing the software used in a machine, a robot, the systems of a vehicle or vessel or any type of electrical or electronic device. Having at least a foundational background in a relevant area of engineering, like electrical or mechanical engineering, can help you more effectively collaborate with engineers who work in different but related disciplines.
For a minor in electrical engineering, you might study electric circuits, digital logic design, signals and systems and operating systems. Dynamics, engineering thermodynamics, solid mechanics, fluids engineering and heat transfer make up a mechanical engineering minor.
A Minor in Business
Businesses use software and computer technology now more than ever before, and their dependence on computer technology is only growing. Building a strong foundation in the principles of practices of business administration and management can offer you new opportunities beyond what you’d find with only a software engineering degree. You can use your minor in business to help you prepare for management roles, like software engineering manager or director of software development. You can also put these skills to work running your own software development firm.
The classes you take for a minor in business usually give you an overview of the different areas of business functions, including finance, accounting, marketing, management, strategic decision-making and management information systems. Many software engineers who aspire to work in leadership roles eventually pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Some colleges even offer an MBA in Software Engineering specifically.
Every industry needs software to function in today’s environment. If you have an industry in mind that you want to work for, you might minor in a relevant subject – whether video game development, health information technology, finance, or something else.