Home to some of the largest software companies in the world, Washington has long been a leader in software development and engineering. The state, with its rich tech history, is known to support emerging companies and cutting-edge research. Boasting exceptional universities and an increasingly bright job outlook, Washington is poised to remain among the best states nationwide for graduates seeking new career opportunities.
Software Engineering Landscape in Washington
Washington is one of the top-ranked states in all aspects of software engineering employment. For graduates who are seeking an exciting new career—or mid-level professionals who want to switch industries and enter an expanding field— Washington offers countless opportunities for growth.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington ranks 3rd nationwide in total software engineering employment. In addition, the state ranks 2nd for average annual pay, with software developers and engineers averaging approximately $145K annually.
In the Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue area, 39 out of every 1,000 jobs are in the software engineering field, making this region one of the most highly employed for large metropolitan areas nationwide.
By every available metric, Washington is one of the best states for software engineers. This is due in large part to the state’s support of major tech corporations (including Microsoft) but also because it provides a strong environment for startups and emerging technology.
Given the consistent job growth within the state, it should come as no surprise that Washington has some of the best software engineering programs in the country.
Software Engineering Education in Washington
Students who are interested in pursuing software engineering and development will find many excellent schools offering undergraduate, graduate, and certification programs.
Bellevue College offers two distinct undergraduate degree programs for students interested in software engineering. The BAS in Application Development is designed for “generalists,” delivering a broad spectrum of related coursework to help students prepare for a career in a variety tech-related fields. Conversely, the BAS in Artificial Intelligence is for “specialists,” with focused course work in cognitive computing, data modeling, and natural language processing.
At Green River College, students can earn a BAS in Software Development. The school also offers a two-year associate’s degree program for students wanting to explore the field in less time. At a cost of approximately $2,300/quarter for Washington residents, Green River College is also among the most affordable four-year colleges in the state.
The University of Washington is both the largest and best-known university in the state, and its BS in Computer Science and Software Engineering is one of the more sought-after degree tracks in this growing field. Its curriculum combines classroom learning with practical, hands-on skill development—a combination that allows graduates to enter new careers immediately upon graduation.
Within Seattle University’s MS in Computer Science, Software Engineering Specialization, students will “gain experience across the software development life cycle—from requirements analysis, to architecture and design, to development and testing.” All students participate in experiential learning, partnering with local companies or faculty mentors to design and complete real-world projects that benefit the community.
Washington State University offers an exciting MS in Software Engineering that can be completed entirely online. Offered through WSU’s Global Campus, the degree program can be completed in as little as two years. For working professionals who require more flexibility, WSU also allows for part-time students.
At Walla Walla Community College, students can earn a one-year professional Certificate in Software Design. The 60-unit program prepares students for careers in programming, database design, and web application development.
North Seattle College offers two certification tracks, one in Web Application Technologies and the other for Full Stack Developer. Each program is designed for “students looking for entry-level work in the field or for career changers with some knowledge of coding and programming, but no formal training.” Each certification program can also be used to pursue more extensive training in North Seattle College’s associate’s and bachelor’s degree tracks.
Software Engineering Jobs in Washington
Washington is home to some of the world’s top technology companies, making it an ideal state for software engineering graduates looking to build their career. Among the best-known corporations are Microsoft and Amazon. Employing thousands, each company is continually searching for new talent to add to their ranks.
However, these are not the only two places where software engineers can make important contributions. Other notable companies include Getty Images, which owns the platforms iStock and Unsplash. With its products being used by millions around the world, Getty Images is always in need of talented software developers and engineers.
Expedia is another major corporation that offers exciting career opportunities for new graduates. With its mission to “power global travel for everyone, everywhere,” Expedia continues to grow its staff each year. Currently there are 60 openings for software engineers alone.
Finally, Outreach is another well-respected tech firm searching for new talent. It’s been rated the Best Large Company to Work For in Seattle in both 2019 and 2020, while Inc. magazine has named it Best Workplace every year since 2018.
With both large and small companies expanding their workforces in the coming year, it is no surprise that software engineering is a field that is projected to grow considerably over the next decade. For Washington-based graduates, software engineering is an industry that promises a very bright future.