Software Engineer

As companies grow to have more complex software needs, so is the demand for skilled computer software engineers.  forecasts that software engineering jobs (such as software developers, analysts, and tester jobs) will increase by 25% between 2021 to 2031.

If you are currently working as a system engineer, it is relatively easy to switch into a software engineering job. However, even if you don’t have such relevant experience, you can still have a chance to start your career in software engineering by learning basic IT knowledge, picking up programming skills as well as software design skills. In this article, we will take a look at software engineering jobs and what they do, the skills and certifications needed and the annual software engineer salary in Japan.


What is Software Engineering? What does a Software Engineering role do?

Software engineering is the process of developing, testing, and deploying computer applications to solve real-world problems. Software engineering encompasses every phase of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) from planning the budget to analysis, design, development, software testing, integration, quality, and retirement.

Software engineers are often categorised into operating systems engineers, middleware engineers and application developers. They can also be classified according to the hardware they develop such as computers, smartphones, servers, home appliances and industrial equipment.


Difference between a Software Engineering job and a Systems Engineering (SE) job

Software engineering and system engineering are two different jobs that people often get confused about. In fact, both roles are mainly involved in software development. However, they differ in the processes they are responsible for.

Generally, software development starts with requirements analysis, followed by requirements definition, design, programming and then testing. In this case, systems engineers are mainly responsible for everything from requirements analysis to design. In contrast, software engineers are responsible from the design to testing stages.

In other words, system engineers are more likely to be responsible for upstream processes compared to software engineers. However, the development process they are responsible for can vary from company to company.


Difference between a Software Engineering job and an Electrical Engineering job

Electrical engineering and software engineering are two other areas that many also get confused about. In this article below, we have explained the differences in each profession in greater depth in terms of their responsibilities, salaries and the respective benefits of each engineering job in Japan.

Electrical Engineering vs Software Engineering jobs | Computer Futures


Duties and responsibilities of Software Engineers  

The duties and responsibilities of software engineers can vary depending on the project they are working on and the specific role they play within the team. However, this usually includes design, programming, testing and operation in the software development process. Let’s take a look at each segment in greater detail.


  • Designing

Design in software development is divided into basic design and detailed design. The basic design is the process of determining how the system will behave when viewed from the outside. Detailed design, on the other hand, is the process of determining how to realise the moves mentioned in the basic design.

In the basic design process, software engineers create a basic design brief that consists of a list of functions, screen transition diagrams, ER (Entity Relationship) diagrams, etc. based on the requirements and its definition. The detailed design then creates a detailed design brief that consists of a functional design document, database definition document, etc. based on the basic design.


  • Programming - writing code

Software engineers are responsible for writing and maintaining the code that powers a software application based on the detailed design brief. Various programming languages such as Java, Python, and C++ as well as frameworks and libraries are also used to speed up development.


  • Evaluating and testing

Software engineers are also responsible for creating and running tests to ensure that the software application works as intended and meets the project requirements. If bugs are found in the application, they must identify and fix them.

The main types of testing carried out by software engineers are unit tests, integration tests, functional tests, and acceptance tests.

Unit tests check the individual methods and functions of the classes, components or modules used by the software. Integration tests verify that different modules or services used by the applications work well together. Functional tests check on operations, screen systems, functional systems, usability, etc., assuming actual business operations. Acceptance tests are formal tests focusing on replicating user behaviour. In acceptance tests, users also use the software to check for defects and usability.


  • Operations

Software engineers may also be required to operate the software after it has been released. Operational tasks are mainly carried out in the following cases:

  • When there are changes to the middleware or other components used by the software
  • When it becomes apparent that bugs or vulnerabilities exist in the software
  • When the requirements for the software have changed

In the first scenario above, the software may also need to be updated when the operating system or server used by the software is updated for example. In the second scenario, bugs and vulnerabilities must be fixed to keep the software running reliably. In the third scenario, software engineers must update the software when there is a change in software requirements.


Skills needed for a career switch to Software Engineers

Here are some of the skills needed for a career switch to a software engineer:


Basic IT knowledge

Basic IT knowledge should primarily cover the following topics:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Databases
  • Networking
  • Security


The software knowledge required of a software engineer refers to the software used in development, such as operating systems, middleware, and development tools.

It is also useful to know how the hardware of a computer such as CPU, memory, HDD/SSD and other devices are organised. If you are involved in developing internet software, you will need knowledge of databases, networks and security as cloud services, known as SaaS (Software as a Service), as these have become popular in recent years.


Programming skills

Programming is the ability to use programming language syntax, libraries and frameworks. The main programming languages used in software development include Java, Python and PHP. As such, software engineers must have the skills and knowledge to use these programming languages.


Design skills

Design is the process of bridging requirements and implementation. Software engineers are responsible for creating the design brief according to the requirements while imagining the final software implemented.

In order to visualise software that actually works, logical thinking skills are required in addition to basic IT knowledge and programming skills as described above.


Management skills

If you want to work as a team leader on software development projects in the future, you will need to have a high level of management skills such as good communication, planning and decision-making skills in addition to technical skills. You may also look to improve skills that can help you to motivate others.


Annual software engineer salary in Japan

Software engineers tend to be paid more than other engineering jobs in Japan. On a global scale, the annual software engineer salary is higher than those in Japan – according to a survey by Indeed, in which the median annual software engineer salary in the U.S. in 2023 is USD$111,681 (approximately JPY¥14,790,000). However, annual software engineer salary varies greatly depending on the industry in which the software they develop is used and their position within the team.

To give you a better perception of software engineer salary in Japan and other similar roles, we’ve put together a salary survey based on research and past data from Computer Futures Japan to assist you in understanding your market value and hopefully help you to achieve some of your career goals.


Are you looking for a software engineering job in Japan or looking to become a software engineer?

The field of software engineering is constantly evolving, making it an exciting and dynamic career to go for. Additionally, software engineers are always in high demand and the average annual software engineer salary in Japan is getting higher each year compared to other engineering jobs. As such, if you are interested in switching your career to become a software engineer, this is the perfect timing.

If you have worked in software engineering roles in your career, or have relevant software engineering experience, you may also check out our software engineer jobs below.

Latest software engineer jobs


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