What Does a Software Engineering Manager Do and How To Become One?

FT Contributor
A software engineering manager working on a computer at his office.

Table of Contents

Job Description

A software engineering manager is responsible for overseeing the design, creation, and manufacturing of software, applications, or other technology systems. In this position, you’re in charge of a team of engineers and other workers who have different jobs associated with the production of software. On any given day, a software engineering manager could be asked to:

  • Assist with a conflict between two team members;
  • Approve a design or suggest changes to a software design;
  • Conduct team meetings;
  • Review the budget for the software project;
  • Create a schedule of completion for different software components;
  • Help team members troubleshoot certain software criteria;
  • Assist the human resources (HR) department in hiring new team members;
  • Mentor a software engineer on specific design concepts;
  • Analyze a project to ensure it meets design specifications.

The creation of a new software requires several different tasks, jobs, and steps. A software engineering manager is in charge of all the team members who are involved in completing the software. The person in this role ensures the project is meeting specific standards, as well as time and budget constraints.

As the manager of a team of information technology (IT) specialists, a software engineering manager is tasked with managing these workers to ensure the end goal is completed. Most software engineering managers work for technology or application companies.

Median Salary and Job Growth

Since a software engineering manager has many responsibilities, it’s one of the highest- paying technology jobs in the U.S. The average software engineering manager salary is $138,079 as of January 2020.

However, the salary you earn as a software engineering manager depends on your level of education, experience, location, certification, and the field you work in. When compiled these figures, the lowest average salary earned in this position was $113,625 while the highest was $169,390.

As a software engineering manager, you may be considered middle management, depending on the organization and size of your employer. As you gain experience in your role, you may eventually be promoted to a senior management level position.

Job Requirements

To become a software engineering manager, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a computer or technology-related field, such as a computer science degree. According to, some employers prefer a potential software engineering manager to have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree or a computer-related field before they can obtain a position.

In many cases, a potential employer expects a job candidate to already have about five years of experience in the field as a software engineer or IT professional before moving up to a software engineering manager. Most employers also want a candidate in this role to have at least three to five years in a supervisory role. This ensures the candidate knows how to manage a team successfully before taking on the job.

Certifications or licensure are generally not required in this position. However, software engineering managers are expected to stay up to date on the latest technologies and to stay abreast on changes in the software industry. By maintaining and continually expanding this knowledge, a software engineering manager can ensure the project a team is working on remains relevant in the industry.

Software Engineering Manager Job Outlook

Most technology-based jobs are expected to grow as the world relies more heavily on new applications, technology systems, and software. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software developers are expected to see about 21% job opportunity growth from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than average when compared to other occupations. Since software engineer managers are usually in charge of managing these workers, the job outlook is also expected to be good for this position.

Should I Become a Software Engineering Manager?

While a software engineering manager is a high-paying position, it’s not the ideal career path for everyone. To enjoy a role as a software engineering manager, you must have a passion for technology and sharp interpersonal skills. As a manager of several different personalities on one team, it’s important to understand how to supervise successfully and ensure your team members are productive and working to their full potential.

Your ability to lead and get along with different people is just one of the soft skills you’ll need in your role as a software engineering manager. You’ll also need problem-solving skills and analytical skills so you can help your team members solve problems efficiently as they arise. Being able to work well under pressure with tight deadlines imposed from senior staff members is also a priority in this role.

When deciding whether this career is right for you, it’s also important to compare the hard skills you possess with the skills needed in this position. While you may not be the person responsible for writing code or designing graphics, it’s important to know how to perform these tasks.

Since you’re managing the people who are in charge of completing these important duties, you must be able to relate to their workload and mentor them in these roles as necessary. It’s also important that you understand what’s required throughout the software development process so you can create a realistic schedule and budget.

If you think you would enjoy managing a team of IT professionals and focusing on the goal of designing new software, a career as a software engineering manager may be right for you. While a high-paying salary is tempting, it’s important to be sure you have a passion for technology and project management before you decide to pursue this role.

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