A software engineer works to build, maintain and design software system products. The software engineer will develop a blueprint for the software and then build it based on certain specifications. Their job does not end once the initial process is done though. Those who do this work are also typically tasked with maintaining the software over time as things change and updates are needed.

In the field of software engineering, there does not seem to be a consensus in the exact job title. While “software engineer” is commonly used, there are some alternatives that people use to describe the same job. These often include “programmer” and “software developer.”

Software engineers may consider a career change for several reasons, including:

  • They experience burnout and are looking for a job with more freedom and flexibility
  • The work can be boring and tedious
  • Some employers will place more value on those new to the field versus those with years of experience 

If you are looking to use your software engineering skills to pursue a new career, there are several options. Learning about these will help you decide the best career path for your next chapter. 


The median income is $92,600 per year. 

They help businesses to secure their IT systems. As part of the process, they work to identify areas where someone could infiltrate a system and then develop ways to improve security. Having good management skills and the ability to work with a team is important and you develop these skills as a software engineer. Other important transferable skills include being able to remain focused on the task and hand and being driven to find and solve problems. As a software engineer, you already understand the technology components that you will need to work with when you are looking for problems and creating better security protocols. 

Game Developer

The median income is $91,009 per year.

As a game developer, you are working to take an idea and bring it to life. You create game prototypes and test them to see where changes and improvements are necessary. Once the game is created, you help to ensure that it is stable across all platforms that it is available on. You will use skills, such as collaborating with a team, being able to troubleshoot and fix errors and bugs and reviewing code to make sure that it is exactly what is needed. If you are a software engineer who is looking for more creativity, this is a viable career alternative. You get to use your skills to create something and bring it to life. 

Solutions Architect

The median income is $116,327 per year. 

This professional modifies or designs an organization’s technology architecture to solve any related problems that they are dealing with. They look at the issues that a company has and recommend the right technology solutions to help them make the needed changes and improvements. Basically, you identify the problem and tell them which technology can help them fix it. There are several transferable skills, including testing software systems, exploring programming and figuring out related risks. If you are a software engineer that wants to balance programming and security, this could be a good career path for you. This is because it includes both investigative work and getting creative. 

Product Manager

The median salary is $134,860 per year.

A product manager works to manage and supervise a product’s production. You are there from day one and continue with the product until it is ready to hit the market. Software engineers who want to open up their responsibilities are a good fit for this job. You will use several skills throughout the production process that are transferable. These include researching and designing new products, and helping to identify and fix errors and issues. Instead of just focusing on the software component, you get a chance to work on every element of a project. This gives you more creative freedom and the ability to enhance your management skills. 

Digital Marketer

The median salary is $61,755 per year.

A digital marketer uses technology to help to create marketing campaigns for companies. You might choose to work for a single business or freelance and provide your skills to a variety of clients. These professionals help to coordinate with the sales team, ensure brand messaging consistency and ensure that the campaigns are focused on the right target audience. Your computer skills are essential for this role because all of the marketing efforts are based on technology. If you want to get creative and be able to use your skills in a marketing environment, this is an ideal alternative career for you. 

Data Scientist

The median salary is $101,021 per year. 

Data scientists work to collect, store and interpret data to help a business to make the right decisions. They then take this information and compare it to current processes within the company. Ultimately, the information is used to help businesses create the prediction and proposal reports needed for efficient operation. Your job as a software engineer ensures that you understand the software and how to best analyze it to get the answers that you need. If you are looking to expand your problem solving abilities while still working with software, this is a career option that you want to check out. 

Cloud Solution Architect

The median salary is $123,564 per year.

This professional works on a company’s cloud architecture to maintain and manage it. You work with different IT teams throughout the process to make sure that all of the company’s needs are met. As a cloud solution architect you may also manage storage, the network and the servers. You will use a lot of your organization skills to successfully work in this position. Other skills that are transferable include being able to manage software and its different parts, as well as being able to work effectively with different teams on a single project. If you want to work on broader projects while still using your software engineering skills, this is a career option for you.


An entrepreneur works for themselves and either develops their own products or services or offers consulting for other people to do the same. In the realm of software engineering, you can work to develop your own apps and software or help people who are looking to do this. If you are trying to work in software engineering, but have more freedom and use your own ideas, this could be a good career path for you to explore. It also gives you the chance to get a lot more creative. 

Technical Recruiter

The median salary is $58,091 per year. 

A technical recruiter works to find the right candidates for open positions. They work with a variety of companies and help to ensure that specific people are the best fit for certain job openings. They may also help with things like candidate interviewing skills and writing resumes and cover letters. Your skills in software engineering help to ensure that you know what employers are looking for. It also helps to properly screen candidates to make sure that they have the right technical skills. Those looking to help people get better jobs and break into the technology industry may want to explore this career alternative. 

Scrum Master

The median salary is $115,068 per year. 

This position requires you to oversee the Scrum team and make sure that they are tackling all of their responsibilities effectively. Those in this position will also ensure that the team is doing everything to achieve the goals of the product owner. There are many transferable skills since you will need to know the software that you are working with. Strong communication and organization skills are also imperative for this position. If you want to work with software and development, but also be in a managerial role, this job might be a good fit. 

Software Trainer

The median salary is $68,647 per year. 

Software trainers can work in a variety of industries to ensure that people have the knowledge needed to properly use the necessary software. You might work in a classroom environment or with people one-on-one to ensure that they have the necessary skills to perform their job. Those in this field might also create training materials to be used for educational purposes. You will utilize your software engineering knowledge to create training materials and lessons for the software that you are training people on. If you want to work for companies helping to train their employees on software, this is a job option to look at. 

Technical Writer

The median salary is $65,329 per year.

Technical writers work to create documents and manuals that people use for training or learning more about the specific topic. People in this field might work on a freelance basis or for a specific company. Software engineers have the knowledge needed to create detailed and accurate reports, documents and manuals in this industry. If you want to help create things like training and educational materials, or technical company documents, this is a career path to pursue. It allows people to use their technology and writing skills simultaneously. 

Computer Teacher

The median salary is $45,007 per year.

You can choose to teach at any education level. If you want to stick with teaching software engineering, you might want to explore positions at the college level. Depending on the level in which you teach, you might only use some basic computer knowledge to properly teach the class. However, if you are teaching at a college or university, you will likely use more of your targeted and specific computer engineering skills. If you want to share your knowledge with others and still stay up-to-date with the latest in the industry, a teaching position is a viable option for you. 

Research and Development Engineer

The median salary is $100,169 per year.

This professional is responsible for doing research related to software engineering. You use the information to make improvements to software and the related applications. People in this field also work to look at products to ensure that any redesign efforts go as intended. This type of engineer may also be asked to help with the development of new products. You will use many of the same skills that you use with software engineering. While the roles are similar, an R&D engineer has a broader scope and you get to do more when it comes to the products that you work with. If you are looking for a similar career with a broader range of responsibilities, this could be a viable choice. 

Technical Blogging

The median salary is $52,000 per year.

Technical bloggers might create their own blog or provide content for pre-existing blogs. You might work on a publishing schedule or need to create your own topics and outlines. With blogging, it is important to create content that is easily digestible and something that a wide audience can understand. All of the knowledge that you have as a software engineer transfers to this job since you will often write on a variety of topics. You might also get tasked with discussing your experience as a software engineer for blogs that are catering to people who are considering getting into the field. This is a good fit because you are using your pre-existing knowledge to create topics for the blog’s target audience. 

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a few common questions that software engineers have when considering a career change. The answers can help to guide you during the process. 

What Are the Second Careers for Retired Software Engineers?

As a software engineer, you have a strong and in-demand skill set. Because of this, once you retire, if you are looking for a way to continue working, you have several options that are not engineering, but still within the realm, including:

  • Product testing
  • High school teacher or tutor
  • Writing
  • City planning
  • Graphic design

Since many of these can be performed on your own time, you can usually set your own schedule, giving you a lot of freedom with your work. 

What Are the Side Gig Ideas for Software Engineers?

A side gig gives you a way to earn some extra money and boost your resume on your own time. As a software engineer, your expertise opens up many doors for a variety of gigs. These include:

  • Freelance software engineer
  • IT Startup consultant
  • Tutoring college students in this field

What Are the Work-from-Home Software Engineer Job Options?

Due to technology, there are many ways to use your software engineering skills and knowledge to work from home. These job options let you work around your full-time job or use them as a new career choice. The options include:

  • Take on some freelance IT work
  • Start a website or blog to share your knowledge
  • Teach coding languages online
  • Write some ebooks or technical manuals
  • Create apps and sell them, or help others develop their apps 

Final Thoughts

Alternative Career for Software Engineers
Software Engineers have many options to choose from to change things up!

Before taking the plunge and making a career change, you have to first know why you want a change. Consider whether you are looking for more money, a different work environment, prestige or something else. This will make it easier to decide which career alternatives are your best choice.

Once you narrow down your options, it is time to learn more about them and what they entail. Think about the tasks that web developers do that you enjoy and those that you are not crazy about. Check to see which alternatives offer what you like the most and do not include the tasks that you are not fond of performing.

Since software engineers have such a diverse set of skills, it is not hard to find an alternative career that is in demand. Once you make your decision, you are sure to find that your work is both more enjoyable and fulfilling. 

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