04-26-2007, 04:47 PM
I have a pet peeve regarding the term 'software engineer'. Perhaps another time.
The minimum education is the U.S. is an associate degree I think that a company would recognize for a person having proper training in software development. You'll have to look up the exact available titles.
To make it more likely to get to the high end of the money, you may need at least a full computer science degree with perhaps a minor in math or engineering. If I was starting out, I'd look at software engineering degrees recognized by the engineering community, what ever they may be called. I'm sure the universities that have that available will make it clear.
If your intent is to be an independent Mac or Linux developer, then perhaps some intro courses in programming, including analysis and GUI design, would kick start you on that path. The thing I like about live instructor lead courses is your (hopefully) learning from someone with experience which leads to real world discussions, which leads to learning about some of the grey areas of the subject.
As for the money factor. Searching for such jobs on Monster or Dice or even Craigslist can give you a decent indicator.
The career can be satisfying. Especially if you can see that your users have gained something positive from your work. As with any job, you're likely find areas not too exciting to you. I coding and really enjoy it when particular puzzle grabs my attention. There are many different facets in the business, so there is a good chance you'll find an interest.