A Pocket Guide to Software Engineering in Hong Kong

Software engineers are responsible for building applications and software systems, and a career in software engineering is lucrative and challenging.

Last updated
January 25, 2024

Software engineers play an indispensable role in their development, from building the look of applications to its underlying business logic and infrastructure.

‘Software engineer’ is the more common professional title, though other terms like ‘coder’, ‘software developer’, and ‘programmer’ are used interchangeably as colloquial synonyms. There are some technical differences, however. Software engineering implies engineering larger, more scalable software systems. Coding, developing, and programming, on the other hand, only refer to the act of writing code.

In practice, most vocational software courses would use terms like ‘engineering’ and ‘development’, while most casual or enrichment software courses use terms like ‘coding’ and ‘programming’. We prefer ‘software engineering’ at Rocket Academy, as the technical definition of software engineering is what the industry looks for. 

What is a career in software engineering like?

A career in software engineering is expected to be lucrative, challenging, and highly dynamic. Software engineering is one of the highest-paid vocations in the world because of the rare expertise required for the job.

The most handsome salaries can be found in Silicon Valley, where many of the world’s leading tech giants are headquartered. Software engineers are highly sought after for the large amounts of revenue they can generate. This is because software can be used to serve a large, international customer base with minimal local infrastructure. 

As Asia’s leading tech hub, Singapore is also home to the regional headquarters of many tech companies. This has generated high salaries for local software engineers as well, since these companies are always looking to hire highly-skilled ones. 

Software engineers typically work on a wide range of technologies that can be broadly classified into a few common categories, including:

Front-end engineering, i.e. anything related to user interface and experience.
Infrastructure engineering (also referred to as devops, or developer operations), i.e. the building, coordinating, and maintaining of the machines that support operations.
Back-end engineering, i.e. anything related to business logic that happens behind the user interface.

There are also some less common classifications of software engineering work. These include platform-specific classifications like web engineering and mobile engineering, and language-specific classifications like Python engineering and Java engineering.

In a software engineering team, you will often find a mix of both generalist and specialist software engineers. Generalist software engineers are typically referred to as ‘full-stack’ engineers, in which ‘stack’ refers to the range of technologies that make up software systems. Specialist software engineers specialise in parts of the software system, such as the stack (e.g. front-end, back-end), specific technologies (e.g. iOS, AWS), or specific languages (e.g. JavaScript, C++).

Local software engineering groups

Keen to learn more about software engineering in Hong Kong? Sign up for events by HK Science Park on Meetup. Communities like FoundersHK also reguarly connect people in the startup and tech space. Alternatively, join our coding bootcamp to meet like-minded peers!

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