What Does a Build Engineer Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Build engineers are key members of a computer technology team. Learn more about the build and release engineer field, including build engineer jobs, the average build engineer salary, and build engineer versus DevOps.

[Featured Image] A build engineer looks over some code using a tablet and a computer while sitting at a desk.

Developers typically rely on open-source code when creating modern computer software programs rather than having new code written from scratch. Building a project on open-source code tends to be more cost-effective, results in higher-quality products, and increases collaboration and creativity. 

Build engineers belong to one group of professionals who use source code to create functioning software for their clientele to access and use. They are key technology team members aiming to create unique, valuable software that meets specific goals. If you're a natural problem-solver who enjoys collaborative work, a career as a build engineer may interest you.

What is a Build Engineer?

Build engineers are information technology professionals who use open-source code to create programs that their specific audience can access and use. Also known as build and release engineers, they work across various industries, including health care and manufacturing.

Since they are building on the work of others to create their projects, build engineers spend time testing the programs they create to ensure they don’t have any bugs or issues before releasing the programs to their intended audience. This role also requires monitoring created applications and making sure they stay functional.

Build Engineer vs. DevOps Engineer

Build engineers and DevOps engineers have a lot of overlap, but each serves distinct roles within a software development team. While build engineers are primarily responsible for creating the software itself, DevOps are tasked with designing the infrastructure that supports the software. DevOps professionals prioritize automation and creating cross-collaboration systems for the build engineers to use to communicate and successfully build the software programs. 

What does a Build Engineer do?

Build engineers use their technical expertise to create, test, and launch different software programs. They spend time researching and monitoring their open-source code to ensure they choose the right code for the project and incorporate updates as needed. Build engineers also troubleshoot bugs and work with other professionals, such as project managers and clients, to design specific programs that meet their goals.

Build Engineer tasks and responsibilities

The specific tasks and responsibilities of a build engineer depend on the industry and company you work for, but they include developing and testing applications. To do this, they may have the following duties:

  • Design and develop functional programs: Build and release engineers create software programs from the ground up using open-source code. Your responsibilities might include working with a team of data professionals to identify the client's needs and what you want the software to accomplish, then locating and using the source code to create it.

  • Develop efficient deployment processes: Build and release engineers work with a deployment team to create a strategy for effectively rolling out the tested software to the clientele waiting to use it.

  • Resolve software issues: Build and release engineers monitor the software for bugs, review crash reports, and troubleshoot issues. You'll address these problems in real-time to ensure the users don’t experience any downtime or difficulties utilizing the software.

  • Manage version control: Build and release engineers are responsible for monitoring the source code for any changes and ensuring that the currently available software version includes up-to-date changes and upgrades. You may collaborate with other team members to develop a monitoring plan.

Build Engineer skills

To successfully meet the expectations of a build engineer role, you’ll need to develop strong coding and programming skills. You can acquire these skills, such as a bachelor’s degree in computer science, while pursuing higher education. Alternatively, you can develop these skills through practical experience with software projects at work or on your own. Many build engineers combine formal education and experience to improve their job prospects.

Technical skills

Some technical skills that are useful for build and release engineers to have include:

  • Computer programming skills, including Python, Linux, or CAD

  • Coding and scripting skills

  • Ability to test and deploy new software

  • Troubleshooting and debugging skills

Workplace skills

Some workplace skills that are useful for build and release engineers include:

  • Collaboration skills

  • Problem-solving skills

  • Strong communication skills

  • Analytical thinking skills

Build Engineer salary and job outlook

Build Engineers are part of an in-demand computer technology field, with the industry expected to grow by 5 percent within the next decade [1]. The median annual salary for a build engineer is $119,866, with the opportunity for additional pay of an average of $36,000 per year [2].

Build Engineer career path

The build engineer career path typically begins with developing the foundational skills and experience necessary to successfully secure an entry-level role like deployment engineer or Linux administrator. You might gain this through pursuing your bachelor’s degree, but it’s also helpful if you have some experience working in the IT or computer programming field.

Once you feel ready to pursue your first job as a build engineer, look for roles within fields or industries that interest you. After you've worked in an entry-level role for around two years, you should be able to seek advanced opportunities. Some examples of advanced roles in the build engineer career path include senior systems engineer, configuration manager, senior software engineer, and chief technology officer.

Education and training

The education and training required to become a build engineer typically include a bachelor’s degree, such as in computer science. Look for degrees that allow learning foundational basics such as coding and programming. Gaining hands-on experience in your current role or through an internship is a great way to develop your skills. Continuing education, such as a master’s degree or certification, might translate to higher salaries as you progress through your career.

Getting started with Coursera

If you enjoy collaborating with others, building software, and monitoring its performance, consider a career as a build engineer. You'll use open-source code to create software that organizations and people can use. Get started by sharpening your computer programming skills and learning the foundational knowledge you'll need in this career.

On Coursera, you'll find options like Princeton University’s Computer Science: Programming with a Purpose. This course covers topics like arrays, conditionals and loops, and functions and libraries. You'll also have the opportunity to learn more about programming languages and mathematical models used to monitor the performance of the software you create.

Article sources


American Society for Engineering Education. “Current Status of the U.S. Engineering and Computing Workforce, 2019, https://ira.asee.org/national-benchmark-reports/workforce2019/#:~:text=Over%20the%20next,increase%20by%205.2%25..” Accessed March 14, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.