How to Become a Software Engineer
What's the fastest way to become a software engineer? I have a bachelor's in math. I have worked as a high school math teacher for five years, but the pay is bad and the students sad. I'm great with computers and software engineering seems a hot career. Any advice on online software engineering degrees
that might help me with a computer career change? I am looking at creating mobile or web apps for educational use
in gaming or online learning.
—Ginger in Albany, N.Y.
The great news is that the demand for computer software engineers is expected to grow 32 percent—much faster than average—through 2018. In sheer employment numbers, 295,200 new positions are forecasted to open up for this career. This represents one of the largest career growth forecasts in the United States.
Growth is being driven by increases in networking, web usage, mobile technologies, wireless networks and handhelds. All these fields require pros trained to write software so that wireless technologies will work in tandem.
Opting for a software engineering career change that involves mobile app development seems smart. Mobile technologies, web apps and handheld devices are booming. I applaud you for selecting an industry you know—education—as the place to dive in and get started. Online learning is pushing schools into mobile storage and delivery at a dizzying pace.
Western Governors University
has a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology / Software
degree that can be completed quickly if you have some background or some skills in the area. Given that you already have a bachelors degree, you may be interested in an Master of Business Administration in IT Management
though this isn't a degree that teaches coding.
What is a Computer Software Engineer?
First, decide what type of computer software engineer you want to become.
Career advisers expect software engineering jobs to be divided between applications software engineering (about 175,000) and systems software engineering (about 120,000). Applications seems best suited to your career goals.
Software engineers don't do just one "thing"; they work at many tasks and in numerous specialty niches.
Computer software engineers design, develop, test and evaluate the software that makes computers work. Software engineers build many types of software, including computer games, word processing apps and business applications. They also build networks, operating systems and compilers, some of the most fundamental building blocks of the computing world.
Software engineers can be divided into two categories. Computer applications software engineers analyze users’ needs and address design issues. They construct general computer applications software, such as the programs that run on your home computer. Computer systems software engineers coordinate the construction, maintenance and expansion of an organization’s entire computer system.
You're headed toward everyday apps. Focus on acquiring rock-solid skills in that single area. The sooner you develop a software application or two, the faster you can "show" employers you have the skill set required to create new products for their software line.
Better yet, create a new educational app. Market it yourself online at a micro-payment site. Or create a great app and offer it free online to showcase your skills. A cool app or two will trump any paper diploma you might offer up to recruiters in this career field.
Online Software Engineering Degrees
While software engineering pays well, with jobs galore, this career is populated with extremely well-educated professionals. That said, I would encourage you, for long-term career stability, to explore a formal degree in software engineering.
Eighty percent of computer software engineers hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Software geeks enter this field armed with many types of computer science and IT degrees
Most applications developers have studied computer science or software engineering, and the majority of systems engineers have studied computer science or information science.
Computer science and IT schools offer software engineering degrees. But most software engineering degrees offered online come from engineering schools.
Educational elitists consider a master's in engineering
the top dog degree for professional software engineers. I am not sure you need that kind of hoity-toity degree. Your question makes me think you are fairly grounded, searching for a fast practical way to launch a new career as an app developer.
Becoming a Software Engineer
Becoming a software engineer won't happen overnight. But you have a great foundation with a bachelor's in math
. You have solid training in math and logic, which are the building blocks of coding and software development.
Browse Online Software Engineering Degrees Here
Software Engineering Career Change
One thing not to do: earn a second bachelor's degree
. Your bachelor's in math will qualify you to dig right into programming. Begin your career change by acquiring job skills. Look to acquire a skill set that you can put to work asap.
The most common entry-level job for becoming a software engineer is programming. Start by mastering a specific language. Explore computer programming certificate programs. C++ and Java are popular starting points for a career change into software engineering.
You'll find all sorts of short-study certificates. Pick a skill set and start coding.
You've got a great bachelor's degree and have identified a specific career goal: creating web or mobile apps. Don't limit yourself just to programming. Explore short, fast certificates in web development. If you don't yet have basic web development skills, certificates will help you master the fundamentals. You can better steer your career change plan if you understand the entire universe of educational options and web development in general.
Graduate Degree vs. Software Engineering Certificate
If you want work in big business or IT management, you may need a graduate degree. Many in this career area hold master's in engineering, mathematics or systems design.
Math aptitude is critical for a software engineering career. Computer code is essentially one big math and logic problem. Take your math skills and put them to work as an app developer or coder.
If you can get hands-on experience with computer programming in your current job, this will enable you to slide more easily into this fast-growing career niche.
Does your school district have an IT department? If so, get to know these people. Education needs IT specialists. While this field does not pay well, but it can be a great place to wiggle through the door and change your career from teaching to developing applications.
Large computer and consulting firms sometimes hire inexperienced grads and train them in intensive six-month to one-year programs as coders.
Those who earn graduate certificates
or master’s degrees in software or applications engineering will experience wide-open career opportunities and excellent salaries.
Computer Software Engineer Salary
Changing careers from a math teacher to a software engineer will pay in the long run. As a math teacher in a public school with no master's degree, your salary may cap at about $55,000.
In contrast, computer software engineers who write applications enjoy an average salary of about $87,000. Software engineers who work on systems earn an average of about $95,430.
Increasingly, software app specialists are hopping onto the DIY marketplace, offering their creations through direct market interfaces like iTunes.
Browse Online Software Engineering Degrees Here
Vicky Phillips was cited in 2009 by US News & World Report as "for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students." In 1989 she designed America's first online counseling center for distance learners on AOL. In 1998 she authored the first print guide to online graduate degrees, Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools put out by the Princeton Review. In 2001 she authored Never Too Late to Learn the Adult Student's Guide to College.