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How to Become a Software Engineer

Indian professional programmer sitting at his table with big monitor

Choosing a career path is a brave gesture. The good news is that there are many career paths with opportunities for success. One of which is software engineers. Read on to learn what it takes and how to become a software engineer.

Becoming a software engineer is a smart move as the opportunities are boundless. There is no limitation to the number of specializations available.

Who Is A Computer Software Engineer?

Software engineers create, design, and test applications. To make this possible, they apply the basics of software creation. They use programming languages like C++, Python, and Java for digital innovations and software developments. These digital innovations could range from mobile apps to web applications.

Software engineers frequently collaborate with other professionals like software programmers, quality assurance analysts, and developers.

General Duties

Here’s a glimpse of their primary duties

  • Creating the skeletal structure of a future application.
  • Designing models that give an idea into the app’s functionality.
  • Testing software time and time again to spot errors.
  • Working with a team of programmers and developers to release software applications.

Two Types

Also, it’s important to note that software engineering is divided into two major segments: software and systems development and applications development.

Software & Systems Development Engineers

Software and systems development engineers use programming languages to create apps that function seamlessly. On the other hand, software engineers major in applications development codings and bring multiple software creations to life. These offerings could cut across social media, mobile, and web apps.

Applications Software Engineers

Applications software engineering is the “practical” side of the profession best suited to your career goals; you can develop “everyday apps” with this skill. The ability to build a working app trumps any certification you might present to employers in your chosen career path.

What You Should Know About Software Engineering

Seeking out a career path isn’t a spontaneous activity. Before venturing into this profession, you have to consider some factors. Here are some tips to get you started in your software engineering journey:

  • The US workforce fields over 1.8 million> software-related workers (developers, programmers, and testers). It is expected that jobs in this sector will exceed 409,500 within ten years.
  • Remote jobs are becoming the order of the norm in the software engineering scene. Due to the adverse effects of COVID-19, many companies have decided to make job positions remote.
  • The software engineering scene constantly brings newer technologies to the fore. Therefore, if you want to excel as a specialist in your field, you must keep up with trends by increasing your knowledge.
  • Software engineering requires seamless collaboration to get efficient and effective results. Consequently, the need to acquire people skills is crucial.
  • Knowledge in software engineering makes the transition process into software development and programming convenient.

Steps to Becoming a Software Engineer

If you aim to become a successful software engineer and don’t know which steps to take, we’ve got you covered.

Get Educated

Education is the first step in the quest to the career of your dreams. Let’s take a look at some popular ways to gain the required education. (entry-level):

Associate Degree (Two-year Program)

While most employers favor individuals with a four-year certification, an associate degree is helpful as it makes you eligible to apply for specific entry-level jobs. Students might pursue a specialty in software systems engineering or software engineering technology with associate degrees.

Either way, you should be impacted by a curriculum focused mainly on the basics of software engineering, specifics into the major programming languages, and a modern approach to software development.

Bachelor’s Degree (Four-year Program)

A bachelor’s degree is the most popular in software engineering as most companies prefer to hire those with this qualification.

While you might feel like there’s a bias, there isn’t. Most employers choose to hire applicants with this degree due to its broad scope. Students learn programming, software structure, and intricate software testing during an active program.

Coding Bootcamps (8 – 12 Weeks)

If you’re interested in making headway as a software engineer without having to spend long periods acquiring degrees, these programs are for you.

Coding boot camps last between 8 – 12 weeks. During this period, attendees are immersed in the world of software development as they gain practical skills.

Upon completion, students receive certificates. The skills acquired during the boot camp are adequate for an entry-level position.

Enter an Internship Program

It might be thrilling to apply for jobs immediately once you’ve completed the demands a degree requires. But, entering an internship program is a great alternative. While offering little to no pay, internships allow you to grow and learn through real-world experience.

Internship programs typically last 3 – 6 months and frequently lead to full-time employment upon completion. Therefore, it is essential to take each day of the internship seriously. Your chances of employment depend on your performance as an intern.

Get Specialized

Software engineering has two specialties: software and systems development and application development. These are different specializations that field distinct aspects. While it’s possible to do both, we recommend that you settle with one and become an expert at it.

There are different specialties to try out, including DevOps, Technical Stack, Web Development, and Mobile Development.

Pursue Entry-level Jobs

Once you’ve earned your software engineering degree or boot camp certificate, it’s time to start scouting the market for a list of entry-level job opportunities.

While your dream job might be at Google, Microsoft, or Amazon, these companies hire the best, brightest, and most experienced applicants. Small start-ups and other agencies will allow you to build your skills set and gain work experience. They are a great place to start your career!

Strive for Certification

Certifications are an integral part of your journey to becoming a successful in tech careers. They verify your continued education and advanced knowledge. Your marketability and reputation are higher when you’re certified.

Agencies such as Oracle, Microsoft, and Cisco look for candidates with the proper certifications. Recruiters look for specialized certifications and will scout you.

Secure a Graduate Degree

We’ve mentioned some common ways to get the needed education; it’s also important to secure a graduate degree. Although it’s possible to secure jobs with other certificates, a master’s degree allows you to climb the managerial ladder in the tech industry.

There’s much more to this career than just writing lines of code. To climb the corporate ladder, you’d need to adopt several skills. Notable mentions include in-depth thinking, human and project management, and cost analysis.

You’ll need to enroll for a master’s degree in computer engineering, software engineering, computer science, or information science to get these skills.

What are the Skills For Software Engineering?

While some might feel like software engineering is a career where you’ll write a few lines of codes and call it a day, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Since this aspect is broad, we’ll be dividing the skillset needed into two distinct categories:

  • Technical Skills
  • Soft Skills

Technical Skills

While we’ve given credence to some technical skills, it’s time to take a closer look at what they entail. Here’s our top four:

Coding

Coding is a vital skill. They must be sound in multiple programming languages like C++, Python, and Ruby.

Testing

Debugging a piece of software is essential even though software tests have become automated. While these tasks sharpen the mental prowess of every software engineer, invariably activating a soft skill known as “problem-solving.”

Object-Oriented Design (OOD) Mastery

OOD, Object-Oriented Design, has become prominent in the last two decades.

The skill is as sophisticated as it sounds and deals with abstraction, encapsulation, inheritance, and generalization. In plain terms, a software engineer must know the specifics attached to this program to create flexible and modular software applications.

Development

The foundation of a software engineer’s job is software development. Developing apps from scratch hones their skills. They also frequently lead teams of software developers in the creation of apps.

Soft Skills

Unlike technical skills, soft skills are required in almost every profession. These skills are essential to foster efficiency and effectiveness as a software engineer. Let’s take a look at several:

Communication

An effective leader knows how to communicate their ideas. Since the job description might require that they lead a development team, they’ll need to communicate in an understandable way for everyone. Team success is reliant upon clear, concise, consistent communication.

Team Player

Numerous moving parts are involved with software creation and maintenance. Frequently, you will be responsible for the team’s outcomes and creating a culture that inspires positive results.

Problem Solving

You’ll need to develop quick ways to resolve complex technical issues. And you must run through lines of codes, sifting out the problem and handing out corresponding fixes. While you’re responsible for building software, fixing them when things don’t work properly is also part of your job description.

Attention to Detail

We’ve seen it time and time again – software crashing because of a tiny bug.

Attention to the tiniest detail to avoids problems. From start to finish, it’s up to you to go over and check everything once more before they’re sent off for submission.

Software Engineering Certification

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, those looking towards a career in software engineering require a degree in computer science, software engineering, and computer engineering.

These degrees aren’t enough to earn you the entry-level job of your dreams if you don’t combine them with other technical qualifications.

You’ll need to engage in online programs, tutorials, and boot camps to get these additional technical skills. Software engineers must keep up with the latest technology. The tech industry isn’t slowing down, and new features are added all the time.

Top Three Certifications In Software Engineering

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

CISSP is one of the best certifications worldwide for software developers and engineers alike. Because it is a technically difficult certification, those with a cybersecurity background are ideal for this course.

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

Having a CCSP certificate means you’ve attained technical mastery in designing, securing, and maintaining cloud software. If you handle security and design bits of cloud software, this is an ideal fit.

Microsoft (MTA)

MTA is designed for college students and those who want an insight into web development. An MTA certification covers Windows development, gaming, software development, and mobile.

Online Software Engineering Degrees

Big companies like Google and IBM announced that a 4-year degree is no longer a requirement to work as a software engineer at their companies. This has resulted in a remarkable drop-off in the percentage of applicants with career-specific degrees. However, about 69% of software engineers have computer science and IT degrees.

The most common courses among application developers include software engineering and computer science. At the same time, most system engineers have a degree in information science or computer science.

Engineering schools offer online software engineering degrees. Alternatively, you can look at credible computer science and IT schools that offer software engineering degrees.

For professional software engineers, the highest degree is a master’s in engineering.

Computer Software Engineer Career Outlook

Salary Projection

Glassdoor estimates that the average salary for software engineers is around $108,000, and entry-level positions can earn as much as $76,882 annually. And those who develop applications earn approximately $112,000, while those who work on systems enjoy up to $133,000.

For context, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median pay of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are within the $110,000 region annually. Therefore, if you’d like to take this as a life career, these figures should be an incentive.

Career Growth Opportunities

The demand for software engineers has been rising for quite some time, and there’s no sign it will slow down anytime soon. It is estimated that the employment rate will grow as much as 21% by 2028. That’s 5% more than any other occupation!

Currently, there are over 26 million software engineers worldwide, and it is projected that by 2023, this figure will skyrocket to 45 million, representing a 75% growth in the software engineering market.

You might wonder if there is space for you with all of these numbers, and the answer is a resounding yes! According to research by CodinGame, 61% of HR experts believe that finding talented software engineers will be a big challenge.

The reason for this high demand for software developers is simple. With our increased reliance on technology, there is a constant demand for engineers who understand the intricacies of machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and more.

Let’s GetEducated!

Are you still interested in becoming a software engineer? If yes, browse through our software engineer degrees and start your journey to success from there.

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