Want to Become A Software Engineer? Here’s How You Can Be One

“Generally, the craft of programming is the factoring of a set of requirements into a set of functions and data structures.”

― Douglas Crockford, JavaScript: The Good Parts

Programmers, game coders, testers, IT security managers, you name it, and you’ll find that software engineering has seeped in as a necessity in almost every organization. Do you wish to be the brains behind any software and engage in coding and debugging? Does this profession excite you, or you think this might truly be your calling? Let’s delve deeper into how to become one.

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What is software engineering?

Software engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with software product development and involves designing, developing, testing, and maintaining software. With the increasing demand for tech workers, software engineering has reached newer depths, with limitless career opportunities to explore.

Steps to becoming a software engineer:

Given the dynamic nature of software engineering, students can have multiple entry points in this profession. Picking up the right entry route depends on various factors: tenure of study, future goals, location of the student, job opportunities, etc.

Getting the relevant education/degree

There are various traditional as well as non-traditional routes for entry in this profession. Before picking up the right college/university, picking up the right degree type, based on your preferences is crucial.

 

Software Engineering Degree Types

Associate’s

The Associate degree is one level lower than the Bachelor’s degree. It prepares students with hands-on training to become technicians in the relevant industry and develop an understanding of such tools, which are demanded most at workplaces. Students may opt to start working after completing the course or get transferred to the Bachelor’s program.

Tenure: 2 years

 

Bachelor’s

The Bachelor’s degree offers students a deeper experience in the field of database design, development, and implementation, using sound engineering principles. At the end of the course, students will be easily able to pursue job opportunities and gain entry-level jobs.

 

Tenure: 3 to 4 years

 

Master’s

The Master’s degree is designed for those interested in specialization, especially if you’re looking forward to having an extra edge over other candidates in the job market. Typically spanning from one to two years, both offline as well as online courses, are available. Some students opt to work part-time or full time while pursuing their Master’s via distance learning.

 

Tenure: 1 to 2 years

 

Doctorate’s

Prerequisites for enrolling for a Ph.D. in software engineering differ institution wise. These are usually opted by candidates whose long-term goal is to test their theories and make a career in teaching or groundbreaking research in software.

 

Tenure: Varies as per the program

 

Apart from these, there are various coding boot camps that can give you a brief stint. They can prepare you for entry-level jobs, your startup, or small consultancy business.

 

Do an internship

 

The next step in becoming job-ready is to undergo practical training by doing an internship. Most employers prefer students who have undergone internship or prefer to hire their interns for full-time employment.

Pursue specialization

 

If you have a set career goal in your mind, you may opt for a specialized course that may teach necessary skill sets. For instance, you may learn a programming language that is trending or is your area of interest.

Other skill sets required to become a successful software engineer-

  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to multitask
  • Excellent communication abilities
  • Ability to demonstrate and document software solutions
  • Fluency in more than one programming language

 

Responsibilities of a software engineer

 

Typically, their responsibilities span across the following:

  1. Understand the needs of a user from the software
  2. Design an application and create models
  3. Write and test programs in integrated environments in different programming languages
  4. Maintenance of software and testing
  5. Documentation related to software for quality control
  6. Manage IT requirements of an organization – employing the right IT professionals, managing budgets, negotiate with vendors for IT assets.

These responsibilities will vary according to the hierarchy level, and more and more managerial responsibilities are typically offered with every upgrade.

 

Salaries of software engineers

 

According to U.S. Labor Statistics, the 2018 median pay of a software developer, for those holding a Bachelor’s degree is USD 105,590 p.a. or USD 50.77 per hour.

Future career opportunities for software engineers

 

With the future of almost every industry being cradled in tech experts’ hands, software engineers are sure to have lucrative career prospects. Software Engineers cater to various industries, including manufacturing, finance & insurance, software publishing, computer systems design, and allied services.

They can expand realms as follows:

Software Developer

A software developer is the brain behind designing a computer program that will allow users to do certain functions on their computers or other devices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the number of jobs held by a software developer was 1,365,500.

Computer Programmer

Computer Programmers typically write programs for the proper functioning of various computer applications and software programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the number of jobs held by computer programmers was 250,300.

Computer and Information Systems Manager

This role is typically held by experienced candidates (5+ years of experience). They help determine the information security goals of an organization, maintain IT resources, ensure security, handle IT projects’ budgets, and manage IT teams. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, the number of jobs held by Computer and Information Systems Managers in 414,400.

To sum up, learning never ends for a software engineer, as technology is always subject to many changes. Although the job of a software engineer is often touted as boring and monotonous, this is far from the truth, as the fields of programming and designing software come with loads of challenges. If you are game to always wearing a learning hat and aren’t afraid of spending many hours debugging computer programs, this profession is perfect for you.

 

About the author: Carrie Weisman is an experienced journalist and content creator. She has worked across different business verticals, and specializes in creating well-researched, in-depth articles for Fortune 5000 companies.

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