How to Become a Software Engineer

Overview

Close your eyes for a minute and try picturing a software engineer. 

….What have you imagined?

You might have pictured a nerd-looking person sitting alone the whole day in front of a dark-theme screen conducting a number of mathematical calculations (boring, huh…???), or maybe you have imagined people like Mark Zuckerberg or someone like him. Whatever you imagine in your mind you can’t deny that even if a software engineer seems to be a boring person (they are never really), they are still considered as the coolest, smartest, and intelligent people in the world.

Software Engineering is a track that is very essential to Information Technology. Without the software to operate the computer hardware, that hardware is just a fool box of metal.

software engineer

What is Software Engineering?

Software Engineering is the study of how software systems are built, including topics such as project management, quality assurance, and software testing.

Roles & Responsibilities of A Software Engineer

Here, are important roles played by software engineer:

  • Complete knowledge of computer hardware architecture and its functionalities (including troubleshooting)
  • Excellent command over using RESTful API
  • Knowledge of coding, debugging, designing and testing operations
  • Being comfortable to work with a wide range of software, which can be highly specialized depending on the company or industry
  • Ability to build your PC systems and repair or maintain device drivers according to need
  • Must be a fluent programmer and should have good command over data structures and algorithms
  • Should be familiar with various design approaches
  • Must be fluent in one or more familiar programming languages
  • Must have the ability to manage documentation and demonstration of solutions by generating diagrams, flowcharts, documentation, layouts, comments in code, etc.
  • Responsible for determining the utility of software developments by problem detection, analysis, and solving strategies
  • Enhances developments by performing systems analysis, and make a suggestion for incompetent procedures and policies
  • Advancing solutions by ensuing software development standards
  • Purchasing and licensing software after acquiring relevant info from sellers
  • Presenting appropriate data through the collection, analysis, and reviewing of service and development concerns
  • Testing, fixing, and approving products

In the simplest understanding, software engineering is the application of engineering principles to the design, development and implementation of the software. Because software engineering is such a unique, scientific and technically-driven field, special training and formal degrees are required. 

By getting a degree in software engineering, graduates can work in many fields such as creating video games, developing internet applications, running computer networks or implementing computer security measures for an organization. Find out more about software engineering degrees and careers, and learn about salaries and employment.

Software Engineer Salary

Currently, the industry of Information and Communication Technology is expanding very fast with growth and so as its job opportunities. According to a recent study, careers in Computer and Information Science (mostly Software Engineering) are predicted to increase by 19% by 2026. 

The median pay for Software Engineers in 2019 was $122,840 per year, which is $59.06 per hour. This salary is comparatively handsome than most other professionals. Software graduates can make 40% more than other professionals. On average, in the last few years, software engineers are paid $114,600 per year.

N.B: The median pay is the payment, at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount, and half are paid less. The lowest 10% earned less than $69,990, and the highest 10% earned more than $189,780.

Not only do software engineering careers are furnished with lucrative salaries and stable job growth stats, but also you can easily switch to versatile non-IT industries as software development and maintenance are obligatory everywhere nowadays. 

For instance, one can quickly switch from conventional management or IT jobs to data analytics or cryptocurrency positions with the proper qualification of software engineering, as you learn how to code the statistical methods to large datasets with computational methods in a customized software.

IT professionals’ employment is projected to grow 16% from 2018 to 2028, which is very high compared to the average for all occupations. Software engineers usually enjoy excellent job facilities due to their high demands, because many companies report difficulties in finding these highly skilled professionals.

READ  Top 20 Best Automation Testing Tools In 2020

Other notable fields that are hiring software engineers are the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) industries. By a recent forecast, the global Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry is expected to reach $ 169,411.8 Million by 2025, from $ 4,065.0 Million in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 55.6% from 2018 to 2025.

Similarly, the VR/AR industry is predicted to be a $9.9 billion field by 2022 and has seen a 93% increase in job demand in the past year. Virtual reality is not only a glorified gaming system, but instead is revolutionizing health care, architecture, military and defence, and education. 

Increase in penetration of smartphones & connected devices in various application sectors and development of the gaming industry boosts the augmented and virtual reality market growth. The global augmented and virtual reality market size was $11.35 billion in 2017. The augmented and virtual reality market forecast is projected to reach $571.42 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 63.3% from 2018 to 2025. (Source: Allied Market Research)

Steps to Becoming a Software Engineer 

Software engineering is always a changing profession, one that readjusts as modern technologies are developed. Because of its ever-changing nature, there are several entry positions in this profession. Although no single path to becoming a software engineer. Here are some most appreciated steps:

Step 1: Learn a Programming Language

Software engineering never concentrates exclusively on coding. However, you should know some common languages and need to obtain a deeper perception of how they will operate. There is no common rule on which languages are most valuable.

Here is given the list of some popular programming languages:

  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • C++
  • C#
  • Ruby
  • Java

Step 2: Obtain A Computer Science or Related Degree

This is one of the conventional methods that most of the students follow to proceed with software engineering. A huge number of students pursue a bachelor’s degree program in computer science or software engineering, they study in-depth technical concepts of computer science subjects which assists them to learn the principle of software engineering. Data Structures, Algorithms, Computer Networks, Web Technology, Mathematics, Database System, Programming Languages, and many major courses support students to have a thorough perception of software engineering and modern software development strategies.

Several numbers of employers initiate the eligibility criteria of four years bachelor’s degree program in the computer science field so pursuing a degree is a prominent choice but you shouldn’t depend on a degree only. All those subjects are not going to provide you real exposure or work on live projects. You can’t assume that you have enrolled for these courses to become a software engineer unless you obtain practical exposure.

To grow as a developer or software engineer you must use your theoretical knowledge and concepts practically working on some actual project. You need to show your functional skills to the recruiter and we will let you know about what you must practice apart from theoretical knowledge in upcoming steps.

Accomplishing a regular education is the very first move toward growing as a software engineer. Learners can select from both traditional and non-traditional training programs to obtain the education required to seek entry-level positions. Some options include:

1. ASSOCIATE DEGREE (2 YEARS)

Despite employers mostly preferring candidates with a four-year bachelor’s degree, an associate degree can unlock the door to entry-level positions in this domain. Students may pursue majors in several related areas, such as software systems engineering or software engineering technology. The curriculum concentrates mostly on the core principles of programming languages, software engineering, and modern strategies to software development.

2.  BACHELOR’S DEGREE (4 YEARS)

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, or a corresponding field, is the conventional least degree favored by employers. Bachelor’s degree curriculum presents students to outlines, one that grants a foundation in math and computer science. Students acquire a thorough knowledge of programming, software architecture, and testing. They may also receive specialized courses in application areas, like networking, or embedded systems.

3. CODING BOOTCAMP (8 TO 12 WEEKS)

Coding boot camps are a comparatively modern educational path for aspiring software engineers or developers. These programs usually continue between 8 and 12 weeks and assign students into a hands-on, immersive training environment. Upon commissioning, students should be equipped for entry-level jobs like software engineers or developers.

Step 3: Spread your studies

College textbooks are often outdated. Reference books are updated much delayed than software is updated. All the colleges render theoretical concepts and techniques of reasoning that can be essential for your progress.

Although, your salary will depend on how much you are being capable to utilize the knowledge on real-world software. Here is where your study and library-work come to help.

Here are a few approaches to enhance your learning:

  1. StackOverflow is the most familiar question and answer website for engineers and developers. You can search depending on the specific technology, problem category, or language you want to advance in.
  2. Websites like Codeforces, light OJ, CodinGame, and CodeWars offer a huge number of programming problem and solution which help you to test your skills.
  3. Edx, Coursera, Udemy, Datacamp are some amazing online course platforms for developing essential skills for software engineering.

Step 4: Practice Reading Code Authored by Skilled Developers

Another handy approach of furnishing skills as a software engineer is learning how to read other developer’s code. You can do this simply by hitting websites like GitHub repositories and looking through the documentation.

However, sometimes documentation is slightly wrong, but most of the source code are perfect in these sort of sites. Therefore, by learning to observe and interpret such codes, you will be able to recognize how a specific program is operating.

READ  15 Top Paying IT Certifications for 2020

Step 6: Pursue A Community of Software Engineers

You need to discover a good community to acquire more experiences that guide you to completion as a software engineer. Therefore, when you are encompassed by an alliance of similar-minded people, you have an automatic support arrangement. A real-world software engineering community provides you supervision on where to concentrate on your learning. Sites like Meetup is a good choice to find other experts.

Step 7: Develop Projects

Nothing helps in engineering like realistic experience. You need to start developing projects on a programming language you are comfortable with. By this, you not only improve your learning but also obtain a potential employer. As you learn how to code, develop projects, etc., you should slowly help yourself to develop your professional network.

Step 8: Master Your Pre-Interview Skills

Next, you need to concentrate on your resume as it performs a vital role in your hiring. You’ll need to improve your impression by these three things: resume, cover letter, and your online presence.

Hiring HR managers still look at them to get a picture of your abilities and experience. Moreover, cover letters are required when applying for jobs online; they’re your chance to catch someone’s attention and make an impact.

Step 9: Pursue an Internship

Completing an internship provides students with real-world experience. Technology companies may offer internships for students with a bachelor’s or master’s degree who are seeking to expand their skills in specific areas, such as Java, XML or SQL. Internships typically last between three and six months and allow students to work on specific projects or products related to their skills.

Step 10: Choose a Specialization

Generally speaking, there are two specializations within software engineering: applications and software/systems development. However, distinct areas of practice exist within each of these areas. Software engineers may choose to become experts in a single programming language or type of development. Below is a list of example specialty areas to consider:

  • Web development
  • DevOps
  • Mobile development
  • Technical stack (e.g., Python, Ruby)

Step 10: Approach an Entry-level Position

After earning a computer science or related degree or completing a Bootcamp program, the next step is to seek out entry-level employment. Because of the demand, software engineering has been rated as one of the best entry-level careers available, according to Forbes. Although the dream job may be at Google, prospective software engineers can start with a small, local job hunt because, in the profession, the experience is a critical commodity for career advancement. 

Step 11: Certifications

Although some certifications have lost their luster, they remain an integral part of the tech industry. Software engineering is precise and technical, and gaining certification verifies an applicant’s knowledge and abilities. Along with experience, certification can improve a person’s marketability in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Certifications are available from technology vendors (e.g., Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle) as well as professional organizations (e.g., IEEE) and are tailored to specific areas of practice.

Step 12: Attend Relevant Conferences

Innovation drives change. That means software engineers need to stay abreast of the latest developments in both the general profession and their specialty. Attending conferences is a great way to network with other engineers and learn about new products, business practices, and technologies. Popular conferences for software engineers include the International Conference on Software Engineering and the International Conference on Automated Software Engineering.

Step 13: Obtain a Graduate Degree

A graduate degree offers the opportunity to qualify for management and leadership positions in the industry. In addition, there is more to engineering than just programming. Software engineering calls upon interdisciplinary skills such as critical thinking, cost analysis, and project management — skills that can be enhanced in a master’s program in computer science, computer engineering, information science, or software engineering.

Software Engineer Degree Levels

There are many options to choose from on both the graduate and undergraduate levels for those interested in a software engineering degree. Depending on previous work and educational background, as well as professional purposes, one degree will probably make different sense than the other. Let’s have a glance at the software engineering degrees available.

Software Engineering Associate Degrees

An associate degree in software engineering needs about two years to complete. The associate degree can be a helpful way for students who want a degree to take on an entry-level software engineering position without consuming the time and money getting a four-year degree. As a combined bonus, some associate degrees can help as stepping stones to getting a bachelor’s degree later on.

Classes usually pronounced in software engineering associate degree programs include:

Course NameDescriptionSkills Obtained
Database Management SystemsThis course covers how database management systems operate, as well as how to design, build, and implement systems within an organization to meet their specific needs.1. Gaining familiarity in commonly used database management systems
2. Understanding the current trends in data management, such as data mining and business analytics
3. Learning the principles of relational, hierarchical and object-oriented databases
Web Application DevelopmentThe architectural configuration of web applications, as well as programming languages and technologies to help create web applications, are reviewed in this class.1. Designing a web application
2. Learning user-interface principles
3. Implementation and testing client and server solutions
Operating SystemsFundamental concepts, as well as fundamental origins of operating system design and operation, are examined in this course.1. Widely used operating system programming languages.
2. File management techniques
3. Computer architecture design considerations
NetworkingTeaches students the fundamental principles of networks, and the role software performs in their functionality and application.1. Network security protocol
2. Network design considerations
3. Types of networks

Software Engineering Bachelor’s Degrees

For students beginning out of high school (or shifting over from another career) who require to maximize their professional potential in software engineering and grant themselves the most excellent opportunity of finding ideal post-graduate employment, the bachelor’s in software engineering is worth trying. In fact, most entry-level software engineering positions will expect this four-year degree. Some more advanced positions may require a master’s degree in software engineering. In that case, a bachelor’s degree could be a prerequisite to admission.

READ  8 Best Python IDEs And Code Editors

Four of the typical courses that can be observed at most software engineering bachelor’s degree programs are shown below:

Course NameDescriptionSkills Obtained
Object-oriented Software DevelopmentStudents will take an advanced programming language in order to solve common computer problems and tasks.1. Computer programming expressions
2. Understanding how fields and methods work
3. Programming logic
Computer SecurityStudents obtain a summary of computer security. Ethical, legal, and practical ideas will also be presented.1. Disaster and data loss recovery
2. Fundamentals of cryptography
3. User access methods
Project ManagementProcedures and methods for designing and building software projects on schedule and on a budget should be comprised in this course.1. Understanding project lifecycles
2. Risk management
3. Project planning
User InterfaceBy utilizing the concepts of human interaction processes, students should learn how to create user-friendly projects that can interact with people.1. User interface design considerations
2. Usability testing
3. Tailoring software to human user specifics

Software Engineering Master’s Degree

Depending on the program, a master’s degree in software engineering needs almost two years to achieve. Many programs are intended for students who are working full-time. The master’s degree not only provides a different understanding of the software engineering discipline but also offers education in administration and leadership so that graduates can take on more complex projects, be able to coordinate those projects and work well with a team successfully.

Learners who enroll a master’s degree program in software engineering can anticipate covering courses such as these:

Course NameDescriptionSkills Obtained
Mathematical ModelingIn this course, students are introduced to analytical models, which have applicability in understanding and forecasting natural phenomena and human nature.1. Utilizing models to real-world problems
2. Classification of a particular mathematical model for a given situation
3. Quantification of variables and intended results
Software DesigningStudents should expect to try different programming languages during this course and learn how their individual features can be implemented to software creation.1. Reinforcement of object-oriented programming principles
2. Logically analyze existing computer code
3. Techniques to effectively and efficiently design programs
Software TestingTools and techniques for practical testing of software, as well as analyzing theoretical testing models, are the focus of this class.1. How to troubleshoot
2. Methods of debugging
3. Analyzing and interpreting test results
Software System ArchitectureThis course comprises the fundamentals of the software architecture paradigm and its application to the software development method.1. Analysis of software design
2. Identify architectural software techniques
3. Tools used for software architecture design

Software Engineering Ph.D. Degree

While Ph.D. programs in software engineering do exist, they are far less common than the bachelor’s or master’s degree. Usually taking at least four years to complete, Ph.D. software engineering degrees are often research-oriented, culminating with a dissertation. In addition, students will take focused classes on very specific areas of software engineering, such as robotics, distributed systems, software security and quantitative research methods. A PhD is usually necessary for those who desire a career in research or academia, such as teaching at a college or university.

By joining a Ph.D. software engineering program, one can pursue a curriculum that’s individual to them. As such, there are very few similar class plans among students in the same program. However, the following courses would likely be helpful in the Ph.D. course list:

Course NameDescriptionSkills Obtained
Software Modeling And DesignPolicies for developing a large range of software systems.1. Classification of design concepts to use when designing software
2. Familiarity with the Unified Modeling Language
3. Utilization of advanced object-oriented software architectures
4. Understanding of various design notation
Economics Of Software EngineeringStudents will be taught how to take profitability and economic considerations into account when designing and managing software1. Quantitative modeling of the software lifecycle
2. Cost-benefit analysis during software design
3. Commonly used software evaluation metrics
Software Engineering for the InternetStandards on how to create useful and effective web-based software and purposes are taught in this class1. Factors that make a useful interactive web application
2. Understanding middleware
3. Client-server programming methods
Experimentation In Software  EngineeringThis course comprises how the systematic approach can be applied to software engineering1. Utilization of software engineering
2. Using the scientific method to conduct empirical studies experimentation methods
3. Present findings in a practical and compelling practice

Qualifications Of A Successful Software Engineer

1. Corresponding Skills

Software engineering demands a vast technical skillset and knowledge base that ranges from understanding business requirements to testing products. Below is a list of the core software engineering potential :

SKILLDESCRIPTION
Software RequirementsThe ability to determine the needs of the software user or objective of the software
Software DesignThe process of planning and developing specifications for software solutions
Software ConstructionThe development of software through object-oriented programming (coding), testing and debugging
Software TestingThe review of software systems or components prior to product release
Software MaintenanceThe process of modifying software products to make improvements or solve issues
Software Configuration ManagementThe tracking and management of software changes
Software Engineering ManagementThe management of the software development process, from design to product delivery
Software Engineering ProcessThe methodology applied to software development (e.g., agile methodology, waterfall programming)
Software QualityThe ability to create and maintain software that meets its functional requirements
Software Engineering EconomicsThe knowledge of software costs, production estimation, and current market trends

According to Robert Half Technology, Computer Software Engineers who possess valuable technical skills in the following Programming, Database, and Web areas may see a related increase in earning potential.

SKILL AREA% PAY INCREASE
Java9%
C#8%
Java EE/J2EE8%
.NET8%
PHP8%
Web services8%
Hadoop7%
ASP5%
C++5%
DCOM/COM/Active X5%

2. Workplace Skills

Because software engineers work non-engineers such as with vendors, customers, and other team members, employers value individuals who possess nontechnical skills. A good software engineer should be a:

  • Collaboration Ability: Able to utilize the input of others to devise solutions.
  • Team-work Mentality: Works efficiently in group settings.
  • Thinking-out-of-the-box: Able to develop new approaches to development.
  • Problem-solving: Understands complex issues and knows how to use technology to solve them.
  • Effective Communications: Can speak in both technical and non-technical terms to a variety of audiences.

3. Proficiency Over Widely-Used Tools

Name of SpecializationDescriptionTools
Integrated Development Environment.The environment refers to the programming tools and applications used in software development. Microsoft Visual Studio .NET
DreamWeaver
Oracle Netbeans
Eclipse
Operating System SoftwareOperating system software manages both the software and hardware resources of a computing system and is required by application programs to operate.Windows
iOS
Android
Linux
Web Development SoftwareWeb development software is implemented in the production of websites and applications. Apache Tomcat
Xamarin
WebMatrix
Coda
Object-Oriented Programming Languages.
Software engineers use object-oriented programming languages in programming and software application development.Python
C++
Ruby
PHP
Java
Program Testing Software.
Program testing software is utilized to locate bugs and validate applications run as designed. LoadRunner
Jira
UFT
Selenium

3. Certifications

Professional certifications in software engineering authorize an individual’s qualifications within the field. Certifications prove a conceptual understanding and technical expertise in specific areas of the profession. Software engineers can decide from a variety of credentialing programs based on their career requirements and professional purposes. Below is a summary of likely certifications.

  • C++ CERTIFICATION.
    The C++ Institute has intended multiple certification programs for both the C and C++ programming languages. Advancing in sophistication, there are associate, professional and senior examinations available for each programming language. Associate certifications are foundational in nature, demonstrating the candidate’s basic understanding of C/C++ programming. Professional certifications are advanced, measuring the candidate’s intelligence of complex C/C++ programming techniques. Senior is expert-level certification, testing the candidate’s knowledge of extremely complex C/C++ coding problems. Certifications include:
    • C Programming Language Certified Association (CLA)
    • C Certified Professional Programmer (CLP)
    • Certified Senior Programmer (CLS)
    • C++ Certified Associate Programmer (CPA)
    • C++ Certified Professional Programmer (CPP)
    • C++ Certified Senior Programmer (CPS)
  • IEEE PROFESSIONAL SOFTWARE DEVELOPER CERTIFICATION (PSD)
    Sponsored by the IEEE Computer Society, the Professional Software Developer Certification (PSD) examines the candidate’s understanding of software engineering fundamentals, design, development, and testing.
  • IEEE PROFESSIONAL SOFTWARE ENGINEERING PROCESS MASTER CERTIFICATION (PSEPM)
    The PSEPM grades the candidate’s analytical knowledge of software engineering. A two-part examination, the first test comprises software requirements, software construction and testing, software design, maintenance and configuration management. The second examination studies software engineering management, software engineering processes, software models and methods, quality and engineering economics, and software project management.
  • IEEE SOFTWARE ENGINEERING MASTER CERTIFICATION (PSEM)
    A superior certification, the PSEM examines the candidate’s understanding of software engineering policies as well as technical abilities through an applied examination. The applied examination places the candidate in a professional developer’s place and demands the completion of two performance tasks, which are reviewed and rated.
  • MICROSOFT CERTIFIED SOLUTIONS DEVELOPER (MCSD)
    The MCSD certification is intended for specialists working with Microsoft languages and enterprise development accessories. The MCSD includes several certification areas, including Windows Store apps, SharePoint applications, Web applications, application lifecycle management, Azure Solutions Architect, and Universal Windows Platform.

Career Specialization in Software Engineers

SpecializationDescriptionMedian Pay
Mobile Application DeveloperMobile application developers use languages and platforms such as JavaScript, .NET, and Objective-C to develop applications and websites for mobile devices (e.g., iPhone, Redmi, iPad, Samsung Galaxy). Working with mobile operating systems such as iOS and Android, developers plan, code, test, debug and document the mobile application development method. A degree in computer science or computer engineering is advised. In today’s modern world, the growing market for personal and enterprise mobile apps has led to developers’ crushing demands. Gartner Inc. forecasts that by the end of 2017 the market need will overcome available enterprise mobile app developers’ available expertise by at least five to one.$134,500
Quality Assurance EngineerQuality assurance engineers divide and operate testing, and quality review plans to detect issues during the software development method. With a knowledge of the software development lifecycle and quality assurance policies, QA Engineers determine the scope of testing, control manual and automated testing plans, and operate closely with developers to distinguish improvement areas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has designated the career field as an emerging and high-growth speciality, and it is expected to produce 100,000 new jobs nationwide between 2012 and 2022.$89,000
Applications ArchitectApplications architects integrate knowledge of development mechanisms and system architecture with market savvy and team management skills to coordinate the production of enterprise-level applications. An application architect, a significant position holder, works as the team connection that brings together user experience and front-end developers, programmers, and quality assurance professionals on each project. A bachelor’s degree in computer science or information systems is traditionally needed, and it is one of the highest-paying professions in the information technology field.$126,625

Useful Resources

ABET

ABET is a leading organization for accrediting undergraduate and graduate programs in science, technology, and engineering fields.

IEEE

IEEE is a principal professional organization with the purpose of helping humanity through the assistance of advanced technology.

CompTIA

CompTIA serves the interests of information technology professionals by advocating on their behalf and providing professional certifications and educational opportunities for those working in information technology.

Association for Computing Machinery

The ACM is the world’s largest computer society with the mission of promoting computer science and related fields in the educational and professional realms.

Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP)

The ICCP is a non-profit organization that offers many internationally-recognized computer certifications.

Try Engineering: Computer Software Engineer

This site offers insight into a variety of engineering careers, including software engineer. This is a great basic description of what software engineers do.

Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP)

The ICCP is a non-profit organization that offers many internationally-recognized computer certifications.

Conclusion

Despite a lot of advantages, software engineering is a career that demands many hardships and immense patience. So, if you do think you are blessed with these qualities, Welcome to Software Engineering !!!

Related Topics

Read about the Best Online Computer Science Degrees

Read about the Top Paying IT Certifications

1 thought on “How to Become a Software Engineer”

Comments are closed.