Employment conditions have rarely been this favorable for professionals seeking a software engineering career. With virtually every labor sector undergoing digital transformation, the biggest challenge for an aspiring software engineer might be choosing a preferred career path. But first, they need the appropriate training and software engineer skills.
Here we outline how to become a software engineer, what they earn, and the opportunities for advancement. If you’re already working in an IT-related field and are considering upskilling, this article is for you too.
Let’s begin with the basics of software engineering:
What Is Software Engineering?
A software engineering professional is someone who designs, develops, tests, and maintains software applications. Software engineers develop software solutions for end users based on engineering principles and programming languages.
Techopedia defines software engineering as “the process of analyzing user needs and designing, constructing, and testing end-user applications that will satisfy these needs through the use of software programming languages. It applies engineering principles to software development. In contrast to simple programming, software engineering is used for larger and more complex software systems, which are used as critical systems for businesses and organizations.”
How to Become a Software Engineer: Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities
A software engineer analyzes the needs of users, then designs, builds, and tests applications that meet those needs. Software engineers have a lot on their plates. A software engineer needs to be able to:
- Collaborate with systems analysts, engineers, programmers, and others to design systems and gather information on project limitations, capabilities, performance requirements, and interfaces.
- Alter existing software to resolve mistakes and errors, facilitate its adaptation to new hardware, and improve its overall performance.
- Analyze user needs and software requirements to determine design feasibility within time and cost limitations.
- Meet with customers to discuss software system design and maintenance.
- Coordinate the installation of software systems and monitor related equipment to meet specifications.
- Design, develop, and modify software systems — incorporating scientific analysis and mathematical models to predict and measure the outcome and consequences of those designs.
- Develop and direct software system testing, validation procedures, programming, and documentation.
- Analyze information to determine, recommend, and plan computer specifications and layouts, and peripheral equipment modifications.
- Supervise the work of teams of programmers, technologists, and technicians, in addition to other engineering and scientific personnel.
- Obtain and evaluate required reporting formats, related costs, and security needs to determine hardware configuration.
- Determine system performance standards.
- Train others to use new or modified equipment.
- Store, retrieve, and manipulate data to analyze system capabilities and requirements.
- Specify necessary power supply requirements and configurations.
- Recommend environmental control equipment, including dust control, temperature, and humidity levels in system installation.
How to Become a Software Engineer: Software Engineer Skills
Here is a list of skills and abilities held by a professional software engineer:
- The ability to analyze complex technical information
- The ability to analyze business requirements and assess impact within the existing database architecture
- Good research skills
- Be an excellent problem solver
- Have experience building software applications
- Have experience working with source code and version repository
- Have familiarity with UI Toolkits and frameworks
- The ability to lead and deliver complex software systems
- The ability to manage multiple projects while meeting deadlines
- Have a passion for developing engaging consumer experiences
- Provide other engineers with development and testing support
- Have experience with Ruby on Rails
- Have a solid knowledge of Java
- Possess strong problem-solving skills, as well as oral and written communication skills
- Have a thorough understanding of computer architecture, operating systems, and data structures
- The ability to thrive in a fast-paced, dynamic environment and not be overwhelmed
- The ability to transform requirements into design concepts and entity relationship diagrams (ERDs)
- The ability to troubleshoot and debug
- An understanding of software engineering best practices
- Working well either independently or with a team, including Agile Scrum teams
- Working knowledge of C, C++, and C#
- The ability to write precise, detailed technical specs and documentation.
Granted, you don’t have to be an absolute master at every item on that extensive skills list to become a software engineer, but a good command of most of them will tip the odds in your favor. The more of them you have in your toolbox, the better.
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How to Become a Software Engineer: Steps to Become a Software Engineer
Here are the steps to take to become a software engineer:
1. Education – Earn a Software Engineering Degree
First, a solid educational foundation is an enormous help, and a potential employer will want to see this in your background. Although most companies prefer a four-year degree, you can probably get by with a two-year associate’s degree. Naturally, it should be a software engineering degree or be relevant to the IT world. A major in journalism or botany won’t get you too far in the world of programming.
2. Gain Related Skills Independently
Prospective employers want candidates who possess a verifiable set of skills relevant to the position. You can do independent study and research in the field, pursue continuing education, or earn certification if this is the most effective option. The latter shows an employer verifiable, measurable proof that you possess the needed skills and abilities to do the job.
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3. Consider an Internship
An internship for students still attending college offers valuable hands-on knowledge and experience. Plus, internships help you build up contacts that can be useful throughout your working life.
4. Gain Programming Skills
5. Look for Entry-Level Positions
Sometimes, the best way to start is on the ground floor. According to Indeed, entry-level software engineers work with more senior software engineers to test, develop and update software applications and programs. They usually work on routine tasks to help familiarize themselves with the codebase and develop better programming skills. It pays well. According to Salary, the average entry-level software engineer salary in the United States is $71,912.
Software Engineer Salaries
According to Payscale, a software engineer in the U.S. earns an average of $76,192 annually (updated Nov. 3, 2021). There is a wide range in the marketplace, depending on location, industry, demand, and skill level.
In India, the annual average is ₹496,143, according to Payscale. The same site says a software engineer in China earns an average CNY 224,554 a year. Payscale shows that the average pay is C$ $77,140 in Canada and ¥4.9 million in Japan.
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Expanding your skill set with software engineering courses is one of the best steps you can take in your effort to figure out how to become a software engineer. That’s where Simplilearn comes in. Whether you’re looking to add more credentials to your resume or want to steer towards a whole new career, Simplilearn will give you the essential skills you need to hit the ground running.
Simplilearn’s skills-building courses for software engineers are the Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development, Full Stack Java Developer, and Python Certification Course.
Additional courses include MongoDB Developer and Administrator, Node.js Training, and Angular Training. Plus, if you get training as an AWS Solutions Architect, you can master the most popular cloud platform. Finally, round out your education with DevOps certification training. Engineers increasingly use DevOps to create better software applications, so becoming familiar with it is another point in your favor.
Simplilearn trains you with the skills you need at an affordable price. Plus, because the courses are online, it’s a flexible and convenient way to upskill and boost your career.