Software engineering is one of the most in-demand jobs on the market today. Our increasing dependence on technology, the surge in tech advances, and a growing number of start-ups has triggered a significant demand for skilled software engineers.
We’re going to discuss everything you need to know to kickstart your career in software engineering.
What Is Software Engineering?
Software engineers make all of the web-based systems, mobile applications, and the underlying platforms that we use every single day. Software engineering is the process of identifying requirements and then building reliable applications to fulfill those requirements. This includes steps like designing, testing, and maintaining applications. Software products are used across industries for various purposes.
What Is Good Software?
For any software product to be effective, it must have certain features. Firstly, the software needs to be usable. It also has to contain all the attributes outlined in the requirements, and there needs to be appropriate documentation for users to refer to.
The software has to be optimized in such a way that it’s not too cumbersome. It’s also important that the software responds instantaneously. Additionally, it needs to be secure and keep user data private.
Once the application is complete, the app needs to be updated periodically to accommodate changes in data requirements as well as improve the technology. Apart from this, engineers have to keep budget constraints in mind as well.
What Skills Does A Software Engineer Need?
Software engineering is a broad term. Software engineers have several responsibilities ranging from developing mobile applications to testing sites. They need to have an in-depth understanding of important computer science concepts like computer architecture, algorithms, and data structures.
The key technical skill required is programming. The programming language needed differs based on application requirements. Some of the popular languages are:
Python is a high-level, object-oriented programming language. ‘Object-oriented’ means that you can divide your tasks into objects and reuse them when needed. The syntax is easy to grasp and is ideal for beginners. Python is preferred for many projects like big data and automation.
Java is another common programming language used in different software projects. It’s also an object-oriented language. The syntax is similar to C and C++ so it might take some time for beginners to be able to work with Java proficiently.
Other languages you can choose to learn are Ruby, PHP, HTML, CSS, C, C++, C#, and so on. Basic knowledge of Unix commands will be an added advantage for you.
- Clear communication: Software engineers need to possess soft skills as well. Primarily, you need to have good communication skills. As a software engineer, you’ll have to communicate and collaborate with superiors and other team members. Being able to work well with others will make your job much easier.
- Decision-making: Equally as important is your ability to consider the big picture, exercise sound judgment, and make decisions based on logic and analysis.
- Prioritization of tasks: As a software engineer, you’ll be continuously surrounded by an overwhelming amount of information and tasks. Because of this, you’ll need to be organized. Displaying good leadership and multitasking skills can help you land a managerial position in the future.
- Problem-solving: Along with this, you have to know how to troubleshoot issues and find bugs in the code. Paying attention to detail is essential.
How to Get Hired As A Software Engineer
If you have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, it’s a straight road from there. If you have a degree in information science or electronics, you can move to software engineering by learning to code. If you don’t have a post-secondary degree, you can opt for coding boot camps or online courses.
We recommend Thinkful’s Software Engineering course. It’s a fast-tracked course that’s designed specifically to get students a job they’ll love post-graduation. Not only will you learn all of the necessary skills to thrive in your new career, but you’ll also get 1-on-1 mentorship and unrivaled support. Oh, and as a bonus, you don’t need to pay a cent for the course until you get hired as a software engineer.
Regardless of which route you choose, you should be proficient in at least two programming languages. You should also have a basic understanding of software documentation and the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). SDLC defines the stages of software development from analyzing requirements to deploying code. Along with this, you need to know about flowcharts and other related diagrams.
It’s also important to begin building a portfolio as soon as possible. You’ll be able to do this while you take a course. If you choose not to take an in-depth course, it’s recommended that you look for projects to do to build your portfolio. If you get the chance, you should pursue software engineering internships. Internships can help you practice your skills in a work environment which will give you an edge over your competition.
More than just the technical skills, however, you’ll need to make sure that you practice your soft skills. Teamwork and good communication skills are essential to succeed as a software engineer.
Types of Software Engineering Jobs And Their Salaries
As a software engineer, you can pursue a variety of roles. It’s important that you have an idea of what type of roles you’d like to pursue when you begin your education. This will give you time to focus on the skills that will help you land a job in that specific type of role.
- Application Developer
As an application developer, you have to analyze the requirements for the application. You may have to propose designs for the application and keep documentation for them. You’ll be in charge of writing code and testing the application for bugs. You could also be updating and testing existing applications.
Mobile application development is also a lucrative option. For this, you’ll have to learn Android and iOS development.
An application developer can earn $91,540 per year on average.
Web developers are responsible for building websites and maintaining them. You can either work as a freelancer or in a company. Having a portfolio that shows your web development skills will improve your chances of getting hired.
You can choose to focus on the front end or the back end of web development. Front-end is the part of the website that users see and interact with. Back-end work consists of coding and managing servers. You can even become a full-stack web developer when you attain skills for both front-end and back-end development.
As a web developer, you can earn on average $77,627 per year.
- DevOps Engineer
To be a DevOps Engineer, you need to have knowledge of a cloud platform – AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud. You’ll need to know scripting for automation purposes and understand how Git and GitHub work. Python, Ruby, and Java are some of the programming languages preferred. Along with these, knowledge of deployment systems is also required.
Being a DevOps engineer can get you approximately $127,367 per year.
- Security Engineer
As a security engineer, you’ll specialize in creating systems, methods, and techniques to test the security of a software system and fix security flaws. Security engineers are typically employed as “white-hat” ethical hackers as this involves attempts to penetrate systems to discover vulnerabilities.
Related careers such as information security analysts earn somewhere around $99,730 per year.
- Game Developer
Game developers are involved in planning, designing, and creating video games for different platforms including computers, mobile devices, and gaming consoles. These software engineers create visual content and write code to implement features and functionalities in the game.
On average, a game developer earns somewhere around $101,800 per year.
Apart from these roles, you have options like Database Administrator, Game Developer, IT Support, and more.
Start Your Tech Career
Software engineering is a promising field that’s full of challenging and rewarding job opportunities. All industries, including technology, manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and more, require software engineers. New job titles are being created constantly. If you’re looking for a secure career, then you’re on the right track.
To succeed as a software engineer, you should be passionate about learning. Technologies keep changing, so you’ll need to consistently update your knowledge-base. Obviously, you’ll also need to be passionate about the tech industry as a whole as well.
If you’d like more guidance on how you can start your career as a software engineer, Thinkful’s team is ready to guide you in the right direction. Thinkful is committed to providing the best courses in tech, so that you can ultimately land a job you’ll love.
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