Software engineering is a dynamic profession that requires technical expertise, and there are several ways to get started, depending on where you are in your professional trajectory. If you’re a working professional looking to get started in software engineering, you can educate yourself through bootcamps and online courses. If you’re a student, getting an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in computer science or a related discipline might be a good option for you.

There is no fixed path to become a software engineer—the profession has various entry points. Below is a general outline of the steps you can take to get your career started in software engineering.

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Software Engineering Education

Software engineering is a highly technical field and requires special training and education. A formal education will lay the foundation for the knowledge and skills required to pursue a successful professional career. You can choose between traditional and non-traditional paths based on your requirements. These could include:

Duration: 4 years

When it comes to a traditional education, software engineering employers will look favorably on a bachelor’s degree in computer science or related disciplines. A bachelor’s degree will expose you to a broad curriculum that lays a solid foundation in subjects like math and computer science. In this mode of education, you’ll learn programming, software architecture, software testing, and application areas like networking and embedded systems.

Duration: 2 years

Although a four-year degree is given more preference, an associate degree can also be helpful in finding entry-level jobs. Later, you can pursue majors in areas like software engineering technology or software systems engineering. After earning an associate degree, you’ll be confident in your knowledge of software engineering principles, programming languages, and modern approaches to software development.

Duration: 8 to 12 weeks

Online courses and bootcamps place you in a learning environment where you’ll get hands-on experience. Once you graduate from the course, you’ll be ready to apply for entry-level positions in software engineering companies. We offer a comprehensive Software Engineering Bootcamp that might be just the option you’re looking for.

Software Engineering Internships

Internships provide real-world experience and insights about the professional environment. Undertaking a software engineering internship will help to calibrate your skillset so that you can build efficient and scalable software products. After completing your formal education, you can apply for internships at various tech companies. They usually span three to six months and allow you to hone your skills in specific areas like Java, XML, and SQL.

Get Certified

Software Engineering certifications are a sure-shot way to validate your skills and gain an edge in a competitive job market. Certification courses for beginners and experienced professionals are provided by many reputable universities, organizations like The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and tech vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle. Popular software engineering certifications include:

Build up Practical Experience in Software Engineering

After gaining knowledge, skills, and expertise, you’ll be able to build projects on your own. Working on your own project is a great way to put into practice everything you’ve learned so far on in your studies. Choose an area that interests you, and use online and offline resources if you get stuck. This will add value to your portfolio.

Create an Outstanding Software Engineering Portfolio

Create a portfolio that includes your best work and substantiates your core skills and qualities. Your portfolio should show your ability to test and debug web applications as well as your proficiency in designing databases and creating web applications.

A resume will tell recruiters about your educational background, skills, and certifications, whereas a portfolio will give them a deeper understanding of your work and how you implement your knowledge and skills. A portfolio for a software engineer should consist of:

An ‘About Me’ page – This is where you tell recruiters who you are and provide a summary of what you’ve done so far and where you want to go in your career.

Projects This is the body of the portfolio—the most important part. Include samples of your best work, making sure you include current and original content. Some points to keep in mind are:

Contact informationAdd your email address and links to your profiles on LinkedIn and GitHub. You can also include the links to other social media channels.

Apply for Software Engineering Jobs

Before you start applying for jobs, narrow down your priorities. Ask yourself:

Prepare for Your Software Engineering Interviews

Preparing for your face-to-face interview is an important step in the process of getting hired.

During an interview, recruiters will assess your technical knowledge along with your interpersonal skills, and your problem-solving abilities. Unlike other types of interviews, a tech interview may include whiteboard challenges or remote coding challenges. Make sure that you:

If you’re applying for software engineering jobs, it’s never too soon to start getting ready for the infamous (and inevitable) technical interview.  Check out Thinkful’s Technical Interview Prep Guide so you’re ready for anything they throw your way.

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