With the internet becoming such an indispensable part of our day to day lives, demand for software engineers in the job market has jumped rapidly. The software industry is a highly dynamic and fast paced environment, where user requirements and application developments are in a constant state of flux. Add to this the growing complexity of technology and the pressure for companies to innovate, and it’s no surprise that highly skilled software engineers are looking at increasing salaries and job security.

We’ll take you through the skills software engineers need in order to be successful, and some of the specializations you could choose from if you decide to make a career out of code.

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College Degree

Bachelor’s or Master’s Degrees

The traditional way of becoming a software engineer is to enroll in a graduate program at university, with majors related to computer science and software engineering. A bachelor's degree normally lasts four years and covers the entire scope of softwadre development and engineering—front-end and back-end coding, software products, lifecycles, and relevant mathematics.

Some of the most reputable schools for computer science and engineering are MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Texas Cornell, Purdue University, Princeton, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins University. Software engineering is a relatively conventional and in-demand course throughout the world, so just about all universities running courses in science and technology will offer undergrad and graduate programs in computer science.

Associate Degrees

If a four-year undergrad degree isn’t your cup of tea, another option is a two-year associate degree. The difference is that it’s a more industry-oriented program rather than strictly academic, so it can be great for opening doors to new opportunities and entry-level jobs in the field.

Coding Bootcamps

If you’re not keen on committing to a college degree, a great way to to learn software engineering is to enroll in a coding bootcamp. Bootcamps can take anywhere between eight weeks to six months, depending on the type of program. Many of them offer remote learning options in addition to instructor-led classroom sessions. Quizzes, problem-solving sessions, and networking are some big pros of coding bootcamps. Many also offer financial assistance and career sessions, which involve resume and portfolio prep. Some of the popular bootcamps in the US and Europe are led by Ironhack, Nucamp, and General Assembly.

Our Software Engineering bootcamp is an online program offered in both an immersive full-time and flexible part-time format. As one of the more comprehensive bootcamps of its kind, the program provides online classes, mentorship, and career coaching.

Online Certifications

There are great online certification courses that will help you to boost your skillset—both paid and free. Look for ones led by faculty members of reputable institutions like Harvard, University of Michigan or University of Pennsylvania.

Books and Study Materials

The value of independent reading and self-learning can’t be overstated. There are hundreds of eBooks available about different aspects of software engineering, as well as specific programming languages. Some noteworthy titles are:

  1. Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship, by Robert C. Martin.  
  2. Testing Computer Software, by Cem Kaner, Jack Fall, and Hung Q. Nguyen.
  3. Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley.
  4. Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-oriented Software, by Erich Gamma.

Self-Learning vs Formal Education

Both formal education and self-learning routes have their pros and cons. A college degree requires a significant investment of time, effort, and money for the duration of the course. On the upside, you’ll have ample opportunity to network and you’ll certainly boost your chances of landing a software engineer role in a top notch company.

Self-learning, on the other hand, is much easier on the pocket and can be done at a pace that suits your current lifestyle. But you’ll have less opportunities to network or hash out any questions you have along the way, especially when you’re relying on books and video lectures.  

Whether you’re a self-learner or a college student, it’s always a good idea to participate in hackathons and online web development workshops to sharpen your software engineering skills. These live projects also make great additions to your resume and portfolio.

Next Steps

With the right education, mentoring and guidance, software engineering is an incredibly promising career path for those with a passion for tech. It’s a vast field that demands both logic and creativity, and reward its brightest players with generous salaries.

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