The field of Software Engineering is on its way up, with no sign of slowing down any time soon. Due to increasing globalization and digitalization, this field has seen a massive boom in the last decade, and demand is still growing.
So you know it’s a stable career path. You probably also know that it involves a lot of computer coding knowledge and specialized training. But if you’re seriously considering becoming a Software Engineer, you need a complete picture: what they do Monday through Friday, and which skills you need to bring to the table.
In this article, we’re going to help you decide whether Software Engineering is for you. Let’s start off with an overview of a Software Engineer’s typical job description.
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Software Engineering Job Description
Software Engineers write the code for websites, apps and software. Software Engineering teams often work together to thoroughly test their work and address problems before it goes live.
When you move up the ranks as a Software Engineer, you may also be responsible for training new hires, rolling out new software and tech solutions for the company, and planning the launch of new website features or apps.
Expectations of a Software Engineer
The day-to-day duties of a Software Engineer depend on the industry, company size, team structure, and work environment. But there are some common threads.
The following general responsibilities are what you’ll likely find in most Software Engineering jobs.
- Develop information and software systems
- Execute the software development life cycle
- Develop software solutions
- Write and test code
- Debug and upgrade existing systems
- Take problem-solving initiatives
- Work on system improvement
- Investigate new technologies wherever necessary
What Does A Typical Day Look Like for A Software Engineer?
As a Software Engineer, you’ll likely enjoy a pretty flexible schedule – especially if you choose to work remotely. You’ll be able to choose the times that work best for you to do focused work, meet with clients and other engineers, and take care of administrative tasks.
But if you’re part of a larger team, your day will probably follow this general schedule.
Morning: Many teams have a group meeting in the morning to talk about the day’s goals, and anything urgent that may have turned up from the previous day. Take this time to chat with coworkers, read up on industry news, and transition into work mode.
Afternoon: This is when many engineers need to put on their headphones and kickstart their work playlist. At the heart of the workday, you’ll probably be deeply focused as you write code, quality check the work of others, and repeatedly test your work on different devices. If you’ve been with the company a while, you may also get pulled into meetings to discuss new software solutions.
Evening: Many developers like to take 30 minutes at the end of the day to close out their programs and make a priority list for the next morning. If you encountered any bugs throughout the day, make a note for the rest of your team.
After a day spent staring into a computer screen, this is when you should take a break and move around. Even if you typically start later and work through the evening hours, make sure you step away and give your brain a break from reading lines of CSS.
Work Environment: Your day may look very different depending on your environment. One of the best aspects of being a web developer is that you often have the freedom to choose the work style that’s best for you. Some like the structure and comradery of office life, while others are perfectly suited for remote work. And if you like working on different projects from week to week, you might prefer working as a freelancer.
Should I Become a Software Engineer?
There are plenty of desirable features of a career in engineering. But ultimately, you need to choose a career you’ll love, and that looks different for everyone.
Software Engineering is a highly fulfilling career for anyone who is:
- Up for a challenge. Coding is frustrating, so you’ll have to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work if figuring out where you went wrong – even as a Senior Developer.
- Creative. You may not think of Software Engineering as a creative pursuit, but in fact, the best developers are able to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems.
- A perfectionist. Writing code is all about paying attention to detail and looking for ways to streamline and condense your work. There is always room for improvement.
- Good with numbers. While you may not use math often on the job, those who are good at mathematical thinking and logic tend to make great Software Engineers.
- Into learning. Programming languages and the software we use to write them are constantly changing. You’ll have to change with it, and that means you’re in for a career full of learning and self-development.
Are Software Engineers in High Demand?
We mentioned that Software Engineers are in high demand these days. There are a lot of reasons for that, which is great for long-term job security. Here are some of the main reasons companies look to hire Software Engineers.
Most businesses need a custom-built website or an app that’s functional, easy to use, and able to handle peak traffic volumes. Software Engineers are responsible not only for building those solutions, but also monitoring their performance, testing them in different environments, and constantly building improvements to match changing customer needs.
Clearly, a Software Engineer’s work doesn’t end when a site goes live. Coding requires updates. Any given code needs maintenance and improvements.
New platforms are also created constantly, and companies need Software Engineers to keep up with the changing times. If there’s a new digital platform that would benefit a company, a Software Engineer is there to help the organization transition.
With their skills and qualifications, a Software Engineer can often support other roles like front-end engineers, mobile engineers, machine learning and data science engineers, and anyone else in the company who deals with programming languages. The skillset of a Software Engineer is incredibly valuable even across departments.
How to Become A Software Engineer
Since this is one of the most sought-after fields, it’s become very competitive. That’s why you need to carefully plan and strategize your career in web development. If you’re just starting out, we’ve got a few expert tips to help you succeed.
Know your goal. The first step is to familiarize yourself with this field. You should read about the role as much as you can. You can take help from books, blogs, and other online reading material.
Learn a programming language. Mastering at least one or two programming languages is important to pursue a career as a Software Engineer. And you can start learning on your own, for free.
Get a structured education. You need to get educated in Software Engineering. You can choose to do this by going to university and getting a degree, or you can opt for Software Engineering bootcamps. We offer a comprehensive Software Engineering bootcamp that’s been designed to land you a job in the field in less than 6 months post-graduation.
Get certified. You can master important skills by opting for certification courses. Certifications are also a great way to get promotions and level up your skills while you work. As a Software Engineer, you never want to stop learning.
Join a community. You can easily find communities and forums for Software Engineers. These communities are like a virtual support system. Through these, you’ll have like-minded people around you to help with coding or other work-related issues. It’s also a great way to share your ideas with like-minded people.
Build your portfolio. Every recruiter expects you to have some hands-on experience. You should build portfolio projects with the language that you’re most comfortable with. These projects will make your resume look more impressive, and help you gain an edge on the competition.
At Thinkful, we provide you with practical, hands-on experience. You can use that experience to build a portfolio, reference in interviews, and ultimately guide your career decisions.
Prepare for interviews. Once you land an interview, you need to make sure you’re prepared. We teach you how to do this with the career counseling portion of the Software Engineering bootcamp. However, if you choose a different route, make sure you’ve thoroughly reviewed your Software Engineering skills. Also, make sure you’ve studied the company you’re applying to.
Keep these in mind when you start to pursue your Software Engineering career.
How Hard Is Software Engineering?
It’s not easy to learn multiple coding languages and figure out how to apply them in different settings. But a career in Software Engineering is very achievable if you’re willing to put in the work, and if you’re genuinely interested in the field.
First things first: choose a coding school that meets your interests and promises job outcomes. If you choose to attend college over a bootcamp, you should focus on taking courses in math or computer science. Since your coursework may be largely theoretical, try to pair your education with an internship, or volunteer to leverage your coding skills for a local non-profit or business.
Apart from the actual program, you need to practice on your own, too. If you want to master a programming language, you’ll have to practice outside the classroom. This will improve your ability to write code and it will give you more confidence when you start applying to jobs.
If you put in the hard work, commitment, and dedication, then you’ll get your dream job as a Software Engineer.
Do I need a degree to become a Software Engineer?
The short answer is no: you don’t need a formal degree to excel as a Software Engineer. That said, many people do prefer some type of structured course to keep them on track, and help them troubleshoot when they get to sticky coding problems.
Why is Software Engineering a desirable career?
Many Software Engineering gigs come with some pretty great perks, like high salaries, the ability to work remotely, and lots of potential for upward mobility. Add to that the fact that coding skills are in high demand across every industry, and you’ll understand why so many young professionals are thinking about learning to code.
Am I too old to become a Software Engineer?
Software Engineering is a favorable career path, no matter where you are in life. If you’re looking to get out of your current industry, hungry for a career change, or even interested in building up a side hustle, you can learn the skills to become a Software Engineer at any age.
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