The Software Engineering career path has become increasingly popular among the tech-savvy. It offers constant challenges, rewarding career opportunities, and high salaries. It’s also an incredibly stable career path, with high predicted job growth and demand for talent across the country.

It makes sense that anyone who’s an analytical thinker and is looking for a great job is going to research what Software Engineering is all about. It’s an especially appealing career path since you don’t even need a four-year degree to excel.

So if you're curious about what it takes to become a Software Engineer, here's your introduction. We'll define what Software Engineering actually is, and what the work entails. You’ll learn all about the skills needed to get hired, and the different education paths open to you if you decide this is the right path for you.

In this article, you’ll find:

  1. A Definition of Software Engineering
  2. What Does A Software Engineer Do?
  3. Challenges Faced by Software Engineers
  4. Software Engineering Salaries
  5. Skills Required for Software Engineers
  6. How to Become A Software Engineer
  7. Types of Software Engineers
  8. Education Requirements
  9. Resources to Start Learning to Code
  10. Software Engineering Job Titles
  11. FAQs
  12. Conclusion

To start us off, we'll define what Software Engineering is, and discuss in detail what a Software Engineer actually does from 9-5.

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Definition of Software Engineering

Software Engineering is the process of building, testing, and maintaining digital products like websites and apps.

The first step is usually to capture user requirements. Next, Software Engineers design, build and test a software application that will satisfy those customer needs.

As technology evolves, so does the environment on which applications must work. Over the years, Software Engineering has continued to adapt to the constantly changing world.

What Does A Software Engineer Do?

Software Engineers build, develop, launch, and maintain software products and systems. Business applications, connected hardware, operating systems, mobile applications, web applications, and networking systems are all examples of software systems.

Software Engineers apply engineering principles at every stage of the development process. The finished product should be fully bespoke and meet the initial user requirements.

There are several steps involved in Software Engineering:

  1. The first step is to capture user requirements.
  2. The software development team then divides those user requirements into system and functional categories.
  3. Next, they draft possible solutions to meet the user requirements.
  4. The software developer then puts together a detailed roadmap for the final design.
  5. The team then begins writing the code to create the program.
  6. While coding, the developers test the software on multiple levels. This includes program testing, product testing, and user-engagement testing.

Challenges Faced by Software Engineers

Engineering isn't always an easy gig. Software Engineers face many challenges, including:

That said, this career path is well worth the effort and occasional frustrations. You'll be rewarded with high pay and rewarding work that truly contributes to the success of your company.

Software Engineering Salaries

Entry-level Software Engineers usually make in the $70k range. That’s an attractive starting salary, considering there’s no degree required, and even entry-level software engineering jobs often come with cushy benefits like unlimited paid time off and remote work allowances.

If you choose to specialize in certain areas, like app development or back-end development, you could make even more. And as you progress up the corporate ladder, you’ll be in the running for bonuses and higher paychecks. Salary.com estimates that Senior Software Engineers make around $112,000 per year.

Key Skills Required for Software Engineers

Some of the key skills and experience required of Software Engineers include:

If you've got your eye on leadership roles, you should also plan to fine-tune your soft skills, such as:

How to Become a Software Engineer

If you’re ready for the many challenges and job opportunities that come with a career in Software Engineering, here are some good starting points:

  1. Clarify your goal and why you want to pursue Software Engineering full-time. Having a clear goal will help motivate you, and will also come in handy when you’re interviewing for jobs.
  2. Research the field, talk to professionals who are already established in the role, and learn as much as you can before starting your job search.
  3. Become proficient in multiple programming languages. Tackle one at a time: select a language like Python, JavaScript, C++, or HTML, and master it. With every language you pick up, you’re honing your logic and critical thinking skills.
  4. Take a Software Engineering course that teaches you the skills you need to land a high-paying job. A structured curriculum will help you stay focused, and you’ll have support throughout the program to help you troubleshoot and develop your skills.
  5. Supplement your studies and learn how to read code written by other Software Engineers.
  6. Develop practical experience in the field where you see yourself working in the future. This way, you can find potential employers while enhancing your skills. You’ll also develop a professional network as you start applying to jobs. Apply to Software Engineering internships or volunteer for a local organization that you care about.

If you follow even a few of these steps, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a Software Engineer. Once you’re in, you can hone your expertise by reading up on the tried and true best practices of software engineering.

Types of Software Engineers

There are two main categories of Software Engineers:

Application Engineers: App engineers develop apps for Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android operating systems. They analyze the needs of the end-user and create or adapt applications for organizations and businesses. They design, build, install, and maintain these applications.

App engineers are typically involved in both front-end and back-end development.

System Engineers: They coordinate the creation and maintenance of business computer systems. Their responsibilities include coordinating the needs of each department, suggesting technical directions, and setting up networks that link computers with the company or organization.

System engineers are responsible for hardware as well as software. They build networks and operating systems for user-facing applications. They're responsible for designing as well as enforcing the IT standards.

Education Requirements for Software Engineers

You don’t need a degree to become a Software Engineer. But if college is a goal of yours, then you’ll probably want to major in computer science.

If you can’t wait 4 years for your new career, then consider enrolling in a Software Engineering bootcamp. Bootcamps are focused on getting you hired in the current job market, so the entire curriculum is geared to get you the skills and portfolio that will appeal to employers.

You can also compliment your education with a Software Engineering certificate. A certificate will help you catch the eye of employers, and show that you’re truly committed to your craft. There are also some industry certifications, such as getting certified in Android or iOS programming, that could help you develop expertise in one niche area of web development.

Resources to Start Learning to Code

Learning a bunch of programming languages and becoming a Software Engineer is easier said than done. But here’s the good news: many, many people have done it. And they’re sharing their expertise.

Jump-start your new career by checking out a few recommended Software Engineering books and blogs by industry pros. If you’re on the go or are more of an audio person, subscribe to one or two podcasts for web development professionals. By learning from the experience of others, you can streamline your own career transition.

It’s also a good idea to start using the tools you’d use on the job. Start looking at the source code for different websites, and practice with coding challenges. With the help of free online tutorials, you can even try out popular frameworks like Bootstrap.

Software Engineering Job Titles

Common job titles for Software Engineers include:

FAQs

How much will I make as a Software Engineer?

According to Salary.com, the average salary of an entry-level Software Engineer is around $70,306. And as you get a few years of experience, that’s likely to go up into the $90k range and beyond.

If it’s a hefty paycheck you’re after, focus on learning multiple languages, and build your expertise in both front-end development and back-end development. Confidence, strong leadership and communication skills will also help you increase your value, since you’ll be seen as someone who can lead a team of developers.

Is Software Engineering a good career?

The field of Software Engineering is growing faster than average job growth: the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a stunning 22% growth from 2019-2029.

Combine that with the fact that many Software Engineers enjoy solid benefits and the ability to work from home, and it’s clear why Software Engineering is such a desirable career track.

Do I need a Software Engineering degree to get hired?

You don’t need a degree to make it as a Software Engineer. Employers care about the skills you can demonstrate. So if you’re looking for a fast path to a career, enroll in a coding bootcamp and start building up your portfolio.

What are the requirements for becoming a Software Engineer?

In order to get hired as a Software Engineer, you need to know how to code, as well as command a strong attention to detail, and an ability to work with tight deadlines. Anyone who’s a logical thinker and enjoys math will probably make for a good coder.

If you’re deciding whether this is the right path for you, try your hand at HTML and see how you like it.

To Sum Up: Learn The Skills You Need & Start Your Career

Software Engineers need to have a range of soft and hard skills at their disposal in order to succeed. So if you’re driven to turn your interest in code into a full-time career, then take a step toward your new future and enroll in a course.

Even though formal college degrees are the traditional path, you can also transition into becoming a Software Engineer by enrolling in a web development bootcamp. These programs teach practical skills that prepare you to shine in a competitive job market, and are proven to lead to long-term careers. Once you earn the foundational skills you need to thrive in the web development field, you can choose your specialty and start designing your ideal career path.

You have a future in Software Engineering, but you don’t have to get there alone. We’re here to help you learn the skills you need, and get hired. Find some time to chat, and let’s plan your new career in web development.

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