If you have a passion for computers and coding, perhaps you’ve wondered how to become a software engineer. The BLS report that software engineers, quality assurance analysts, and testers positions will see 22% job growth between 2020-30.
The good news is that this high-responsibility role is more attainable than you think.
Software engineering involves the application of diverse approaches and practices to develop computer software. Software engineering directly relates to computer science. Here, engineers employ systematic and disciplined techniques for the maintenance, development, and operation of software.
Read on for our primer on what software engineers do, what niches they specialize in, and how to become one.
Table of Contents
What Is a Software Engineer?
Software engineers are the people who make the digital age tick. They are responsible for social media applications like Instagram and Twitter as well as programming the future autonomous transportation and robots and even for this fantastic website you’re reading right now. In short, when you interact with a website app or digital screen, your eyes are exposed to the work of skilled software engineers.
Software engineers are basically computer science professionals that use their vast engineering knowledge to create, maintain and improve computer software. Software engineering encompasses many different roles and technical expertise. The magic behind what you see on your PC isn’t all just that. It takes a team of highly-motivated engineers to get you the information you need, as well as media or digital experiences, right away.
Flexibility and agility are what sets software engineers apart from other professions. Software engineers must be able to switch between complicated projects every day or keep up with the latest trends and industry technologies to provide the best digital experience possible.
What Are The Types of Software Engineers?
As stated above, engineers possess unique skills that enable them to perform specific computer engineering tasks. For a successful application to be produced efficiently, it often takes many different types of engineers. These are only a few examples of the most sought-after types of engineers.
Front-End Software Engineer
Front-end software engineers are experts in developing customer-facing products. This group of user interface engineers is responsible for everything, from bug fixes and cross-browser compatibility to designing elements that make it easy for users to use applications and websites.
Back-End Software Engineer
Back-end software engineers are experts in the logic, performance, and coding of applications that users do not see. This engineer focuses on the code that can flawlessly execute all actions you take while using an app. Engineers rely on several databases, caches, and programming languages to ensure that the back end runs smoothly and is free from bugs.
Full Stack Software Engineer
Because full-stack software engineers have the skills and knowledge to handle back-end and front-end engineering tasks, they are highly sought-after. This engineer can not only write clean, functional code on the backend; they can also implement design elements that will help to provide the best user experience.
Security Software Engineer
Security software engineers are becoming highly sought after because of their importance in maintaining the health of an entity’s cyber infrastructure during disruptions such as natural disasters or cyber-attacks. Security software engineers use varying cybersecurity tools to ensure their databases, systems, and infrastructure is always safe from harm. The need for security software engineers will grow even more prominent as cyber threats grow more extensive and advanced.
DevOps is a portmanteau of the phrases “software (dev)elopment” and “information-technology (op)erations.” DevOps engineers are in high demand because they are familiar with the DevOps practices that help reduce the time it takes to take an application from inception to launch without lowering the overall quality of the work. In other words, DevOps engineers are highly-skilled at offering the highest levels of efficiency for software development.
Software engineers program computers using languages. These programming languages provide the basis for how websites and apps look visually and perform certain tasks. Complex structures are common in programming languages that can take years for engineers to master. Below are the top-rated programming languages of today:
Python is an open-source, user-friendly language. It excels in code reusability and readability. It is used in various software engineering projects, including application development and database creation, as well as in building AI and machine-learning systems.
The programming language C was developed in 1971 and is highly respected for its ease of use when creating high-performance applications. C is also the original programming language. It is used today in the burgeoning technology areas of virtual reality, computer graphics, and gaming.
Golang, or Go, is a popular programming language. It has the same syntax (rules to organize structured symbols) as C but with improved memory security, readability, and high-performance multiprocessing. Companies like Uber, Docker, and Medium use this general-purpose language to create fast and flexible applications.
Software Engineer Job Outlook
Software engineers are in high demand. Software engineers have the best job prospects of any profession. Software engineers will be in high demand as technology evolves and innovation continues to grow at high rates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- From 2018 to 2028, software engineer employment will increase by 21%
- From 2018 to 2028, the number of application developers hired will rise by 26%
- California, Texas, Washington, and New Jersey are home to the highest number of software engineers. They have combined to employ more than 375,000.
Some sectors with the most need for software engineers are transportation, retail, e-commerce, media/entertainment, and finance. Additionally, emerging technologies, like AI and machine learning, have made it to the forefront of the most in-demand technologies engineers should know.
How Much Do Software Engineers Earn?
All those employment statistics are great, but the real question everybody wants to be answered is how much money does a software engineer make? Engineers have one of the healthiest salaries in the country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- The average software engineer’s salary is around $103,620 (far surpassing the median personal income in the U.S., which is around $33,700).
- The engineers that earn the most work in the manufacturing industry, where they rake in almost $119,000 annually.
How Do I Become a Software Engineer?
It is not possible to be a software engineer with a single formula. While a degree helps you understand the basics of software engineering, it doesn’t mean that you will be able to get into the field without a computer science degree. Software engineers come from all walks of life but share one common trait: passion. A passion for the industry, the technologies you work with, and the product you build will help you have a long and fruitful career in software engineering. Passionate not only about the code you create but also about the product that you work on.
Software engineers should have a genuine interest in their field and must be able to communicate effectively with other members of the team. It is essential that everything is communicated accurately so that code doesn’t get misinterpreted or designs don’t get installed improperly. A small error could lead to the breakdown of an entire project. Successful software engineers prioritize constantly sharpening their written and verbal communication skills to be the best asset possible to their team.
What Tangible Things Can Aspiring Engineers Do to Boost Their Skill Set?
Hundreds of bootcamps, hackathons, conferences, and networking events can help you learn valuable skills and meet industry professionals who can help you along your journey to becoming an engineer.
These could help you to get a good grasp on what languages you would like to use (Golang, Python, etc.), what type of engineer you want to become (front-end, back-end, etc.), or even what sector you would like to work in.
Gaining as much knowledge as possible about the industry and its varying career paths will help you become a confident software engine
What Are Some Other Ways to Get Noticed in The Industry?
According to industry veterans, one of the best ways to get your name out there is to maintain an active portfolio on open-source repositories like Github, Bitbucket, CodePen, etc. This way, you can show off your skills, get inspired by other engineers’ work, and find code for your next project. The open-source aspect of these sites allows essential industry professionals, from engineers to hiring managers, to check your work to ensure you’re the right fit for any project or company.
What Are The Challenges of Software Engineering?
Here are some critical challenges faced by software engineers:
- In safety-critical areas such as space, aviation, nuclear power plants, etc., the cost of software failure can be massive because lives are at risk.
- Increased market demands for fast turnaround time.
- Dealing with the increased complexity of software needs for new applications.
- The diversity of software systems should be communicating with each other.
Software engineers are highly sought-after for a reason. They’re analytical, focused, communicative, knowledgeable, and passionate. They’re willing to go above and beyond to do their part in creating the future of technology. Do you have what it takes to tackle some of the biggest technological challenges facing our world today? If so, you might make the perfect software engineer.
Now that you know how software engineering careers typically start, get ready to make your passion a reality!
Frequently Asked Questions
Management roles are widely available for software engineers with an appetite to develop valuable interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills (or soft skills) include communication, conflict management, empathy, leadership, listening, negotiation, a positive attitude, and being able to work as part of a team.
There is a lot of investment going into software engineering at the moment due to the increasing reliance on mobile technology, venture capital-backed start-ups, the growing complexity of technology, and emerging industries.
The demand for skilled and qualified software engineers seems to have no end. This demand is strengthened by a changing economic landscape and fueled by the need for technological solutions. So yes! you should consider becoming a software engineer.
Based on our pool of users, software engineers tend to be predominately investigative people. This finding is reflective of all of the work that these engineers do. Whether they are learning technologies, writing software, or debugging issues, the capacity to investigate – to carry out a systematic inquiry to discover the facts – is fundamental.
One of the main differences between software engineering and software development is job function. Software engineering applies engineering principles to create software. Therefore, software engineers take part in software development by connecting the client’s needs with technological solutions. They systematically develop processes to provide specific functions by using engineering concepts to develop software.
On the other hand, software developers are responsible for the entire development process and drive programs’ creative force. They typically work together with the client to create a conceptual design and then have computer programmers create the programming code needed to run the software.
The software industry is always changing. This means that a career as a software engineer demands a commitment to learning that starts in high school, is solidified in university and continues with career-long professional certifications and training.
A four- or five-years Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Software Engineering is the typical education track required for entry into the software engineering profession.
Attracted by high salaries, strong employment opportunities, and a chance to build things that can change the world, more people than ever are choosing software engineering as a career choice. However, succeeding in this career requires more than just great coding ability. The best software engineers bring specific qualities and attributes to the job that make them stand out from everyone else.
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