With the world relying on technology, software has become essential to most industries to facilitate operations, research development, and delivery of products to customers. A software engineering career can be a good decision as it’s exciting, has good benefits, and is an in-demand field. Furthermore, software engineers are critical to ensuring all parts of software development are running smoothly.
Do you want to find out if software engineering is for you?
Follow on as we explore the steps on how to become a software engineer, what the software engineer education requirements are, how long it takes to become a software engineer, and more.
What Is Software Engineering and What Do Software Engineers Do?
Software engineering is the process of designing, constructing, and testing end-user applications through software programming languages to satisfy user needs.
Software engineer roles and responsibilities include:
- Altering existing software to resolve mistakes and issues and improve its overall performance.
- Developing and directing software system testing, programming, validation procedures, and documentation.
- Designing, developing, and modifying software systems.
- Examining user needs and software requirements to determine design feasibility within time and cost limitations.
- Determining system performance standards.
- Storing data to analyze system capabilities and requirements.
- Specifying necessary power supply requirements and configurations.
Some of the most important skills aspiring software engineers must develop are:
- Communication skills
- Testing and troubleshooting
- Coding and computer programming
- Object-oriented design (OOD)
- Software testing
How To Become a Software Engineer
You can enter the software engineering field through a variety of paths, with the safest and the most traditional way being:
- Earning a degree
- Gaining experience
- Obtaining field-related certifications
Earn a degree
A bachelor’s degree isn’t obligatory to get started on a software engineering career, but it’s still helpful to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. Some of the most popular majors for those interested in pursuing a software engineering career are computer science, cybersecurity, and information technology.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can choose to further your studies. Getting a master’s degree can help you advance your knowledge and skills and help you advance your career.
A crucial step to becoming a software engineer is gaining experience through working on projects, practicing algorithms, volunteering, internships, personal projects, and other practical work opportunities. You can check out the resources: Hackathon Opportunities and Code 4 Good.
Gaining experience can open more job opportunities and help you find your dream job more easily. For software engineers, experience requirements depend on the position and employer. There are different tiers according to experience level:
- Junior/Associate Software Engineer: They are entry-level employees with less than a year of experience required, ideal for recent college graduates.
- Software Engineer I, II, or III: Mid-level, typically one to three years of experience are required.
- Senior Software Engineer: Mid-level and late career, with experience requirements going from three to five plus years.
Although not necessary, industry certifications can make you stand out, increase your competitiveness in the job market, gain credibility, and enhance your resume. You’ll also be able to show that you display broad engineering knowledge or competency in a specific programming language. Obtaining a software engineering certificate usually involves studying a particular topic in a classroom or a self-paced setting and passing an exam. Some of the more popular licenses you can get are:
- Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional
- Microsoft Azure Certifications
- Certified Software Development Professional by the IEEE Computer Society
- AWS Certified Developer by Amazon Web Services.
How Long Does It Take To Become a Software Engineer?
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Unfortunately, we can’t give you an exact number as it entirely depends on you. Although a bachelor’s degree isn’t mandatory, many choose to pursue one to gain knowledge and master skills. A bachelor’s degree can take three to four years to complete. You’ll also need one to three years of experience, which can add up to three to seven years, to become a software engineer.
Salary and Job Outlook for a Software Engineer
A huge advantage to becoming a software engineer is the comfortable salaries. Although the salary depends on factors like education, skills, certifications, location, and experience, software engineer salaries mostly hit six figures:
- Data collected by Glassdoor show a base pay of $110,012 with additional pay, which can include commission, cash bonus, and profit sharing up to $29,626.
- ZipRecruiter reports show that the salary for software engineers is $139,952, with the 25th percentile being $110,500 and the 75 percentile being $173,000.
- Indeed details that the salary for software engineers is $114,931.
Not only is it a lucrative career, but also a high-demand one. The BLS reports that employment for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is projected to grow 25 percent this decade, with about 162,900 openings each year.
If you want to work in an ever-changing field and enjoy working with computers and solving problems, a career in software engineering can be right for you. Becoming a software engineer has many advantages, such as:
- High market demand
- Ideal for remote work
- Good pay
- Job security
- Flexible schedule
- Business opportunities