How To Become A Software Engineer
Software engineers are the creative problem-solving experts behind everything that makes our electronic lives easy and enjoyable. In this article, we examine what the job requires and how to become a software developer.
What is a software engineer?
Software engineers listen to customer needs and figure out how software is built to achieve certain functions. They oversee the process of designing, manufacturing, testing, and debugging computer software such as databases, applications, and programs, and for electronic products.
Software engineers use programming languages understood by computers to create algorithms, which are instructions that computers follow to complete certain tasks. You can build software from scratch or customize existing ready-made software.
What is the difference between software engineer and software developer?
We include this because you may have heard the terms used interchangeably when in fact they describe separate roles. Before we delve into how to become a software engineer, we thought we should be very clear about how it differs from other software careers.
Software engineers use engineering principles to create software that meets customer requirements. The software developer specifies the details of how to achieve this in the code and works with the customer to ensure that the program works as expected and satisfactorily solves the original problem. Software engineers tend to oversee projects.
In some companies, especially smaller ones, software engineer and software developer can be the same person.
How to become a software engineer
The two main ways to become a software engineer are through a relevant university degree or internship.
Many employers are looking for graduates with degrees in subjects such as:
Software engineering / software development
However, this isn’t the case everywhere and many will be interested as long as you can demonstrate programming skills, which you may have acquired as part of the hobby.
Immediately after graduating from high school, you can apply for further training as a software engineer. In this program, you create small code snippets that fit into large software projects, or work with code snippets written by software developers.
In this way, you will gain basic programming knowledge and further technical skills to practice as a complete software engineer. You can do this through informal training and experiences with your employer, or by pursuing higher education that your employer may sponsor.
What grades do I need?
If you know you want to be a software developer, you should focus on building strong problem-solving and logic skills. Employers will look at your resume for evidence of how you developed these skills during your internship.
If you’re considering a degree in computer science or a related field, college courses often require math and other STEM skills. While computer science is rarely a difficult requirement, it will help you lay the foundation for your computer science degree.
Topics to consider include:
You should aim for good grades and check university and employer websites for major admission requirements and internship programs. Also, remember that the better your grades, the greater your advantage over other applicants.
What skills do I need?
Problem Solving: The programmer’s job is to work out the steps needed to get from A to B and turn them into a set of instructions that the computer can understand – and that is the act of problem solving.
Creativity: Software engineers literally create something out of nothing. Like all engineers, his job is to find solutions to real-world problems. It is a highly creative act, aided by the qualities that accompany creativity, such as curiosity, determination and focus.
Self-study: As you may have noticed, software engineers spend a lot of time understanding problems, and the ability to find ready-made solutions online and create your own is very important. They also need to learn new programming languages and best practices.
People Skills: Thanks to the stereotypical geek who hardly ever talks to other humans, this may surprise you. But you have to explain complex concepts to customers and non-technical colleagues, and collaborate with others to plan software projects. An affinity for people gets you off to a great start.
Critical Thinking: Effective work depends on the ability to use a rational, level-headed approach to break down a problem into its component parts and propose solutions for each step.
Technical Skills: Computer code is the bread and butter of a software developer. You need to be proficient in multiple programming languages and have the enthusiasm and ability to learn more to be successful in a programming career, as well as a variety of other technical skills.
The Hacker Noon website lists a surprising number of skills a software developer should have. They include:
Empathy: The key to understanding customer needs is being able to see things from their point of view. Their work often benefits non-technical users.
Team Capability: Coupled with people skills, you should be able to work with teams of technical and non-technical colleagues to complete large software projects.
Open-mindedness: Solving challenging problems requires you to try new ideas from time to time, so don’t be afraid of the unknown or the weird!
What work experience should I aim for?
Gaining work experience is always beneficial as you can apply your knowledge in the workplace and develop relevant technical skills for future employers. If you can’t count on a long career, employers value work experience because it shows that you can use your academic skills and apply them to the job.
Look for internships at major IT companies such as IBM, Google, Apple, BT and Amazon. You can complete it as part of your work experience from year 10, during the gap between years 12 and 13, when many employers offer formal programs. Check out our jobs and courses pages to see what’s on offer and also use google to find vacancies.
There are lots of small software consulting firms across the country, so it’s best to find a local firm you can proactively contact to inquire about internships.
A personal enthusiasm for technology takes you deep into the world of software engineering. Many future software engineers study code to create programs for fun or to solve problems in other areas of their lives. Some build their own computers and other hardware.
Some things you can do:
Learn to code: Use websites like Code academy, Code Avengers, or Code School to learn to code. Get started with Python and C as they are needed almost everywhere in business.
Build your own computer: This can be expensive and time consuming, but building a successful computer will help you understand what each component is for and how they can be customized to give you more performance in certain areas of computing. Of course, it’s not software engineering, but it helps you understand how physical hardware works.
Take craft. Hands-on crafts such as carpentry, embroidery or painting will help you increase your creativity and problem-solving skills.
What is the salary
In the UK, software developer salaries range from £24,000 to £55,000, with an average of £34,000, so you can expect to be well paid once you gain experience.
It’s not just the salary that makes studying software engineering a smart move. The number of job vacancies has increased dramatically in the last three years and there is a shortage of people with the right skills for the job. If you’re looking to move into that job, a good candidate shouldn’t have to struggle to find high-paying job options.