Software engineers can be called the unsung heroes of the digital world.
Whenever you are browsing on a webpage or working on a downloaded app powered by the internet, it is the work of a software engineer. The work put in by software engineers might seem daunting.
Software engineers are highly dedicated individuals who put in enormous efforts to gain all the necessary skills. If you consider software engineering a career path, this is the perfect guide for you.
Read on to find out how you can become a software engineer.
Before we begin with the path, let us briefly introduce a software engineer.
Who is a Software Engineer?
Software Engineers perform the work of building software. There is no platform limitation for software engineers to build software products. They can go with creating desktop programs, mobile applications, or web-based applications.
Software Engineers are highly valued in every business and organization because they can help an organization by building something to solve all the problems. A software product in any organization can minimize the work of thousands of people.
There is a huge demand for software engineers in the market. This is the reason why it is turning out to be one of the highest-paid jobs. One must focus on constant upskilling and learning to succeed in this field.
Now, let us look at the path one must follow to become a software engineer.
Step 1: Determine your end goal.
Before you begin any career path, it is essential to be clear about your end goal. Becoming a software engineer requires consistent efforts, hard work, and dedication. Have the final destination in mind before you even begin the journey.
The most obvious way people will tell you about it is to take up a university degree in software engineering or a related field and become a software engineer. In reality, you need to do much more than that. As per a 2019 developer survey, only 62% of software engineers had majored in their fields. A degree isn’t the only thing you need to become a software engineer.
Step 2: Take up Computer Science or Related Degree
This is considered to be the traditional approach that a majority of students follow for becoming software engineers. With the help of a bachelor’s degree, the students clear out in-depth theoretical concepts necessary for understanding software engineering. Some of the key subjects studied in the degree program are Database Systems, Computer Networks, Web Technology, Data Structures, Programming Languages, and a lot more.
These subjects help clear the fundamentals of software engineering and understand the modern approaches to software development. Certain companies put in the eligibility criteria as a four-year bachelor’s degree. So, you should definitely consider an option for a degree in computer science or a related field.
It isn’t necessary that you need to opt for a degree course to become a software engineer. You can even go with different online courses and boot camps to gain enough knowledge for working on real-time projects.
This step is to get clear with the theoretical knowledge. Recruiters would always like to see your practical approach in any field. You will have to apply your theoretical knowledge and portray your skills.
Step 3: Learn different Programming Languages.
The base for any software is the programming language used behind it. Your degree won’t be of any worth if you do not possess a deeper understanding of any particular programming language that can help you build software. So, you need to take control of the path and decide on a programming language that you wish to explore.
Once you decide on a particular language, you must start gaining in-depth knowledge about it. It is never a good idea to start learning 3-4 programming languages simultaneously. You should get command over one language and then consider trying other languages. Gaining mastery of one language also makes it easy to learn the other one.
Deciding on a programming language is completely your choice. Some of the most popular programming languages that are widely used are:
Get familiar with the syntax of every programming language that you learn. Practice it by writing various programs. Don’t forget to cover all the libraries, rules, features, and some projects in that particular programming language. Projects are the best way to build your foundational knowledge and also get clear with the concepts.
Step 4: Learn additional coding tools.
Github is the best place to find all the tools developers use. No matter what language you use, you will find plenty of developers coming together to share their knowledge and open-source projects. Here, you will also get to know other software engineers worldwide.
Go through the modules of different courses and top articles to explore the tools that developers are widely using. Once you know the tools, you need to start learning them to get the hang of them.
Step 5: Work on real-time projects
To gain practical knowledge, you must work on real-time projects and build software products. Whenever you go out in the market to get a job, the recruiters will ask you for hands-on experience. Your practical experience will always be more valuable than your academic scores. There is no point if you learn all the theoretical concepts and have no idea about implementing them.
You can either build some personal projects or even work on some professional group projects. Other than that, you can even contribute to the open-source community by building some real-time project and putting it online. Live projects will add more value to your portfolio when you portray them in front of the recruiters.
You can choose any programming language you are comfortable with and wish to continue with. There is no language barrier when it comes to building projects for your portfolio.
Step 6: Take up some internships
An internship is considered the best way to gain industrial exposure and working experience at the industry level. The students can work on an actual industry project under a team and better understand the company culture. There are plenty of job opportunities made available to the students after they gain hands-on experience through internships.
It is highly recommended for every student to take up three to six-month internship programs while in college. Once you complete an internship in a company, there are high chances that you might receive a full-time position in the same company.
In addition, your portfolio will look much better when you mention an internship, as that would count as industrial experience. Companies see internships as a plus point because they consider that the students know the company culture and the qualities to work with a team.
Step 7: Build your Portfolio
This is the most important step because you will be getting a job based on how you represent your skills and learnings in the portfolio. A portfolio is considered the most crucial asset for every aspiring software engineer looking forward to building their career. Your portfolio is the first impression that the recruiters have of you.
The biggest mistake people often make is adding too many projects to their portfolios. It would help if you built an impressive portfolio that covers all the skills that the recruiter needs to know. Here, you need to add various projects to help recruiters understand your versatile nature of working as a software engineer.
In the portfolio, you need to mention a detailed description of all the tools and technologies you have learned and the job roles you have taken up previously. Applying for the software engineer position will have better chances if you have worked well on building your portfolio.
Step 8: Start looking for job opportunities.
Once you complete all the seven steps mentioned above, you need to search for a job. Build a perfect resume and an impressive profile on different job portals. Now, you need to keep checking these job portals daily and apply for jobs wherever everything looks good for you.
Networking can make this process pretty simple. This is why it is an excellent option to create a professional profile on LinkedIn and mention your projects there. You will find it easy to connect with recruiters, which might help you bag great opportunities.
You can also take part in different meetups, seminars, and conferences, which will help you connect with like-minded people from the field of software engineering. You can even apply directly by visiting any company’s website and going through their job openings section. If your profile gets shortlisted, then the recruiter will get in touch with you.
If you follow these basic steps, you will find it pretty easy to build your career as a software engineer.
Software Engineer Responsibilities
As a software engineer, you will have specific responsibilities. They are:
- Analyzing user requirements
- Writing and testing code along with modifying it based on the requirements
- Research, design, and build new software products
- Evaluating the software and systems that are working on the hardware
- Modifying existing software products
- Write operational documentation
- Maintain systems by analyzing and solving defects
- Work closely with the project managers, system analysts, marketing professionals, UI/UX developers, and other staff members.
- Consulting clients from the viewpoint of system performance and upgrades
- Updating technical knowledge by taking up courses and attending seminars to enhance the company systems
Top Skills Required to Become a Software Engineer
Every job profile requires a certain set of skills. Similarly, you must possess specific technical and non-technical skills to become a software engineer.
Some of the significant skills to focus on are:
- Computer Programming and Coding
- Software Development
- Object-Oriented Design (OOD)
- Software Testing and Debugging
- Problem Solving and Logical Thinking
- Written and Verbal Communication
- Ability to work with a team
Salary of a Software Engineer
On average, the salary of a software engineer is £53,213. The salary ranges from £33,000 to £85,000. The salary would depend greatly on the company you work in, geographical region, experience, and other factors. With more experience, you can expect a higher salary.
Software Engineers are in demand in the market. Hence, if you are considering building your career as a software engineer, there is no better time than now. It would be best to start the journey immediately by beginning with the learning process and acquiring more hands-on experience.
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