How To Become a Software Engineer (Courses, Skills, and Salary)

Software engineering may seem like a boring profession that entails sitting in front of a computer for moments on end to some people. However, software engineers are among the most brilliant, interesting, and creative people.

Becoming a software engineer is not a walk in the park; you need to be dedicated, hard-working and have a concrete plan to achieve this dream. Therefore, how do you become a software engineer assuming you have what it takes?

Keep reading to find out since this article covers everything you need to know about becoming a software engineer.

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineering refers to a computer science branch that entails designing, developing, testing, and maintaining software applications. Therefore, software engineers use their extensive knowledge of software development, programming languages, computer operating software, and engineering principles to develop software. 

Software engineers can develop various software, including computer games, network control systems, middleware, operating systems, and business applications. This is an ever-evolving profession since technology keeps changing.

A software engineer can do the following:

  • Write and test code
  • Design and maintain software systems
  • Consult with stakeholders, clients, security specialists, and other engineers
  • Evaluate and test new software
  • Present new features to internal customers or stakeholders
  • Optimize software

How Long Does It Take to Be a Software Engineer?

Most employers usually employ software engineers with at least a bachelor’s degree. It will take four years of full-time studies at a university to attain your bachelor’s. Although optional, you may also choose to get your master’s degree which takes two additional years.

Some people may choose to take a different route by learning on their own or joining a Bootcamp to acquire skills to become a software engineer. Boot camp courses usually take 3 to 6 months.

What To Study to Become a Software Engineer?

The popular majors for students eyeing a career in software engineering are cybersecurity, information technology, and computer science. You should pursue maths, engineering, computer science, chemistry, and physics.

STEM courses are typically a requirement for people looking to be software engineers. Aim to attain high grades and develop skills like problem-solving, independent learning, people skills, technical skills, creativity, and critical thinking.

Where Do Software Engineers Work?

Software engineers have many options when it comes to career paths. You could seek full-time employment or become self-employed, contracting your services to different people.

The opportunities you get will depend on your location, industry, and specific education. Below are the positions you can hold as a software engineer:

Jobs Directly Related to Software Engineering

  • Software Engineer
  • Game Developer
  • Applications Developer
  • Multimedia Programme
  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Web Developer
  • Web Designer
  • IT Consultant
  • Information Systems Manager
  • Academia

Fields Where Software Engineering Can Be Beneficial

  • Forensic Computer Analyst
  • Systems Analyst
  • IT Technical Support Officer
  • Database Administrator
  • Software Tester
  • Application Analyst
  • Sound Designer
  • Data Scientist

How Much Do Software Engineers Earn?

The United States

Software engineering is a high-paying job, with software engineering-related jobs making up a third of the top ten higher-paying jobs in the United States. According to Indeed, a software engineer earns a base salary of $92 218 annually and bonus cash amounting to $5000.

Below are the salaries based on experience.

Years of ExperienceAnnual Salary
Below a Year$86 170
1-2 Years$88 531
6-9 Years$101 261
Over 10 Years$116 011

The table below shows the highest-paying cities for software engineers in the United States.

CityAnnual Salary
San Francisco$115 445
New York$109 243
Seattle$106 045
Chicago$102 230
San Diego$101 119
Atlanta$99 004
Dallas$98 136
Austin$98 073
Houston$96 145

Across The World

Here is what software engineers make in different countries.

CountryAnnual Salary
The United Kingdom$53 841
Ireland$53 648
Germany$63 093
France$44 176
Spain$33 961
Italy$30 642
Australia$69 370
New Zealand$56 413
India$8 366
Brazil$49 388
Canada$65 556
South Africa$50 845

How To Become a Software Engineer

Interested in a career in software engineering? Here is how to accomplish this:

1. Earn A Bachelor’s Degree

The conventional way of becoming a software engineer is to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Some subjects you will study to help you understand software engineering comprehensively include Mathematics, Algorithms, Database Systems, Web Technology, Programming Languages, and Computer Networks.

2. Study Programming Language

A degree is not sufficient to work as a software engineer if you do not have in-depth knowledge of programming language. You will use this knowledge to develop software. Also, you are at liberty to choose the programming language you wish to learn but base your choice on your career goals.

The common programming languages to learn are Java, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, C++, and C#.

3. Get A Master’s Degree

This is optional, but it will make you more attractive to employers. This program takes two years.

4. Get A Certificate

Study software engineering-related topics in a self-paced or classroom setting, sit for an exam and become certified. This will boost your resume and help you gain credibility and more knowledge. The popular certifications you can obtain are:

  • Software Development Professional Certification
  • Sofware Engineer Certification
  • AWS Developer Certification

5. Gain Experience

An internship will help put the knowledge acquired in class to practice. It will also help develop your CV and increase your chances of landing your dream job. Also, you do not have to wait until you finish your studies to do an internship; you can intern while studying.

6. Pick Your Specialty

You can specialize in Computer Systems Software or Computer Application Software. Application Software developers create apps, design software, perform requirement analysis, release software updates, and tweak the software.

On the other hand, system software developers build networks and OS, serve as systems architects or IT managers, and design and implement IT standards. They also maintain IT updates and documentation for novice technologies and are responsible for software and hardware needs.

7. Find A Job

Develop your resume and start looking for employment opportunities in different areas. Networking is important, so utilize your contacts and attend conferences, seminars, and meetups.

How To Become a Software Engineer Without a Degree

You can become a software engineer without a degree, but you will have to put in the work. Below is what you will need to do:

1. Find Stories of Successful Software Engineers without a Degree

This will provide the motivation you need to emulate their hard work and even surpass their achievements. It will also help you come up with a concrete plan for achieving this.

2. Find A Mentor Figure

Attend networking events or check online sites with professionals in your field of interest. Establish connections with these professionals who may accord you the assistance and advice you need to become a software engineer.

3. Attend Software Engineering Boot Camps

You will learn software engineering basics in utmost a couple of months if you attend a coding boot camp in-person or online.

4. Practice Regularly

You must regularly practice what you have learned to hone your skills and knowledge. Creating a study schedule is wise, especially if you have a busy schedule because it will ensure you stick to your plan.

5. Enroll In a Certification Course

There are plenty of certification courses you can take in person or online. Find courses that will help advance your skills in the software engineering area you wish to specialize in. in addition, ensure you can afford them and fit your schedule. Programming languages are important to learn, so take a couple of courses.

6. Get a Tech Support or IT Job

A job in an IT-related field will help advance your computer science knowledge. The skills and knowledge you acquire from work will help make you a better software engineer and boost your resume as well.

7. Start and Complete Your Coding Projects

Working on a coding project helps you develop and strengthen your coding prowess. It will also help you showcase your skills to potential employers.

Contact experts in the field for feedback after completing a coding project. This allows you to gauge your skills level and receive an expert opinion from someone with more expertise in the industry.

How To Become a Software Engineer After 12th

One way of becoming a software engineer after the 12th is to pursue related courses like B.Tech in Computer Science, B.Tech/BE Software Engineering, and Bachelor of Computer Science (BCS). In addition, you can take short diploma courses such as Diploma in Computer Application, Diploma in Software Engineering, and Diploma in Computer Science.

Alternatively, take training programs focusing on software engineering aspects such as network, security, and programming language. This way focuses more on the practical side of software engineering.

Final Remarks

Completing your studies in software engineering is the initial step in becoming one of the best software engineers. However, since the industry is ever-changing, you must continue striving to improve yourself by learning new things daily. This will help set you apart from others and put you in a better position to advance to the top of your profession and earn much more.

Recent Posts