Soft Ware, Hard Job: How to Become a Software Engineer

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Oct 8, 2018

Oct 8, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

By 2019, there will be 26.4 million software engineers worldwide. In 2013, the world had 18.2 million of these professionals.

This 45 percent increase proves software engineering and development is one of the hottest career fields, and for good reason. The fingerprints of software engineers are virtually everywhere. Without them, computers would be useless.

So, what does it take to join this profession?

In this article, we're telling you how to become a software engineer and find success.

Have a Passion for Tech

Every career coach will tell you the key to success is to pursue your passion. It's the only way to take up a career you'll enjoy doing.

As such, the first step to becoming a software engineer is to identify whether you have a passion for computers and tech. Are you always on the lookout for the latest computers? Does your bookshelf have a stack of computer magazines? Are you always wondering how your computer works behind the scenes (or below the keyboard, to be precise)?

If these questions got your bubbling with enthusiasm, it's very likely you have a passion for computers. A software engineer job is right up your alley.

If you're in still in high school, this is the time to nurture this passion. Take classes in computer science or information technology. You'll gain an introduction into areas such as app development, animation, media technology, and computer programming.

Summer coding boot camps will also do you a lot of good in your pursuit to become a software engineer.

Pursue a Bachelors Degree in Software Engineering

Even with the proliferation of online coding platforms and other useful resources, a competent software engineer isn't molded online or in boot camps. A proper software engineer must pursue a bachelor's degree in software engineering.

A decade or so ago, a computer science degree was the go-to program for anyone looking to venture into software engineering. Today, though, there are several universities offering stand-alone software engineering programs that will give you the best preparation.

In college, you'll gain an in-depth understanding of calculus, discrete mathematics, linear algebra, programming languages and methodologies, algorithmic analysis, digital systems design, software testing and validation among other concepts. Read more here to learn about the software development lifecycle.

A bachelor's degree in software engineering is typically a four-year program. It's also not a walkover. If you don't have the smarts and the dedication, you may not make it to graduation.

Oh, wait!

We know what you're thinking.

Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, yet he is the mastermind of one of the biggest tech solutions of our time. Or perhaps you're thinking of Larry Ellison, co-founder and former CEO of Oracle, a multi-billion dollar software enterprise company.

Well, we're not saying you cannot become a successful software engineer after dropping out of college. We're saying successfully completing your course will give you the best chance of reaching success. In any case, for every college drop out who marched on to make it big, there are hundreds, thousands even, who lost the light.

Anyway, when choosing a university to join, it's essential to ensure the program it offers is accredited by the Accrediting Board of Engineering and Technology.

Nurture the Skills Required to Become a Competent Engineer

A passion for tech and a college education alone aren't enough to make you a competent software engineer. You also need to possess certain occupational skills.

For instance, you might have an exceptional mastery of programming languages, but if you lack strong communication skills, you might have a difficult time sharing information with project managers or even clients. This makes communication skills, both written and verbal, a must-have.

Excellent teamwork skills are also essential. In most occasions, you'll be working on teams comprising of other computer specialists and engineers. You must be an effective collaborator. Otherwise, you'll be seen as the weakest link in the chain.

Analytical and problem-solving skills are vital. Your job will involve analyzing a range of technical problems, and ultimately developing software solutions.

Other useful skills include creativity, and a keen attention to details (a slight error when writing code, for instance, can be the difference between a failed and a successful software).

Nurturing these skills is usually a lengthy, perhaps lifelong, process. Every day, you must strive to become a better communicator, good team player, instinctive problem-solver. A simple task, like solving a crossword puzzle regularly, will go a long way in giving your problem-solving ability an edge.

Initiate Your Own Software Project

After earning a bachelor's degree, you want to get a job-fast.

Hold up. Not so fast.

Employers aren't just looking for graduates. They're looking for proven, innovate problem solvers. And which is the best way to prove you're a problem-solver?

No, it's not by unleashing your A-grade certificate. It's by demonstrating the capabilities of a software you recently developed.

Therefore, don't rush into finding employment. Take your time to develop a software, which you'll later on use in your portfolio.

You can then proceed to look for internships and permanent employment opportunities. You could also find freelance gigs on sites such as Freelancer.com.

That's How to Become a Software Engineer

Now that you know how to become a software engineer, what remains is for you to roll up your sleeves and begin your journey. It might seem lengthy and bumpy right now, but if you've got the passion and ready to put in the work, you'll soon be a software engineer.

What's more, you can always keep tabs on our blog for more career tips.