If you’re interested in computer science, programming, and software, and if you have an appreciation for hands-on work, a career in software engineering might be right for you. Read on to learn what you need to know about the education, skills, and knowledge you’ll need to become a successful software engineer.
What Is a Software Engineer?
A software engineer is someone who develops software. Just as an engineer conceives of and develops machinery, software engineers conceive of and develop software for a range of different applications and clients.
The demand for software engineers grows as fast as the demand for newer and increasingly advanced technology. Software engineers are a critical piece in the development and successful implementation of the software we all use on a daily basis.
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Software engineering is a versatile career that delves heavily into computer science and even web development. If you’ve considered a career in software engineering, you may also appreciate a career as a web developer or data scientist.
Relevant Education Needed
Most, if not all, software engineering firms require a bachelor’s degree in software engineering or in a related field like computer science. A bachelor’s degree in software engineering or computer science ensures that you have the mathematical foundation to succeed as a software engineer, plus a comprehensive understanding of different software platforms, coding, and the various programming languages.
Software engineers must be able to apply the principles of mathematical analysis and computer science. Relevant courses in computer science and software engineering include computer security, user interface, and object-oriented software development.
Software engineering is one of the most technical and precise careers in computer science, and organizations want to know for sure that aspiring software engineers have what it takes. A certification verifies a software engineer’s ability and technical expertise. Earning a certification may go a long way in improving a student’s chances of landing an interview and successfully competing against other applicants.
Software engineers are expected to have a comprehensive technical skillset, including a thorough understanding of:
- Computer Programming Expressions – A combination of values, variables, and functions interpreted through a programming language and computed by software to produce the desired value.
- User Access Methods – The platform or technique used to access and retrieve stored data.
- User Interface Design – The design of user interfaces for computers, apps, software, and other forms of technology.
- Usability Testing – Method utilized by software engineers to evaluate a product by testing it on users.
Software engineers must extrapolate new ways to approach software development, comprehend advanced development issues, and utilize technology to solve them.
On top of a technical skillset, entry-level software engineers must have the skills to effectively communicate with colleagues and clients alike.
Hard skills are quantifiable skills like the ability to do calculus, run a seven-minute mile, or calculate long division. These are skills that you either have or don’t have, and it’s easy to determine which category you fall into. The hard skills required of a software engineer can be divided into two basic areas: coding and programming.
Building any type of software requires the ability to code. Coding is an advanced and highly specific form of communication between a computer and the software engineer.
Coding and programming go hand in hand, because software engineers must communicate with the computer via programming language in order to tell it what tasks to perform and how to perform them.
Computers and computer software only speak in a very specific language called statistical programming language. Understanding programming language is a hard skill that every software engineer is required to have. This includes a fluency in object-oriented programming language software such as:
Soft skills are less measurable and more open to interpretation, like “positive attitude” and “team player.” Successful software engineers will need to utilize the following soft skills every day on the job.
- Time Management – Many aspects of developing software are technical, intricate, and time sensitive. Successful software engineers must juggle several projects and manage their time wisely in order to meet deadlines.
- Attention to Detail – Software engineering takes an eye for detail. Coding and programming language can be very complicated, and one wrong character in a string of code can crash an entire program.
- Versatility – Great software engineers know how to connect with their team and discover new ways to solve varied coding and development issues, as well as new ways to utilize and profit from the software they develop. They must be versatile enough to adapt their skills to many different project types.
- Problem Solving – Successful software engineers approach problems objectively. They understand the problem-solving process and can apply it to a wide variety of issues.
Software engineers are in demand, and there will always be a need for the development of new technology. Software engineers provide technological solutions to improve areas like healthcare, financial services, and emergency response.
The skills of a software engineer are complex and specific, and the need for them translates across every sector. There are a vast number of industries hiring software engineers for an untold number of different applications. A career in software engineering takes a keen intellect, an adept hand at coding, and a knack for programming language.
Even after acquiring the necessary education and skills, great software engineers never stop learning. They stay on top of the latest programming, coding, and developer trends. Like most tech careers, software engineering is always evolving, and software engineers must do the same.
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