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How To Become A Software Engineer: Degree and Career Guide

In the field of computer sciences and information technology (IT), one of the most common career paths that are followed is that of a software engineer. Software engineers play a vital role in the development, design, and building of computer and digital applications.

To become a software engineer, you would need to obtain your degree or a relevant qualification, you would need to gain direct industry experience, you would need to establish an outstanding portfolio, and would then need to move on to seeking employment and job opportunities.

Let us take a closer look at this career path and at the steps, you would need to take to pursue this career.

What Is A Software Engineer?

Every application that you use, whether it comes as a native application on your computer or your device, or whether you have downloaded it to fulfill a specific need, has been designed and developed by a software engineer.

Using engineering principles, they construct the entire digital interface of the application creating a superior user interface and user experience. But a software engineer's role doesn't start and end with the development and the launch of the application. Instead, software engineers need to make sure that the application is consistently updated and that all bugs are identified and fixed immediately.

Being quite a lucrative career, and considering that the world is becoming increasingly digital, software engineers are in great demand and are used in almost all aspects of business and life itself.

Where Do Software Engineers Work?

Software engineers can work within an organization, or they can work as freelancers. Within an organization, they can work on the software that a company needs for its operating systems to be successful which may include information on financials, employee records, operationality, and much more.

In these cases, software engineers will work only for the company at which they are employed, and they will focus on all the software and digital needs of the organization, including keeping the organization's software and digital programs up to date.

As a freelancer, a software engineer can take on multiple clients and develop software and digital processors for several clients. Their clients will usually develop a long-term relationship with them to allow for the ongoing maintenance and updates of these applications.

Steps To Become A Software Engineer

Step One: Choose Your Career Path

There are many subfields within software engineering that you can choose to pursue and several areas in which you can work. Your first step would be establishing the path you are hoping to follow in your role as a software engineer. This will later help you decide what courses to take when you do enroll for your degree or certificate program.

Step Two: Pursue A Qualification

Many people choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science, IT, or even software engineering, but in most cases, you wouldn't even need to pursue a bachelor's degree. While it depends greatly on the employer, a coding boot camp or online certificate can also qualify and equip you with the skills you need to be a successful software engineer.

Step Three: Build Your Portfolio

The extent of your knowledge and your experience as a software developer is only what you showcase it to be. You can't tell someone about how great your software engineering skills are, but instead, you can effectively show them.

In this step, you would need to take all projects that you have worked on, either as coursework projects, during internship programs, or even from your personal projects, and compile them into a comprehensive portfolio for clients and potential employers to see.

Step Four: Establish Your Career

You are now ready to actively seek employment or establish your freelance career as a software engineer. If you do find full-time employment, your work and projects will be easier to come by, however, if you choose to pursue the path of being a freelancer, you may need to consider working on marketing strategies to advertise your services to potential clients for them to consider working with you.

Step Five: Maintain Your Skills

The digital sphere is constantly adapting, and as a software engineer, you need to keep up with these adaptations and developments. This would mean that you would need to carry out consistent maintenance and updates on the software applications that you have developed, it would mean identifying and fixing bugs, and making sure that you are aware of all new programs and software updates that happen within the digital space.

What Skills Do You Need To Be A Software Engineer?

Not only would you need communication skills and interpersonal skills to deal with clients and internal teams, but you will also need to have superior knowledge and expertise with digital software programs such as Python, JavaScript, and HTML/CSS to successfully write code and develop software applications that are fit for purpose.

Salary And Job Outlook for Software Engineers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers earn a median annual salary of $109,020. The overall employment expects a projected 25% growth over the next 10 years with around 162,900 job openings becoming available each year.


Is It Worth It To Become A Software Engineer?

When you consider that this career path has great earning potential, that the job outlook is really great, and that these roles will never be obsolete, this career is extremely worth it to pursue. It provides you with flexibility and job security, and you are sure that there will almost always be a demand for software engineers.


Having a natural inclination toward computers and toward the digital sphere may be the deciding factor on whether or not you succeed in your role as a software engineer. If your passion lies in the field of computers and you have the creative element that is often required of software engineers, then this may be the best role for you to pursue.

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