How to Become a Software Engineer

How to Become a Software Engineer

Software engineers are some of the most sought-after professionals globally. Indeed, some employers scout software engineers from different countries, cover their travel expenses, and offer them jobs. This goes to show that there are opportunities in this discipline. According to veterans in software engineering, there is a shortage of software engineers. Thus, if you are considering having a career in software engineering, this article will help you.

You will discover the vital steps you must take to become a successful software engineer in this guide. First, let’s explore the world of a professional software engineer.


About being a software engineer

For those new to the profession, there are many names or aliases for software engineers: software programmer, web programmer, developer, and more. Software engineers usually spend many hours in front of the computer. Although most software engineers work in an office, some work remotely. Due to the technicality of the job, software engineers are advised to take breaks and play games to relieve mental stress. The software engineering workplace is saturated with male workers. However, measures are in place to address the gender imbalance in software engineering as a discipline and engineering as a whole.


Major software engineering branches

Software engineering has various branches you can specialize in. Here are some of the most common branches:

Front-End Engineering

In software engineering, there are two main parts of software: the frontend and backend portions. The front end pertains to the user interface (UI). These are the effects of programming that any user of a software package can see on display. Therefore, frontend software engineers develop the UI including its layouts and other elements that improves user experience.

Back-End Engineering

The aspect of programming that only the software developers and engineers can see and access is the backend. Thus, backend software engineers do the “dirty work” behind the scenes that make the software work. While frontend engineers deal with the body (aesthetics), backend engineers deal with the brain (engine) of the software.

Security Engineering

Software security engineers devise the framework and systems for testing software to confirm its resistance to external attacks. In many cases, software security engineers are ethical hackers who use their hacking skills to make software extra secure.


Education and qualification

To get a software engineering job, you must possess the necessary qualifications. Formal education is mandatory with a Bachelor’s degree in any software engineering-related course the least academic qualification required. The courses would include data structures, programming language fundamentals, and software engineering proper. However, some employers prefer to hire candidates with a Master’s degree in computer science or software engineering.   Besides having a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, it is advisable to consider professional certifications in software engineering. Some of the most sought-after software certifications include:

  • CIW Web Development Professional
  • Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional
  • Certified Software Development Professional
  • Amazon Web Services
  • AWS Certified Developer certification
  • Microsoft Certified Software Engineer (DevOps Engineer Expert, Azure Data Engineer Associate, Azure Security Engineer Associate, Azure Solutions Architect Expert)


Responsibilities of a software engineer

Client support

No matter how efficient or expensive a software package is, clients will always need technical assistance from time to time. Software engineers are available to help clients solve the recurring or occasional problems they might have. In many cases, software engineers provide client support virtually. Besides fixing problems, software engineers would still have to provide support in terms of maintenance or upgrading the software to the latest versions.

Improving technical skills

Improving technical skills is expected of every ambitious professional. Thus, employers provide training sessions or workshops to help software engineers improve their skills, and their responsibility is to attend. Besides workshops, some employers have a library of resources that will help their software engineers reach greater professional heights. Furthermore, these seminars, workshops, and courses are usually paid for by the employer. Thus, for some employers, compliance is not an option.

Designing and implementing new software programs

This is one of the primary duties of a software engineer. It is expected that software engineers research, design, and develop software packages either for their clients or their employers. From simple graphic design apps to more complex gaming apps, there is no other professional more equipped to write the codes than a software engineer.

Evaluating and managing software

Besides developing software, software engineers are tasked with evaluating software packages to test their effectiveness. Also, it is up to software engineers to confirm that a software package has met all the requirements to be launched. Upon doing this, they identify areas for adjustment. For complex and robust software packages, a software engineer is always on hand to oversee their functionality. Thus, whenever there is a system or software defect, they will correct it promptly.

Working closely with other staff to reach the organizational goal

Software engineers rarely work alone. This is because there are many aspects of the software that transcends the backend and frontend portions. A software engineer is tasked with working closely with graphic designers, product or project managers, marketing experts, and more. They will have to exchange knowledge and share information that will yield positive results.


Skills and qualities

The engineering field is one of the most technical disciplines ever. However, when it comes to the qualities and skillsets for a software engineering job, the focus is usually on hard skills. Although hard skills are vital to performing your duties as a professional software engineer, soft skills are also important. To reach the very height of software engineering you can imagine, the following skill sets are a must-have:


In virtually every software engineering discipline, experts work with a team. Sometimes the team may consist of purely software engineers, while there are times when a software engineer would work alongside professionals in different fields. Regardless of the differences in profession, the goal is the same as long as you are all on the same team. Therefore, you need to cultivate team spirit to become a software engineer.  Being able to work with a team of professionals is non-negotiable.

Computer programming and coding

Separating computer programming from software engineering is almost impossible. It is one of the essential hard skills to become a software engineer. Thus, you must possess top computer programming skills to become a software engineer. As a software engineer, your computer skills ought to be well above that of the average person. It is because, unlike the average person, you solve complex problems regarding computers, software, and technology as a whole. Although there are a plethora of software programs available to aspiring and practicing software engineers, you don’t have to know them all. You only have to focus on the programming languages that pertain to your specialization.


Software engineering is technical and challenging at the same time. There are a thousand things that could go wrong when using the software. While some of these issues are familiar, other relatively new challenges will surface. This is where problem-solving skills come in handy. Software engineers don’t always have all the answers, especially when they are yet to understand what they are dealing with. Yet, you must be able to think on your feet when challenges arise.


If there is one challenging aspect of software engineering, it would be doing multiple things at once. This is why a software engineer must be able to multitask. It is common for software engineers to engage in more than one project at the same time. Even when the employer or superior knows that they have a lot to handle, they expect impeccable results regardless. Also, there will always be tight schedules and deadlines to meet. Although carrying out these duties can be overwhelming, the ability to multitask is the key to succeeding.

End-to-end knowledge

In software engineering, there are many sub-fields.  It is why most software engineers specialize in a sub-division. However, you must have some knowledge of all the sub-fields in the discipline to excel at your job. This is what is called the full stack. Having an end-to-end knowledge of software engineering is not as difficult as it seems. Rest assured, you don’t need to know everything or learn every programming language there is. However, knowing about the front-end, back-end, and other aspects of the discipline is essential. Not only will it help you to get better at your job, but it also helps in case you want to look for a new challenge in another sub-division.

Ability to learn fast

The world of technology is ever-evolving and software engineering is just the same. Software engineering companies and experts around the world are always coming up with the next best product on the market. Also, new challenges spring up that software engineers would need to solve. This is why there are constant changes in the software engineering industry. To keep up with the pace of the industry and your job specifically, you must be able to learn quickly.

Time management

For those in software engineering, time is of the essence. The demands of the job can be intense and the deadlines to complete a project can be short as well. This is why you need to have top time management skills to become a software engineer. Due to the nature of the job, it can be difficult to separate work life from social life or simply having time for yourself. Many, if not most, software engineers continue their work at home. Also, some software engineers work from home. There has to be a work-life balance as it is good for the mind and body. How you manage your time will help you get the right balance and stay productive.

Interpersonal skills

Software engineers and other engineers for that fact are said to be asocial. This is not always true and it doesn’t have to be. Times have changed and having a high IQ is just as important as having a high SQ. To work well with people, you need interpersonal skills. Not only will this help you excel at work, but it will also open opportunities for you. The most successful software engineers today are those with good interpersonal skills.


How much does a software engineer earn?

Software engineers are usually well-paid. However, the payment structure varies from employer to employer, and from region to region. Software engineers in Nigeria earn a monthly salary of between NGN120,000 and NGN420,000 on average. In the United States, the median salary of software engineers is between $52,000 and $172,000. Meanwhile, their United Kingdom counterparts would earn between GBP22,000 and GBP68,000. Software engineering employers in Canada pay between CAD72,000 and CAD112,000.


Where can a software engineer find work?

Software engineers are needed in virtually every sector from academia to agriculture, and medicine to commerce. Every business or organization needs a functioning website with up-to-date security. Also, every establishment needs IT consultants to help them with daily challenges with everything IT and software. Lastly, apps are a useful tool for both small and big businesses. All these can be done by a software engineer.

Although virtually every business, organization, employer, and individual needs the services of a software engineer, some establishments are known for hiring software engineers frequently. Financial institutions top the list of those who hire software engineers. Next are information and communications technology companies. Those involved in manufacturing, civil engineering, and marketing also hire software engineers. Likewise, a software engineer has a big chance of securing a job in healthcare and the media. Finally, the government needs software experts as well.



Software engineering, like most engineering disciplines, is technical. Thus, the average person would always find it difficult to solve software engineering-related issues they face on their own. This is why software engineers are in high demand.

Becoming a software engineer is possible for almost anyone interested, albeit there are many steps to take. From the academic requirements to the skills required, these qualities will not only help you get the job but also keep it. Some software engineers prefer to be self-employed and work as contractors. Whichever option suits you, the opportunities are limitless.

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