What does a Software Engineer do?
A software engineer is a computer science professional who applies engineering principles to software creation. They have a vast knowledge of programming languages, software development, and computer operating systems. Choosing a career path as a software engineer means working in an ever-evolving environment due to technological advances that happen rapidly. You will use programming languages, frameworks, databases, servers, and other technologies to create many types of solutions. The many types of software that a software engineer can develop include operating systems, computer games, web applications, robots, middleware, business applications, and network control systems. You will need to have vast knowledge in mathematics, computer science principles skills, plus interpersonal skills to be a successful software engineer.
What skills do you need to become a Software Engineer?
Software engineers develop systems and software for businesses making them very crucial for business in 2021. The industry is fast-changing and the more current your technical and soft skills are relevant and in-demand, the more successful you’ll be as a software engineer. The following are the skills you should focus on developing:
- Computer programming and coding: This is a prerequisite for the job- you simply cannot be a software engineer without programming and coding knowledge. It is important you familiarize yourself with different programming languages and operating systems but start by being fluent in one before jumping into others.
- Software development: This means being able to develop, design, and implement new or modified software products for businesses. You can gain this skill by taking relevant coursework needed (we have a full article on how to become a software developer).
- Software testing and debugging: The ability to test and debug your own code remains one of the greatest skills you can possess as a software engineer. It is a skill that requires logical thinking because even the slightest error can lead to huge problems, but it’s time and cost-effective when done right.
- Communication and collaborative skills: Your job as a software engineer is not sitting alone at a corner writing code, but instead being an engaging part of the team. You have to be able to clearly present your ideas so others can point any required improvements. You must also know how to communicate through written documentation of your work.
- Problem-solving and logical thinking: The difference between a great software engineer and an ordinary one is the ability to spot the tiniest of errors when writing code. This is because software problems can arise from even the smallest of errors.
What are the responsibilities of a Software Engineer?
- Work with users to determine their software needs
- Design, code, and debug applications in various software languages
- Draw diagrams that help developers create the appropriate code for the system or application
- Document the system or application in detail to help in future maintenance
- Evaluate and identify new technologies for implementation
- Maintain the system or application with updates and fixes as necessary
- Improve operations by conducting systems analysis and recommending upgrades
- Protect operations by keeping information confidential
- Team up with developers and other engineers to create software
- Blend software components into a fully functional software system
- Come up with software verification plans and quality assurance procedures
A day in the life of a Software Engineer
The best part of being a software engineer is the fact that you can work remotely and at any hour you want, which makes the role very inconsistent. However, a typical day for a software engineer might start by checking any emails and the schedule to prepare for the day ahead. You then move on to reading up-to-date coding materials online, coding, or meeting with team members for the day ahead.
During mid-day, you will keep checking the progression of your coding before heading out to lunch. This is a great opportunity to find inspiration from team members and colleagues. You will then go back to the office to continue coding with intensity and take coffee breaks when needed before calling it a day.
Career prospects and job outlook for a Software Engineer
Software design is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today and 2020 proved that to us if anything, which means that there are jobs for people of all skill levels in this profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in this field will grow by a significant 21% from 2018 to 2028, which is 11% much faster than the average of all occupations. The rapid technology development and a need for highly innovative technology are some of the reasons why software engineers are in high demand across all industries. The following are some of the job options you have with a software engineering background:
- Applications developer
- Software engineer
- Game developer
- Cybersecurity analyst
- Information systems manager
- IT consultant
- Web developer
- Multimedia programmer
- Web designer
- Application analyst
- IT technical support officer
- Database administrator
- Software tester
- Systems analyst
- Forensic computer analyst
- Sound designer
Top 5 Software Engineer books you MUST read!
- Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship. This is one of the most popular programming books out there and it teaches software developers the principles of writing clean programming code.
- Cracking the Coding Interview: This is the perfect book to help land your dream software engineering job since it contains a collection of frequently asked questions by the top tech companies. The book is designed to prepare you to succeed in a coding interview with the author telling his story with interviews and working in giant tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google.
- The Pragmatic Programmer: This book is a classic that will help you create better software and rediscover the joy of coding. It scrutinizes the best practices and biggest problems software engineers might face.
- The Clean Coder: This book covers all aspects of software engineering, talking about code and how to get better at it, plus other soft skills. It is the ultimate guide to making you a better software developer, a better software engineer, entrepreneur, and team member.
- The Self-Taught Programmer: This book is arguably one of the best books out there currently to develop and sharpen your coding skills. It offers a brief introduction to all aspects of coding skills and a complete basic guide to fundamental concepts of programming.
Best online platforms for Software Engineer courses
- Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals Specialization: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/java-programming
- Master the Coding Interview: Data Structures + Algorithms: https://www.udemy.com/share/1013ja/
- Software Design and Architecture Specialization: https://www.coursera.org/specializations/software-design-architecture
- Spark and Python for Big Data with PySpark: https://www.udemy.com/course/spark-and-python-for-big-data-with-pyspark/
- Software Engineering 101: Learn the Software Development Cycle for Better Programming Skillshare: https://skl.sh/3cRhyuQ
Software professionals are currently in high demand and will only continue to grow as technology advances. The icing on the cake is that software engineers are not industry-specific, meaning they’re needed by all businesses and hence an added advantage. This article provides you with a wealth of information and resources to help you to decide on whether software engineering is the career path you want to pursue. Keep in mind that even after getting your degree in software engineering, you’ll be responsible for your own training to help advance your career.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you.