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How to Get into Software Engineering

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Software engineers are in very high demand in the IT industry right now. They possess a unique and sought-after skillset that allows them to turn ideas into reality and help people find solutions to problems that they may not have even realised they had. Working as a software engineer involves the building, development, launch, and maintenance of a range of software programs, applications, systems and platforms. In a world where our lives are being impacted by technology from every angle and people are becoming increasingly more reliant on smart devices, technology and the internet, software engineering is a worthy field to consider getting into with excellent job opportunities, growth opportunities, high demand, generous salaries and interesting work. Here’s what you need to get into a software engineering career.

Education

You will usually need to get a formal education in computer science to become a software engineer. This will normally involve a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related subject; however, some employers may be interested in hiring software engineers from coding bootcamps, apprenticeships, and other alternative pathways to this career. With a bachelor’s degree, you can also get various industry certifications that will boost your resume and help you stand out from other applicants. Highly skilled applicants with advanced qualifications such as a master of computer science from Wilfred Laurier University are also highly sought-after for this role.

Soft Skills

Soft or transferable skills refer to skills that may not be essential for the role itself, but will help you succeed within it. As a software engineer, developing the following soft skills is important:

Organisational Skills

A demonstratable ability to stay organised and plan ahead for a project is key to finding successful work as a software engineer. When working in this role, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of the requirements of any project that you are tasked with and an ability to put a plan in place to meet the project goals and objectives. Good software engineers are professionals who are able to prioritise and organise their tasks. Strong attention to detail is crucial, since the responsibilities of a software engineer will often involve reading through lengthy code to find small mistakes and errors that need to be corrected.

Communication Skills

While people who aren’t familiar with this role might imagine that software engineers spend all day in a dark room writing lines of code, that’s not really an accurate description of the job. As a software engineer, you will also need to be a good communicator since the job will involve working as part of a team and explaining projects to people who might need you to convey information in layman’s terms. A good software engineer is a professional who has the ability to clearly express concepts, ideas and plans in a way that makes it easy for everybody on the team to understand.

Professional Development

Since the tech industry is constantly evolving, there is no getting away from professional development if you want to work in a role as a software engineer. To be successful in this role, you will need to be driven to learning new things and staying up to date with all the latest technological evolutions and advancements. Right now, technology is moving at a faster pace than ever before and it is only expected to speed up in the future. As a software engineer, it’s not uncommon to work on something that goes out of date rapidly, leaving you in a position where you need to quickly master the next thing to stay current.

Hard Skills

These are the job-specific skills that software engineers need:

Coding

There’s no way of getting into a role as a software engineer if you don’t know at least one coding language. Learning to code will be a crucial part of your studies if you decide to get a degree in computer science, but if you want to get into software engineering without a degree, you’ll need to figure out how to learn how to code another way. The good news is that there are lots of resources available that you can use to become a coder, whether or not you decide to attend college. You can download apps or use websites that offer lessons and projects to practice your coding abilities in the language of your choice. Most of the time, software engineers choose one coding language that they will become an expert in, before going on to learn a couple more.

If you are just getting started, Python, Go, and JavaScript are some of the most popular programming languages for software engineers today since they are some of the most commonly used. Learning how to code for mobile applications might be something that is essential to your career, since mobile apps are increasing in demand and making this one of the most sought-after skills.

Testing

A successful software engineer understands the importance of consistent and regular rigorous testing. When code is deployed and an application is launched without being tested, there’s far too much that can go wrong. Broken or untested code can lead to some of the biggest bugs in software production and in serious cases, could lead to the need to start from the beginning all over again, delaying the project. Because of this, it’s no surprise that tech employers who are looking to hire a software engineer tend to be on the lookout for somebody with excellent testing skills.

A good software engineer needs to be observational, dedicated to continuous improvement and a master of the various testing tools that are used to ensure that software is launched with code that is bug-free and working as expected. Just like programming and coding languages, there are various different tools that software engineers use to test their work. Most will become a master of one or two, and familiarise themselves with the others.

Software engineering is an ideal role to consider if you enjoy working with computers, are organised and logically minded, and want to get into a fast-paced, exciting industry where you can turn ideas into reality and make the impossible happen.

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