In the era of computers and the internet, you might find yourself wondering what skills you should acquire or what degree you should take to be able to have a rewarding career.
Software engineering is a good and promising career. Not only is it currently in high demand, but it also pays well. A software engineer can work in different areas because, in almost any field of work, there is going to be a need to hire one.
If you’re in doubt if this should be the next step in your life, keep reading, and this article might help solve your doubts. You’ll learn what a software engineer does, become one, and see some pros and cons.
What Does a Software Engineer Do?
Before going any further, you must know what a software engineer does for a living.
Software engineering is a sub-discipline of computer science. Software engineers are responsible for developing systems and software. The field itself is vast because software engineers can work in a wide variety of areas. They can be in charge of developing video games, operating systems, business apps, the list goes on. This happens because app and website development has become so important in this time and age.
According to Career Explorer, to become a software engineer, you’ll need to learn programming languages and how to work with computer operating systems. This means understanding mathematical analysis, computer science principles, and engineering principles so that you can apply all this knowledge to the development of software and applications.
Software engineers usually take on one function. For example, there are web developers, mobile developers, application developers, database developers, and so on.
The programming languages you learn depend on the role you take on. However, you might have to continue learning other languages depending on how the technology industry evolves and what you’re assigned to work on in the future.
Becoming a Software Engineer
There’s a long road ahead if you’re thinking of pursuing a career in software engineering. Here are a few steps that you’ll have to take to become a successful software engineer:
Get a Formal Education
Getting a formal education is the first step you need to take; this way, you’ll get the knowledge you need in mathematics, computer science, and other areas.
Most jobs in the field require at least a bachelor’s degree, although you can also take a Bootcamp (which will only allow you to apply for entry-level positions).
The advantage of this is that you can complete a Bootcamp in a few weeks, whereas the bachelor’s degree would take at least four years. You can use these two years to start working and start gaining experience as soon as you can.
Though there are typically two general specializations you can learn (applications/software and system development) you can also decide to become an expert in a specific programming language, like Python or Java, for example, or choose to pursue only web development or mobile development.
Get an Internship
An internship will help you increase networking opportunities and build a resume, making it easier to be in a work environment as you get used to it. This way, when you land your first job as a software engineer, you’ll feel much more at ease.
Find Yourself an Entry-Level Job
Even if you decide to opt for a bachelor’s degree, you should try to find yourself an entry-level job. It’s a very competitive scene, and it’ll be hard to go against those who already have years of experience.
So it might be a better option to send your CVs to smaller companies rather than well-established companies. Plus, you can improve your resume, gain experience, and get to know the industry before applying for your dream job.
Now, let’s look at things from the perspective of being a software engineer.
Is Software Engineering for You?
Studying software engineering can be difficult. It requires the capacity to understand complex languages and algorithms, but after completing your degree and getting your first job, how easy is it to be a software engineer?
A work environment is different from being in school. The amount of pressure is different. It can get frustrating at times; a small mistake in the code can cause the entire thing not to work as it should. But also it gives you more opportunities than you can imagine, providing many fields of work to pick from and excellent work conditions.
Let’s look at some pros and cons of pursuing this profession.
- High demand. One of the reasons software engineering is such a smart career choice is how much demand there is. In this technology-driven society, software engineering is one of the most sought after skills. According to Hired, not only did hiring demand grows, but salaries also went up.
- Good income. According to Saint Leo University, the average base pay for those in the software engineering field is $103,035 per year, and beginners earn about $86,000 per year. Meanwhile, if you take every occupation in the U.S. into consideration, the average pay is $51,960. Overall, depending on your experience, it can almost double the national income average.
- Remote work. Remote work is starting to be more common nowadays. If you prefer to work in the comfort of your home rather than in an office, software engineers most of the time have the liberty to do so as long as they have a computer and a good internet connection.
- Different fields of work. Software engineers can work in almost any field of work. So it is very likely that you might find a job somewhere you’re interested in, rather than just having to work wherever because you can’t find a better option.
- Constant development. Technology is always evolving; by pursuing this career, you will still have to continue learning and expanding your knowledge. Otherwise, your skills will be outdated pretty soon.
- It can be frustrating. Software engineers need to understand programming languages better than anyone else; one mistake is enough to cause a bug or cause the entire thing to crumble. This can create a lot of stress and frustration and can be mentally draining.
- It’s a very competitive job. Due to the high salary and excellent work conditions, though the demand is high, it can still be challenging to land a job at a well-established company straight away.
- Unhealthy lifestyle. While coding, you’ll be mostly spending your days sitting down, so it’ll be up to you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Overall, it is a very sedentary job.
- Training. Though this can be a pro for those who enjoy continuous learning, some people might prefer to go home and relax and not have to sacrifice their own free time to stay up to date with the latest coding languages and new technological discoveries.
- Overtime. With projects coming in and out, sometimes overtime might be the only solution to successfully delivering a project on schedule. Not to mention the pressure and stress of having to hand in a project under a time limit.
Software engineering can be a good career to pursue. There are different branches, and you can decide which one is right for you. It also gives you many options. It’s a very flexible career with above-average income. However, it can be draining, competitive, and demanding.
All things considered, it depends on the type of person you are, what you think you can handle, and what is right for you.