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How to Become a Software Engineer

As technology becomes a more important part of our lives, the demand for qualified software developers has continued to increase.
Software engineers are responsible for building and maintaining all of the software we use every day, from productivity tools to web browsers. Software developers are in-demand all across the world, as more companies start to embrace the power of technology. As a result, software engineers earn an impressive salary and have strong job prospects.
How do you become a software engineer? In this guide, we’re going to answer that question. We’ll give you all the information you need to decide whether a career as a software engineer is for you. Then, we’ll give you access to helpful resources on salaries for software engineers, training programs, and guidance on how to start your career in this exciting field.

What is a Software Engineer?

A software engineer is a type of programmer who designs, builds, and maintains software systems for technology. On a day-to-day basis, software engineers will ensure active programs run smoothly, and write code to create new programs. Software engineers write software for a variety of technologies, from smart home devices to virtual assistants, depending on their job.

Types of Software Engineer

There are many different types of software engineer that you can become, which include:

Software Engineer

Software engineers develop software for electronic devices. These developers will use programming languages such as C++, Java, and Python to create applications which will run on computers. They will work on both the user interface and the back-end - what the user sees, and the mechanics which make a program work, respectively.

Embedded Systems

Embedded systems engineers are responsible for designing, developing, testing, and maintaining embedded systems. Embedded systems are combinations of hardware and software designed to perform specific tasks. For example, an embedded systems engineer may work on the software which powers ATMs, or the program which controls a robot.

Security Engineer

Security engineers are responsible for creating systems, methods, and policies to ensure a program meets certain standards and has no security flaws. Security engineers will often operate as a “white-hat” ethical hacker, and will attempt to break into existing systems to identify what security problems, if any, exist.

Learn more about security engineering in our cybersecurity career guide. link to cybersecurity career guide)(

Quality Assurance Engineer

Quality Assurance (QA) engineers are a type of software engineer which will write, review, test, and maintain software. These engineers are responsible for ensuring a consistent quality of code is being written by a development team, and will create standards and policies to ensure all code is efficient and works correctly.
No matter what type of software engineer you want to be, Career Karma will help you find the right coding bootcamp for you that matches your unique needs and schedule.

Software Engineer Job Description - What Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineers create, maintain, and manage software applications. They’re responsible for creating a functional application and designing its user interface
The role of a software engineer depends on the organization. Some software engineers will work on Artificial Intelligence, whereas others may work on managing server-side programs. Whatever the role, a software engineer will use programming languages to write and maintain code to meet a certain need.
A software engineer will analyze the needs of an organization, then design, test, and maintain the software in order to meet those needs. Software engineers will also write documentation to keep track of internal code, and work with other members of a development team to ensure an application meets all the requirements.

Software Engineer Job Outlook

Software engineers have a strong job outlook, as experts predict more software developers to be needed to respond to an increased demand for software. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of software engineers is projected to grow 21 percent by 2028, which is “much faster than average.”

Software Engineer Salaries - How Much do Software Engineers Earn?

Software engineers earn high salaries. According to ZipRecruiter, most positions offer salaries between $79,000 and $115,000 per year; the national average salary for software engineers is almost $98,500 per year.

The exact amount you can expect to earn as a software engineer varies between companies and locations. Software engineers at company with large engineering needs such as Google or IBM can expect to command higher salaries than those who work at a start-up. In addition, the average software engineer in Atlanta, Georgia can expect to earn almost $99,000 per year, whereas the same developer would earn over $115,000 in San Francisco.

The amount you earn also depends on your experience. Senior software engineers, who have more experience than other engineers, can expect to earn a salary of almost $119,000, according to ZipRecruiter. Remember, this does not include employee perks or benefits, or stock options, so you should take that into account when evaluating a job offer.

How much can you earn? (source: Glassdoor)

Senior Engineer
Software Engineer
Junior Engineer

How Can You Become a Software Engineer?

There are many different paths you can take to become a software engineer, but the most common routes are usually the following:
  1. Pursue a degree in Computer Science at a college or university
  2. Attend a coding bootcamp specializing in software engineering
  3. Learn software engineering through self-study
Each path has its own benefits and drawbacks. In the past, only college graduates would become professional software engineers, but that has changed over the last few years. However, recently many successful software engineers have taught themselves how to code, and lack any formal coding education.
There is another option available which has grown in popularity: coding bootcamps. Coding bootcamps provide a viable alternative to a traditional college education. In a coding bootcamp, you’ll learn all of the practical skills you need to succeed in a career in software development in only a few months, rather than a few years like you would in a university.

How to Learn Software Engineering

There’s many ways you can learn about software development. Some software engineers attend a university, where they will explore computing and software in-depth throughout a four-year computer science degree. Other engineers are self-taught, and learned how to code themselves. However, another option has emerged which has recently grown in popularity.
Coding bootcamps allow you to learn about a career in technology and acquire and refine the skills you need in only a few months. You’ll work with mentors and instructors to learn new skills, and build a portfolio of projects which showcase your skills and abilities to employers.

Top Skills Needed for Software Engineer Careers

In order to succeed in your journey toward becoming a software engineer, there are a few skills you’ll need to develop and refine. Let’s break these down, and start with the technical skills that software engineers need.

Essential Technical Skills for Software Engineers

There are a couple of technical skills you’ll need to know in order to become a software engineer. These software engineering skills include programming languages, development processes, and other technical concepts.
  • Java, Python, C, Ruby. In order to become a software engineer, you’ll need to know at least one programming language used in software development. The exact language(s) you need to know will depend on the role for which you are applying, but it’s helpful to know Java, Python, C, or Ruby. If you’re looking to develop software for Apple products, you may want to know Swift or Objective-C
  • Software Testing and Debugging. After you have written code, you’ll need to test it and make sure it functions as intended. You’ll need to know how to write tests to ensure your code is functional. You’ll also need to know how to find and fix bugs in your code - a key part of any job in coding.
  • Object-Oriented Design. Object-oriented design has become increasingly popular over the last few years, a method of design that involves planning a system of interacting objects to solve a software problem. You should have an awareness of how object-oriented design works, and an understanding of the core concepts of this development technique: abstraction; inheritance; and encapsulation.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms. You should have a strong understanding of basic algorithms such as different methods of sorting and searching through data sets. You should also understand different formats of storing data, and how applications process this data.
  • Web Services and APIs. As a software engineer, you may be building tools which interact with web-based services, tools, and databases. As a result, you’ll need to know the basics of working with web technologies, and using APIs to retrieve and amend data.

Essential Soft Skills for Software Engineers

Software engineers need more than just technical skills to be successful - you’ll need a set of “soft” skills as well. The top soft skills you can expect to use on the job include:
  • Teamwork. You’re going to have to work as part of a team as a software engineer. You should be able to work effectively with others, be willing to support others when they are struggling, and know how to respond to collaborative environments.
  • Attention to Detail. Software engineers need to pay attention to detail. After all, one misplaced character could prevent a program from running, or from operating correctly. You should be able to pay attention to every detail, and think about the impact of each change you make on the broader program.
  • Problem Solving. To succeed in any role in programming, you have to be good at solving problems. You should be able to break down problems into smaller components, and think critically to come up with an efficient solution to that problem. Indeed, software engineering is all about solving problems through code.

How to Become a Software Engineer: Step-by-Step

There are a few steps you’ll need to follow in order to become a software engineer, which are as follows:
  1. Choose a software engineering career path
  2. Learn about software engineering through a bootcamp, self-study, or college
  3. Develop and refine your technical skills
  4. Build your software engineer portfolio
  5. Write your software engineer resume
  6. Start the job search!
Career Karma can help you through every step of this process toward becoming a software engineer. We’ll provide you with free mentorship, coaching, and access to a community of other aspiring software engineers who can help you along your way. We’ll also help you prepare for and get accepted to one of the top software engineering bootcamps, so you can learn everything you need to succeed in your new software engineering career!
There has never been a better time to become a software engineer. You can get started today!

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  • Options for both in person and online bootcamps
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  • Quick-start to a new career
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  • Requires motivation and hard work
  • Fast-paced learning style
  • Staying up to date with evolving web technologies

Apply to Software Engineer Bootcamps

Whether you’ve decided you’re ready to apply for a software engineer bootcamp or you still aren’t sure which coding program you want to attend, Career Karma can help. Our mentors are here to not only help you find the perfect coding bootcamp for you, but we will also help you every step of the way from the application process to supporting you with any questions or hiccups you run into while interviewing with multiple bootcamps.

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