If you're interested in the tech world and wondering, "How can I become a software engineer?" — don't worry, we've got your back! In this article, we'll guide you through three essential steps to kickstart your journey as a software engineer.
Before we explain the steps of how to become a software engineer, let's start with the software engineering definition. Software engineering is a combination of artistic and scientific skills that involve coding, problem-solving, and technical knowledge to build and develop software systems. Essentially, it's like crafting digital worlds using lines of code, where technology meets creativity to create innovative software solutions.
Whether you dream of developing cutting-edge apps, designing robust systems, or diving into artificial intelligence, this career path has endless possibilities. By the end of this article, you’ll get an idea of how long does it take to become a software engineer and what to anticipate throughout the journey.
So, let’s get started.
Step 1: Choose a study programme
Studying a relevant Bachelor's degree in Software Engineering is an excellent first step towards pursuing a successful career in the field. Studying can provide you with the necessary knowledge, skills, practical experience, and industry recognition, opening up a wide range of opportunities in various sectors that rely on software development and technology.
Which Bachelor's programmes should you study?
There are many programmes designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career in software engineering. Popular examples are:
Bachelor of Computer Science, which dives deep into the world of programming languages, algorithms, and software design.
Bachelor of Software Engineering, where you'll focus specifically on software development methodologies and project management.
Bachelor of Computer Engineering, which combines computer science and electrical engineering subjects.
To find many more unique programmes, check out over 2000 Bachelor’s in Software Engineering at Studyportals.
How can you start preparing for your studies in high school?
To have a smooth enrolment process, there are a few high school subjects you should focus on. Since software engineering is all about solving problems and thinking logically, having a good grasp of maths and science is key. If your school offers them, try to take courses like maths, physics, and computer science or engineering subjects.
Some universities might want you to take a maths exam to ensure you're up to snuff before accepting you into a Software Engineering programme. So, not only will these subjects prepare you for the application process, but they'll also give you a strong foundation of knowledge and skills that'll make it easier for you to get into a Software Engineering Bachelor's programme.
Where to study software engineering?
If you're feeling adventurous and have a global mindset, why not explore Software Engineering Bachelor's programmes worldwide? There are several countries known for offering top-notch degrees in this field:
- The US offering more than a thousand different degree options.
- The UK - a country where the long history of engineering began.
- Or other places in Europe, such as Germany or The Netherlands, and their up-and-coming tech scenes.
Read our article on the best engineering schools in the world to learn more about Bachelor’s in Software Engineering.
Step 2: Gain experience in the field
After you begin your Bachelor’s studies, there’s a little thing that we like to call the hands-on experience that can boost your software engineer career path further.
Here are some ways that you can gain real-world experience that complements your classroom learning:
Volunteering for software-related projects or organisations.
Deep diving into programming languages outside of your coursework. You can search online for free resources and learn independently, or take additional courses to expand your skills.
Taking on side-projects like building websites or apps. Not only will they boost your confidence, but also help you create an impressive portfolio that showcases your talent.
Doing internships. They provide invaluable industry experience and open doors to future opportunities.
Step 3: Become a professional
Once you've completed your bachelor's in software engineering, you can choose between a few exciting next steps. First, you can dive into the job market and start your career in the field. Second, you can continue your academic journey and pursue a higher degree, like a Master's or a PhD. Let’s look into the two options.
What is the career path for a software engineer?
As a software engineer, you're entering a field brimming with opportunities. Your software engineering career path might look like this:
- When you start out, you'll likely land an entry-level position, such as a software front-end or back-end developer or a junior engineer. This is where you'll gain practical experience, learn from seasoned professionals, and fine-tune your skills.
- As you progress, you'll take on more responsibilities, tackle complex projects, and level up your expertise. You might find yourself working as a full-stack developer, software architect, or even specialising in areas like machine learning, cybersecurity, or mobile app development.
- With experience and continuous learning, you can climb the career ladder to become a senior engineer, team lead, or project manager. Some software engineers eventually transition into leadership or entrepreneurial roles, starting their own tech ventures.
The beauty of this field is its dynamic nature, where you are continuously learning something new. Moreover, the average annual software engineer's salary in the US is $143,000. So, buckle up because an exhilarating journey as a software engineer awaits you.
What if you stay in Academics?
With a Bachelor’s in software engineering, you can always take your knowledge to the next level by pursuing a Master's or a PhD.
A Master's degree allows you to specialise in a particular area of software engineering and learn how to tackle complex software engineering challenges. You can choose programmes such as:
- Computer Science with a focus on software engineering,
- Or consider specialised Master's programmes like Software Architecture, Data Science, or Cybersecurity. Find more Master's degrees in Software Engineering here.
After obtaining a Master’s degree, a PhD can take your academic journey even further. With a PhD in Software Engineering, you become a true expert in the field. PhD programmes often involve working closely with faculty mentors, publishing research papers, and potentially teaching or assisting with courses. This level of expertise opens doors to:
- Academic positions,
- Research leadership roles,
- And other influential positions in the industry, such as research scientists or technical consultants.
So, if you're passionate about pushing your knowledge boundaries, explore different PhD programmes in Software Engineering here.
Congratulations, you're now equipped with the essential knowledge to start your journey toward becoming a software engineer!