How Do You Become a Software Engineer?

Software EngineerAs our increasingly digital world creates larger demand in networking, mobile devices, web technologies, wireless networks, and app development, many students are aspiring to become a software engineer to join the creative minds behind these computer programs. Due to the increase in the number of technological products that use software, employment of software engineers is expected to grow much faster than average at the rapid rate of 22%, thus creating around 222,600 new jobs before 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In order to get on the right track towards developing software applications or major computer systems, the following is a step-by-step guide on how you can reach your dream and become a software engineer.

Earn an Accredited Bachelor’s Degree

Since software engineering is full of extremely well-trained professionals, it is highly recommended that you hold at least a bachelor’s degree for long-term career stability in this specialized profession. In order to work with applications and computer systems, software engineers typically choose to pursue an accredited bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, mathematics, or information technology. Regardless of your major, be sure you fill up your schedule with courses in computer fundamentals, data structures, computer programming languages, software development, network control systems, and computer architecture. Software engineers must possess skills related to the industry in which they will be working, so those working in banks would benefit from other coursework in finance for example.

Obtain Relevant Work Experience

Many aspiring software engineers gain real-world experience in software development by participating in an internship at a software firm while pursuing their undergraduate degree. After graduation, students often enter entry-level positions in the software engineering field with the titles of computer support specialist or computer technician. Within these positions, you will be able to develop the strong problem-solving, mathematical, computer, communication, analytical, and creative skills that you will need for success in your career. Whenever possible, be sure to interact with hardware engineers, manufacturing operations personnel, industrial designers, managers, and clients to increase your expertise in developing software products. You may want to consider first working as a computer programmer before obtaining more responsibility in your title as a software engineer.

Pursue Continuing Education Programs

Although the majority of software engineers are successful with a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, some employers will prefer candidates who have a master’s degree. Software engineers can benefit greatly by furthering their education to receive a degree in computer science, software engineering, engineering, or information technology at the master’s level. If graduate school is not for you, then it is recommended that you join continuing education programs offered by employers, universities, and private training institutions to stay updated on the latest changing technologies throughout your career. In fact, software engineers who receive certification through the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals, will be required to complete continuing education every few years.

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Overall, software engineers are highly trained and experienced professionals who play an increasingly prominent role in developing the applications that allow users to complete tasks on their computers as well as the underlying systems that are responsible for running the devices. Once you follow these steps to become a software engineer, you will open professional opportunities working for computer design firms, software publishers, electronic product manufacturing companies, corporate headquarters, insurance carriers, banks, and more.