How to Become a Software Engineer

Software engineers create, design, and operate foundational software programs. They are sought after by companies in various industries.

The strong development of technology opens up attractive opportunities for this job. High job demand and six-figure salaries are the two guaranteeing factors.

Becoming an excellent program expert can be a daunting task at first glance.

Fortunately, the wide range of training and related courses makes the field easily accessible to anyone, even with no experience.

So, how to become a software engineer? You will need to go through these five main steps:

  1. Get a degree
  2. Earn some certificates
  3. Develop necessary skills
  4. Look for job opportunities
  5. Improve advanced skills

To learn more about step-by-step details and industry facts, explore this article.

What Is Software Engineering?

Software Engineering: Programming, Implementation, Development, Analyze, Planning, Validation and Verification, Testing, Design.
Software engineering

Software engineering is an area of ​​computer science. It involves developing, designing, implementing, maintaining, and operating the products.

A computer engineer doesn’t just program new tools or write code. They also must continually maintain, develop, and modify the organization’s tools and processes over time.

Program engineers will work as computer programmers. Work often begins long before projects and programs are designed.

Software professionals often ask customers to outline and list their requirements and expectations for the final product.

Program engineering even involves designing user interfaces. The finished tools should be user-friendly in terms of visuals and features.

What Does A Software Engineer Do?

a female software engineer at her desk
Portrait of positive, skilled engineer

The work of computer programmers mainly revolves around the design, development, and operation of program applications. In the process, they apply technical knowledge and principles.

These professionals are capable of designing tools for web, desktop, mobile, and even cloud-based applications.

They are proficient in several popular programming languages ​​such as Python, C++, and Java.

The working process of engineers is often supported by developers or quality assurance specialists to ensure performance.

Some of their key responsibilities include:

  • Design a model showing different parts of the tool and the software.
  • Planning tool design and implementation methods.
  • Maintain and test the device regularly to detect and correct errors.

In addition, there are two main types of program engineers that you need to pay attention to. Each job has its specific duties and responsibilities.

Principal Engineer

Principal computer engineers are responsible for overseeing and tracking the technical development of projects.

They need to be able to solve the problems the system has. In addition, these professionals must provide technical guidance to developers.

Principal engineers’ primary responsibilities will include checking the design, maintaining, and improving the tool over time. They must ensure that the products are up to the company or organization’s standards.

Senior Engineer

Senior engineers are often technical experts with many years of experience. As a result, it is often their responsibility to lead teams of developers to complete projects successfully.

To keep the project running smoothly, they need to correctly identify the customer’s requirements and ensure that the schedule always runs without problems.

Sometimes, these people also have to cooperate with other departments such as marketing, sales, or design to work.

How To Become a Software Engineer

After learning about program engineering and their main jobs, it’s time to learn about the process of becoming a real engineer.

computer code
Programming languages

1. Earn A Degree

One of the most basic and traditional ways for students to pursue software engineering is to attend universities.

They will choose a computer science bachelor’s program to study its principles in-depth. From there, they will have more technical knowledge about the tool.

One of the basic knowledge to master first is programming languages. Python or HTML is the best choice for beginners.

However, an excellent program professional needs to know many different programming languages.

Not only that, but you also need to learn more about the fundamentals of development and design. Some background knowledge includes algorithms, data structures, software life cycle, or project management methods.

Owning a bachelor’s degree will open up more opportunities for you when looking for a job, but it is not all.

These study programs only allow you to expose yourself to theory without much practical application. It would be great if you had more experience on real projects.

Alternatively, you can participate in boot camps if you don’t want to go to college.

These programs will build the basic foundations and guide the implementation of real programs quickly.

2. Earn Some Certificates

The two main areas you should focus on in this industry are system and application development.

You will need to map out a clear career path to see if you should focus on the specialized aspects of the market.

Most of the jobs that engineers look for will be related to system maintenance, web development, and DevOps. You can study more related certifications to increase your competitiveness when applying for jobs.

Some popular certifications include:

  • IEEE Computer Society: Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP).
  • Institute of Certification of Computing Professionals: Certified Software Engineer (CSE).
  • (ISC)²: Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP).

You can also study for Oracle, Microsoft, and Cisco certifications.

programming on laptop and computers
Developing programming and coding technologies

3. Develop Hard and Soft Skills

Programming is a journey with no end, even after completing your course.

Regularly update and practice by improving existing skills. Although this job is quite difficult, there are still many useful tools to help you complete the task.

Some special tools are Codenvy, GitHub, Adobe Dreamweaver CC, or Proofhub. They will help professionals save time to complete projects quickly.

Also, ask for help from people around. The StackOverflow website is an open forum where developers can discuss and share related content.

It would help if you also learned how to read other engineers’ code on Github for additional knowledge. It outlines how a complete program works.

Finally, don’t do everything alone. The most effective development method is to create networks with people in the same field.

4. Look For Job Opportunities

Once you have enough knowledge and equipment, it’s time to build a complete portfolio. It is the place to showcase your abilities and make the first impression on employers.

Building a well-rounded resume will increase your acceptance when applying for the computer programmer position.

A good tip when summarizing projects is to describe them in detail in the most concise way. Some notable pieces of information are the role, the technology used, and the process involved.

Completing a complete portfolio allows you to understand more about your career goals. This way, you can find the right job for you.

You should update your resume on LinkedIn so recruiters can get a quick update on your skills. Plus, always prepare some interview questions to help ease the conversation.

5. Advance Your Skills

The learning doesn’t stop there. If you do not continuously improve your skills, it won’t be easy to advance and develop in the future.

Always look for new project approaches, tools, and programming languages ​​to learn. While some of the fundamentals remain the same, program development is constantly updating.

Some pieces of knowledge that can strengthen an engineer’s overall understanding are UX design, data science, SEO, and digital marketing. It helps them work better with other departments.

Don’t forget to participate in periodic conferences, courses, and online tutorials. It will help you improve your level.

Career Opportunities

With strict requirements for knowledge and skills as above, program engineering will certainly come with many attractive incentives and benefits.

Team of professional developers
Team of professional engineers


According to our latest research, the average salary of a software engineer is $133,722 per year. It also has an extremely low unemployment rate of only 1.4%.

The above parameters make this job very attractive. It is capable of keeping your life above average.

In some special areas, like the Bay Area, software engineer’ salaries can go up to $145,000.


Computer software engineers design useful tools for business clients and businesses. They play an important role in creating a program that makes business and everyday life more efficient.

There is a huge demand for this profession in the recruitment market with such responsibilities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for software engineers will increase by 22% between 2020 and 2030.

The average for all occupations is only about 4%. So this is a huge opportunity.

The growth in job demand has made this job #2 Best Technology job in America. This award was presented by the U.S. News & World Report in 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions regarding software engineers, please find the answers below.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Software Engineer?

It takes a person three months to four years to become a software engineer. The duration depends on your career path, skills, and professional background.

About 75% of program engineers will choose to go to college and pursue a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree. It will take them about four years to complete the training program.

If not, you can join short-term boot camps to hone your skills. They usually last only three to six months.

Is It Hard To Become A Software Engineer?

Yes, software engineering is quite a difficult field for those who do not have a lot of technical background.

The good news is that there are many courses, resources, and tools available in the market today that anyone can refer to and learn from.

An excellent programmer needs to possess a skill set that includes many elements. They must be good at technical matters like coding and have to be able to manage projects effectively.

Can You Learn Software Engineering On Your Own?

Yes, you can. You absolutely do not need a degree to become an engineer, although the process will not be easy.

If you don’t want to go to college, train yourself at home by networking and signing up for boot camps.

The key to success is commitment and responsibility. Self-study will require more work than usual, so you need to try harder.

Self-taught software engineer
Self-taught software engineer

How Is Software Engineering Different From Web Development?

Although these two jobs both involve coding and programming, they are completely different from each other.

The main job of web developers is to design websites and related applications. Meanwhile, program engineers create software products for the web, the underlying platform, and the operating system.

Engineers often work in machine learning, research, and development departments. They also have to stay updated and constantly learn the latest programming trends.

In contrast, web developers often assist IT or marketing departments in creating beautiful websites. The knowledge they need to know is CSS, Javascript, or HTML.

Is A Software Engineer The Same As A Software Engineer?

Although these two positions have quite similar names, they are two careers with different duties.

Computer programmers use computer science backgrounds and engineering principles to build foundational software or tools.

Meanwhile, software engineers mainly use those tools to serve the design and implementation of their programs.

Can You Become a Software Engineer If You’re Older?

The tech industry has no age limit, and it’s never too late to get into it.

Most young people will be more interested in technology. They also have early access to advanced techniques.

It makes the demographics in the industry have a serious disparity. However, you can still confidently learn new skills if you want to change majors, even in your 40s or 50s.


With the growing demand for recruitment and attractive benefits, it is not surprising that software engineering is the future career trend.

Even so, the process of becoming an expert will take a lot of time and effort. You will need to learn constantly because technology is always updating every day.

The most important thing is the strong determination and ambition to conquer new knowledge and technologies. If you can, you will surely succeed brilliantly.

Do not forget to share our article if you find it interesting and useful. Good luck with your career development!