Software engineering is fast becoming popular among IT enthusiasts due to the sheer availability of jobs in the market. The fact that software engineers are the most in-demand IT professionals isn’t surprising, given that they’re the ones that build programs for companies and individuals.
Software engineers typically work as part of a development company, although there are instances where they work as part of the IT team in a regular organization. In some pretty common cases, they work independently, building useful apps and programs as indie developers.
With such a large potential job pool, it’s clear why so many people are aspiring to be software engineers. If you’re one of such people, you’re at the right place. This post will outline the typical job description of a software engineer as well as the necessary qualifications to land a job.
Software Engineer Job Description
Software engineering is so broad a term that there’s hardly an open position for a generalist software engineer. Before any job hunting, most engineers have specialties, which help them tailor what kind of roles they get in any organization where they work.
In general terms, however, a software engineer is a professional that uses a collection of programming languages to create, design, and test programs and apps. The apps they create range from consumer apps and games to internal organizational software that companies use in their day-to-day operations.
Since you’re naturally expected to have a specialty as a software engineer, there are many branches of software engineering to match. Here are the types of software engineering variants to help you choose a technical specialty.
Systems software engineering is a bit more complicated than the other type, as it entails building operating systems and managing drivers for computer hardware. They’re also responsible for coming up with standards for computer software and they also work to enforce these set standards.
A systems software manager typically serves as the head of the IT departments, as they usually have extensive experience with all sections of software engineering. If you’ve ever wondered who maintains the documentation for software products, you’re asking about a systems software engineer.
A typical application software works mostly on applications for the general populace of computer users. They are usually experts in developing software for iOS, Android, Linux, macOS, and Windows systems, and they also release regular updates to the apps they create.
They work with many other professionals in the software engineering funnel to come up with intuitive designs for user applications. They usually work individually or as part of a development company offering apps and utility programs to end-users.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Software Engineer
If you’ve decided to pursue software engineering as a career, you’re surely in for plenty of work. The roles of software engineers aren’t very well defined and they may vary depending on where you intend to work.
With that said, there are some basic responsibilities that an organization expects of every software engineer. Here are some of the commonest roles of a software engineer in the average American company.
- Improving the quality of the computer systems in the workplace by flagging issues with malfunctioning computers. While this may not match the job description, you’ll be doing this a lot as a software engineer, especially if your organization lacks a formal IT sector.
- Developing application programs for the company to be used in internal management. Some of the programs you may be required to develop include an employee management system, a school management system, etc. depending on the organization.
- Managing the entire lifecycle of all programs used internally at the organization and helping to release frequent updates to keep them functional. Depending on how formal your company’s IT team is, your job may range from developing to simply testing and suggesting improvements.
- If you work with an organization that offers software as a service, you’ll likely be involved in the actual development of the software for clients. Other roles you may be assigned include customer support, penetration testing, and writing the documentation for released programs.
Academic Requirements for a Software Engineer
Software engineering is one of the few careers in the IT sector that doesn’t require a college degree. However, getting a formal degree from a reputable college or university is usually a great way to prove your proficiency in software engineering. Thus, you should consider getting some academic knowledge if you’re planning to pursue this career.
Since many universities are offering a software engineer course, you should try majoring in that. If it doesn’t seem possible, however, you may want to consider graduating with a degree in computer science, mathematics, or some other related course.
After completing a degree program in the university, participating in a software engineering internship is also very helpful. Most companies hiring software engineers want someone with hands-on experience, and an internship is the best way to get that without much needing experience before the fact.
Other Necessary Skills for Software Engineers
College is not the most important tool in a software engineer’s arsenal. Your soft skills and the technical skills you acquire along the way will play a bigger role in getting you employment opportunities than your computer science degree.
As a software engineer, having excellent mathematical, analytical, and problem-solving skills is almost a requirement. In addition to that, your communication skills should be top-notch, as you’ll be constantly saddled with the task of creating documentation to be read by hundreds of users.
Also, you should consider taking secondary courses and internships after college to amass related professional certifications. You should always remember that in software engineering, there is no such thing as wasted knowledge.
Software engineering is usually the default choice of most people trying to switch careers to an IT-based career. While it’s certainly a rewarding career, it comes with a lot of responsibilities that may seem somewhat overbearing for most.
If you think the rewards are worth the work, however, this article should be a great help. Here, I’ve reviewed software engineering as a career and provided a realistic roadmap to making a career out of this booming profession.