How to Enter the Field as a Software Engineer



Software engineering is a sought-after career and it's easy to see why. Developers make a median income of nearly $52 per hour, and the industry itself is growing at a rate of about 22% per year. Software engineers work in healthcare, technology and science, gaming, and a range of other sectors, making it as interesting and rewarding as it is lucrative. It's also not as hard to become a developer as you might think!

Types Of Software Engineers

Software engineering is a broad industry that encompasses several types of engineers. A traditional software developer creates applications for electronic devices by using C++, Python, or other programming languages. He or she is responsible or both the user interface and the behind-the-scenes happenings. There are other types of software engineers as well, though.


  • Embedded Systems Engineers — Embedded systems combine hardware and software to accomplish specific tasks. They require engineers who know how to develop, test, and maintain them. Embedded system engineers may work on tasks such as building robots or creating ATMs.

  • Quality Assurance Engineers — QA engineers write software, but they are also responsible for periodically reviewing and maintaining it to ensure it remains high-quality. QA engineers also create policies and code standards for the development team to adhere to.

  • Security Engineers — Security engineers often work as ethical hackers. They spend their workdays attempting to infiltrate existing software systems to find and patch security flaws. They also provide methods and policies to help existing and upcoming systems remain secure.

Available Education For Software Engineers

People become software engineers in one of three ways: they attend college to earn a Computer Science degree, they go to a coding bootcamp class that specializes in software engineering, or they are self-taught. There are advantages and disadvantages to each path.

Over the last few years, software companies have loosened their requirements for employees to have college degrees. However, they are still hesitant to hire people who have no formal education at all. This is why many software development hopefuls are choosing to attend coding bootcamps.


Bootcamps teach their students the practical skills required to become a professional software developer. The camps last a few months and typically focus on one specific language, so students have robust knowledge in one area rather than basic knowledge in several. Many camps also provide career support that includes portfolio building and job leads.

The education option you choose depends on what you want from your career. If you want to work for a large, established corporation, chances are you'll still need a college degree. Startup companies are more likely to hire someone who attended a bootcamp, and breaking into the field as a self-taught software engineer is best if you hope to start your own business.

Understanding Changes In the Industry

Naturally, you probably want your software engineering career to last for at least a few years. This means staying on top of new technology in the industry. Right now, software development focuses strongly on machine learning and artificial intelligence. By 2022, more than 70% of companies will use some form of machine learning. Becoming proficient in machine learning framework will open up more opportunities for you within the industry, and because much of it relies on data science, it could further your career even more.


You might even decide to work for a company that creates small business tools like machine learning interfaces. Organizations that specialize in ML and try to build the interfaces themselves face an astonishing 85% failure rate. By working for the ML company itself, you can sell high-quality interfaces to the businesses that need them, solidifying yourself as a part of the technological future.

Practice as Much as You Can

Whether you take classes or teach yourself, practice is vital for something like coding. Start by reading code that other software engineers created. Many coding websites offer the option to read others' code, and you can also read source code for yourself. Avoid skimming, and instead study each line, then try to recreate what you learned.


When you practice, use the same tools the professionals do. Free resources are good beginning points, but they don't provide the real-world environment you truly need to learn. Search for free courses or trial versions of tools like GitHub, which provide you the command-line interface. Some courses also offer access to Bitbucket. Having prior knowledge of the tools may make it easier for you to find a job in the field when the time comes.

Find a Community

Community is important in many aspects of life, and the software engineering industry is no different. Community helps you learn, creates a support system, and can even provide guidance as you traverse your career path. Online, join LinkedIn (or other social media platforms), which often offer industry-focused groups. Outside of the internet, attend meetups and seminars, volunteer for related events, or even ask friends if they have any other friends who work in the industry.


Maybe you want to help develop the next great social media platform. Perhaps you want to use your software talents to build better healthcare equipment. Regardless of why you want to become a software engineer, the hardest part is often knowing where to begin. Using this guide can help you put your foot on the right path!