How to Learn Software Engineering
In today’s world, we are surrounded by technology, most of which is powered by software. Software engineers are thus in evergreen demand, and software engineering courses are needed to develop the software products that will keep the technology train moving.
Despite what you may think, software engineering is not difficult to learn, and it’s never too late to get started. If you’re intrigued by this lucrative and flexible career, but unsure about what to do next, this guide has got you covered.
What Is Software Engineering?
Software engineering is a field of computer science that deals with the development, design, evaluation, testing, and maintenance of software systems. Software engineers are omnipresent and have a huge role in making our lives better, more secure, and more productive.
What Is Software Engineering Used For?
Software engineering has a number of uses. Below are just a few of them.
- Application Development. The most obvious use of software engineering is in app development, everything from feature-rich desktop apps to lightweight widgets that help with daily computation tasks.
- Security. Software engineering has immense value in information technology, including biometric detection services, military surveillance systems, simple anti-virus software, and captcha services. All of these forms of software contribute to making users and their data more secure.
- API development. Some software involves the creation and management of APIs, which provide easier access to the tools of software development. API development software provides a convenient method for cross-application communication.
- Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is a vast field with uses ranging from data storage to online gaming. With cloud computing software, users can offload cumbersome computation tasks to the cloud, reducing the workload for the client device.
What Are the Skills of a Software Engineer?
Below are the four skills you should develop if you want to become a great software engineer.
The most fundamental skill is, of course, computer programming. If you’re completely new to this, you should start with object-oriented programming (OOP), which is usually more intuitive for beginners. Languages that support OOP include Java, C++, and Python.
Algorithms and Data Structures
Knowledge of algorithms and data structures is the backbone of efficiency for every software project. It takes skill to choose the right algorithms and data structures for every task. In a field with such fierce competition, time and memory efficiency are big factors.
Developing software means analyzing the needs of users and then designing and developing software to meet those needs. More often than not, your client will have no idea what they really want. Part of your job will be to help clients identify a problem and then propose and engineer a solution.
Software engineers often work on tight deadlines. You will have to make the best use of your time, giving adequate space to research, implementation, and deployment of the code.
What Are Your Duties as a Software Engineer?
As a software engineer, your main duty is to research, develop, and execute software solutions and repeatable programming processes. These key roles are outlined below.
- Research and analysis. Sometimes software engineers don’t have any roadmap to follow. In these cases, they must spend the time to address issues of design and implementation. Researching solutions improves future workflow.
- Implementation. The main responsibility of a software engineer is to write high-quality and efficient code for your product’s infrastructure and unique components. Whether you work alone or in collaboration with others, it is important to demonstrate knowledge of implementation protocols.
- Testing. You have to make sure your code is bug-free and failsafe before deployment. This is even more important in organizations where any error could cost millions of dollars. Your software should be robust and scalable enough to handle failures efficiently and be able to produce error logs.
Software Engineering Job Opportunities
Between now and 2029, software engineering jobs are projected to increase by 22 percent, which is much faster than average. It’s no wonder why. As the field of software engineering adapts to changing needs, opportunities pop up everywhere.
Some of the major career paths are summarized below.
- Cyber Security Analyst. Software engineers are needed to provide security and protection to various computer systems and information systems.
- Game Developer. Here the task of software engineers is to create games for a variety of platforms and consoles. If you have a knack for games, then this is definitely a field worth exploring.
- Web Developer. As most companies move their businesses online to complete in a digital marketplace, the need for good software engineers increases.
- Software Tester. Companies need engineers to find loopholes and bugs in their code. Some organizations even have bug bounty programs, in which they pay out huge rewards to independent developers who can find the bugs for them. If you excel at problem-solving, then this might be the right gig for you.
Software Engineering Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a software developer in 2019 was $107,510, with plenty of opportunities for advancement. Even software engineers at the beginning of their careers can earn up to $86,000 per year.
If you are looking for a job with a stable income and plenty of room to grow, then software engineering is the right choice for you.
Learning Software Engineering
Software engineering is not rocket science. Anyone can learn it with enough time and practice. To get started, the only requirement is to know a computer’s basic functionality. With the wide availability of tools and integrated development environments (IDE), you can pick it up with one or two software engineering courses.
There is no better time than now to get started. Let’s break down what it takes to learn software engineering.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Software Engineering?
Typically it takes about four years to complete a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, and two additional years to complete a master’s. But you can learn it without a degree, too, by following a simple step-by-step process.
Step-by-Step Guide to Become a Software Engineer
Follow these steps to learn software engineering at your own pace.
- Choose your language. Software engineering is all about coding. You need to pick one of the major programming languages and stick to it. Java and C++ are both great choices. So is Python, which is the most beginner-friendly option of them all.
- Explore courses. There are several different online vendors that offer courses on fundamental software engineering principles. Take a look at the resources down below, and see if anything strikes your fancy.
- Take up projects and challenges. There is no better way to learn programming than to make actual apps. Start with something simple like a COVID widget, and before long, you’ll have all the real-world, practical knowledge you need. You can also participate in hackathons to sharpen your skills and increase your efficiency.
- Get certified. Tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon offer many well-regarded certificates for software engineers. Getting certified is a great way to prove your skills and gain acceptance in the industry.
Software Engineering Certifications
Certifications in software engineering offer solid proof that you have successfully completed the relevant training and are ready for employment. They also look great on your CV. Some of the best certifications are listed below.
One of the most sought-after certifications in the smartphone app market is the Associate Android Developer Certification from Google. The only requirement for signing up is that you have to be at least 13 years old. The certification has two exams, one for Java and another for Kotlin. Each exam covers app functionality, user interfaces, and data management.
The Microsoft Technology Associate certification is targeted at individuals on the desktop software development career path. Its exams cover a wide range of topics, including operating system fundamentals, game development fundamentals, and database fundamentals.
This certification is a must-have for anyone who wants to build a career in cloud computing. or validate their knowledge of Amazon Web Services. The exam covers Amazon’s cloud services, testing students on their ability to develop scalable Internet applications using the AWS API.
Online Software Engineering Resources
Wondering where to get a headstart in software development? We have compiled a list of just the right courses tackling those exact skills that you need as a developer.
- Thenewboston on YouTube. With courses on things like web development, digital currency, and coding in Python, thenewboston essentially has everything you’ll ever need for your software development career. Be sure to check out his playlists in C, C++, and Java.
- Coursera. Coursera is arguably the best platform for learning software development and programming. Python for Everybody by the University of Michigan is a great course for beginners that covers the basics of Python and its uses.
- Udacity. Udacity is one of the leading websites in online STEM learning. Their data structures and algorithms nanodegree program is a goldmine of programming wisdom, and the only prerequisite is a basic understanding of Python and algebra.
- Google Android Development. Android is undoubtedly the king of the mobile OS market. Given the ever-expanding app market, it would be a good idea to add Android development to your skill-set. This specific course will teach you how to use Kotlin to develop android apps in no time.
Should You Study Software Engineering?
The short answer is yes. Given the role that technology plays in our daily lives, you would be wise to learn about the software that makes it all possible. And suffice it to say that the job prospects for software engineers are incredible.