What do I need to become a software engineer?

What do I need to become a software engineer?

Software engineering is a highly sought after position that brings with it a lot of opportunity and great pay. The software engineering job market is booming, which makes it tough to get your foot in the door. In fact, there are more software engineers than ever before, but the number of entry level positions continues to increase even faster than they can fill them. What this means for aspiring software engineers like yourself is that you need to be prepared before applying for any available jobs, otherwise you may find yourself unable to land one right away. To help keep your chances high, here’s what you need:

Understand exactly what software engineers do

Once you know what the job is, it’s time to focus on the skills required. As a software engineer, you may be expected to be a jack-of-all-trades. You will be working with other disciplines like design and business stakeholders to build products that solve real problems for real people. To do this effectively, you will need experience in many areas:

  • Designing and developing software products
  • Evaluating and testing new software programs
  • Testing code quality and preventing bugs from reaching production
  • Optimising software for speed and scalability
  • Writing and testing code quality
  • Consulting with clients, engineers, security specialists, and other stakeholders
  • Presenting new features to stakeholders and internal customers

It takes time to get comfortable with all of these aspects of the job, but once you do, it becomes second nature.

Decide if you need a degree.

If you’re interested in becoming a software engineer, are you sure that’s what you want to do? There’s a big difference between being a software engineer and being a software developer.

A software engineer is more involved with the design and development of the code itself than the actual execution of it. They may also work on testing new features or fixing bugs if needed. A developer has more responsibility for implementing the product from scratch and can be responsible for managing other developers as well as testing their own code.

If you decide to go down this path, there are several different types of degrees available in computer science or information technology (IT). Software engineering focuses on building computer systems while IT focuses more on maintaining existing systems by fixing bugs and responding to user feedback. The skills required are similar but not identical; some universities offer an option between computer science (CS) or information technology (IT).

Take a look at the software engineering job postings you are interested in.

Look at the job postings you are interested in.

The best way to understand what skills you need is to read software engineering job postings and see what they are looking for. You can learn a lot about the company, their culture, and what kind of projects they have by reading a few job postings.

General IT knowledge

In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to find a job in the tech industry without having a good grasp of general IT. You need to understand what networks are, how the internet works, and how servers function. You should also have some knowledge about what a cloud is and how a terminal or ssh works. This might seem like an obvious thing to know for any software engineer but it can often be forgotten by people looking into this career path.

Agile methodologies, including Scrum

Agile software development is a project management methodology that focuses on maximising the value of the software being developed. This is accomplished by developing iteratively, with frequent builds and releases, in order to minimise waste and keep stakeholders informed about progress.

Agile methodologies include Scrum, Kanban and XP (eXtreme Programming).

Basic terminal commands

The command line is a crucial tool for software developers because it allows you to interact with your computer directly. It’s based on the idea that there are commands, or programs that perform tasks, and that you can run these programs from the command line.

Algorithms, data structures and time complexity (space complexity)

You need to know the basics of algorithms, data structures and time complexity (space complexity). Algorithms are like recipes for solving problems. They’re usually expressed as a sequence of steps or instructions that tell you how to get from point A to point B.

Data structures are used in programs to store data so it can be retrieved later in an efficient way.

Time complexity is related to how long an algorithm takes to complete its task, space complexity measures how much memory your program uses while it’s running.

Basic databases

A database is a collection of data that’s organised and stored in such a way that you can easily retrieve it. There are many different types of databases, such as MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Redis and SQL Server

You need a database because it stores your application’s data and makes sure the data doesn’t get lost. If you’re building an online store app like Amazon or eBay, for example, you’d want to keep track of things like customer information and order details so that if someone buys something from your site they can quickly access their account whenever they want to buy something else from your website.

Basics of programming

A program is a set of instructions that tells your computer how to do something. Programming languages are the languages in which you write these instructions. There are many different types of programming languages, including:

  • Compiled (like C++ or Java) and interpreted (like Python).
  • Block-based (like Scratch) and text-based (like Ruby).
  • Imperative vs declarative. The latter is more about describing what you want the final result to look like, whereas the former focuses on telling the computer how to get there step by step.

Select a language to learn

Now that you’ve decided to become a software engineer, it’s time to figure out which language you’re going to learn. This can be a daunting task because there are hundreds of different programming languages available and each has its own unique features and quirks.

Before picking a language, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Think about what kind of work you want to do when finished with school. Do you want to develop mobile apps? Work on the backend (server-side) of large web applications? Make video games? If these answers aren’t clear yet, don’t worry!
  • Once again, consider which languages are most in demand by employers right now — this will help guide your decision about which route will give you better career opportunities after graduation (and hopefully an easier time finding employment).

Here are the best programming languages which you can choose in order to complete your projects:

  • Python
  • Java
  • JavaScript / TypeScript
  • Kotlin
  • R
  • PHP
  • Go
  • C
  • Swift
  • C#

To make things easy on yourself, I recommend learning Python first because it’s easier than other languages like C/C++ or Java — especially if you’re just starting out as a programmer! Once you have some basic knowledge about Python programming under your belt, then feel free to move onto other languages like C++ which will allow you even more freedom when working with code.

Source Control with Git & GitHub Repositories

Git is a distributed version control system. Git stores every change to your project in a database, which lets you easily revert changes or compare different versions of your code with each other.

The first step to using Git is creating an account on GitHub (or another source control website). Then, once you download and install the Git program on your computer, you can create repositories for all of your projects so that they’re backed up and accessible from anywhere.

Once you’ve created a repository for your project, it’s time to start working! When making new changes to the codebase of an existing project (we’ll call this “commit”), type git add . in order for these changes to be tracked by git itself before pushing them to GitHub/BitBucket/etc., at which point they become publicly available under whatever name(s) were chosen during setup.

Consider attending meetups.

The best way to get a hold of other developers is through meetups, which are essentially small-scale conferences. You can meet fellow practitioners, learn about new technologies and discover job opportunities in the software engineering industry. You can also connect with people who have the same interests as you; for example, if you like to play video games or brew beer, there will be a meet-up for it!


This is a great time to be a software engineer. There are many different fields to explore like web, mobile, game development or systems engineering. Some fields will require formal education while others are open to being self taught. Expanding your skill set with software engineering courses is one of the best steps you can take in your effort to figure out how to become a software engineer.