People are quick to sing the praises of new hardware that makes innovative applications possible. However, they often forget that without software engineers to create the software that makes that hardware useful, all that technology would just be a lump of metal or plastic. If you are interested in developing software as a career, this guide will help you get started.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Plan your career path
Whether your goal is to develop business-related applications, such as converged charging systems, systems or to build the next big gaming engine, it is important to start by defining what you want to do. Many coding skills are transferable between different kinds of tech roles. However, software engineers need particular skills to succeed at developing software products that you may not get if you pursue an education program that focuses more heavily on other career tracks, such as systems analysis or website development.
Acquire the skills you need
Most people who work as software engineers learned their trade by either teaching themselves, attending coding boot camps or going to college. Some did a mixture of those three things. The option that is best for you depends on your goals and learning style.
Advantages and disadvantages of bootcamps
Coding bootcamps can work well for people who want to acquire job skills as quickly as possible. They may also be a good option for people who can’t dedicate four years of their lives to attending college. Students can complete most coding boot camps in three to six months. Boot camps may also cost less money than college tuition. Some Bootcamps can help you prevent computer viruses like Ransomware. Most boot camps are designed with the needs of working adults in mind, which means they offer flexible options, such as in-person, virtual or weekend classes.
The downside of boot camps for people who want to be software engineers is that many of them focus on web-based coding. If you are going to go this route, it is worth seeking out a boot camp that is designed to help you get a job as a software engineer.
Advantages and disadvantages of teaching yourself
If attending classes isn’t your style or you can’t afford to pay the tuition, teaching yourself may be a good option. While some people manage to pick up significant skills by simply tinkering around on their own, this isn’t your only option. There are a variety of free websites that offer self-directed learning options. Additionally, you can learn by asking questions on forums, watching YouTube videos and reading books. The downside to this approach is that there is less structure and accountability, which may slow your progress if you are not extremely self-motivated and good at time management.
Advantages and disadvantages of going to college
According to a recent survey, about 75% of software developers completed a bachelor’s degree or better. Obtaining a college education is a popular choice for two main reasons. The first is that a high-quality program can teach you the foundational skills you need to be a successful software engineer. The second is that employers tend to prefer candidates with college degrees over those who are self-taught or attended boot camps.
The major downside to college is that it takes four years or more for most people to get a bachelor’s degree and it costs thousands of dollars. Additionally, it is difficult for most people to maintain a full-time job and attend school at the same time.
Get some experience
Once you have learned some skills, you need to put those skills to work in the real world. You can start gaining experience by working on personal projects, doing volunteer work, completing internships and getting entry-level jobs. Real-world experience allows you to demonstrate the skills you have learned and learn new skills.
Becoming a software engineer is not an easy career path. It requires the willingness to work hard and learn a lot of information. Additionally, because technology is always changing, you can’t just learn one set of skills and call it a day. You must continue to evolve your skills throughout your career. However, for those who have the interest and the aptitude, the process is worth it.
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