How to Become a Software Engineer in Less than 12 Months
Changing your career path after you’ve already spent time working in a certain field can be intimidating. Trying out something new is always a bit scary and for many, going back to school to earn a new degree is not a viable option. Still, don’t rule out the possibility of changing careers altogether. If you’re looking for a new career that presents plenty of growth opportunities, pays a good salary, and is geared towards the future, you should seriously consider becoming a software engineer. What’s even better is that you can become a software engineer in less than a year by taking the right steps and dedicating yourself.
What Does Becoming a Software Engineer Entail?
Software engineering focuses on the needs of end users.
After understanding what a user requires/prefers, the engineer will work on crafting an application that will satisfy that user’s needs. Note that software engineers don’t always have to create new applications as they can also modify existing ones to better suit a client’s preferences.
In addition to creating the application, the software engineer must also handle testing and maintenance. Engineers are also tasked with providing instructions to programmers so that the software can be crafted in such a way that fits exactly into a client’s vision.
Software engineers will be involved in the process of creating the new application right from drafting the blueprint all the way up to maintaining it once it has been completed. If ongoing support is needed for a program, it’s likely that the software engineer will still be involved in that too.
Engineers must also be able to critically analyze problems presented to them. Not all clients will be able to articulate what they specifically want and it’s up to the software engineer to come up with an answer.
Furthermore, software engineers need to have good communication skills that will enable them to form better working relationships with both their clients and their co-workers.
What Do Software Engineers Create?
Part of what makes working as a software engineer so exciting/frightening is that you may be asked to work on just about anything.
Clients may ask you to work on creating applications that will streamline their business operations or entire operating systems. You may also be asked to create games or mobile apps that are similarly designed to boost a business.
Given how quickly things change in the field of software engineering, you may also be asked to work on projects that are entirely new to you.
How Do You Become a Software Engineer?
In order to become capable of handling any and all client requests, you must be knowledgeable and highly skilled.
According to Career Explorer, you can start preparing yourself for a career in this field as early as high school. Focusing on subjects such as computer science, algebra, trigonometry, and calculus should provide you with a solid base as you pursue additional studies.
If you understood early on that you wanted to become a software engineer, then that makes your path relatively straightforward.
After high school, you can go to college and take up computer science. You can pursue an associate’s degree which will take about two years or complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program. From there, you can sign up for internships at some companies if you so desire.
With a degree and internship program completed, you should have an easier time finding a job in this field.
Alternatively, you can also pursue additional certifications and/or a master’s degree before joining the workforce.
How to Speed Up the Process of Becoming a Software Engineer
Taking the conventional route to becoming a software engineer is a good move, but not everyone has the time to devote to that undertaking. Fortunately, there are other, faster routes to take if you want to become a software engineer.
Attend a Coding Bootcamp
Instead of going to college for a degree, you can attend a coding bootcamp.
Coding bootcamps attempt to condense the contents of a computer science course into weeks on intensive learning and application. Some bootcamps only take about eight weeks but others may take longer than 30 weeks to finish.
Over the course of the bootcamp, you’ll learn a lot about the fundamentals of software development and you’ll dive deep into programming languages as well. Instructors will emphasize the skills that you will use most often once you get a job in software engineering.
Study Up on Programming Languages
The coding bootcamp will teach you a lot about programming languages but you can still benefit from continued self-study after the program.
According to Maryville University, the four essential programming languages you need to focus on are C++, Java, Python, and Scala.
C++ is prized for its versatility while Java is a must if you want to spend time developing apps for Android. Python is a great programming language to specialize in if you want to prioritize developing websites and Scala is a smart choice for those getting started.
There are other programming languages used in software engineering but those four are ones you’ll likely have to use over and over again.
Familiarize Yourself with VPNs
Some of the best coding bootcamps will likely touch on the topic of VPNs (virtual private networks) at some point but the onus is on you to become more familiar with those tools.
According to Vijay Sarvepalli, Information Security Architect for Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Division, VPNs are prized for their ability to provide privacy and keep communication lines secure. While working with a client, you will likely have to exchange sensitive information online and thus, a VPN will probably have to be used.
VPNs protect businesses of all sizes and they can also provide protection for software engineers working as independent contractors. Learn more about them as soon as you can so that businesses will not have to worry about their security when hiring you.
Socialize and Get Your Name Out There
Even if you have a skillset comparable to someone who attended a four-year degree program, some businesses may be hesitant to hire someone who took the unconventional route to becoming a software engineer.
That’s why building up your reputation is also important.
Join communities focused on software development and socialize with others in the field already. Networking like that can open up job opportunities as there are more experienced professionals vouching for you.
Once you get the job, all you’ll need to do is apply yourself and show them that you were the right hire.
Software engineering is a rapidly growing field and one that many professionals are eager to join. Don’t worry about getting a late start on this career path as you can still make up time pretty quickly. Follow the tips laid out in this article if you want to try out software engineering yourself.