What is a Software Engineer and How Do I Become One

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers should see a 22% employment growth from 2020 to 2030. This rate is much faster than the national average growth projection for all occupations (8%). Software engineers typically enjoy above-average salaries as well, along with other corporate benefits like annual bonuses, 401Ks and challenging projects.

What Is a Software Engineer?

The BLS defines a software engineer as someone who “designs computer applications or programs.” Software engineers can work in just about any industry, even outside of tech. All types of organizations, from Disney to community colleges, hire software engineers to manage software development projects and initiatives. However, large tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and LinkedIn tend to hire the highest numbers of software engineers.

Earn a Degree

A degree is still the most widely accepted way to break into the field of software engineering.Most employers prefer or require software engineers to hold at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline like software engineering, computer science, information technology, or computer and information systems. Professionals interested in management positions may benefit from a master's in software engineering.

The traditional way to become a software engineer is by earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science or a similar discipline. A master’s degree isn’t required to work as a software engineer, but it can be helpful for career-changers and those who want to advance their knowledge of the field.

A bachelor’s degree usually takes four years to complete, combining general education courses with courses in your field of study. Computer science, information technology and cybersecurity are all popular majors for students interested in becoming software engineers. Computer science and engineering degrees often have more extensive math requirements than majors like IT and cybersecurity.

Consider Obtaining a Certificate

There are hundreds of different certificates you can earn as a software engineer. Obtaining a certificate usually involves studying a particular topic in either a classroom or a self-paced setting. 

Gain Experience

Whether you’re looking to change careers, or you’ve just finished a degree, one of the best ways to find employment as a software engineer is to gain real-life working experience. Finding an internship is a great way to get started in a high-tech field.

You might also find a position in a related field, such as test engineer or technical support specialist. These roles can help you gain the experience you need to get a leg up in the software engineer job market.


A coding camp can also help you build experience. These online learning providers offer courses and career tracks that teach students different programming languages and data analysis skills. 

Software Engineer Bootcamps

Another great way to learn software engineering skills is by attending a bootcamp. With regard to price, program length and subject material, software engineering bootcamps are somewhere between a degree program and a regular coding camp. Coding bootcamps are not as comprehensive or long as degree programs, and they are more intensive than coding camps.

Most bootcamps post high job placement rates, according to RTI International’s report. Moreover, many tech companies endorse and recruit from coding bootcamps. If you graduate from a software engineering bootcamp, you could qualify for jobs like software engineer, web developer, video game developer or web designer.



Hear from or amazing Alumni via our Success Stories website: 


Fabian - From a Dead-End Job, to Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services


Rozy - From No Tech Experience To Remote Software Engineer


Meri - U.S. Marine Veteran to Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services


Charles - Chemistry major to UI Designer, Casey shares his success story after graduating Sabio Coding Bootcamp


Lia - US Navy Veteran to Software Engineer at Booz Allen


Chris - From learning to code at Sabio, to Tech Consultant at Booz Allen

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