Software engineers build online reality. Their fluency in programming languages, coupled with their command of engineering principles, enable them to develop everything from network control systems to computer games. Software engineers undertake the exciting work of architecting the world we see online, and their skill set is in high demand.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): “Employment of software developers is projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. Software developers will be needed to respond to an increased demand for computer software.”
Software engineers enjoy a hybrid role that blends the technical and the creative. Those who work in this role are also problem solvers who test and implement solutions, communicating the details of those upgrades to their peers across teams.
If you’re wondering how to get a job as a software engineer, read on to learn what it takes to get your foot in the door.
How to Get Hired as a Software Engineer
How to Gain Skills, Knowledge, and Experience
If you want to find a job as a software engineer, academic work is step one. Software engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or a related technical field. Some employers may require that candidates hold a master’s degree. Candidates may also be required to have experience working in the industry in which they are seeking employment; for example, candidates pursuing roles in medical or financial industries may have an advantage if they’ve supported these industries in past jobs.
But keep in mind, there are no accreditations or certifying exams required for software engineers; therefore, less traditional educational pathways have emerged to credential incoming pros.
Some companies are open to hiring software engineers who have an Associate’s Degree, for example. Other pros may score a software engineering role after pursuing a streamlined training route, such as a technical boot camp. This two to three-month immersion experience prepares students for the intellectual rigors of the job. After their course work, students are prepared to transition into entry-level roles.
Skills for software engineers:
Regardless of how software engineers go about credentialing themselves for their roles, Fullstack Academy reports that the skillset for software engineers includes:
- Experience creating and maintaining IT architectures and databases
- Problem-solving skills
- Pattern design and experience with cloud-based infrastructure
- Embedded development/debugging experience
- Experience on multi-core CPU or SMP
- Knowledge of multiple programming languages including C/C++
Additionally, those who are a fit for this role need a command of soft skills like good listening, communication skills and the ability to work on a team.
Software Engineer Hiring Process
Professionals with an expertise in software engineering enjoy a wide range of professional opportunities. The BLS points out that because technological growth is ubiquitous, opportunities for software engineers are diverse and plentiful: “Systems developers are likely to see new opportunities because of an increase in the number of products that use software. For example, more computer systems are being built into consumer electronics and other products, such as cell phones and appliances.”
Some industries that stand to be especially robust when it comes to job growth for software engineers include manufacturing, healthcare, medical insurance, business, IT services, retail, research and development, government, defense and security.
Despite the fact that there are plenty of options open to software engineers, job seekers still have to be purposeful and strategic in their searches. Do your homework. Read job posts. See what industries and what types of jobs seem fitting for you.
Business Insider tech reporter Rosalie Chan advises: “Although there's a high demand for tech jobs, job seekers often aren't marketing the skills that employers are looking for. . . The trick is to build skills needed for the job, rather than the industry. For example, let's say you want to be a software engineer. To find a job, rather than just learning general programming skills, it would be more helpful to look into the jobs you're interested in and develop the skills that those specific employers want.”
Be an informed candidate every step of the way. This can help guide your studies, internship opportunities and your job search.
How Much Does a Software Engineer Make?
As with most jobs, years of experience as well as the region in which they work impacts the pay they earn. Glassdoor salary data, which reflects the input of nearly 200,000 software engineers across the country, reveals that the annual pay range for this profession is between $71,000-$145,000. The national average pay for software engineers, according to Glassdoor’s data, is $103,000.
Software Engineer Job Market
Steady growth is expected to continue for software engineering roles. The BLS reports: “Employment of applications developers is projected to grow 31 percent, and employment of systems developers is projected to grow 11 percent. The main reason for the growth in both applications developers and systems developers is a large increase in the demand for computer software.”
More good news for software engineers-some of the most celebrated employers are seeking professionals skilled in these roles. Glassdoor’s Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain points out that among the employers honored on Glassdoor list of 2019’s Best Places to Work, software engineer is among the most common roles that these employers are seeking. Software engineer also hot on Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America for 2019; the role earns a spot in the coveted top ten.
If you’ve got the skills to be a software engineer, your prospects look great. Glassdoor posts nearly 140,000 open jobs across the country for software engineers.
Software Engineer Job Interview Tips
Once you earn the opportunity to interview for a role as a software engineer, yours will be a technical interview. The process generally starts with a phone interview. Often, this will be conducted by a recruiter or HR professional. The first phone interview tends to be somewhat general, and is often followed up by a more technical conversation (often again via phone) with the hiring manager. This is then followed by an in-house interview where you’ll get the chance to meet the team, chat and demonstrate your skills.
Often, software engineers are asked to demonstrate their coding skills and to take their interviewers through some problem-solving exercises. You want to demonstrate that you have solid technical skills, that you’re a savvy problem-solver and that you’re a clear, concise communicator.
- Suppose you are writing a test script to test a function running in a process overnight. How do you make sure that if the process is halted, your test function will be able to detect that?
- Write some pseudo code to raise a number to a power.
- Given an array of numbers, replace each number with the product of all the numbers in the array except the number itself *without* using division.
- Give me an example of a time you made a mistake at work, how you repaired it and how you communicated this to your supervisor.
- Give me an example of a time you succeeded on a team.
Related Careers to Software Engineer
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Degrees required: Bachelor’s degree
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Degrees required: Bachelor’s degree
Software Engineer is one of the most in-demand jobs. So you'll need to do your research and hone your skills to get hired at a top company. Here are additional resources to help you find the job that fits your life: