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Software engineering has become one of the most in-demand careers in ICT & Digital Technology, and given the high earning potential, excellent job prospects, and progression opportunities, it is easy to see why so many IT experts opt for the profession. Common IT recruitment challenges like talent shortages and fierce market competition affect companies looking to hire talent for Software Engineer jobs, and that’s why professionals in this field are typically spoilt for choice when it comes to job offers.
If you are looking for a rewarding, creative, and intellectually nourishing career in ICT, software engineering may just be the right career path for you. While it is true that the demand for Software Engineers far outpaces the supply, it is still important that you gain the right skills, qualifications, and professional certifications to set you up for success. Whether you are interested in web development, ethical hacking, or UX design, plenty of exciting Software Engineer jobs will turn your passion into your profession.
In this guide, we’ll explore how to become a Software Engineer, the key skills required for the role, and the top software engineer courses you could take to advance your career.
From job security to competitive compensation, the software engineering profession offers a range of perks and benefits. Research conducted by Hired revealed that the starting pay for software engineers is 64% above the UK average, a figure that highlights how even entry-level Software Engineering roles can be lucrative.
Given software engineering’s above-average salaries and career prospects, it is unsurprising why IT specialists with a love for engineering and developing software decide to follow this professional path. Here are the key requirements you will need to become a Software Engineer.
There are various ways to become a Software Engineer, the most common of which is the academic route. Many employers will expect candidates to have a degree in a computer science-related subject, and while this isn’t necessarily a prerequisite, it may boost your chances of employment. A degree in subjects such as computer science, information systems, mathematics, or a related discipline will demonstrate that you have the technical ability to perform the duties of a Software Engineer.
Graduates with non-computer-related degrees can take postgraduate IT conversion courses in software engineering, and with the right amount of hands-on work experience, they will soon be in a position to navigate a career in software engineering.
It is also possible to enter the profession without an academic background in computer science. If higher education isn’t your preferred option, you could become a Software Engineer through online certifications or by attending coding boot camps, which are short and intensive sessions that teach coding skills.
These boot camps are specifically designed to prepare people for entry-level Software Engineering roles, covering topics like programming languages and web development. If you choose this route, gaining practical experience through internships and entry-level positions is especially important.
Whichever route you choose, be sure to build a rich and varied portfolio showcasing projects that demonstrate your technical skills. You may wish to showcase projects you have started on your own or examples of your participation in open-source projects and coding competitions. Continuous learning is another effective way to help you stand out when applying for Software Engineer jobs, and you can demonstrate your knowledge by taking professional certifications, an area that we will explore in greater detail later in this guide.
To succeed as a Software Engineer, you must possess technical expertise and soft, transferable professional skills. Though your CV may highlight the fact that you have a strong background in computer science, software engineering, and computer programming, it is likely that prospective employers will want to put your technical skills to the test before they consider making an offer.
Here are the top technical areas you need to grasp before going for top Software Engineer jobs:
Testing software is a key duty that Software Engineers perform, as each software program must undergo an extensive testing process before a company can release it. Engineers use a range of digital tools designed to ensure that a program is free of bugs and issues, and functions as intended. From evaluating individual lines of code to observing how well one software program integrates with the code of another, software engineers are expected to carry out a series of testing procedures.
Having exceptional technical abilities is vital for Software Engineers, but you must also have the right blend of soft skills to attract job offers. Careers in ICT are not solely about technical aptitude; if you demonstrate to your potential employers that you have gained a wealth of other transferable skills they’re likely to pay closer attention to your application.
Here are the key soft skills required:
While Software Engineers work by themselves for many of their tasks, they also have to work as a team. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are particularly important if you need to explain technical concepts to staff members and stakeholders that don’t have a computer science or software engineering background.
For instance, if you are working on a project involving web application design, you could collaborate with an artist who may not be aware of the technical aspects of software development and engineering.
Software Engineers are expected to have exceptional problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Due to challenges such as rapid technological change and an increased demand for user-friendly software, engineers must be ready to come up with innovative solutions to tackle new and emerging problems.
Examples of the sort of issues Software Engineers must use their technical expertise to solve are the threat of cyber attacks, system and application integration, and navigating increasingly complex software systems.
It’s not uncommon for Software Engineers to work on multiple projects simultaneously, so they must be able to seamlessly adapt to different project requirements and working environments. Significant technological advancements over the past few years have significantly impacted software engineering, such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Being flexible enough to swiftly learn new techniques is a stand-out quality that employers will appreciate.
Whether you are a graduate Software Engineer looking for entry-level roles or an accomplished Engineer looking to take the next step in your career, undertaking professional Software Engineer courses is a great way to enhance your knowledge and strengthen your CV. Given the fact that more than 10% of all jobs advertised in the UK are software engineering-related, the odds that you will secure a job that suits you are relatively high.
However, if you really want to secure the best jobs on the market, then it is imperative to make your applications as impressive as possible, and earning professional certifications is a great way of doing that. Taking these courses will allow you to build on your skills, broaden your career prospects, and enhance your confidence. Here are three of the top Software Engineer courses you can take to boost your career:
1. AWS Certified Developer - Associate
Amazon Web Services is a platform that offers cloud computing solutions for individuals and businesses, and the AWS Certified Developer - Associate certification teaches participants about how to design and develop applications on the platform. While this certification is designed for Amazon Web Services, the course content covers transferable concepts and skills that can be used in other areas of software engineering, such as identifying and resolving application issues, securing code, and debugging.
You’ll need to pass a 130-minute examination to earn the AWS Certified Developer - Associate qualification. The assessment includes 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions, and you can sit the exam at an approved testing centre or online. The course is available on Udemy for £10.99, and there are plenty of handy resources to help you prepare on the Amazon Web Services website.
2. Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
If you are a Software Engineer who wishes to enhance your cloud expertise, then the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals certification would be a welcome addition to your list of qualifications. Not only does this course teach you all about Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing platform, but it’ll also equip you with in-demand skills, as many companies are migrating to cloud-based solutions.
With the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals credential on your CV, potential employers will see that you have a firm grasp of cloud computing concepts, models, and services. The course assesses your knowledge of Azure’s architecture, services, management, and governance. To pass the course, you must complete an 85-minute exam in which you’ll be asked between 40 and 60 questions. You’ll have to pay £69 for this course, but the Microsoft website has an abundance of free resources, such as exam guides and practice assessments.
3. IBM DevOps and Software Engineering Professional Certificate
The IBM DevOps and Software Engineering Professional Certificate is a comprehensive course perfect for those looking to enrich their understanding of software development, DevOps, coding, and integrating and testing software. You’ll be tested on a selection of advanced concepts, including creating applications using Python programming language and employing tools for automation. In addition, you’ll get to do some hands-on lab and project work using agile and scrum methods, experiences that you can add to your portfolio.
This £39-a-month certificate is a series of 14 courses that take around 4 months to complete. It is a 100% online certification, and its key aim is to get would-be DevOps and software engineering professionals job-ready within a matter of months. Whether you have plenty of programming experience and are looking to develop your skills or you are new to the industry, this course is open to everyone. You’ll be assessed via applied learning projects in which you’ll put your DevOps and cloud-native software engineering know-how to the test.
In a world where technology drives innovation across sectors, becoming a skilled Software Engineer opens doors to a range of exciting opportunities. By combining technical expertise with adaptable soft skills, you'll be well-prepared to contribute to cutting-edge projects, tackle complex challenges, and shape the future of software development. Whether you're a recent graduate or an experienced professional, embracing the journey of continuous learning and growth will undoubtedly lead you to a fulfilling and prosperous software engineering career.
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