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Software engineering is an important field in the world of IT. This type of engineering applies techniques to design, develop, maintain, test, and evaluate software solutions. Software engineers are responsible for understanding customer needs and requirements to build efficient and secure software solutions. Using modern programming languages and principles from mathematics and computer sciences, they construct reliable results. They analyze existing software solutions to decide what features can be added or modified for better performance. Additionally, software engineers collaborate with teams of other specialists, such as system architects, database administrators, and project managers, to identify problems and develop comprehensive solutions.

Read more to learn the six qualifications you need for a successful software engineering career.

1. Bachelor's Degree in Software Engineering

While many software engineers are self-taught, having a bachelor's degree in software engineering will give you a competitive advantage over the other candidates. Employers will often require applicants for certain positions to have a bachelor's degree because it demonstrates that an individual has the knowledge and experience necessary to develop complex systems.

A bachelor's degree in software engineering can provide developers extensive foundational knowledge, allowing them to understand and apply practical programming principles. It also offers those pursuing a career in this field the opportunity to hone their skills in more specific areas, such as network administration, software security, and user interface design. Holding a bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement for many higher-level roles such as a senior developer or team lead.  

2. Software Engineering Skills 

A software engineer needs a thoughtful balance of both technical knowledge and nontechnical abilities to succeed in this career, most notably: 

  • Experience, or at least a working familiarity, with JavaScript, Linux/Unix, Perl, Shell, Java, Ruby, PHP, Python, Hands-On SQL, Microsoft ASP.NET MVC, Web API, Node.js. 
  • Experience working with source code and version repository. 
  • Familiarity with UI Toolkits and frameworks. 
  • Knowledge of Java, C, C++, and C#. 
  • Ability to transform requirements into design concepts and entity relationship diagrams (ERDs). 
  • Ability to analyze complex technical information.
  • Ability to write precise, detailed technical specs and documentation.
  • Understanding of software engineering best practices.
  • Written and verbal communication.
  • Collaboration. 
  • Problem-solving. 
  • Organization.
  • Time management.
  • Project management.

3. Internship

Internships allow people to gain hands-on experience, develop hard skills related to their field, and understand various aspects of workplace culture and etiquette. Building a diverse portfolio is key to increasing your chances of landing the perfect internship opportunity as a software engineer. Showcase any previous experience from personal projects or educational courses to demonstrate your skills.

By working closely with industry professionals in an internship, you can form connections, obtain advice from mentors, and build a professional network that will help you better prepare for your future careers. An internship supplies new knowledge of different fields and industries and instills confidence as you become more comfortable with professionalism, communication, decision-making processes, and problem-solving. 

4. Entry-level Experience

Entry-level experience for a software engineer usually includes working on small projects or specific components of larger projects and ensuring they are implemented correctly. This involves understanding the needs of the business, writing computer code, debugging faulty code, and testing applications as part of development. A successful entry-level software engineer also needs an understanding of programming basics such as data structures, algorithms, system design, and database management systems.

After obtaining a bachelor's degree in software engineering, you can apply for a variety of engineering roles, including:

5. Certifications

Because software engineering is a growing field, certifications play a more prominent role in career success than ever before. To prove expertise and stay informed with the latest industry trends, software engineers need to be certified in the specific technologies they specialize in. 

Some of the most important certifications for a software engineer are Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Developer, Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), Oracle Certified Java Programmer (OCJP), and Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). While some of these certifications may require a considerable investment in time and money, the process of earning them demonstrates dedication and skill to potential employers, giving you an advantage over other job applicants. 

6. Master's Degree in Software Engineering or a Similar Field

For those interested in advancing their careers in software engineering, a master's degree can be beneficial. Individuals with a master's degree in software engineering or a similar field tend to have specialized skills and knowledge that can give them an edge during the hiring process. A master’s also provides more opportunities for advancement so you can progress to higher-level positions within the same organization. In addition, those with a master's degree may be able to negotiate higher salaries, gain the confidence to pursue interesting projects, and take on challenging tasks that can lead to exciting career paths.

Becoming a Software Engineer

Becoming a software engineer is an excellent career choice that offers learning opportunities and job security. WGU's bachelor's in software engineering was designed with input from industry leaders to develop highly-trained professionals who are ready to enter the workplace armed with technical expertise, a specialized skill set, and real-world experience. Plus, WGU’s competency-based education model offers the support and flexibility you need to earn your online degree at your own pace. You can complete coursework and assessments whenever works best for your schedule, passing over material that you already know. That means you can potentially speed up your degree to graduate faster and save money.  

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