Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
version 10, draft 10

How to Become a Software Engineer

Software Engineer

Software engineering is the process of designing, developing and implementing computers programs and systems. Software engineers analyse computer users’ needs and apply the principles of mathematical analysis and computer science to create computer programs or systems. As such, software engineers can specialise in developing computer applications or computer systems. If you want to pursue a fast-growing career with high salary prospects, software engineering could be for you.

What do Software Engineers do?

The duties of software engineers vary with the path they take. While computer application engineers focus on developing software, such as utility programs, for individuals and businesses, computer systems engineers create systems that communicate with computer hardware and on which applications run. Therefore, computer application engineers;

  • Design and develop new computer and cellphone applications,
  • Install, maintain and repair applications
  • Modify existing applications to meet changing user needs

And computer system engineers;

  • Design and develop computer systems, such as operating systems
  • Manage system stability, operation and security
  • Provide technical guidance during installation of systems

In some instances, especially in the development of systems for large corporations, application engineers and system engineers work together. In this environment, they begin by defining the needs of the corporation. They then prepare all the relevant documentation, including flowcharts and diagrams and secure any relevant licences and permits before embarking on engineering the required systems and applications.

Work Environment

Although software engineers occasionally travel to meet with clients, they are mainly office-based, where they spend 37 to 40 hours a week. Freelance engineers often work from their homes or private offices. This profession requires heavy interaction with computers and other information technology devices.


A software engineer’s salary varies with employer. Giant tech companies, as such SwiftKey, pay higher starting salaries than smaller companies. The following table provides the industry’s average salary.

Job Level

Annual Salary

Beginning Engineer

£22,000 - £27,000

Experienced Engineer

£27,000 - £39,000

Senior Engineer

£39,000 - £49,000

Source: PayScale

Education and Training

What are the various paths to becoming a software engineer? You need to earn a bachelor’s degree in software engineering. Other recommended fields include:

  • Computer science
  • Software development
  • Information technology
  • Business information systems

If you hold a degree in a field that is not related to information technology, such as education, you can enter this profession by completing a graduate programme in IT.

Some of the best universities in the U.K. offering software engineering and related courses are:

Required Skills

To become an effective software engineer, you will need;

  • Great problem-solving and creative skills
  • Good attention to detail
  • Organising skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Great time-management skills
  • Excellent communication and teamwork skills
  • Project management skills

Career Development

A superior mastery of programming languages, such as C++, C#, Java, Python and SQL, and operating systems, such a Linux and Delphi, is crucial to being a successful software engineer. provides more information on programming languages.

What senior positions can you work towards? Well, you can advance to become a software architect or project manager. To achieve this:

The National Skills Academy for IT lists several courses you can take to improve your career progression prospects.

Employment Prospects

Software engineers can be hired to work as in-house engineers in organisations in diverse industries, from education to finance. However, these are the major employers;

  • Tech companies, such as software publishers
  • Defence agencies
  • Research and development firms
  • Manufacturing companies

With the National Careers Service forecasting the availability of about 140,000 jobs in the science and engineering fields between 2014 and 2020, software engineers have strong employment prospects.

Do you fancy a career that allows you to create solutions that will drive the economy and make life even simpler? Why not become a software engineer.

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