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Key Steps to Becoming a Great Software Engineer

Is software engineering a future-proof career choice? As it stands, software engineering is likely the only future-proof career choice left in the world. Once Elon Musk has his way, there won’t even be Uber drivers anymore. More importantly, software engineering is one of the world’s most financially lucrative career options. How though, does one become the next Linus Torvalds or Guido van Rossum?

How to Become a Software Engineer

Software engineering is one of the few professions in the world which does not require a formal education. Some might argue otherwise. However, not having a software engineering degree didn’t stop Steve Wozniak co-founding apple.

Pick a Programming Language

To become a great software engineer, start small. Pick a single programming language to learn and learn it like a Pro. One option when doing this is also to pick a language which you might want to base your future career around.

Expand Your Understanding of Software Engineering

After learning a specific programming language, the next step is to start expanding your knowledge about software engineering in general. To do this, aspiring software engineers should invest in comprehensive industry overviews and software engineering best practice guides.

At present, a wealth of free software engineering knowledge and best practices is available freely in the form of the IEEE Computer Society ‘Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK)’ e-book.

Start Building

Once aspiring software engineers are familiar with a programming language and basic engineering best practices, it’s time to start building. To do this, new engineers should start building mobile apps and similar basic programs. Learning to program using devices like the Raspberry PI, can also be a fantastic way to gain real hands-on programming experience.

Start Delving into Software Frameworks & Databases

As software engineers start building practical programming skills, there will come a point when it is clear whether or not they want to pursue a career in software engineering.

Being a software engineer is a lot like being an artist. As well as skill, engineering requires real creativity and passion. This being the case, it’s not for everyone. If it is for you, though, it will be time to start progressing into learning how more complex software frameworks and databases work.

- Learn SQL and familiarize yourself with non-SQL databases like MongoDB and Raven

- Practice creating tables and performing basic queries

- Learn how indexes work

Start Learning Best Structural Practices & Other Programming Languages

For the most part, learning to code is easy. However, learning to write good code which can be deployed across different system architectures is more challenging. The good news, though, is that once software engineers can polish their code and start working with real systems, they will be able to start applying their skills in the real world.

Get a Software Engineering Job

Software engineers are in high-demand. Because of this, it is relatively easy to find entry-level positions across a wide range of industries. Once self-taught software engineers can write good code it is, therefore, time to start learning on the job. Of course, doing so won’t make anyone a superstar software engineer overnight. However, every software engineering career has to start somewhere.

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