Career Insight

How To Become a Software Engineer

Female Software Engineer sitting at her desk reviewing code from her team

Software engineering is a rewarding career for the versatile tech-centric learner interested in the cyber sector. Software engineers make modern tech engineering move along without a hitch. Our ability to acquire any information we desire within seconds just by swiping a screen and clicking a few buttons is due to their repertoire of skills and how they integrate them with ever-evolving technology.

To someone on the outside looking in, coding languages and how they’re applied can seem like incomprehensible 21st century hieroglyphs. But when you enter the arena, the world of coding isn’t as difficult as it was once thought to be. We can thank extensive computer science education and training for the ability to help those without any prior industry experience become functional software engineers and web developers.

Becoming a software engineer goes beyond education. One must possess perseverance, ambition, dedication, patience, creativity, and good old hard work.

We’re going to review the step-by-step process on how to officially don the title of “software engineer,” but before we get there, let’s briefly go over what a software engineer is and what the field is all about.

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is the detailed study of engineering and the subsequent application of engineering fundamentals to design, develop, and maintain software. Along with utilizing coding languages to create websites and applications, the field includes project management, communication skills, and critical thinking. It offers analytical thinkers the chance to solve real problems so that any code can run efficiently.

What Do Software Engineers Do?

As one of the most crucial positions in the advancement of modern technologies, a software engineer is multi-faceted in job function and can play an integral role in all phases of web development. While they’re trained to work on the frontend and backend of anything from websites and applications to databases and networks, software engineers are typically the “big picture” team members. Because they’re knowledgeable of each project’s intricacy, they often play the role of team leader. Along with project management responsibilities, they communicate directly with clients to ensure the software meets their needs and helps them achieve their goals.

Typical job responsibilities of a software engineer include:

  • Process and strategy planning for software development
  • Software design, development, and testing
  • Utilizing coding languages and computer systems to understand requirements and solve problems
  • Translating user requirements into computer-friendly programming languages
  • Participating in a software development and testing team

From video games and apps to robots and operating systems, software engineers play a crucial role in the development of some of our favorite technologies.

Becoming a Software Engineer

There are typically six steps to becoming a software engineer:

  1. Plan out your career
  2. Choose an education path
  3. Get hands-on experience
  4. Build your portfolio
  5. Land your dream job
  6. Keep learning

Becoming a software engineer takes a commitment to the craft, patience for understanding concepts, and the willpower to keep pursuing your dream. In the end, the career rewards are well worth the time and effort. Read on to learn how to become a software engineer:

Steps to Becoming a Software Engineer:

  • 1. Planning Out Your Career

    The skills you develop while working to become a software engineer are diverse and carry over to other roles. So, you may want to establish a desired career trajectory. Like the many different coding languages, the term “coding” covers a multitude of different positions. Before diving headfirst into a field, it’s important to gain an understanding of the differences between software engineering and any related fields.

    Relevant fields include:

    System administration

    Site reliability engineering

    Database engineering

    Web programming

    UI/UX design

    Web development

    During the creation process, software engineers may work in harmony with several other professionals involved with the project to develop software products that fit the needs of clients and tech companies. As a team, they’re tasked with creating and maintaining each phase of the development process to ensure the software works properly.

    After defining your career path, the next step is taking actionable steps. And that brings us to our next step: education.

  • 2. Obtaining an Education

    Prospective software engineers can choose from a variety of traditional and nontraditional programs to gain the education required for entry-level positions. There are three main options to pursue when it comes to education: colleges, self-directed learning, and technical schools. All paths have pros and cons attached to them. Take each into consideration before you make the big jump!


    Many prospective students choose the path of a traditional bachelor’s degree. In an interview, it’s common for companies to ask about your training and education, but having a four-year degree is often not mandatory. Some people may choose to gain essential skills training at a tech school and then move on to earn their degree. This way students can continue building their skillset as a lifelong learner, especially since a career in the field of software engineering is always evolving with new technology and innovative techniques.

    The downfall of traditional college is that it can belabor learning material. With a tech school like Kenzie Academy, your education is streamlined and you receive the necessary subject matter expediently. Excessive theory application or an immense mathematics curriculum is often more than what’s required to be a professional in the field.

    A four-year degree also requires full-time attention, often, in-person. This makes it difficult for life outside of school be it prior commitments, taking care of a family, full-time job, etc.


    Becoming self-taught is a popular path for up-and-coming engineers and developers. It can act as the catalyst that sparks an interest in the wide world of software engineering. With free and paid online courses abound, the opportunity to take it upon yourself is alluring. This method is ideal for those who prefer self-paced learning and have a schedule dictated by outside circumstances. You can read literature, take courses, watch videos, and troubleshoot on your own time. Quizzes or homework are due at any set time.

    These resources are excellent preparatory mediums to help shorten the learning curve and have you hitting the ground running. Numerous students begin their career as self-taught learners and supplement their education long after they’ve graduated. The best software engineers are always learning — especially when it comes to writing code.

    Self-directed learning does have its pitfalls. The most prominent of them is the lack of expert help. Those who are self-taught lack the opportunity to ask questions, seek advice, and network with seasoned professionals in the field. It’s difficult to break through barriers in your education without help from people who know how to do things like edit code and troubleshoot. Working with others on shared code bases is important for people working in the industry. Unfortunately, self-taught learners miss out on that opportunity.

    Like any other new skill, you have to set time aside for learning and practicing. This is the downfall of many aspiring software engineers as they lose track of their schedule and productivity slips. Be ready to buckle down and stick to a solid routine.

    Technical schools

    Tech schools are typically far less expensive than a standard four-year institution, streamlined to get you job-ready on a shorter timeline, and provide flexible schedules to ensure you can stay on track with your education.

    Kenzie Academy offers a comprehensive software engineering program that allows you to hit the ground running from day one. You’ll learn 100% online with the flexibility to work with an advisor to build a schedule that works for you. The curriculum is framed after experience from professional practitioners from Amazon. Yes, it’s the real deal.

    Did we mention timelines? Kenzie Academy can help you earn a Software Engineering – Backend Development Certificate in 12 months and stays vigilant in offering opportunities that fit your personal circumstances and goals, as well as financial options. Kenzie Academy guides you toward a career in a field you feel at home in.


    Now let’s get into the importance of getting your hands dirty.

  • 3. Getting Hands-On Experience

    First and foremost, your basic understanding of software engineering and the subsequent skills required to function should be gathered via immersive courses and project-based learning experiences.

    Software engineers in the making should look to gain experience through developing real-world projects like building their portfolio, internships, volunteer work, offering your services to community organizations, and other practical work opportunities. You can also get a feel for different work environments and where you might fit in best.

    Also, take time to practice on your own. This means writing code in your spare time, digging into something new and troubleshooting your way out, as well as researching new technologies and computer systems — anything you can put into action that would pad your resume and expand your skill set. After you’ve built a foundation, the best way to move forward is by putting your skills to the test.

  • 4. Building Your Portfolio

    To make yourself stand out, a suitable portfolio serves as a crucial asset for any software engineer looking to enter the workforce.

    When building your digital resume, you must showcase the projects you’ve completed, your newly developed technical skills, prior experience, etc. Tech companies and recruiters want to see everything you’ve done concerning software engineering.

    Designate an area to your portfolio to list the programming languages, software expertise, and any platforms you’ve become deeply familiar with. Doing this conveys your versatility and comprehensive knowledge that allows you to thrive in the industry, and most importantly, for the company that hires you.

    As a rising software engineering superstar, your job is to prove you have the skills, knowledge, and ambition tech companies are looking to bring on board. Bring every accomplishment leading up to this point and take the time to build out your portfolio thoughtfully. A popular portfolio builder used by software professionals is GitHub — an industry standard place to publish and showcase personal code and other relative projects. Job seekers need to build up code examples in their personal GitHub accounts. Make sure that when a company is looking for a good software engineer, they find you first.

  • 5. Landing Your Dream Job

    The time has come, and you’ve come so far. After building that refined portfolio filled with all your latest and greatest accomplishments, the last step is to put yourself out there. You’re ready to become a software engineering professional.

    Begin by identifying your career goals and targeting jobs you would prefer based on your previous experiences. With that knowledge, continuously update your resume, GitHub account, LinkedIn page, and any other relevant application materials that potential employers may see. You’ll also want to refine your resume and practice interviewing.

    At Kenzie Academy, the Career Services and Employer Engagement Team helps you throughout this process and partners with you on your job searching journey, preparing you for roles at a multitude of different enterprises and tech companies.

    Because the software engineers and web developers are in high demand, the job market is competitive. Finding a position can be frustrating in the beginning, but just remember to be steadfast and remain confident. You’ve worked too hard to throw in the towel just when you’re on the verge of getting into the big leagues.

    The sheer number of job opportunities for a seemingly endless amount of roles can be overwhelming at first, but as you continue to apply and have conversations, the right fit will present itself. And when it does, you’ll be relieved that all of your time and effort has officially paid off.

    It is essential to remain confident and not limit yourself during this time. As you test the waters, keep in mind that your right fit is out there — it just might take some time to find it!

Ready for a New Adventure?

During your time at Kenzie Academy, you’ll have learned everything from learning to code to the art of nailing an interview. From beginning to end, we’re there to help you launch your new career as a software engineer. When you’re ready, reach out to us today, and let’s get the ball rolling!


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