Career Insight

What Does a Software Engineer Do?

A software engineer working with her team on a project

Software engineer is a tech-centric position that’s like a “digital world architect.” The job is an amalgamation of mathematics savviness, engineering expertise, high-level critical thinking, and artistic ability. Crunching keyboards whilst gazing at a computer screen doesn’t provide the justice a software engineer and their abilities deserve. It’s so much more than what people on the outside looking in might see from afar.

So, to give you an idea of what the life of a software engineer looks like, we’re going to answer two questions:

“What is software engineering?” and “What does a software engineer do?”

What is Software Engineering?

The field of software engineering is made of two parts: software and engineering. Simple in name — complex in task performance.

Software engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the configuration of software products. It employs a set of principles and best practices that adapt to the ever-changing world of technology. Through software engineering, a product is developed to be reliable, effective, and efficient so it provides a complete experience that people can use with ease.

According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the complete definition of software engineering is: The application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software; that is, the application of engineering to software. (IEEE 1990)

So What Exactly Does a Software Engineer Do?

Software engineers implement knowledge of computer science, engineering principles, and programming languages to give you an online experience that captivates and pleases. They’re behind your favorite websites, choice web applications, treasured computer games, daily software products, and network control systems. Software engineers also play a key role in the development of artificial intelligence.

In a nutshell, behind most computer systems software, you’ll find a software engineer’s stamp on it.

While software engineers are given a level of autonomy in the building process, the project management phase is a team collaboration. During development, software engineers work in harmony with the following members of their team that may include:

  • Project managers
  • Data scientists
  • UI/UX designers
  • Subject matter experts
  • Customer service staff

With the help of their team, software engineers put their basic engineering principles (sets of rules, methods, and concepts that drive the creation process), computer science, and mathematics into action to write, edit, test, and debug code for programs. Bringing their skills together creates a systematic approach to producing successful systems software.

The life of a software engineer is anything but monotonous. On any given day, their tasks may include:

  • Writing and editing coding languages like Python, Javascript, and Ruby
  • Analyzing and designing entire software programs
  • Creating entirely new software applications
  • Mapping out processes through documents, spreadsheets, and flowcharts
  • Writing training manuals
  • Formulating safety and cost plans
  • Modifying existing software applications
  • Leading team meetings
  • Researching all relevant information
  • Testing new or existing software programs
  • Consulting with clients, specialists, and other stakeholders
  • Facilitate the training of new developers and engineers

Now, “software engineer” isn’t always the exact title someone in this field can hold. There are different types of software engineers.

Types of Software Engineers

The field of software engineering is diverse and flexible. An engineer in the field might specialize in developing computer information systems, maintaining computer network security, or creating web pages for customers.

Software engineers specialize in these three areas:

  • Frontend:

    • Frontend development involves building the design, graphical interface, and user-facing, visual aspect of a website or web application. By applying coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, these software engineers ensure that users can interact with the website and have a satisfactory user experience that meets their needs and expectations.
  • Backend:

    • While frontend development is client-side development and what the user sees, backend focuses on the server-side. These software engineers can be thought of as behind-the-scenes developers who write code to build the application’s functionality, while storing and arranging data, as well as managing servers and databases.
  • Full-Stack:

    • The full-stack software engineer specializes in both frontend and backend development. Full-stack skills are cross-functional. By adopting these skills, developers create and manage a web application’s entire experience, from developing the user interface and interactive features on the frontend to building system frameworks and architecture on the backend.


Job Requirements

Of course, the ability to code — and code well — is a necessary skill, but what else do you need to nab a software engineer position? It isn’t strictly technical skills that are required, every engineer needs to possess certain soft skills as well. Here is a list of attributes that will help you get a foot in the door and on your way to becoming a software engineer:

  • Exemplary communication skills
  • Knack for problem-solving and logical thinking
  • Able to work in a team environment
  • Self-motivated
  • Knowledge of at least one programming language
  • Perseverance
  • Understanding how software is developed
  • Attention to detail
  • Great analytical skills to understand end-user needs
  • Willingness to learn
  • Creativity to develop original software

Why Software Engineering?

Software is everywhere — and every industry depends on it. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, over one million people held the title of software developer in 2020 and the projected average growth rate is 22% from 2020 to 2030.

With the right set of skills and proper qualifications, a software engineer can find a role in nearly any industry. IT firms are the most common employers of software developers, but government agencies, nonprofit organizations, healthcare facilities, and transportation and logistics companies also need software. Wherever there is software, there is a job opportunity waiting.

Come to Kenzie Academy!

Are you ready for a new adventure? Kenzie Academy has all the tools available to have you hit the ground running toward an exciting career as a software engineer. When you’re ready, apply today, and let’s get this thing started!

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