Career Insight

What is Software Engineering?

Three Software Engineers working on developing software on computers

In a previous Kenzie Academy blog, we shared the steps you can take to become a software engineer. We covered specifics, including the importance of planning your career, mapping out an education, and even the ways in which you can prepare and boost your portfolio. And now we want to help answer this question in more depth, “What is software engineering?”

In a Nutshell

If a civil engineer plans, creates, and maintains a physical structure, then a software engineer does the same for software, right? Essentially, yes — but there’s a bit more to it than that. Technology is constantly evolving and this ever-changing movement requires software products to grow along with it. Software engineering employs a set of principles to help this evolution happen. It does so by designing, building, and maintaining system software products which are then used by their intended clients.

The system software production process begins when the need for a product is identified. At first, a software engineer must achieve a full understanding of what the product must be, how it should be used, and what it must achieve. Once that blueprint has been established, building can commence. Surprisingly enough, the job isn’t finished when the product has been completed. One of the most important aspects is maintenance of software and the fact that it can extend engineering efforts long beyond the product’s release.

A Brief History

As you begin your journey into software production and maintenance, it’s important to understand how this exciting branch of engineering originated. It was the late ‘60s and things were looking grim for software engineering. In terms of costs, software was expensive to create and even more so to maintain. On top of that, the existing software methods could not keep up with the high demand for new and improved software. This dire period in history came to be known as the Software Crisis.

However, moments of crisis can often lead to periods of solutions and in the decade that followed, things began to improve for software engineering. The once unorganized coding world became uniformed under a more organized software engineering role. This change enabled companies to  modernize their operations and improve their efforts toward customer satisfaction. As time would have it, we find ourselves in today’s world, where software engineering is not only a valued discipline but also a rewarding career choice.

The Day-to-Day

If you’re considering a career as a software engineer, deeply ingrained in software production and an expert in computer programs, you probably want to know what the day-to-day responsibilities of a software engineer are. The first thing to keep in mind is that software engineers are anything but static. They play an important role throughout the development process in many different phases. It’s the reason why they’re often seen as the team leader, capable of maintaining focus on the entirety of a project. You will regularly find a software engineer:

  • Planning the strategy for a new software development
  • Designing, creating, and testing software
  • Solving problems through the use of coding languages
  • Bridging the gap between user requirements and computer programming languages
  • Managing the development team’s responsibilities
  • Communicating with clients to ensure their needs are met

Hurdles Software Engineers May Face

As is the case with any job, there’s always a possibility it will come with its fair share of challenges. This is especially true when it comes to software engineering, but don’t let that overwhelm you. These challenges are there because of how important the role is for teams, companies, and even the general public.

Take the role software engineering plays in aviation, health care, and nuclear power as an example. These industries are vital to the fabric of society, which means a software engineer’s efforts, successes, and failures can have a quantifiable impact on plenty of lives. Not to mention, every software production project comes with budgets, deadlines, and market demands — all of which can bring forth many challenges to entire teams.

Additionally, the complexity of software systems and new technologies is a test in and of itself, but this isn’t necessarily a drawback. Software engineers are natural problem solvers who thrive in their ability to think critically to get the job done. Where anyone else may see a roadblock, a software engineer sees an opportunity to learn something new and put their experience to the test. Software engineering may come with challenges, but there’s no denying they are often outweighed by the benefits.

Frequent Collaborators

A team is only as good as the sum of its parts, and the team software engineers collaborate with is full of software production rockstars. This team is responsible for putting their knowledge of the basic fundamentals of engineering to work in their effort to create, modify, test, and debug their programming code. While the members of a team may differ depending on the project, software engineers often work in tandem with project managers, data scientists, UI/UX designers, and customer service experts.

When Is Software Considered Great?

We now know software engineers are tasked with creating software applications that fully benefit their clients. But when is the job done? Or, rather, at what point is their software considered good?

To start, and much like the end product of any industry, good software needs to function well, but the parameters of functionality include many other factors. For instance, software needs to be created within the allotted budget, and it needs to be secure, efficient, and thoroughly usable. Since the nature of technology is one of constant change, good software needs to be adaptable and reusable. This, in turn, means software needs to be easy to maintain.

So, Why the Popularity?

If you are considering a future as a software engineer, you probably hear about how rewarding and lucrative the career is. But why is that the case? The evolution of the tech industry and the birth of new technologies increase the need for highly trained and skilled professionals. Additionally, a software engineer’s role as architect and leader make the role desirable and incredibly crucial for any company.

Your Future is Bright

If you’re ready to explore an exciting career in software engineering, Kenzie Academy can provide you with the tools you need to make it a success. Whether you’re set on a career in software engineering or if you want to look at other options in the tech industry, we can help you gain the knowledge you need — and even get you ready for that first technical interview! So, get in touch with us today and make your dream career a reality.

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