How To Become A Software Engineer In The U.S.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at Freedigitalphotos.net

We want to ask you a question. Why do you want to become a software engineer? Is it the high paying salary, is it the feeling of creating and maintaining something that people use, is it being a part of technical growth, or is it because someday you want to build something amazing? We are almost positive you said yes to at least two of these.

Like anything amazing, it is not easy. Once you get there though, you have become a part of something great. When you really stop to think about it, you will be changing the world every day. That is incredible. We are as passionate about it as you are. That is why we want to help you learn how to become a software engineer.

Educational Requirements

Eeks! Do not be intimidated. Most careers these days require a certain level of education. Luckily, there are levels that you can work yourself through and it is entirely dependent on employer preference. Some establishments only require their engineers to have an associate level degree. Higher profile companies will ask that you have obtained a masters level education. There are several directions that you can go to obtain a relevant degree. So what do you study?

The majority of hopeful engineers will take courses outlined in mathematics, computer information systems, computer science, programming, and general software engineering. You can choose to obtain certifications from other institutions as well. It is all dependent on your career plan. Decide what you want to do and where you want your career to go before creating your education plan.

There is this myth that software engineers have to be incredibly intelligent. The truth is, you just have to be creative and passionate about what you do. Because engineers are generally savvy in mathematics, it can be considered a difficult profession. You have to learn it to earn it. Sure, most engineers ARE very smart. That is not because they were born that way or had some special advantage. They worked hard. You will have to too.

Starting Your Career

When you have obtained a level of education that is congruent with your goals, it is time to put yourself out there. Look for internships that will allow you to show off the skills you have acquired and stun them with your best. During your internship, start researching certifications you can acquire that will increase your pay and make you more valuable to a company.

If you do not feel like going the intern route, you should be able to prove your value. Demonstrate to your future employer that you have something unique to offer them by researching them and creating scenarios where you shine. There is a small but very noticeable advantage with employers when you are able to provide them value before you even start.

Still, there is a small percentage of us that want the education and career title but do not want to work for someone else. That is incredible! It is so exciting that you want to take control of your future. If you have this career goal, it is recommended that you focus on the programming side of your education. Having the creative skills and ability to build something will make working for yourself much easier. Who knows, maybe you could be the next big software engineer that builds a program that lets cars drive themselves.

Money & Your Future

This is the exciting part. We are going to talk about the money you will be making and what your future career looks like. If you decide to go the internship route, you are not going to start with best of salaries. You will however, be exposing yourself to the engineering world and be creating an epic story. Would it not be awesome if you went from the intern grabbing coffee for everyone to the guy in charge of the development of next level video software? Should we ask for your autograph now, or later?

Jumping into your career right away has its benefits. On average, entry level software engineers earn about $75,000 a year. That is over double the national average. Most people say that anything over that is just gravy. That means that at the very beginning of your career, you have already achieved what the U.S. consider to be the ‘happy point’ of income. You win.

When you decide to venture on your own, the opportunities are limitless. You can start your own company, create something other people use, or freelance. Either way your entire life is dictated around something you love and you get paid well for doing it. In our opinion, everyone should try this. Even if you fail, you have still managed to create an amazing piece to add to your resume. The fact that you have taken a chance and were confident enough to go out on your own speaks incredible things to an employer. Guess what though? … We do not think you are going to fail, not at all.

Summary

It takes time, dedication, will, and understanding to become a software engineer. Just in case you got SO excited that you forgot the steps, here are some questions you should ask yourself.

Decide what kind of software engineer you want to be. Do you want to work for yourself, work for a large company, or gain experience through an internship when you start?

What kind of things do you want to do as an engineer? Do you want to manage software and programs or do you want to create them? Use this to decide what educational program you want to enlist in.

When you have figured it all out. Dive right in. Find the right school. Start doing amazing things. Hey, it was your choice to become a software engineer. Now the world is going to expect great things from you. Don’t you dare let us down.

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