what is a software engineer?

As a software engineer, you work under a branch of computer science. You're involved in the evolution and construction of software. This can be related to a computer's operating system (OS) or an application-based programme such as a browser or database. On top of this, you help create programmes for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

Software engineers are subject-matter experts (SMEs) regarding programming languages and their respective systems. As a result, you produce customised products for different clients. The goal is to generate a programme's solid foundation with your engineering skills before the project moves forward.

As a software engineer, you can work independently, within a team or with clients. In many cases, you're a part of a group that works on different products for one organisation. Therefore, you'll switch modes regularly to accommodate everyone's needs.

The career goes beyond working for a computer company or software firm. Software engineers are a necessity in most business sectors. Development organisations often hire software engineers to assist customers. You could also be employed by manufacturing, finance or agricultural firms to develop programmes that simplify processes within these business sectors.

Would a career in IT and tech as a software engineer suit your critical thinking and innovation skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a software engineer role.


software engineer jobs

software engineer salary

Pay rates for software engineers vary. Nevertheless, software engineers are some of the highest-paid computer professionals. According to ONS, the median salary of a software engineer is £38,561 per year. Entry-level or trainee software engineers receive an average salary of £26,000 annually, while experienced software engineers earn over £63,000 per year. Aside from base salaries, software engineers enjoy various allowances and benefits. For instance, you will receive medical insurance and overtime pay or bonuses for success in specific projects.

what factors affect a software engineer's salary?

Several elements affect software engineers' pay. One is your experience level. Individuals right out of school or a training programme start at a lower rate. However, if you are successful in your position, many companies can quickly raise your salary. Another factor is training and certification. The job of a software engineer isn't a static one. You have to continue learning about new technologies and ways of programming to remain effective. If you have both training and the skills to utilise your knowledge, your income will be higher. Information technology (IT) professionals like software engineers are in demand. Therefore, even those right out of school often receive the median or upper-end pay rates.


Admin and clerical
Admin and clerical

types of software engineer

There are two main roles in software engineering:

  • application software engineer: your job is to create new software or adapt existing products for businesses and other enterprises. You do this by analysing your clients' needs. Sometimes, the application engineer is responsible for installing and maintaining an application throughout its lifetime.
  • systems software engineer: as a systems engineer, you develop programmes for an organisation's computer systems. In other words, you create logical operations to help devices work together. For instance, you construct application programming interfaces (APIs) that link two machines or different programmes. Overall, systems engineers develop items that maintain speed, productivity and security.

If you want to read about the differences between a software engineer and full stack developer see here.


working as a software engineer

If you're interested in software engineering, it's helpful to know what to expect. Keep reading to learn more about your typical duties, schedule and work environment.


education and skills

As a software engineer, you need the following academic qualifications:

  • degree: software engineers usually need to complete a bachelor's degree in computer science or software engineering. When you finish the undergraduate degree, you begin your career as a trainee software engineer. Completing a master's degree is a great idea if you want to advance to a higher role or transition from another course to software engineering. Some employers also accept a higher national diploma qualification for entry-level positions.
  • certification: some employers require certificates to support your expertise in software engineering. For instance, you can complete the CompTIA Security+ or Certified Professional Programmer certification.

skills and competencies

A career in software engineering requires technical know-how and soft skills to succeed. Some of the qualities you need include:

  • coding and programming skills: writing code is a big part of software engineering. Hence, you require proficiency in front-end and back-end coding languages like Ruby, Java, C++ and Python. You can attend programming boot camps or other training to improve your coding skills.
  • team skills: as a software engineer, you will not work in isolation since you will collaborate with other professionals and liaise with stakeholders. Maintaining and developing software programmes also requires input from various professionals. Hence, you have to work well with others to achieve organisational goals. You will learn to compromise and communicate with others throughout projects.
  • problem-solving ability: as a software engineer, you need prowess in identifying and solving problems that arise in computer systems or applications. You have to be curious and analytical to develop creative solutions in the system.
  • attentiveness to details: software engineers need to be precise and meticulous. Detail-oriented skills help you in coding and testing software projects.

Randstad employer brand photo, internal, people, consultants, branch, branches
Randstad employer brand photo, internal, people, consultants, branch, branches


FAQs about working as a software engineer

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.