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What it takes to be Computer Software Engineer

Updated on June 23, 2013

BEYOND SYNTAX AND CODE

Considered to be the brains behind all the innovative software out there, often referred to as geeks by others, software engineers are a breed of professionals mostly seen as people who code furiously day-in and day-out. However, while coding skills are essential for software engineers, software engineering itself is not limited to coding alone, as it includes other essential areas such as software quality assurance, project management and technical documentation. The title "software engineer", however, is generally used to refer to a software programmer or developer/coder.

What it takes to be a software developer being a good software engineer essentially requires one to be able to code. Coding is often confused with the skill of knowing a particular programming language, when it should rightly be defined as a skill that enables one to work with any programming language. A person willing to be a software developer is required to have strong core programming concepts as this knowledge could help him/her work with any language if and when the need be. Syntax (programming language) is secondary, which with practice could be mastered (or at least one could be adequately competent) within weeks, as claimed by certain 'books for dummies', but knowing the art of using correct constructs to get the job done requires background knowledge of programming. Knowing the syntax could only make you a developer/coder, but it is the core concepts that will make you into a programmer. Being a software engineer is not just even about being a programmer. It requires one to have good testing skills — to be able to test one's code — and documentation skills, in order to document code flows and other technicalities. It also requires one to be good at analytical skills that could enable him/her to devise technical solutions to real-life problems, and the critical skills required to come up with optimised solutions that could help design efficient software.

Non-technical skills :- In the world of software developers, people are niot required to code in isolation for the entire day in their closed cubicles. People with good verbal and written communication skills are always preferred, as communication is essential. Software engineers are often required to elicit requirements from clients or communicate aspects of software design and development to colleagues. Also, soft skills are an essential for people management — software engineers eventually grow to have teams that they are required to manage.

Growth and career path Growth is always driven by passion that fuels excellence and enables one to keep growing. In the field of software engineering it is not much different. However, to keep up with the dynamics of ever-changing technology, one needs to be more than just passionate. One needs to stay relevant with all the latest developments. This insight helps plan the career path and acquire skills that are required to be successful. Traditionally, when a fresh graduate takes up a programminc ob. he/she starts the career as a eloper and grows to

become a software engineer. Climbing the corporate ladder further, the software engineer gets involved in designing software applications — getting the litie of software architect. Later on, some people may tend to switch career paths to software project management, others may stay on the same track and can progress further to be Chief Technology Officers and/or Chief Information Officers. Beyond the traditional path, software engineers aherays have the option — after serving in the corporate sector for some time — to venture out on their own, and start their own technology start-ups. An in-depth knowledge of technology is what always gives them an edge in translating problems and needs into effective solutions.

Where is the money? Rita Davenport. a motivational speaker and humorist once said. "Money isn't everything... but it ranks right up there with oxygen." Software engineering could easily be considered as one of the top paying jobs locally and globally, provided you have the right skill-sets that the job market needs. Consider an individual with a four year professional degree in computer sciences, who opts to work at one of the local tech companies. one could expect a salary in the following ranges, according to career levels:

Software engineering could easily be considered as one of the top paying jobs locally and globally, provided you have the right skills set that the job market needs. Entry Level: US$1200 to US$4200 Professional and First-Level Management (2-8 years of experience): US$. 3600 to US$ 21000 Middle-Level Management (8-12 years of experience): US$ 25000 to US$36000 Senior-Level Management (12-15 years): US$ 50000 Plus - Executive Level: At this level, professionals may be offered a combination of salary and stakes in the organization in the form of shares, etcetera It is important to note here that the package does not solely comprise salary, but other benefits as well. This may include health insurance, fuel, cell phone allowance, car and laptop or any other required gadgets.

While the figures above have been provided just to give estimates, it is important to note here that the salary as well as the complete package largely depends on two things: how beneficial you could be for any organization and how that organization is doing financially, which usually has to do with the size of organization, the years it has been in business for and the domain it is working in. Despite everything, the most important consideration is to go for what you are genuinely interested in and build a career around that, as no material wealth compares to the satisfaction of doing what you love to do.

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