As a software engineer, you’ll work in a constantly evolving environment, due to technological advances and the strategic direction of their organisation. You’ll create, maintain, audit and improve systems to meet particular needs, often as advised by a systems analyst or architect, testing both hard and software systems to diagnose and resolve system faults.
The role also covers writing diagnostic programs and designing and writing code for operating systems and software to ensure efficiency. When required, you’ll make recommendations for future developments.
Depending on the organisation you work for, you may have a more defined role and work within a group of IT specialists which can include systems analysts, systems designers and systems testers. Nevertheless, as software engineers often manage the support systems required to effectively run an organisation, the role can also require you to communicate effectively and translate the needs of different teams into systems developments.
Being a software engineer is an excellent career choice for a person who excels at both left and right-brained thinking – analytic and numerical skills in addition to conceptual problem-solving skills. Software engineers are innate problem-solvers, good at collaboration and keen to see an issue through to successful completion.
To build and design better software, here are some key knowledge areas a software engineer should be well-versed in:
Software engineers aren’t just paid well because they have technical skills and produce when left alone in a corner. They must also have interpersonal skills, and be able to communicate with users to train, test, and debug software all the way to the finished product. Often, they’re involved from the conceptual stage of planning software through the testing, development, training, and support.
Tasks vary according to the type of organisation and size of employer, but may typically involve:
- Analyzing user requirements
- Writing and testing code, refining and rewriting it as necessary
- Researching, designing and writing new software programs
- Evaluating the software and systems that make computers and hardware work
- Developing existing programs by analysing and identifying areas for modification
- Integrating existing software products and getting incompatible platforms to work together
- Creating technical specifications
- Writing systems to control the scheduling of jobs or to control the access allowed to users or remote systems
- Writing operational documentation with technical authors
- Maintaining systems by monitoring and correcting software defects
- Working closely with other staff, such as project managers, graphic artists, UX designers, other developers, systems analysts and sales and marketing professionals
- Consulting clients and colleagues concerning the maintenance and performance of software systems with a view to writing or modifying current operating systems
- Investigating new technologies
- Continually updating technical knowledge and skills by attending in-house and external courses, reading manuals and accessing new applications.
- Analyzing Information,
- General Programming Skills,
- Software Design,
- Software Debugging,
- Software Documentation,
- Software Testing,
- Problem Solving,
- Software Development Fundamentals,
- Software Development Process,
- Software Requirements
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, applicants will be expected to have some technical ability. Having studied one of the following subjects may increase your chances of employment:
- Computer science
- Computer software/computer systems engineering
- Information systems
Many of the larger graduate recruiters will only employ graduates with proven technical skills and a good degree (2:1 or above) in a computing-related discipline.
Smaller companies generally prefer degrees of a computing, scientific or numeric nature. In some cases, however, graduates with an unrelated degree may be considered as long as their technical knowledge and enthusiasm can be demonstrated.