If you're interested in becoming a software engineer, start by attending formal education and certification programs. Formal programs will help you see beyond the task of working with different programming languages. You'll also learn engineering methodologies to keep the development process effective and efficient. Additional goals should include talking to real engineers in the field -- the more you know about what they do on their jobs every day, the better you can prepare to get a software engineering job of your own.
Get a Degree
Develop your skills by getting a bachelor's degree through an engineering program that has a focus on software development. When researching options, check out the instructors to see where and how they gained their expertise. It's best to learn from those who have hands-on, current experience. Also find out whether the instructors or the programs have relationships with software development companies. A program that offers internships with such companies can enhance classroom training with real-world experience.
Earn a Certification
To develop more advanced skills, set a goal to attend specialized training courses focusing on areas such as programming languages, software engineering principles and modeling methods. Look for courses that can lead to widely recognized certification, such as the IEEE Computer Society's certified software development associate.
Broaden Your Scope
Don't settle for learning software languages -- set a goal to learn about how those languages are used. Find out about complementary technologies and protocols that play important roles in software engineering. Explore hardware devices that need software to make them work. Look at a range of hardware types to see if one area of specialty, such as mobile devices, network equipment or medical technology, is more appealing than others.
In addition to learning critical skills, set a goal to get involved. Network with other students and professionals in the field. Join professional and student organizations involved with engineering projects exclusive to or including software development. Forge mentoring relationships with instructors and professors. Take advantage of opportunities to meet people working in the field. Getting involved enhances the educational experience and could lead to job offers later on.
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