What Makes a Good Software Engineer?

What Makes a Good Software Engineer?

Software engineers make a great living as professionals. But the skills you need for the job are extensive. Being a sound software engineer is not for everyone. It might take years before you get the training and develop the required disposition. Hopefully, an article like this will help you get a head start figuring out what it takes to be a sound software engineer. 

Here is what makes a good software engineer: someone who is capable of writing code and can deliver, ship, and design software for their company’s customers. Software engineers also need persistence for long hours in front of the screen and are detail-oriented for building things in ways that make sense. 

A good software engineer is someone who has specific skills, such as mathematical aptitude and writing code in various languages. However, there is much more than the practical skills needed for software engineering. Read on to find out more about what makes a sound software engineer. 

What Is the Software Engineer Job Description?

Before we get into the details about what technical skills, personality traits, and attitudes get needed for becoming a sound software engineer, you must understand the overall job description. A software engineer is a job that is in high demand because of the reliance on tech in today’s world. However, the job is rigorous and requires some detailed explanation of the nuances. 

Software engineers don’t just design and implement new programs and systems. They also have to find the problems in existing systems. Improving the network methods, making them work better and faster, and researching newer forms of existing systems are essential aspects of the job

Below is a list of some of the job duties of a software engineer: 

  • Create, design, install and monitor software solutions for networks of the company. 
  • Evaluate problems within systems, develop and propose solutions. 
  • Research the needs of users, the system workload and usage, and processes for increasing usability of the system
  • Monitor the problems of the system and research patches
  • Maintain the lifecycle of software currently in use for the company
  • Maintain documents, flowcharts, charts, diagrams, and explicit code comments about what is going on in the system. 
  • Researches and implements system standards of use and upgrades
  • Obtains the licensing information and details for currently running applications and systems of the company
  • Researches and recommends policy and procedure changes for improved usability and function of operations systems
  • Secures personal information and confidential user information
  • Analyzes the system and makes recommendations for purchases, testing, and approving of applications and other products related to the system

As you can see, the day-to-day skills and objectives of a software engineer are numerous and rigorous. Suppose you think that these types of tasks are suitable for your skills, disposition, drive, and productivity. In that case, this article will help give you the detailed information you need to become a sound software engineer. 

Skills Needed for a Good Software Engineer

Being a productive and effective software engineer requires an extensive skill set. It would be best if you had coding training, a relentless and detail-oriented work ethic, and a hard-working yet creative and curious disposition. 

Skills needed by a software engineer are all about thorough research, implementation, and analysis of the systems that they oversee. This job requires knowledge of the systems, certain personality traits, and diverse intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.  The skills needed for being a software engineer are both learned and naturally possessed.

Even though some people might take all the required educational courses and learn the skills of how to code, they might not make great software engineers. Instead, some of the skills need for good software engineers are natural or innate.  The following list of skills get broken down by education, personal disposition or attitude, and personal skills required innate or acquired over time to become a sound software engineer. 

Educational

Training for coding usually gets done in a university setting. The degree for a software engineer is either called a bachelor’s in software engineering or computer science. Usually, this is a four-year degree program but could take more or less time depending on the number of units you complete each quarter or semester.  

Coding Bootcamps

Coding or software engineering bootcamps are intensive studies and credentialing programs that cram all of the technical information you need for becoming a sound software engineer into about three or four months. 

These bootcamps offer many different courses in all of the coding languages and skills you need to become a good software engineer. However, some bootcamps fast-track your skill acquisition. 

Cost of Coding Bootcamp

These courses are available all across the United States for the cost of anything between $1,500 to $24,000. However, these coding bootcamps usually cost much less and take much less time than traditional colleges, making them immensely popular. They will even help assist you in job placement and support transitions to becoming a professional software engineer. 

Self-Taught Programs

Finally, you could decide that you want to save even more money and train yourself to become a sound software engineer. This path of teaching yourself how coding languages and structures of data systems work is not recommended unless you are a driven and detail-oriented individual with time to spare. 

This process of education to become a software engineer could take anywhere from six to 12 months. However, education on code is not the only type of skill you need to be a good software engineer. 

Personal Skills

Just because you saw the average salary information of about $106,000 for a software engineer on a website like GlassDoor doesn’t mean that you will be successful. Money may motivate you to want to be a software engineer. However, a confident attitude, mindset, and disposition are crucial for being a sound software engineer. 

Personal skills of a software engineer include innate reactions to problems and situations, as well as those are gleaned from experience with customers and the duties of the job.

Most people assume that a good-paying job is all that people look for in some careers. However, job satisfaction and success for a software engineer depend on a number of personality traits and dispositions. The following list of personal skills is possible for some people to gain on their own. However, some of these skills require training and years of experience. 

Problem Solving

Software engineers need a strong sense of how problems develop and can get solved. The issues of the software and coding systems in a company are ever-evolving, and the range of the problems that a software engineer faces are daunting. However, naturally good problem-solvers will love the challenge that software engineers face. 

Some of the problems that a software engineer faces might include things like debugging software and finding the problems or “bugs” in the code that cause a program to act erratically or break. Debugging software is one of the most important problems that a software engineer faces. Knowing the language and grammar of coding is vital for solving these problems. 

Explaining abstract and complex ideas of programing software and coding to prospective clients and customers is essential for customer care and support.

Also, software developers need to be able to break down complex problems into simpler terms that anyone could understand. Knowing the dimensions and proportions of your software and making educated guesses is also part of this problem-solving skill. 

Finally, the software engineer needs to consider the user’s experience and solve problems that they could encounter, such as eliminating potentially dangerous or harmful links from a site or app. Also, the design of the interface should be intuitive. 

Analytical

Finding solutions for problems that arise is just part of the job qualification for a software engineer. 

Picking apart issues so that you can see where they originated from and what the fix looks like is an incredibly important skill of a software engineer. 

The term “coding by coincidence” means that you might stick with a program, set of code, or app because it worked, even if you don’t understand why it worked. A sound software engineer never codes by coincidence. Instead, a software engineer needs an analytical mind for understanding all aspects of the problems they encounter. 

Without analyzing the problems they face, software engineers risk getting too far into trouble with a short-term fix. Coding by coincidence could set the system up for catastrophic failures that are unforeseen. 

Also, software engineers need analytical minds as a way of abstract processing systems of architecture within the programs that they administer. Without a proper understanding of the structure of systems and analyzing how each part of the system interacts, the system may get too convoluted and complicated for others to interact with or use. 

Technical Skills

As a coder and software engineer, you also need many specific technical skills for success at your job. Working through problems and sticking with an issue until it gets resolved is only going to get you so far. 

Have basic coding and software planning, research, and debugging knowledge skills that help you with challenging obstacles. 

There are many technical skills in general that you should master before beginning your career as a software engineer. Even though many software engineers decide on only a few specific coding skills to master, there are general technical skills. Some of the most critical general technical skills of every excellent software engineer are listed below: 

Source Control 

Keeping track of the version of apps, software, and other parts of your companies system is very important. Source controls allow software engineers access to the version numbers and a way of organizing the multiple layers of different software developers into one system. 

Source code allows a team of engineers for a company to keep their code of the system architecture safe. It may not be used at every company, so it is an excellent way of getting a leg-up on the competition when applying for jobs. 

The source control is also valuable for you to learn because it helps you coordinate the various developers on the duplicate files in your company’s base of codes. This sharing of file sets allows for developers to make changes without overlapping. Instead, the source control allows everyone to work and then merge changes. 

Algorithms

Understanding the structures of data and the algorithms that run these structures is one of the most vital technical skills software engineers need under their belt. There are several different types of data structures that all sound software engineers should learn. These include linked lists, arrays, and tree structures. 

Suppose your code is taking too long or is a very large file that is taking too much time. In that case, it should become apparent that algorithms are incredibly important. Coincidentally, if you can learn the importance and real-world application of algorithms and data structures, your code will become more precise and efficient. 

Some of the best websites for practicing and learning the data structures of algorithms include:

  • GeeksforGeeks
  • InterviewBit
  • Hackerrank
  • CareerCup

If you practice data structuring, your coding gets better. This fundamental skill seems very simple, but it has the power of supporting your entire approach to coding and software engineering. 

Text Editors

Using a text editor is one of the most straightforward skills of coding. It would be best if you learned writing techniques and keyboard shortcuts. Find a text editor that is your favorite so that you practice your coding in a platform that is familiar. 

Text editors make software engineers more productive. Suppose you are comfortable with the text editor you use. In that case, you can produce more high-quality, efficient, and quicker results with your coding. It is worth it to research different coding apps or platforms. Some of the most popular text editors that coders use include Notepad, Atom, Brackets, and Visual Code. 

Coding Languages

Coding languages are the different flavors of coding structures that hold the programs and systems together. Even though there are dozens of other coding languages that software engineers could learn, only a few of them get used by a majority of companies and platforms. 

However, some engineers might choose a well-known and high traffic coding language as well as a less used coding language so that they are more versatile for the job market.

Also, some coding languages are better for different tasks than others. However, you must be a master of at least one coding language if you are a software engineer. The percentages of some of the most popular coding languages are listed below.

Coding Language Percent Used on the Internet
JavaScript67.8%
HTML63.5%
SQL54.4%
Python41.7%
Java41.1%
Ruby8.4%

It is vital that you choose the coding language of your focus because it will set you apart from other software engineers and make you the most employable. Also, as a tester and engineer, some languages are better than others. Consider the following list of the best coding languages for coders with their benefits. 

Python

This high-quality coding language is one of the most well know and used coding languages on the internet. Python is a great foundational coding language that is great for gaming and social media app development. Testers also love Python because it is easy for debugging.

Some of the benefits of Python include:

  • Very active and supported worldwide
  • Data structures are very easy for users
  • Made up of third-party modules
  • Can migrate across operating systems

Learning Python is an excellent way to make yourself a highly qualified software engineer for many different software and tech companies. 

Java

What used to thebe the number one coding language in the world still holds strong as the second most used language on the internet. Java is often used for app development. It is the preferred coding language of testers since it is cross-platform compatible. 

Some of the benefits of Java include: 

  • Very easy for debugging
  • Platform independent on binary and source levels
  • Known as the safest programming language on the internet

Java is one of the best coding languages and is very safe. Knowledge of Java coding is a great way of showing you are a serious and professional software engineer. 

Ruby

Rounding out the top three most important and influential coding languages on the internet is Ruby. This simple and intuitive coding language is great for developing small websites. Also, Ruby has numerous tools and libraries that coders can source from. They also allow for easy int3erfacing for both testers and users. 

Some of the benefits of using Ruby code language include: 

  • A huge worldwide community for support and troubleshooting
  • The syntax is always easy to understand
  • Ruby on Rails is a great structure tool that helps you build apps quickly and efficiently

Ruby coding language is ideal for app developers looking to save time and energy on multiple small websites and apps. This coding language is a great part of a worldwide support system with many supplemental tools at your disposal. 

Excel Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets seem like a simple technical skill for a software engineer to learn. But the equations and basics of filling out excel spreadsheets help support efficient use of data systems. 

Tracking progress, setting timelines, updating apps, and sourcing developers’ changes should all be noted. Excel is a great place for software engineers to stay organized in their chaotic systems management. 

Even though software engineers do not do any actual coding or engineering in the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, it is in excel that their information, goals, and even failures are logged and detailed. Keeping track of workflow is crucial for software engineers. 

Integrated Development Environment

The environment where your code lives is where you do all of your changes. Choosing the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is vital for all of your coding work. This is where you change, compile, run and even make fixes to and debug your coding. 

Some IDEs are better for different types of code. Choosing the IDE is one of the first things you do once deciding on the type of coding language you are trying to learn. Not only does an IDE speed up your workflow, but they also give you a visual of your work, making it easier for visualization and cooperation with others. 

Security

Securing the systems that you work with all of their data is a priority of software engineers. This part of the job is called encryption or cryptography. When sensitive information is needed from users, encryption needs are heightened. Hacking is always a major concern, and any good software engineer puts guards in place to prevent hacking. 

There are two main ways that software engineers prevent hacking of sensitive data on their systems. These are called public key and private key. 

The key is data encryption with an algorithm. Knowledge of cryptography helps the software engineer ensure that the key is secure, even while processing access requests from users. In other words, not just anyone can skip into the website, app, or system unannounced. They must have knowledge of the key. 

Databases

Essential to all software engineers is an understanding of the inner workings of the database. The database is the place where all software operations are taking place. This might include actions such as updates, insertions, creations, records saving, and storing information. 

A software engineer must choose a database they are extremely comfortable with so that they know how and where all of these actions are taking palace within the database in case any changes or bugs need to get worked out. 

Some of the most popular databases for professional software engineers to learn include: 

  • SQL
  • Oracle 
  • PostgreSQL
  • MongoDB
  • Cassandra
  • Redis

Choosing a database for your systems management is a critical part of every software engineer’s job. If you do not pick the database you’re working with, make sure you are trained in all database structures so you can troubleshoot effectively. 

Operating System

The operating system runs the memory usage, communications with all machines, program launching and running, as well as tools usage. A software engineer should have a working knowledge of the operating system so that the production level of their work is not affected. 

Linux is a preferred programming database. However, Windows or Mac machines are also very popular. If you are working on app development, you may be working with the Android or iOS operating systems for mobile and tablet functionality. 

Software Development Lifecycle

All software has a useable lifecycle and needs occasional updating. As a software engineer, you need the basic knowledge of when these updates take place and how they should take place. The process of developing software that is updated on a schedule and gets done with a systematic step-by-step approach is vital for security and organization. 

The cycle of software development includes: 

  • Gather information and analyzing
  • Studying the feasibility of upgrades
  • Designing the upgrades and new software updates
  • Implement and coding
  • Testing before launch
  • Deployment and monitoring
  • Maintenance ongoing

Launching updates or new software is tricky and very stressful. However, the best software engineers follow the lifecycle of software development to know there are checks and balances and that they catch any bugs before they become catastrophic for the system. 

How to Become a Good Software Engineer: Overview

In the end, if you are willing to put in the work and learn a coding language, be persistent with problems that arise, and work out systems that are simple and uncomplicated, even for complicated tasks, you will make a sound software engineer. 

Taking a step towards employment as a software engineer requires education. If you feel you would benefit from a slower process of education, look at getting a degree. However, suppose you’re looking to kickstart your new career as a software engineer and already know that you have the disposition and skills necessary for the job. In that case, something like a coding bootcamp might be right up your alley. 

In Conclusion

Software engineers definitely make good salaries at tech companies. However, their skills are varied and difficult to master. Even if you understand coding language, you need the disposition of someone who does not give up and is naturally curious. 

Hopefully, this guide gives you insight into the many different aspects of what it takes to be a sound software engineer. Even if you think you will like the job, consider the path to getting there, the skills you need to work on, and the things you will be great at for an all-around better approach to your new job as a software engineer. 

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