How Do I Become a Software Engineer?

Software engineering is exciting and, for those who are unhappy in their current professions, it can offer a much-needed change of scenery. Whatever your reasons for wondering how to become a software engineer, it’s worth learning what the job and education entail. And, that’s where Hackbright can help.

What Is a Software Engineer?

Software engineers can have a hand in a variety of projects, such as artificial intelligence (AI), website development, and game design. Essentially, anything that needs coding.

Most people will specialize as they become a software engineer. For instance, many engineers will choose between becoming an application developer or a system developer. Application developers often need to know how to program for different devices, while system developers need to know several coding languages to create programs that typically run behind the scenes.

Now, if you’ve been looking into software engineering, you’ve probably also seen the term “software developer” floating around. Granted, there is some debate in the field about whether or not these titles are interchangeable. In general, however, while an engineer specifically works on coding projects, a software developer will typically work more with the client and help see the project from start to finish.

The good news is, there are a lot of similarities in how to become a software engineer and how to become a software developer. For instance, you can expect to study a lot of the same basics regardless of what career you decide on.

So, What Do You Need to Become a Software Engineer?

  1. Education
  2. Portfolio 
  3. Networking
  4. Job Hunting

Becoming a Software Engineer


The first step to becoming a software engineer is to learn programming. The cheapest way to do this is through free online courses, but, while some self-taught individuals do manage to break into the industry, it’s not necessarily the easiest way to get a job. Self-study not only requires a significant amount of discipline to stick to a schedule, but students often don’t have the help of mentors or the support of a network which comes from a formal course of study.

One way to prepare to become a software engineer is to earn a software engineering degree (usually a Computer Science degree) where you’ll be learning math, theory, and coding languages, along with more general education topics.

Of course, it’s no secret that a college degree takes time and money. A bachelor’s degree traditionally takes four years to earn.

A faster option for education is a coding bootcamp, like Hackbright Academy. Bootcamps are immersive coding experiences designed to prepare students to enter the workforce. Students can enjoy structure and mentorship not provided through self-study. In fact, many bootcamps not only teach coding skills but offer preparation for entering the job market.


Of course, regardless of degree or certification, job hunters can expect to be asked about experience. One way individuals can highlight their work is through a portfolio. This can include applications you’ve built, open-source code you’ve modified, and other things you’ve created or worked on throughout your education. A portfolio is a vital way to help get your foot in the door, especially if you don’t have any official work experience in software engineering.

At Hackbright Academy, students prepare final projects or demos in the Software Engineering course that they can showcase to potential employers or colleagues.


Networking is something to work on while you’re earning your education and creating your portfolio, but it also comes in handy once you’re ready to look for jobs. A great place to start is with mentors, teachers, and classmates. While classmates might not have connections now, they likely will in the future. Hackbright has built a community of phenomenal women to join.

Job Hunting

Once you’ve graduated and made your portfolio, it’s time to dust off that network and get going on the job hunt. To do so, you’ll want to polish your resume, hone your cover letters, and practice interviewing. And, at Hackbright Academy, mentors and instructors can help you navigate what has traditionally been a male-dominated field.

See how Hackbright can help you develop your software engineering career.

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