What Exactly Does a Software Engineer Role Entail?

If you’re reading this blog, a software engineer had something to do with it. Software engineers are the architects of the computer languages that create the digital technologies you use every day. But what is it, exactly, that these professionals do? What skills do they need? What kinds of jobs do they hold? We have answers.

Understanding the Software Engineer Role

There are about 1.5 million software engineers working each day in the U.S. Software engineering is part of the computer sciences that build digital tools like software, databases, or computer systems for business and personal use. They use computer programming languages to build the underlying structures for the hardware and software that powers the world today. A software engineer built the internet backbone you’re riding on. A software engineer built the mobile app you’ll use to text your friend tonight.

But is a software engineer the same as a programmer, developer, or engineer? Most companies use these terms interchangeably, however, a software engineer typically works on a whole system instead of a section of a project. There are two types of software engineers:

  • Applications software engineers are developers that build software tools for humans to use. This could be on mobile, web, or other types of product. These professionals are client-facing, articulate, and smart.
  • Systems software engineers are programmers that build operating systems and networks. These professionals are typically responsible for both hardware and software builds. They work to integrate disparate software and hardware into one easy-to-use system.

In both cases, the software engineer works on the following types of tasks every day:

  • Solving complex math problems with computer code.
  • Creating new from-scratch software programs.
  • Analyzing, designing, and implementing software systems.
  • Creating prototype designs for new software.
  • Troubleshooting and fixing coding bugs.
  • Collaborating with IT team members to test the products they’re building.
  • Participating in meetings to discuss the project.
  • Training other software engineers, sharing ideas, and solving problems as part of a team.
  • Working with an end-user on the product interface to improve it.
  • Deploying software iterations.
  • Documenting code or writing training manuals.

While these are typical tasks, what does it take to get into this field? What makes a good software engineer?

Skills for the Software Engineer

Typically, a software engineer studies computer science or mathematics in college. Some students are self-taught and others attend coding “bootcamps,” which are structured programs that teach coding skills over a few weeks or months. Because software is ever-changing, these students must enjoy learning new things as they hone their skills and build their careers. In addition to intelligence and intellectual curiosity, the software engineer must know basic computer programming languages and frameworks. They should have a love of problem-solving and be comfortable with abstract ideas. They should be creative but also methodical in their efforts to build the perfect product by writing the perfect line of code.

What’s Next for Software Engineering?

There are simply not enough software engineers to meet the demand for these professionals. The latest data shows, by 2030, there will be a global talent shortage of more than 85 million IT workers. That means experienced software engineers will have plenty of opportunities to pick from in the coming years. That’s where Blackstone Talent Group can help. We partner with the best candidates and the best employers to find the perfect fit. Talk with our information technology staffing team. We can help.

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