If you have that dream of becoming a Software Engineer, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you the 5 most important steps to becoming a software engineer. Now, these are in the order in which you should follow them in. But I just want to mention that this is not going to work for everybody. It’s just my opinion on what you should probably learn in the order in which you should learn it, if you want to become a software engineer as quickly as possible.
With that said, let me list out what these different topics are, then I’ll elaborate on them as we go through. So the steps are –
- Master the basics
- Write clean and efficient code
- Learn software engineering tools
- Advanced programming
- Learn about the software design and architecture
Now again, this is not going to be a complete list for everyone. If you’re going into a specific field of software engineering, say like Web Development, then you’re definitely going to need to learn other things. However, I think that’s a really good general outline and should apply to most people who’re trying to become a software engineer.
Alright, so let’s go ahead and get started. Step number is mastering the basics.
Steps To Become a Software Engineer
1. Master the basics
In this step, I think you should get good at least one programming language and understand programming fundamentals and really build a strong foundation to yourself, so you are comfortable and confident writing code. I think this is the most important step for really anyone trying to become a software engineer is to get a really solid foundation and understand the core concepts that are going to apply through every single language, every single framework, and pretty much everything you do going forward.
So just give you a few examples here. I think you should understand data types, variables, conditions, looping, functions, object-oriented programming. All of these topics that are going to apply again to pretty much everything. And the reason I’m really emphasizing this is because a lot of people will immediately dive into something like Front end framework or machine learning or game development or all of these other very interesting topics. Now I’m not trying to say that you can’t do that as a beginner, you can, but it’s way easier and less discouraging when you already have a solid foundation underneath.
Imagine going and trying to learn 3D game development without knowing how to write a single line of code. Well, now you’re doubling the amount of work you have to do to feel successful or accomplished in this field because now you have to learn 3D game development as well as whatever the programming language is being used to do that. You don’t have the foundation. And the amount of stuff that you have to do actually achieve something, maybe build a project is a lot more. Whereas you build the strong foundation first, it’s really great step, build some confidence and allows you to feel more comfortable actually writing code, solving problems. And then moving to any other frameworks or modules.
2. Write clean & efficient code
So now we are moving onto step number 2 which is to write clean and efficient code. Now I understand it might be a little bit controversial because some people will only really do this once they’ve gone through almost all the other steps that I’ve listed. However, I think it’s very important to build strong habits when you’re starting out with programming and to learn how to properly write code and write code in a clean and efficient manner.
And to do that, you need to learn things like time complexity, space complexity. Essentially analyzing code, understanding which code is more efficient. This is not extremely difficult to do, especially you doing it on a very surface level and not getting into any super-advanced data structures and algorithms. What I’m trying to say is building strong habits in writing code in a way that is maintainable end sustainable. Now just to add one last point here, try to write some self-documenting code, avoid repetition, structure your coding. It’s an easy and early habit to have early on.
3. Learn Software Engineering tools
So at this, you should be comfortable writing code. You should have some confidence in writing code as well. Hopefully, you solve some small problems. You’ve worked on some projects and understand how to structure code and write clean code. You kinda have the basic skills down. Now to get to the next level, I think it’s important to learn the software engineering tools that you’ll use in a professional environment. So for example, some of the tools you may want to learn would be Git and Github. This allows you to work with multiple people on the same code base, allows you to store previous versions of your codebase. I also recommend learning something like Bash. Bash is a command-line tool. It’s going to be used on Mac or Linux. This is kind of in replacement of your graphical user interface.
So a lot of times when you’re working as a programmer or as a software engineer, you’re not going to have access to a nice graphical user interface and desktop and all that stuff. You have to do everything right from the command line, but I think it’s important to have a basic understanding of the command-line tool, like how to navigate to Linux operating system. These are things you might not have to do, but that are pretty important and that are a good skill to have as a programmer.
For example, understand how to run your code directly from the command line without using the run button. That’s something that I think most software engineers should know how to do. And again, how to create files, navigate the file system, all that type of stuff.
Some more tools
Continuing, I also think that you should learn about IDEs. An IDE is an integrated development environment. At this point, you probably already worked in one if you’ve gone through the above steps. However, I think it’s important to have proficiency with your IDE. Understand different keyboard shortcuts, how to use things like debuggers, and a lot of the professional tools that IDEs still offer too. For example, VS Code is an IDE. That’s one that I would recommend if anyone is looking for one. Next thing, I think you should learn about basic networking.
Now, this is something you might be able to omit from this list. But understanding things like HTTP, IP addresses, just the basics of what networking is, how networking actually works on a very, very surface level. I think it’s nice to know as a software engineer. Because a lot of times you’re using some features in your code that rely on networking. Just have that basic understanding that makes everything easier to do.
4. Advanced Programming
Alright, so step number 4 is to get into Advanced programming. Advanced programming could have so many different topics within it. This is of course is very vague. But I think you should step outside of your comfort zone now and start learning about more advanced features and the things you don’t’ necessarily need to use but you’ll probably see and should understand how they work. So probably you can learn things like Threading, Multiprocessing, Asynchronous programming, Iterators, Generators, Compilers, Interpreters. How your code is actually run and executed. Maybe things like Decorators, standard libraries.
All of these different topics that are fairly advanced, you probably want to at least have a basic understanding of and know what they look like in whatever programming language you are working. Now if you’re working in a professional environment, unless your senior programmer, you’re probably not going to have to implement a multi-process application. You might, but that’s unlikely. But a lot of times you’ll see in the codebase that you working in, there’ll be a that are used bunch of advanced features and you have to understand how they work.
5. Software Design and Architecture
So moving on to the last step which is software design & software architecture. Now, this is something that is very difficult and that most of us are really never going to have to do, at least on a super impactful level. But the reason I am including it here is that as a software engineer, I think it’s important to understand things like design patterns, good coding practices, the different approaches you can use when designing specific applications in pieces of software. Even something simple like picking your Tech Stack. Those are things that actually differentiate, according to me.
Programmers and kind of people that write scripts from people who are software engineers. I think it’s pretty easy to actually get into programming and learn how to write basic code or create basic projects. But you have to work on large-scale applications, design entire websites, design things like Netflix, Facebook, Google things they need to scale to millions of people. That is what software engineers do. And when you get to a super senior level of software engineering, that’s when you start to really get good at this stuff and when that’s your main responsibility.
And just as the last note here, I think that after you get good at software design and software architecture, you’re probably at a level where you are comfortable designing any type of system, any type of application. And when you get to this level of your Software Engineering career, it’s really about what you want to learn next. You should have the skills and confidence to learn it. Get good at that and continue from there.
Alright, so I think this was it for this article about how you can become a good software engineer. I hope you got something new to learn. If you do, tell me in the comment section.