A Software Engineer is an Engineering specialist in charge of investigating, designing, and carrying out evaluations and the maintenance of different software (e.g. applications, technical environments, operating systems, embedded software, information warehouses, and telecommunications software). These professionals are usually self-employed; however, they can also be found in Information Technology (IT) consulting or research and development firms, as well as in IT units in both the private and public sectors.
Software Engineering is the process of producing an effective piece of software that offers functionality by following a set of requirements, so the main goal of a Software Engineer is to design and develop this software and to ensure that it meets the necessary requirements. Most Software Engineers tend to specialize in a certain area, such as web development or database architecture.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Software Engineers are required to complete.
- Conducting research, carrying out required evaluations, and creating technical information in order to design, develop, and test computer-based systems:
- Collecting and documenting users’ requirements and developing logical and physical specifications;
- developing data, process, and network models to optimize architecture and to evaluate the performance and reliability of designs;
- planning, designing, and coordinating the development, installation, integration, and operation of computer-based systems;
- selecting the best programming language for the task at hand and identifying the development frameworks so as to speed up the process;
- taking into consideration cross-platform integration;
- writing a well-designed, testable, and efficient code for the software system;
- conducting automated unit testing through test-driven development (TDD), which involves testing and programming at the same time, making the process much more efficient and less time-consuming;
- conducting both functional testing, to ensure everything works properly, and user acceptance testing (UAT), to make sure the product fulfills the requirements of the end user; and
- performing further integration testing to make sure that the new or updated product integrates correctly with other systems.
- Supervising and contributing during all the phases of the project:
- Leading, coordinating, and supervising teams of information systems professionals during the development of software and integrated information systems, process control software, and other embedded software control systems.
- Checking, performing tests, troubleshooting, keeping a record, upgrading, and creating maintenance procedures for different software and systems:
- Documenting every aspect and detail of the application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades.
- Developing and administering databases in order to search and store massive amounts of information while developing software.
- Investigating alternatives and technologies in order to contribute with continuous improvements.
- Detecting and fixing bugs in the software they developed after it has been properly implemented.
- Assessing the customer’s needs in order to be able to develop the most appropriate and efficient software.
- Planning, designing, and coordinating the development, installation, integration, and operation of computer-based systems.
- Coding for the software system being developed.
- Providing software maintenance after it has been installed to ensure it’s functioning properly.
- Assessing current or existing programs and systems in order to make the proper upgrading recommendations.
- Liaising with other Engineers and IT professionals to come up with new ideas.
The average Software Engineer salary is $97,678 per year or $50 per hour. This is around 3 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $68,000 while most experienced workers make up to $137,000. These results are based on 408 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding computer skills:
- Understanding computer capabilities and languages in order to create effective software.
- Exceptional creativity to come up with new software.
- Excellent interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with coworkers and clients, as well as giving out clear instructions while working on a project;
- being able to read and write programming code; and
- being able to work cohesively as part of a multidisciplinary team.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment; and
- analyzing the users’ needs in order to develop software that can meet those needs.
- Organizational and time management skills and great attention to detail:
- Being able to work independently and as part of a team in a fast-paced environment;
- handling various projects with aggressive deadlines; and
- being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities accordingly.
In order to enter this field, the candidate will need an undergraduate degree in Software or Computer Engineering, Applied Sciences, Computer Science, Information Technology, Physics, or Mathematics. However, Software Engineering is a career that requires applicants to have a specific skill set, such as being able to program computers and having experience with computer systems.
All candidates applying for a job as a Software Engineer must be proficient in computer science, data structures and algorithms, mobile apps, and databases, as well as being registered professionals in their corresponding province. Only licensed Engineers can practice this career in Canada. The provincial and territorial regulatory bodies for all Engineering careers in this country are the ones associated to Engineers Canada and they are in charge of regulating the profession and licensing professional Engineers in Canada.
Some Software Engineers choose to work in a different area of the IT industry (e.g. systems analysis, technical project management, or IT consultancy), while others become independent contractors and work as freelancers for different clients. However, Software Engineers are not limited to the aforementioned positions. There is a wide range of job opportunities out there for this type of Engineer. They have very flexible skills that are a definite asset for a great number of industries. Software Engineers are often hired by networking and web firms, as well as high-tech businesses, global companies, government agencies, medical institutions, manufacturing firms, and the military.
A Software Engineer’s schedule is usually the typical nine-to-five office hours; however, working evenings and weekends might be common when a project deadline is approaching.