Can I Become a Software Engineer with a Computer Science Degree?

softengIn the ancient world, a man’s knife was an everyday survival tool. Today’s equivalent of the knife is the computer. While your survival probably won’t literally depend on having a computer, living without one in modern times is like living without a limb–it’s tough. Thanks to the creative minds of software engineers, our computers are able to run programs that allow us to do just about anything imaginable. From producing music and editing videos to doing taxes and typing up a basic report, software has made our lives undeniably easier. With such a high demand for new software, employers are offering hefty salaries to skilled developers who can come up with the next hot app, and those with computer science degrees are jumping at the chance to earn a great living. The question is, would they have a chance with a computer science degree?

Educational Requirements for Becoming a Software Engineer

According to theĀ Bureau of Labor Statistics, software engineers usually possess a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software development, or a similar area of study. Some software engineers have four-year degrees in computer engineering, a related engineering field, or even mathematics. Of all the degrees that are commonly accepted, the bachelor’s degree in computer science is by far the most popular. That’s probably due to the fact that it’s more of a general degree that builds students’ understanding of computer processes, enhances their computer operating skills, and gives students a little taste of many different computer-related subjects. Some individuals obtain a master’s degree in computer science to gain additional knowledge and skills. As you can see, it’s definitely possible to become a software engineer with a computer science degree–but having a degree is only one slice of the pie.

Job-Specific Skills and Work Experience Matter

Bachelor’s degrees are a dime a dozen these days, and job applicants who haven’t picked up any real skills during their time in school won’t be very useful to a software firm. You might have the credentials on paper, but having real skill is far more important.

Programming is the bread and butter of software engineering. If you cannot code quickly, concisely, and with very little error, you probably won’t make it as a software engineer. You’ll also be expected to know how to code in several different programming languages, so the more versatile you are, the better off you’ll be. Fundamental programming courses are required for computer science degrees, but you’ll have to learn more on your own if you want to stay competitive and updated on the latest languages and techniques.

Some Individuals are a Better Fit for the Job

Most people who have the drive to become a software engineer will make it as one, but the truth is that some won’t. Software engineers need great analytical abilities in order to determine user needs and devise appropriate solutions. They also need to be very creative to design programs. Critical-thinking skills are another must for developers because problems always arise and need to be fixed. Meticulousness is mandatory for writing proper code as a single error can disable a whole program. Finally, good communication skills and a team-player attitude are necessary since software engineering is always a group effort. Much of the above simply cannot be learned from a computer science degree program.

It is absolutely feasible for you to become a software engineer with a computer science degree, but having just that is probably not enough. You must have the right knowledge, skills, experience, and character to succeed at the job. Securing a software engineering position is one thing, but maintaining it will require ongoing education.