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Learn about careers Software engineer

Software engineer

Software engineers create computer software and solve problems using science and maths principles

What is a software engineer?

Software engineers design and create computer systems and applications to solve real-world problems. 

Software engineering is the branch of computer science that deals with the design, development, testing, and maintenance of software applications. Software engineers apply engineering principles and knowledge of programming languages to build software solutions for end users. 

What do software engineers do?

As a software engineer, you'll work in a constantly evolving environment, due to technological advances and the strategic direction of the organisation you work for. You'll create, maintain, audit and improve systems to meet particular needs, often as advised by a systems analyst or architect, testing both hard and software systems to diagnose and resolve system faults. 

The role also covers writing diagnostic programs and designing and writing code for operating systems and software to ensure efficiency. When required, you'll make recommendations for future developments. 


Starting salary
£25,000 - £35,000
Example job titles
Software developer, software consultant, technical engineer, technical systems administrator, cyber engineer
Desirable skills
Computing, numerical, organisation, problem solving, technical competency
Useful subjects
Mathematics, computing & IT, Physics
Software engineer

Working life

What does a day to day look like for a software engineer?

It’ll depend what company you work for, and what projects you are working on. Some tasks might include: 

  • Designing and maintaining software systems 
  • Evaluating and testing new software programs
  • Optimizing software for speed and scalability
  • Writing and testing code
  • Consulting with clients, engineers, security specialists, and other stakeholders
  • Presenting new features to clients, colleagues and others

What type of companies does a software engineer work for? 

Software engineers are employed in a range of sectors. 

  • Specialist IT firms 
  • Manufacturing industry   
  • Financial services 
  • Public utilities  

The Future

Where could software engineering take me?

Promotions will be based on experience and ability. With around three years’ experience in an entry level position, you may be able to work on more technical projects.

Then, after at least five years’ experience you could become a senior software engineer. In this role you will have more responsibility and may supervise a team for larger projects.

Computer code

Become a software engineer

What qualifications do I need?

There are a few routes you can take.

  • You could get a degree in software engineering or computer science.
  • You could enrol in a software engineering bootcamp to gain further skills and experience in areas like Python and other programming techniques and languages.

You may find most job adverts will ask for you to have a degree. However, some roles will be advertised only focusing on specific experience and knowledge.

Work experience

Consider a software related work placement as part of your degree. Some courses offer a one-year placement in industry as part of your degree course. You could do an apprenticeship in software engineering after A levels to gain some practical experience and knowledge. 

Software engineer

Free Digital Skills Bootcamps

If you are 19 or over and looking to get started in a career in the digital industry, sign up to  Digital Skills Bootcamps in areas such as software development, cyber security, cloud computing, data and analytics or web development.
Skills Bootcamps are fully-funded, flexible and last up to 16 weeks, with an interview guaranteed at the end of the course.

Think engineering could be for you?

Become an engineer