Question: I would like to know what I need to become a software engineer. Things like, how long do I have to go to school, what courses I need to take, how much does a beginning software engineer make and any recommendations to colleges for a software engineer in the United States of America.
Answer: To start with, make sure this is a career you really want. Time Magazine recently did a survey and Software Engineers came in #1 on the list as being the career with the most stress. Many people will tell you that these jobs are also being outsourced overseas. Although currently there is still a good market for Software Engineers in the U.S., expect that number to fall as time goes on and more and more jobs are sent overseas.
This answer is for anyone asking their self “How do I become a Software Engineer“. This is for a person who is at the high school or college level.
Although you don’t have to have a degree, it will go a long ways in ensuring your hireability when you go apply for jobs. A four year degree is the minimum I would consider. It’s just too darn difficult to get an entry level job as a software engineer without one.
If your high school offers computer science or other similar courses, take them. Also, plan on taking lots of math. This will be a big help down the road.
Decide early on which career path inside the Software Engineer label you want to pursue. If you love to design and build games, you’ll need a Computer Science degree. On the other hand, if you want to work for a corporations such as IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, then a Computer Science degree will be your ticket.
If you desire to work at building mostly business applications, consider a degree in MIS (Management Information Systems) or one of the many business technical degrees now offered. This type of degree is best for most, because it also teaches you about business management. This increases your odds of getting your foot in the door.
As for schools, there are many out there and I don’t believe one rises above the others when it comes to computer science. At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual and how bad they want to become a software engineer.