Discover the pathways and requirements for a successful career in software engineering, from junior to senior roles. Learn about the necessary hard and soft skills, potential certifications, and the importance of an impressive portfolio.

Key Insights

  • Experience, broken down into Junior, Mid-Level, and Senior Engineer roles, significantly impacts the types of roles that one qualifies for in software engineering. Each role requires a different level of technical ability, management experience, and autonomy.
  • There are several hard skills crucial to becoming a successful software engineer, including the ability to use various programming languages, project management, Object-Oriented Design (OOD), cloud computing, understanding of data structures and algorithms, and debugging and testing software.
  • Soft skills, such as attention to detail, problem-solving abilities, and the capacity to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, are also vital in a software engineering career.
  • Various certifications can enhance a software engineer's credentials, including Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP), Certified Software Engineer, C Certified Professional Programmer (CLP), C++ Certified Professional Programmer (CPP), AWS Certified Developer, and Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals.
  • A comprehensive portfolio is often requested by prospective employers, as it provides a summary of an engineer's education, skills, and experience in the technical field. The portfolio should include information about ongoing and completed projects, showcasing the engineer's coding skills and their creative and critical thinking abilities.
  • Maintaining an updated resume or LinkedIn profile is essential for promoting a software engineer's brand and expertise. It is also an effective tool for networking and finding potential job opportunities.

Software Engineer Requirements

Software Engineers solve real-world problems by developing software solutions. Pursuing a career as a Software Engineer will allow you to work across different industries and fields. While you may find various fields require specific skills, there are some particular requirements that you will need regardless of the field you pursue to be a Software Engineer. If you’re an aspiring Software Engineer, this article will help you better understand the credentials needed to land a job in the field and advance your career. 


Your experience level will impact the type of roles you will be qualified for. This can include your time working in the field, management or supervision experience, level of autonomy, and technical ability. While titles can vary depending on the company, you will generally see the following breakdown.

Junior Engineer: This entry-level role is usually limited to recent graduates of coding bootcamps or college programs. These developers typically have less than two years of technical coding experience. According to Glassdoor, the average starting salary of a Junior Engineer is $68,711, but this will vary depending on location, education, experience, and skills. Junior Developers require the supervision of a Senior Engineer as they work through their projects and mentorship as they navigate their new careers. Projects might include writing, debugging, and troubleshooting software, as well as developing basic applications. 

Mid-Level Engineer: Mid-level developers have a few years of experience and are competent in the software development life cycle. Mid-level Engineers can work on projects with minimal supervision and will be able to execute their work more accurately and within a reasonable timeframe. reports that the average mid-level engineer earns $90,000. A professional in this role can handle multiple projects simultaneously and is proactive in developing software solutions to emerging problems. Finally, a mid-level engineer will gain managerial experience by overseeing junior developers. 

Senior Engineers: Senior Engineers typically have five or more years of experience solving complex problems. Senior Engineers have been around the block and have experienced their fair share of mistakes and successes in their careers — and can apply the lessons learned to independently experiment with solutions, solve complicated problems, and improve upon previously written code for more effective processes. Those in this position will supervise and mentor a team of junior and mid-level developers to execute projects. According to, the average salary of a Senior Engineer is $100,000. 

Skills and Certifications 

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There are several skills and certifications that you may be required to learn in your career as a Software Engineer. While many think of only technical skills as important as software engineering skills, several soft skills can help you succeed in your career. 

Hard Skills

Programming Languages

Software Engineers use various programming languages to develop software. The programming languages you will need to learn will vary but most often depend on what type of developer you’re interested in being. The three types of development areas include: 

  • Front End: A Front End Engineer specializes in the “front end” of websites and the area users experience. Their goal is to make websites more functional, user-friendly, fast, and pleasing to the eye. They typically aim to master: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React, Vue, Angular, Elm, and jQuery. 
  • Back End: Back End Developers spend their days on the server-side of the website, ensuring that the site continues to run without a hitch. They typically aim to master: C#, Go, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and SQL.
  • Full-Stack: Full-stack engineers can manage both the front end (user-side) and back-end (server-side) of websites. They typically aim to master: Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, SQL, Rust, Java, and more. 

Project Management 

When working as a Software Engineer, you will find that many jobs require experience with Agile or Scrum methodologies. Agile is an iterative project management approach to software development that focuses on quickly incorporating client or customer feedback at each stage of the development cycle. Scrum is an Agile methodology that breaks projects up into short cycles, or sprints, to help facilitate a project that will require continuous testing, adaptation, and improvement.

Object-Oriented Design 

OOD is a software development approach in which data, or objects, serve as building blocks to design a software solution. OOD is a popular design principle and helps developers write robust, reusable, and clean code in OOP programming languages, such as Java. 

Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing has become increasingly popular in recent years. Many companies require cloud computing experience when hiring Software Engineers. Popular cloud service providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and Google Cloud

Data Structures and Algorithms 

Data Structures and Algorithms allow developers to organize and store data in ways that allow for more efficiently performed operations. Some common data structures include Arrays, Linked Lists, Stacks, Queues, Hash Tables, and Trees.

Debugging and Testing Software 

A key responsibility of Software Engineers is to anticipate, identify, and fix bugs within computer software, systems, and programs.

Soft Skills 

Attention to Detail 

A high degree of accuracy and precision is a must in this job. Software Engineers must be able to write and manage clear, reusable, and clean code. Additionally, Software Engineers must anticipate possible issues and be able to adapt quickly to change.


Software engineers spend a large chunk of their work resolving issues, and “problem-solving” is listed in job descriptions as a requirement. Engineers should have strong analytical and critical thinking skills to identify the source of the problem. Additionally, elements of innovation, creativity, and curiosity can help quickly solve these issues and create processes to anticipate them better. 


Software Engineers often work with cross-functional teams to develop and execute projects and develop technical solutions. A successful engineer will be able to effectively articulate project needs and work closely with others. 


There are several certifications that you can explore if you’re interested in being a Software Engineer. These include: 

  • Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)
  • Certified Software Engineer
  • C Certified Professional Programmer (CLP)
  • C++ Certified Professional Programmer (CPP)
  • AWS Certified Developer
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals


When applying for a Software Engineer role, a prospective employer will ask to see your portfolio. Your portfolio is a summary of your education and work related to the technical field. An online portfolio showcases your skills and experiences and includes information about yourself, your training, and your ongoing and completed projects. Portfolios are useful ways to demonstrate your coding skills and should only include your best work. Additionally, the projects should showcase your creative and critical thinking abilities. 

Resume & LinkedIn Profile

Many employers will also ask for your resume or LinkedIn profile when applying for Software Engineering jobs. Keeping these updates is a key way to build and promote your brand and showcase your expertise, experience, and knowledge in the field. LinkedIn also includes helpful job postings and is a place to connect and network for free. You should update your LinkedIn profile to include relevant information about your experiences, skill set, and career interests. 


Finally, once you make it through most Software Engineering job interviews, your prospective employer will contact your references. You should only list people as references who are most familiar with your skills and projects. A reference can be a former supervisor, team member, client, professor, etc. It is key to have a conversation with each reference about why you are applying for the role, your interest in the organization, and any key anecdotes you want them to highlight during their screening.