Getting Started as a Software Engineer

Tony Grayson Oracle Coding Computer

Software engineering is a sought-after and exciting career path. Although these roles require a high level of technical expertise, you don’t have to be a fresh-faced high-flyer straight out of college to succeed. 

According to Tony Grayson of Oracle, skillsets acquired in other career paths such as the military can help you flourish as a software engineer, and it’s never too late to start. Read on to discover more.

Difference Between Software Engineering and Software Development

The first and most common question people ask is: what’s the difference between software engineers and developers? While these roles have some overlapping skills and are both very technical professions, the key difference is that:

  • An engineer creates the tools that are required to build software applications
  • A developer uses these tools to create a product that is fit for the market

In this sense, engineers are essentially manufacturers. Think of a lumber mill: it requires tools like saws and planes to operate appropriately. Engineers create those tools and optimize them for performance. Developers then use them to create a product (in this analogy, timber fit for construction purposes).

This is a significant reason that military veterans may find software engineering a satisfying career path. Some of the most essential characteristics of military service are laying the groundwork, problem-solving, and creating an optimized environment for further operations. In a tech setting, software engineers perform the same duties – they make it possible for developers to create stunning and exciting technologies.

Another critical advantage for individuals looking to transition from the military to software engineering is the importance of teamwork. Veterans understand that collaboration and leadership are essential to any mission’s success, making software engineering a natural transition.

Development also requires teamwork, but this focus offers a far more solitary profession. Engineering requires constant collaboration to produce satisfactory tools, especially in terms of troubleshooting and testing.

Are Software Engineers in Demand?

When you’re considering investing a lot of time into learning a new profession, it’s essential to know whether there’s likely to be a job waiting for you at the end of it. The short answer to whether software engineers are in demand is yes.

The BLS reports that demand for these jobs will grow by 22% from 2019 through 2029. This is much faster than the national average and indicates that there will be a market for skilled software engineers for years to come, meaning that now is a perfect time to begin training for this profession.

As our society grows increasingly dependent on technology, engineers are becoming our backbone. They ensure that our technology is developed using well-made tools that won’t lead to critical errors or shortages. The art of making developer tools that work correctly is relatively unsung when we hear about tech prodigies in the news. Still, companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon could never have become what they are today without the best software engineers in the business.

It’s for this reason that companies seek out top-quality engineers and will pay handsomely for their services. This trend is unlikely to change as the world increasingly moves online and new technologies emerge.

How Much Do Software Engineers Make?

The BLS estimate for salary in this career is around $110,000 per annum. offers a similar estimate of $113,000 base salary, while suggests a base salary of $119,000that rises to $133,000 with additional compensation. 

All these estimates are double the national average wage and are another reason these careers are attractive to those with the right skills.

Tony Grayson of Oracle man at computer

Educational Requirements to Become a Software Engineer

If you have the resources, you can also go down to the conventional route and obtain college degrees in this subject. This is the most reliable and straightforward way to find a good position, but it’s worth knowing that there are good alternatives if the cost is too high. There are even many free or affordable courses to help you get started on this career path. 

This is a highly technical discipline, and many employers require engineers to have a Master’s degree or equivalent experience. However, you can build up this experience through jobs requiring a much lower academic accreditation level. Employment at an entry-level job that’s related can give you the training you need to switch over to software engineering and advance to senior positions at exciting companies.

Aside from technical skills and degrees, commitment and rigor are essential qualities to succeed in this field. If you apply this to your studies at any level, you’ll learn the core skills such as coding and testing needed to forge a strong career. 

Becoming a Software Engineer

A career as a software engineer is open to people of all backgrounds. If you think you have the core skills needed to succeed in this career path, you should start looking at educational programs to help you on your way. It’s an exciting career with fulfilling challenges and excellent prospects, and the demand will only increase as technology continues to develop.

Tony Grayson
Tony Grayson of Oracle blogs about workforce innovation.