How to become a software engineer. Laptop with code.

Are you a tech enthusiast looking for a career that you will thrive in? Software engineering could be just the thing for you.

Keep reading to learn how you can become a software engineer.

What is a software engineer?

A software engineer uses engineering design principles combined with programming and IT operations to create software products that solve real-world problems that businesses and consumers face.

What does a software engineer do?

Software engineers use programming languages, frameworks, servers, databases, etc., to find simple solutions to complex problems.

Here’s a simple breakdown of the tasks software engineers do daily:

  • Design, build, and test software applications
  • Problem-solve using coding and other forms of technology
  • Code things from scratch
  • Collaborate with a team of other software engineers and developers
  • Debug or improve code that already exists
  • Work alongside other professionals, like product managers, UX designers, graphic designers, etc.

Now that you have taken a glimpse at what software engineers do on a daily basis, let’s look at how you can become a software engineer yourself.

How to learn software engineering

Here’s what you need to know to become a software engineer:

  1. You need to learn how to develop software and have a good understanding of full-stack software development.
  2. You should understand engineering design principles.
  3. You should understand IT operations, such as how to deploy and maintain software.
  4. You should be comfortable using digital workplace tools to communicate and collaborate with teams.

At CodeSpace, our core program, Software Development, gives you the best possible start to a career in tech and forms the foundation for advancing your skills with our specialised career tracks. Once you’ve completed the Software Development program, you can build upon your skills and set yourself apart by specialising in JavaScript Engineering or PHP Engineering.

Why study software engineering?

Here are five brilliant reasons why you should study software engineering:

  1. The job outlook for software engineering careers is astounding. More and more jobs within this industry are being created each year. So once you complete your studies, there are lots of job opportunities open to you.
  2. The software engineering field is broad. You can specialise and find a job in an area of software engineering that excites you. You can also work in lots of different industries as every industry uses software in some capacity.
  3. You love working in a team. Working as a software engineer isn’t a solitary experience. To create successful and effective software products, you need to work within a team, including UX designers, graphic designers, product managers, etc.
  4. You’re good at troubleshooting. When you’re creating software or debugging existing software, you will need to troubleshoot, problem-solve, and find the root cause of the problem.
  5. Software engineering is a lucrative career. According to a recent report, it is currently one of the highest-paying jobs in South Africa.

How to become a software engineer in 2024

Good news! You don’t need a specific qualification to become a software engineer. You can enter the tech industry in various ways, including being self-taught, attending a coding bootcamp like CodeSpace, or getting a university degree in Computer Science or a similar field. Choose the route that suits your goals, personality, and timeframe best.

Why study software engineering through CodeSpace?

Now that you have some good reasons to study software engineering, here’s why you should choose to learn through CodeSpace:

  • You will learn how to design real-world products using engineering design principles.
  • We teach you how to manage the complete product cycle:
  1. Client brief
  2. Product scoping
  3. Solution design
  4. Deployment
  5. Maintenance
  • You will learn how IT operations integrate with the design process and product cycle, not just how to build software or set up IT infrastructure.
  • We provide you with practical experience through a simulated agency environment working on client projects, which will boost your resumé and accelerate your career.
  • Our coaches are there to give you hands-on support.
  • We have small classes ideal for learning alongside fellow students.
  • At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate in a Software Engineering specialisation.
  • We provide ongoing career support to help you as you start in the industry.

Once you’ve completed our programs, you can become an integral part of any organisation you choose to work for by providing them with substantive business solutions.

Certificate vs. University Degree

Did you know that doing CodeSpace’s core Software Development program plus an Engineering specialisation is the most direct way into a career as a software engineer? That means you don’t need a university degree to become a software engineer. Here’s why a certificate is a great route to becoming a software engineer.

Earning Potential:

There’s a misconception that software engineers with degrees earn more than their non-degreed counterparts. It is true that at the beginning of their career software engineers with a degree earn slightly more. 

However, according to OfferZen’s report, after four years in the industry, having a degree no longer makes a statistical difference to the amount they earn. The more senior you become, the less a degree impacts earning potential.

Landing a job:

You’ll be able to land a job in software engineering after completing our Software Development and Engineering specialisation programs as we prepare you with comprehensive programming knowledge together with practical experience. In contrast, you wouldn’t have all the knowledge and expertise needed to get a job after only doing your first year in university. Employers often care more about practical experience and a strong portfolio of code over university credentials.

Time commitment:

Most university degrees take three to four years to complete. Not everyone has the time or inclination to pursue a degree. That’s why we have kept our programs shorter yet still very comprehensive at only ten months long, full-time.


Due to their length, university degrees work out to be significantly more expensive. The average cost of a three-year Computer Science degree in South Africa is approximately R240 000. However, our complete Software Development and Engineering specialisation programs are much more affordable, coming in at R77 900 once-off, or R6990 per month.

Software engineering career paths

Once you’ve studied to become a software engineer, many different career paths open up for you. Below we’ve put together a list of careers you can pursue within the software engineering realm:

  • Web Developer
  • Mobile Developer
  • Test and Quality Assurance Engineer
  • Database Manager
  • Network Systems Manager
  • Computer Systems Manager
  • Security
  • Systems Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • Data Engineer
  • Scrum Master

Soft skills that software engineers need

To land yourself one of these software engineering jobs, you will need coding skills and programming knowledge. But you’ll also need to have soft skills to help you thrive within your working environment.

Here are some of the soft skills you’ll need as a software engineer:

  • Superb attention to detail
  • Good communication skills to work with others and explain your code
  • The ability to work well within a team
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Creativity to come up with software solutions
  • Brilliant analytical skills
  • The ability to think logically and problem solve
  • A thorough understanding of how computer systems work
  • Willingness to learn new skills and further education

Start studying Software Engineering with CodeSpace

If this article has inspired you to pursue software engineering as a career, contact our admissions team to learn more about our Software Development and Engineering programs or download our course prospectus on our homepage.