How to Become a Software Development Engineer
Becoming a software development engineer offers Veterans and like-minded students an exciting and rewarding career path. Software development engineers constantly learn new skills, work on challenging projects and solve problems that require creative thinking. It’s an attractive choice because it involves self-discipline, dedication and perseverance.
Software Development Engineers in High Demand
Software development is a highly specialized field requiring different skill sets than other professions. It’s a fast-growing career, and the job market is short on skilled people to fill these roles. For example, check out these statistics:
- Nationally, 1 out of every 20 jobs is a tech job.
- The national tech workforce shortage leaves Washington state with a 55% tech labor gap – a lack of over 4000 personnel.
- Traditional 4-year colleges fill less than 1000 tech jobs of the nearly 8000 available.
- Average annual job openings for software developers are expected to rise by 15% within two to seven years.
- Tech companies want a diversified workforce, emphasizing hiring women and minority candidates.
You can see why software development engineers are in high demand. This seems like a fantastic opportunity for Veterans and other students to get into a thriving job market – and it is! But the situation is even better than it seems.
Unique Opportunity for Veterans
The IT industry has unique characteristics that distinguish it from other sectors. The tech industry expects workers to be self-directed and flexible enough to adapt and learn new skills based on their training. Companies need skilled, intellectually curious people who can perform their job even as the industry changes. The needs of this market present Veterans with an opportunity that is uniquely matched to their military training and work experience. However, to take advantage of this, you need to know more about the pathways to this market. This article will provide you with an overview and show you the optimal path to becoming a software development engineer.
Pathways to Your New Career
Software development engineers help businesses and other organizations solve problems, manage special projects and teams, and create software products. This involves not only knowing and understanding software development concepts but also knowing how to work collaboratively with other people in a business setting. So, your software development engineer training program needs to prepare you in three ways:
- Assume your job with the right foundational tech skills but ensure you can learn and adapt to new skills as they emerge.
- Combine your tech skills with business and management skills.
- Ensure you have soft-skill training to work effectively with people.
Your journey and training to become a software development engineer will vary depending on your chosen path. Above, we outlined how your training program needs to prepare you. Now, let’s look at your options.
When looking up online what programs are available, you’ll typically find four options.
- Registered Apprenticeships
- 4-year degree (college or university)
- 2-year associates degree (community or technical college)
- Accelerated Certification and Code Camps
At first glance, these may all seem to be viable opportunities delivering the same results – but they’re not. Significant differences exist when you contrast these programs. So, what’s the impact of taking each of these routes?
How to Compare Training Programs
You can apply four metrics to distinguish the total impact each pathway offers you.
One: Time to complete.How long it takes you to complete each program is a crucial factor and, in some cases, is related to training cost. For example, programs that charge by the class hour or semester will cost more the longer you are enrolled. Additionally, you should consider how the program length will impact the timeline for getting hired and paid.
Two: Training cost.Program training costs vary. Veterans have options ranging from free to tens of thousands of dollars. Also, you’ll need to consider how you will cover your related living expenses while enrolled in your program.
Three: Timeline for getting paid.Your timeline to getting paid varies per program type. And what kind of payment you receive is also a factor to consider. For example, you may get into an internship after two years at a college or university. But that internship may pay nothing or be a bottom-of-the-latter position and pay you minimally – a sort of “pay your dues” type. Additionally, internships don’t usually pay benefits.
Four: What is taught and how.For Military Veterans, this consideration is essential. Veterans expect hands-on, intensive training from people who teach from their field experience. You’ll want a program that can give you this learning environment as much as possible.
Veterans appreciate this because they know it works and knows it is the quickest way to become good at a job. Moreover, this is the way the tech industry expects people filling roles, like software development engineers, to operate on the job.
Comparing Your Options
|Registered Apprenticeship||2-year Community or Technical College||4-year College or University||Accelerated Certification & Code Camps|
|Time to complete||14-17 months||2 years||4 years||8 – 24 weeks|
|Training cost||Free||$3500 annually (average in-district price)||$9500 annually (average in-state price)||Free to $26,000|
|Timeline for getting paid||18 weeks, including benefits||2+ years, depending on paid or unpaid internship||2 to 4+ years, depending on a paid or unpaid internship||Depends on the length and paid or unpaid internship**|
|What is taught, and how||Students learn foundational tech, back-end dev, business and people skills. Courses taught like A-School after basic training. The apprenticeship includes 1-year On-the-job paid training.||Students learn technical skills through textbooks. Everything else must be figured out while finding jobs and working.||Students learn technical skills through textbooks. Everything else must be figured out while finding jobs and working.||Covers a wide range of skills without focusing on filling specific roles in a company. Heavy emphasis on front-end dev (coding), where companies look for back-end dev skills.|
**Internships completed with Certificate courses and Code Camps are sometimes incorrectly referred to as apprenticeships.
What These Options Mean for You
TLG and Apprenti Apprenticeship Program
So, if you’ve read and understood the clear advantages a Registered Apprenticeship has over the other pathways to becoming a software development engineer, keep reading. We will introduce you to TLG Learning and Apprenti’s Apprenticeship program.