What to Expect: a Day in the Life of a Software Engineer

Software Engineer Doing Work in an Office

Software engineering is already a popular profession, and it’s only expected to grow. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the profession is predicted to grow 25% by 2031.

But what do software engineers do? What does a day in the life of a software engineer look like? 

We spoke with Caleb Braaten, the Principal Technical Mentor here at App Academy, to dig into the details.

Flexibility in Working Hours

Some might expect the working hours for a software engineer in the fast-moving tech world to be quite rigid, but that’s not always the case. While traditional tech firms may function around the 9-to-5 model, there are ever-increasing opportunities for remote work or more flexible work schedules.

According to an article from Turing, 86% of software engineers have been working remotely, especially since the pandemic. The same article found that 71% prefer a mix of home and office work. Many software engineers probably enjoy some of the benefits of remote work, which can include:

  • Avoiding a commute
  • Spending more time with family
  • Having a greater sense of work/life balance

There are also, of course, some challenges that come with working remotely:

  • Isolation from colleagues
  • Potential distractions at home

In addition to remote working options, some companies also work asynchronously, meaning employees may have the opportunity to work whenever they want, inside or outside of “regular business hours.” This can work well for those who want more control over their working hours, or for those who may have colleagues working in different locations around the world.

A trend toward more flexible working hours was already ticking up in the tech world, and it was certainly accelerated by the pandemic.

Regardless of the working hours you keep, it’s important to note that the software engineer career path is often not a typical 9-to-5 job. Projects and deadlines may have more influence on your work hours than when your company is “open.”

Working with Others

Software engineering may seem like a solo endeavor, but teamwork is a common part of the job. Software engineering teams often utilize pair programming, where two or more people work together on a project or a piece of code. It’s an effective way to work, and studies show that it can lead to faster production times and improved code quality.

Here at App Academy, we incorporate pair programming into our curriculum. Even if you find a job at a company after graduation that doesn’t use pair programming, you’ll have the experience and the skill in your back pocket. If you ever do end up in a professional setting that relies on teamwork, you’ll be able to lean on experience you already have.

Overall, software engineering is a collaborative industry. Whether you’re working with a team to complete a project or simply need some help or outside input on a solo project, you’ll need strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Some Unconventional Paths to Software Engineering

One thing that becomes evident when looking at the lives of software engineers is that there are many different paths to reaching this career. If you start working in the industry, you might meet people with a number of different backgrounds and experiences.

Some software engineers have a college degree, and some don’t. Whether you have a degree or not, it’s still possible to become a software engineer through a variety of other options.

Bootcamps

These programs, like the ones here at App Academy, teach you the skills you need to be a software engineer, but in a much shorter time than pursuing a college degree. They can be a good choice if you’re looking to pivot your career in a smaller time window.

Self-Learning

There are more resources available than ever before to support self-teaching endeavors. If you’re disciplined and motivated, you can teach yourself the skills you need to become a software engineer.

This path may take longer than attending college classes or a coding bootcamp, but it comes without tuition fees.

An Open-Source Community

Along the lines of teaching yourself, aspiring software engineers can lean on open-course communities for various coding languages. There’s a growing trend of people joining these communities to learn new skills. This usually involves contributing to projects and working with others in the community.

It’s common for people to make a transition from working in these communities to software engineering as these new skills can be applied in many different areas. With the growth in the software engineering job market, now is a great time to consider a career switch, regardless of your path.

A Solid Path of Career Progression and Growth  

A day in the life of a software engineer is important, but it doesn’t necessarily paint the whole picture: each day contributes to an overall career and professional growth.

As a software engineer, you’ll have the opportunity to advance your career and earn more money as you gain experience. While each individual’s path might vary, there are some common stages that are helpful frameworks for looking at the software engineer career path.

Junior Developers

Junior developers tend to work on projects and tasks that have a more narrow scope. They usually work under the supervision of more experienced engineers. They solidify their basic coding skills while working on real-world projects.

Mid-Level Developers

Software engineers at this stage of their careers might be what comes to mind when we try to picture someone working in this field. Mid-level developers are responsible for working on larger projects, and they sometimes lead a team of junior developers. They generally continue to contribute code, but they’re more involved in giving feedback, identifying priorities, and determining project timelines.

Senior Developers

Mid-level developers can progress to become senior developers. In this capacity, they are responsible for leading a team of developers, and they play a key role in decision making. They set priorities, often work with roles across departments, and they tend to spend less time creating the code base itself and focus more on supporting its success.

The company you find yourself at will affect these role distinctions as well. At a startup, for example, roles may be broader or have more responsibilities, and an individual may progress much faster. At a larger, established company, these roles will be more narrow, streamlined, and specialized.

Growth Might Seem Untraditional

Considering the high average salaries for software engineers across the country, it’s no wonder that many are flocking to the profession. The job market is strong, and there are plenty of opportunities for career growth, especially with new technologies and approaches being developed all the time.

Growth in this career, however, might sometimes seem a bit untraditional. Many developers often look for new, more senior roles outside of their current companies to drive their career progression.

There are a few reasons for this trend:

  • It’s often a faster way to move up through the ranks
  • You put yourself in competition with top talent, which can land you a higher salary or more benefits
  • Software engineers and their skills are in high demand, so many companies are looking for new talent
  • The field itself is fast-paced

There’s no right or wrong way to drive your career as a software engineer. Whether you stay at your company for a number of years or move between several, the career itself is inherently set up for growth and development as you master new skills and put them to work.

As you continuously learn and stay up-to-date with the latest technologies, you give yourself the tools to level up your career every step of the way. 

Start Your Life as a Software Engineer with App Academy

Whether the salary attracts you, you’re bored with the traditional college path, or you want to jumpstart your new career as soon as possible, an App Academy bootcamp can help.

Our immersive programs will teach you everything you need to know to become a software engineer from full-stack development to resume and interview tips. If you’re looking to change your life, get in touch with us today to learn more about admissions.

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Written by Dev App Academy

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