Certification in software engineering leads to many exciting and profitable career options. Upskilling in any tech field is highly suggested in this digital age, but just like other jobs, the more you learn about niches and specialties within software development, the more desirable you can become. Such knowledge can also be combined with other skills to create even more career outcomes for software engineers.
This guide will help you to understand the job, the types of careers associated with software engineering, and the type of pay you can expect in your field.
What does a software engineer do?
Software engineers use their knowledge of programming languages to create digital programmes and software. Software engineering is very focused on user experience and utilising consumer feedback to improve the product. Bug fixes are expected in coding since programmes require a lot of code to be very accurate and capable of working together as a whole, and software engineers will perform a variety of tests and experiments in order to properly locate and solve any reported bug issues.
Software engineers also need to be well-trained in many programming languages, with a keen eye for spotting errors in vast amounts of information. Further, they must consider the software’s end-user to ensure a simple and engaging experience, so knowledge of UX design can be valuable here.
What jobs can software engineers apply for?
There are many popular and high-paying career options for those with an education in software development. Here are some of the most popular career outcomes for software engineers and their average expected salary:
Median salary: NZ$95k/year
A web developer creates websites and online applications using programming languages. To be a successful web developer, you will need to understand multiple programming languages to accomplish unique tasks.
You also need to have a good eye for design, since the main role of a web developer will often be to create websites that both look good and are easy to use. The role of a web developer doesn’t stop at designing and creating websites, however.
They are also required to continually test the website, making sure it’s working correctly and fully functional across different browsers, devices etc. They must test for errors, implement relevant updates and solve any problems that come up.
To become a successful web developer, you do need certain skills:
- A strong knowledge of computers and numeracy
- Creativity and graphic design
- A love of logic and solving problems
- Capable of describing technical processes in a way that is easy to understand
Median salary: NZ$87k/year
Sometimes referred to as a game engineer, game development is a career in high demand; no surprise there, given the global popularity of the gaming industry. Game developers use a variety of mediums to create a functional video game, which sounds easy – but there is a lot involved.
Game developers will usually be involved in the end-to-end creation of a video game, from the initial stages of design and ideation through to the writing of game logic and artificial intelligence elements.
There are so many different niches in this one space. For example, you can specialise in developing games for one particular system – such as computer, console or mobile – or a particular style of game like RPG, simulation, strategy and so on. Further, you can even choose to work in a niche that focuses on one specific element of games like the user interface, the gaming environment, or designing different levels.
Regardless of whether you choose to niche or not, there are a number of similar tasks you’d find yourself doing. Game developers will help think up new ideas for game designs, and bring those designs to life in code. They’ll also liaise with other producers and designers to create prototypes, review and solve bugs as they come up, test and track the stability of the game across different platforms, and so much more.
Within the game development space, there are actually four main types of roles you can work in. These are:
- First-party developer: An internal position with one specific console or gaming platform
- Second-party developer: Works with one console exclusively, but isn’t owned by the console
- Third-party developer: Works on creating and publishing games within their own company and/or other gaming companies
- Indie developer: Creates games in a much smaller group (even just one single person) and is usually self-funded
Mobile App Developer
Median salary: NZ$98k/year
Take a moment to think of your smartphone and the number of apps you have downloaded on it. How many would you say you have? 10? 20? 30+?
Each of those apps had to be created and developed by a team (or even just one person). With the exponential increase in smartphone and mobile app usage, it’s easy to see why mobile app development has become a majorly popular role in software engineering.
Currently, there are 1.96 billion apps offered on Apple’s App Store alone. This figure is likely only going to rise more, making mobile app development a pretty safe bet for software engineers.
To be a successful mobile app developer, you need to have a fundamental knowledge of different types of programming languages such as Java, HTML, MySQL, PHP, Objective-C and Wireless Networks, as well as a good understanding of Android and iOS devices.
Working as a mobile app developer means you’ll be involved in creating and writing the code that makes up the mobile application itself, as well as maintaining the code and assessing and solving any bugs as the app is developed over time.
Median salary: NZ$101k/year
An IT consultant is someone a company enlists to assess their current IT situation, advise and suggest areas of risk and improvement, and support the company through implementing those suggestions.
IT consultants will usually be generalists as opposed to specialists, but their role usually includes much more strategy work than other types of software engineers. In this role, they’re likely expected to help identify gaps in the company’s IT processes, suggest and implement necessary software that might support the company, act as change manager to resolve technology upgrades and challenges, and can even step into the role of a short-term CIO to give expert strategic advice where there has been none.
IT consultants usually work with a consulting provider who assigns them to various consulting jobs, or are independent contractors – which can be a great role if you’re seeking flexibility or want to be your own boss.
As IT consultancy can be considered more of a management position, the ability to communicate effectively and lead a team is key. Other essential skills include:
- Project management
- Stakeholder communications
- Advanced problem-solving
- Knowledge of business strategy and development
- Active listening
Median salary: NZ$143k/year
If you are interested in cyber security, becoming a security engineer would be an excellent way to use your software engineering education. The main role of a security engineer is to make sure all security systems are working within an organisation, and ensure everything is protected from a range of different threats such as data loss, unauthorised access and cyber attacks.
The day-to-day tasks of a security engineer will vary, but largely you can expect to oversee things like:
- Identifying potential risks in existing cyber security systems
- Performing periodic risk assessments and code audits
- Recognising vulnerabilities before they create problems
- Configuring the systems to improve security
- Overseeing and responding to security breaches and other incidents
- Creating solutions to any security issues as they come up
As you can imagine, the skills of a security engineer encompass elements of both cyber security and software engineering, so it can also be useful to hold a cyber security certification.
On top of the hard skills, there are a range of different soft skills that will help you in this role, like adaptability, flexibility, communication skills, curiosity, knowledge of business and high levels of ethics and integrity.
Career pathway to success
Starting a career in software engineering is a great way to ensure you will work your way up in a company, regardless of which career outcome you might be aiming for.
There will most likely be variations to the steps since every job is unique, but here is the general hierarchy for software engineers to begin their careers and work their way up:
Junior Software Engineer
An entry-level software engineering position is a great place to start learning and growing your tech career. You’ll work on basic tasks with support and guidance from senior engineers, which will provide you with a wealth of knowledge and valuable hands-on experience.
Senior Software Engineer
Once you have mastered the entry-level skills, you can move on to become a senior software engineer. At this point, you’ll have a good understanding of the job, the programming languages, and what you need to get done to be successful.
As the project or tech lead, you will run the operation of projects from start to finish. You’ll be training junior engineers, delegating tasks, and monitoring the progress. All your education and training will be put to the test as you manage a team of people all working towards a common goal.
This is a position that involves the creation of an entire logic system for a company or provider. These are usually tasks of high priority. Attention to detail and accuracy are important skills a technical architect needs, and ones you will have gained through education and work experience.
Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
After many years of quality work, you may be able to get a job as a CTO. This is a position that oversees all the tech needs of an organisation. From research and design to implementation, the CTO has a lot of important work to do. It may seem like a CTO position is either very far in the future or not a possibility, but with the right education and quality work experience, the CTO position could be yours for the taking.
What’s the pay like in New Zealand?
The average pay for a software engineer in New Zealand is a little over NZ$106k per year. This is a great median salary, made even better by the fact that junior software engineers in New Zealand start out at an average salary between NZ$50-80k per year.
Software engineering is a very high-paying career path, even for entry-level positions. If you take the time to get educated, you can get started in a very lucrative career right away.
Where to study Software Engineering online
Institute of Data offers professional education and training in software engineering and other technology and data science fields. With both remote and in-person learning options, anyone can get started on their ideal career path.
Book a career consultation to find out more about our Software Engineering programme.