Awesome! You made the decision to become a software engineer. But what’s next? Do you have a clear idea of what you actually can or want to do? Inevitably, you will reach a point where you’re going to ask yourself: “What are the standard career paths of software engineers?”. To get a little more clarity (and perhaps guidance), you then have two options:
2. Follow our short and precise article
What Google has to say about the typical career paths of software engineers (boring)
They (aka many people on Google) will tell you that there are two typical paths you can take as an aspiring software engineer: technical-focused or management-focused.
Should you choose the technical-focused route, your roles would be something like staff software engineer or principal software engineer.
If you choose the management-focused route, you could probably become a (technical) manager or a Chief Technical Officer (CTO).
A typical career path could look something like this:
- Junior developer for 1 year
- Senior developer for 3 years
- Lead developer (managing people) 3+ years
But typical does not have to mean it’s the only way. Being a software engineer isn’t limited to one scope of work. Are you passionate about coding but you also love to be around people? Do you prefer to do a lot of work independently? If you think the outlined career paths above are too standard and bore you as much as they do us, you are well advised to read on.
What career paths of software engineers could really look like (much more exciting!)
We’re here to show you all kinds of ways to navigate your career path; zig-zags, circles, and crosses. Here are a few alternative routes that are completely different from one another:
1. Scrum Master – you are eager to push your team to success
Let’s have a quick look at the work of a scrum master:
Meet Laura. She is your scrum master today. Laura will help her team to learn all about agility in developing a scrum process. She will first meet with Larry, the product owner, to understand the project’s vision and goals.
She then organizes several stand-up meetings with each developer to identify issues blocking his/her work, describe their current status with the goal to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This also helps to identify any issues that could delay the work as early as possible.
Ultimately, Laura’s role as a scrum master is to serve the team to enable their productivity and maximize success in hitting their commitments.
The position of a scrum master is well paid within the industry and it’s a career path that will likely grow within the coming decade. As a Scrum Master you will interact a lot with other people, you will have to follow the scrum theory, best practices, and rules.
It’s similar to project management with an emphasis on serving the other teams involved in building the product. But Scrum Master sounds so much better.
What you need to do? Start to learn about Agile systems and their best practices.
2. Sales Engineer – you are a people-person
If you don’t fancy coding too much but you do understand software engineering enough and you like interacting with people, the Sales Engineer might be just for you. A job as a Sales Engineer is unique because it comes with a level of technical expertise that you must have to match a customer’s pain point with the right solution.
For this job, it’s best to focus on your non-technical skills as this job requires a lot of personal contact.
The Sales Engineer is also a career path that is likely to be high in demand in the coming decade as more companies are building software tools and services. As a sales engineer, you can work for a company that designs and builds technical products or you can work directly with independent sales firms.
Here are a few examples of what a position as a sales engineer entails:
- Close contact with sales teams to better understand customer needs and provide sales support
- Take ownership of orders by securing, renewing and arranging delivery
- Modify the product according to customer requirements
- Install equipment for the client
- Constantly recommend ways to improve customer experience by recommending materials/machinery that can lower costs and increase production
- Take the lead in research and development of new products
What you need to do? Start building your non-technical skills (hint: soft-skills)!
3. Technical Writer – you love to write
With your technical expertise, the job scope of a technical writer is much more diverse. A technical writer communicates complex information through technical documentation such as manuals, journal articles, user guides, and white papers. You can even create text for internal and external documentation such as app tutorials and demonstrations.
With the constant software updates each application most likely faces, this job scope is never-ending and a highly paid field for writers in general.
What can you do? Of course, you’ll have to focus on improving your writing skills. Be able to write your ideas clearly and graphically. Don’t forget to interact with subject matter experts so that your writing is as up-to-date. The industry moves faster than we can keep up with!
If you’re building your portfolio, find a blog that you can write for or write the best manual that you can think of for a piece of software. There are endless ways to brand yourself as an independent technical writer!
4. Database Administrator – you want to work independently
A Database Administrator can cross over to any industry, within any company that needs someone to organize their data in an efficient and optimized way.
For example, a commercial bank will need a Database Administrator to ensure that their bank teller can easily access all information such as balance and transaction history.
There are three types of DBAs:
1. DBA: They create and design databases.
2. Performance DBA or Tuning DBA: They focus on optimizing and improving the performance of various databases.
3. Application DBA: They specialize in the integration of databases into the applications that use them.
You’ll be handling quite some responsibility as a DBA but in turn, you are the gatekeeper of an organization’s data, a highly rewarding and highly demanded job position. Skills a successful DBA should have are great troubleshooting skills, logical thinking, and curiosity with a motivation to learn!
What’s it gonna be for you?
This article makes clear that there are so many different and exciting career paths as a software engineer. So what should you focus on? Choose an area that fits your interests and personality and start to further develop the right skills for it. With the right attitude and selective skill training, you’ll develop a clear focus on where to go. We’ll guarantee you that your career will take an exciting turn!
We’d be excited to learn more about you and your career path as a software engineer. Share it in the comments down below.