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Software Engineer Job Profile

13 April 2021
Student walking into building
BPPEditorial Team

Discover what it's like to be a software engineer in our job profile.

Software is increasingly important in a world that runs on digital technology. That makes software engineers increasingly valuable members of the workforce. Although competition in the field is growing, working towards a career in software engineering is a great way to build a future that’s secure, exciting, and important.

The role of a software engineer is constantly evolving due to continuing technological advances, which makes it the perfect job for someone who likes a fluid and challenging position. It’s an especially suitable career path for people with great technological literacy and a knack for problem solving.

If you’re interested in a career as a software engineer, read on to learn what you need to about this exciting job role.

What is a software engineer?

Software engineers are on the front line of creating, maintaining, and auditing computer systems and software. They can work in house for companies developing apps, software, or websites, or as part of a third-party development agency working with several clients at once.

The role requires a wide range of skills including creativity and an in-depth knowledge of computer programming. But outside of the technical skills, you’ll also need good communication skills to work cross-departmentally and ensure development processes are smooth.

Depending on the organisation that you work for, your role will vary greatly. Job titles in this growing industry are not standardised, so you may also be referred to as a programmer or developer.


There are no standardised responsibilities for a software engineer, as they’re largely required to tackle whatever problems they’re presented with. However, there are some general responsibilities that you can expect from most roles, including:

  • Analysing websites or apps for faults and problems

  • Writing and testing code

  • Utilising a good understanding of user demographics and needs

  • Evaluating software systems for shortfalls

  • Creating technical specifications

  • Writing operational documentation

  • Investigating or developing new technologies

Software engineer qualifications

As competition levels are fairly high in the field of software engineering, employers have the liberty to seek graduates or those with comparable experience to work in this field. A degree in computer science, computer engineering, electronics, information systems, mathematics, or physics will stand you in good stead.

For those who don’t wish to go to university, apprenticeships are a great way into the sector as you’ll gain practical work experience as you learn.

Level 4 Software Developer Apprenticeship

In this apprenticeship, you’ll learn how to program in Java, use a range of data types, arrays, loops and conditions all whilst working towards the Java SE8 programming certification. Then, you’ll be able to test, deploy and maintain programmes, as well as interpret software designs and specs. Alongside developing technical abilities, you’ll learn how to manage projects, work better as part of a software development team, and understand how your role fits into a wider business plan.


To beat out the competition, applicants for software engineering roles should be prepared with a portfolio of work and be ready to complete a skills-based task as part of the application process. Make sure you’re prepared for the responsibilities expected of you by brushing up on skills including your:

  • Knowledge of computer systems

  • General competency in common programmes

  • Communication skills

  • Attention to detail

  • Creative approach to problem solving

  • Commercial awareness

  • Teamwork skills

  • Workload prioritisation

  • Interest in new technologies

  • Understanding of Java, HTML and CSS

Salary and benefits

Junior roles in software engineering might start off around £18,000 a year, going up to between £25-50,000 once experienced. At management level, software engineers earn £45-70,000, depending on the company they work for.

Working hours are typically 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday, however, longer hours are often necessary at certain stages of software development or approaching deadlines. It is also possible to become self-employed or work freelance in this field.

Career Path

Work experience

Work experience is an excellent way to demonstrate interest in the sector. You should attempt to gain work experience through placements, work shadowing, or a year in industry.

Continuing professional development

Software engineers need to keep up to date with technological advances in order to stay abreast of technologies they might be working with or problems they might encounter. With that in mind, be prepared to be proactive in pursuing further training and professional development even as an experienced software engineer.

On a short-term basis, industry conferences and networking events are a great way to further your knowledge. At a later stage, especially if you want to progress into more senior management roles, you might also consider further training in business, management, or finance.

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