Software Engineers: What They Do, Salary, & How to Hire

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Celso Crivelaro
Celso Crivelaro
Head of Engineering

Table of Contents

Do you have an incredible idea for software that may make an industry's day-to-day easier, but need help creating it? This is where a software engineer can step in, and help.
Published on
June 28, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

Software engineers design, plan, and create software. They're technical problem solvers, working alone or collaborating with their peers to figure out what a client needs and building a software solution to address it.

In a world where technology plays such a critical role, software engineers are essential to modern companies looking to boost performance and growth.

What Do Software Engineers Do?

Software engineers, sometimes referred to as software developers, are responsible for creating computer software, web applications, and mobile applications from scratch. Their work is incredibly complex, as it requires knowledge of programming languages, computer infrastructure, and industry-specific information.

A software engineer’s tasks will vary depending on whether they work alone, on a small team, or as part of a larger department. On a day-to-day basis, a software engineer is expected to work on multiple projects. This includes software design and upkeep, writing code, and consulting with clients and other engineers.

Software Engineer Requirements & Skills

Creating software is both an art and a science, and it’s the combination of technical and soft skills that make a software engineer successful.

Developers need to have a creative vision for the final product. They also need the technical skills necessary to create a fully functional application or piece of software. Here are six skills that every software engineer should have.

1. Proficiency in One or More Programming Languages

Engineers use programming languages to communicate instructions to computers. Some are great for building apps and programs, while others are better for creating websites. Because of this, it helps to be well-versed in one or more programming languages.

Some of the most commonly used among software engineers include JavaScript, Java, Python, SQL, and HTML/CSS.

2. Logical Thinking for Problem Solving

If you break down the role of a software engineer to its most basic task, it's all about taking a need and providing a solution that addresses it. Developers need to be able to divide complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts and solve them in a logical way.

This type of thinking helps a software engineer stay organized, find the root cause of a problem, come up with different options to solve it, and make important decisions.

3. Teamwork & Communication Skills

While it's common to work individually on projects, many software engineers will work as part of a team of developers and decision-makers. Because of this, teamwork is a necessary skill. A good software engineer should be comfortable sharing information with others, collaborating on projects, giving the team updates, and being open to new ideas. It's important to see other points of view and compromise when necessary.

4. Attention to Detail

The code that makes up a computer program is very delicate, and any tiny mistake can cause it to stop working properly. This is why software engineers need to be very careful and pay attention to every detail when they're working.

5. Industry-Specific Knowledge

Software engineers need to know about the industry they're making applications for. This way, they have a good idea of who will be using the program and their needs, and can add helpful features.

6. Growth Mindset

Technology evolves rapidly and endlessly, so it’s important for a software engineer to be flexible. Software engineers should always be willing to learn new technology and ways of doing things.

Being a "forever student" is a valuable characteristic for a software engineer, whether it comes from  peer-learning or attending classes.

Software Engineer Salary

Software engineers are expensive, especially if you're hiring more than one employee. However, the value a skilled software engineer brings you justifies their high salary.

A software engineer experience plays a primary role in their salary. An impressive portfolio can also raise their average hourly rate. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for a software developer is $120,730. The numbers, however, vary depending on experience and market. Ten percent of developers make less than $64,470 annually. On the other hand, one in 10 software engineers makes more than $168,570 per year.

If you’re not looking to hire software engineers permanently, it may be best to look into freelance and contract-based workers. Whether they're on-site or remote, freelance software engineers tend to charge by the hour for short-term projects. If your entire business model isn’t software-based, this may be the more economically viable option for you.

How to Become a Software Engineer

Software engineering is one of the rare fields where formal education isn’t always necessary. Nowadays, there are plenty of self-taught software engineers. They have all the expertise to match or surpass their traditionally educated peers.

Aside from university and college degrees, there are a variety of credentials that you should look for when hiring a software engineer.

Educational Background

There are many ways to get the skills necessary to become a software engineer. Going to college or university is one of the tried-and-true routes.

A diploma in software engineering is proof of a candidate's skills. It's even more impressive when it's given by a credible institution.

Some software engineers look online and at independent academies for their education. Programs range from a few weeks to over a year in length. Some of these programs offer degrees that are recognized in the U.S. and in multiple countries around the world.

Certification Programs

Certifications verify an individual software engineer’s skills and knowledge in one or more areas of expertise. They’re given alongside in-depth training courses by leading enterprises in the industry, such as Microsoft, AWS, CompTIA, and Cisco.

Many certificates have expiration dates, after which they have to be renewed. This ensures the software engineer’s skills and knowledge are up to date.

Past Work and Experience

Professional work experience, in the form of full-time employment or stand-alone projects, is important. However, that’s not the only way you can ensure a candidate has relevant experience, especially if you’re hiring for an entry-level position.

Software engineers should be able to show you projects they have worked on in the past. This give you an idea of their skills, and it helps make sure you’re hiring someone who can do the kind of work you need.

How to Hire Software Engineers

It can be hard for recruiters to find the right software engineer if the hiring team doesn't have the same deep understanding of technology as their candidates. Still, if you break the process down into steps, it's much easier.

1. Determine the Type of Engineer You Need

Your first step is understanding your company’s technical needs and how a software engineer can fill those needs. After all, "software engineering" is a catch-all term that can be used to describe a wide variety of sub-specialties.

Decide whether you’re looking for a front-end or back-end developer or if you need a full-stack software engineer. Do they have to have hands-on experience with UX and UI? Does this match the industry or programming experience you need?

2. Figure out the Type of Employment

Are you looking to hire an in-house software engineer long-term, or is this a one-off project? Knowing what you’re willing to offer prospective software engineers can help you narrow down the search pool.

In-house software engineers can work alongside a team and other departments in your business. However, hiring remote software engineers allows you access to a wider pool of talent.

3. How Will They Fit Within Your Current Team?

Entry-level software engineers can help reduce the burden shouldered by the rest of your IT team. However, they’re unlikely to be able to carry the weight of an entire project on their own.

By understanding the current expertise and structures in your company, you can determine whether you should search for a senior-level, mid-level, or entry-level software engineer.

4. Start the Hiring Process

You can expect the search and hiring process to take anywhere from one to two months. This includes posting ads, contacting staffing agencies, sifting through applications, and conducting interviews.

The more detail-oriented you are during the planning stage, the easier and more straightforward the hiring process will be.

Hire a Software Engineer With Revelo

Many specifications, elements, and steps go into finding and hiring a software engineer. Luckily, you don’t have to do all of that on your own when you team up with Revelo. Revelo is the largest U.S.-based platform for scouting, hiring, and managing technical talent in Latin America.

We support U.S.-based businesses throughout the candidacy process. We'll connect you with software engineers that are pre-vetted for soft skills, technical abilities, and English language fluency. A Revelo team member will also assist through the negotiations, ensuring salary and benefits are always aligned.

Finding your ideal software engineer with Revelo is as easy as filling out a basic form and letting us do the rest.

Need to source and hire remote software developers?

Get matched with vetted candidates within 3 days.

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