All over the web, you see these amazing rags-to-riches stories about ordinary people who could barely use their smartphones or who were made redundant and had no marketable skills, who taught themselves how to code and now have fabulous, lucrative careers in software engineering. But evaluating whether software engineering is the right career for you requires you to take a step back and look at the pros and cons of this career path, examining the career progression and outlook, the salary you can expect, and whether you have the right personality to excel as a software developer.
Pros and Cons to a Career in Software Engineering
It’s important to have a balanced perspective when considering a change in career because you need to know what to expect – both the positive and negative. Although you’ll see an awful lot of hype about the awesomeness of life as a software developer, you’re rarely given a balanced view.
If you love building things and enjoy continually challenging yourself, then it’s likely you’ll get a great deal of satisfaction from a career in software development.
Good Salary Potential
Assuming you get a job at a good company, you know what your skills are worth, and you can negotiate, you can expect to bring home a very rewarding salary and benefits package. Our data indicates an average salary for a software engineer is $110k, ranging between $84.7 and $136k. With such a high salary, even for a junior, this career path has impressive salary potential.
Because good software engineers are in such high demand, there’s always opportunities to travel, getting yourself a job in a country you’ve always wanted to visit. It’s not difficult to find immigration opportunities, for short and long-term posts, all over the world. And, because software engineering doesn’t require licensure or a degree, it’s often easier to work overseas in this role than in many others, including the other engineering disciplines.
Flexibility and Remote Working
Not every software engineering job offers flexible hours or is a remote position. However, it is possible to find remote employment or to work as a freelance software development consultant from the comfort of your home office. This is less likely if you want to work for one of the tech giants like Google or Microsoft, but many startups are happy for developers to work remotely, and some have entirely remote businesses, with no central office.
Tech moves fast. Software development moves fastest. To stay on top of your game, you need to learn new things quickly and on a regular basis. There’s always something new. The world of software engineering doesn’t stand still. Whoever you work for, you’ll have to stay abreast of new automation frameworks, version control systems, programming APIs, languages, and so on. If you love learning, then this con is, in fact, a pro.
This one might not apply to everyone. It really depends on the company you work for or the software you build. Just bear in mind that not every developer works regular office hours or sticks to a 40-hour-a-week schedule. Some have to be on-call on a regular basis or need to work the night shift to provide support. Others work far more than 40 hours per week, particularly in the run-up to a product launch.
We all know that being too sedentary is bad for us, but this is often overlooked as a disadvantage to a career in software engineering or any other white collar role. To keep your body in shape, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of a whole variety of diseases, you need to leave plenty of time for exercise in some form before or after work. And, to stave off the long-term risk of musculoskeletal damage and conditions, you’ll need to get your workstation ergonomics just right.
Up Next: Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Software Engineer?
Author: Katy Willis
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