How long does it take to become a software engineer in Canada?

In an increasingly digital world, software engineering has become one of the most in-demand skills in Canada. The demand for it also comes with high pay, making many people consider a career in this field. If you’re considering it, you should know certain things about becoming a software engineer. So, how long does it take to become a software engineer in Canada? 

There are two pathways to becoming a software engineer in Canada. The formal takes at least 4 years of university to get a degree, while the informal takes 3 – 6 months to learn the basics and years of practice to be a pro. Software engineers need to be attentive, creative, and current to excel.

Regardless of how you choose to learn, you’ll still need years of continuous practice and experience to remain an expert. Here, we look at how you can become a software engineer in Canada and how long it takes.

Pathways to Becoming a Software Engineer in Canada

Software engineering is a skill that requires practical experience. If you’re thinking of becoming a software engineer in Canada, there are two pathways that you can use to acquire the necessary training and skills, they are:

1.   Formal Pathway

The most suitable pathway for becoming a software engineer in Canada is to get the necessary formal education. Studying software engineering or any related course in the university makes it easier to get your first job.

Studying software engineering in Canada is easy as several universities offer this or related programs. Software engineering programs are usually more practical, with a focus on building software. It trains students in software development techniques and methodologies. This means software engineering students will learn everything from design to quality assurance to release and updates.

Other related degree programs include of them is Computer science or engineering. This has been around for a long time, but it’s not as practical as software engineering. Computer science and engineering programs focus on mathematical and theoretical computing. Those who study these courses in school can still code and do things that software engineering degree holders can do. Thus, related courses are a good entry point for anyone planning to have a career in software engineering. Those who have a degree in related programs can go ahead to get a diploma or master’s degree in software engineering. Obtaining the first degree can take between four to five years. Diploma and master’s degrees take between one to two years to complete.

2.  Informal or Semi-formal Pathway

Another way to become a software engineer in Canada is to take the informal/semi-formal route. This pathway is advisable for those already in a different field and just want to switch careers or upskill. Through this route, you won’t have a Bachelors’s degree. But you can obtain the skills and even get necessary certifications showing that you possess those skills. The informal pathways include

   i.        Online Courses and Self Tutorial

There are thousands of online courses on software engineering where you can learn programming languages and develop software. The prices of these online courses vary. Using educational platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, you’ll find introductory courses that give you insights into software engineering. These introductory courses are usually free or low-cost. If you see it as something you have a passion for, you can enroll in long-term courses. Most online courses are self-scheduled, which means it could take weeks or months if you want. But even the ones that aren’t self-scheduled only last for a few months. Within 3 – 6 months, you can learn the basic skills of software engineering.

ii.        Bootcamps and Dev Schools

If you feel you’re not motivated enough for online programs. There are dev schools and boot camps all over the country where you can enroll full-time or part-time to learn software engineering in a matter of months. However, what eventually makes a person a software engineer is an experience from continuous practice. Therefore, you’ll need to keep practicing and learning after completing a course, finishing the Bootcamp, or even getting a job.

How Long Does It Take To Acquire Software Engineering Skills?

The learning route will determine how long it takes you to obtain software engineering skills. Formal education will take at least three to four years of post-secondary education. It might take more time if you choose to get a postgraduate degree or diploma. What this route gives you is the degree and recognized certification. On the other hand, the informal route will most likely take less time. You can acquire the basic skills within months. But it’ll take some time to become a pro. The previous technical experience could also speed up the progress.

What makes a software engineer goes beyond the formal qualifications or training you get. It’s mainly about the experience, and this experience can take years to acquire. Furthermore, with the field also evolving continuously, a software engineer is constantly learning and has to improve every day.

Qualities of a Software Engineer

Beyond the technical skills that a software engineer must have, there are also qualities necessary to excel in the field. These include:

1.   Up to date understanding of technology

Development methodologies and programming languages are constantly changing as the technology develops. It’s therefore essential for anyone who wants to work in this field to stay informed. Furthermore, knowing the latest techniques and methodologies helps you develop better solutions.

2.   Attention to details

Being a software engineer means being responsible for several parts of a system or software. So, there’s a need to pay attention to all these interwoven parts and processes. One-line error in a code can ruin a whole day’s work, so being attentive is crucial.

3.   Creativity and problem-solving.

Developing solutions requires thinking out of the box. This is why software engineers need this quality to create a product that achieves the desired functionality. Software engineering is all about applying knowledge in the most creative ways.

In Conclusion

Anyone can become a software engineer as long as they have a passion for it. There are two pathways to acquiring the necessary skills. Regardless of the one you take, you’ll need dedication to scale through.

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