How to become a software engineer in South Africa.

How to become a software engineer in South Africa.

Software engineers are one of the most in-demand professionals in South Africa and even more now due to the COVID19 epidemic and the fact that most businesses are conducting their businesses virtually to enable people to work from home.  It has been projected that the employment growth of software engineers will have risen by 21% by the year 2028 which is a quicker than average growth for all types of occupations.  The reason for this is because of the increased number of people all over the world who are using digital platforms as well as the constant demand for software development.


What does a software engineer do?

The function of a software engineer is to work closely with analysts, staff and designers in order to create technical plans to meet the needs of clients who are looking to create new software.  Working with a range of web-based technology they have to be able to understand how a database integrates with these systems and are responsible for reviewing the current systems that a business has in place. A software developer is in charge of developing systems such as business applications, games, operating systems and network control systems.  Most times the software engineer has to work together with the end users in order to determine the needs that are needed by their business.


The three main tasks of a software engineer

  • Modification of existing software to correct errors and make it adaptable to new hardware as well us upgrade interfaces and improve performance.
  • Validation procedures to develop and direct software system testing.
  • Software programming and documentation development.


The roles of a software engineer

  • A software engineer works with many programs and is extremely knowledgeable in data structure and algorithms.
  • Fluency in many programming languages
  • Knowledgeable in many design approaches.
  • Software engineers are responsible for deciphering if software operations are feasible by conducting evaluations, analysis and problem definition.
  • Design chart, diagrams and documentation for the demonstration of programs.
  • Follow software development standards and at the same time develop solutions.
  • Make recommendations for policies and procedures that are not working in order to improve operations.
  • Obtaining and licencing of software
  • Collect, analyse and summarise data with the intent to solve development issues.


The skills and abilities of a software engineer

Excellent interaction abilities with computers

Problem solving skills

Decision making skills

Reading details comprehensively

Excellent listening skills and written comprehension skills


Software engineer characteristics

A software engineer has a curiosity for learning and a passion for development coupled with good communication skills and the ability to be a good team player. A love for technology and enhanced technical skills are a must have, as well as the ability to manage themselves and not have to be micromanaged.  A software engineer has an excellent mathematical mind and can use this to analyse the principles of computer sciences to design and develop software.  A love for coding and a deep knowledge of computer science theory are just a few of the many characteristics that a software engineer possesses.

Aptitude for the job

Aptitude testing commonly conducted in high school will often tell you that you are a good fit for software development if you have a good aptitude for measuring, reasoning, problem solving and structured approaches.

How to reach the goal of becoming a software engineer

  • Decide on your end goal

It is important to have an end goal in mind once you have chosen the path that you would like to follow to achieve your career objective. Write down these end goals.  This could be that you would like to work in a company as a software engineer and get paid well for what you do.

  • Chose what computer software language you want to learn.

Besides just learning to code there are many other computer software languages that you should cover in your studies such as Python, JavaScript, Ruby and many more.

  • Get your Computer Science Degree

A bachelor’s degree is normally required in order to become a software engineer and majoring in computer science will more than likely be the most useful way to become a software engineer.  Knowledge on algorithms and data structure is very important when applying for a job as a software engineer.  The coding and writing of software are just as important and these will also need to be thoroughly studied by registering at a reputable tertiary institution.

  • Purchase extra reading materials to supplement your studies

Software development books are often outdated as software development changes so often with new concepts and technology coming out every year.  Make sure to keep up to date with your supplemental education books and resources.

  • Practice reading code

It is important to practice your code reading and read code that has been designed by experienced developers.  This can help you to acquire and grow your software development skills.

  • Join a community

It is always a good idea to join a software engineering community so that you are surrounded by like-minded people who are all able to support one another.  Use a site such as Meetup to find other developers.

  • Build!

Practice building projects and using the language that you are most comfortable with.

  • Prepare to be Interviewed

Be sure to have a good resume with a cover letter.  Resumes are looked at by interviewers so that they can get a feel for your experience and skills. Cover letters assist in getting the attention of the interviewer.

  • Get the job

In most cases companies start off with a screening interview which is done at home from the internet.  Thereafter a phone interview would follow and if that is passed then you will have an on-site interview.

  • Job offer acceptance

Before you accept the job offer make sure that this is the best job for you and that it will be beneficial in reaching your finally goal and enhancing your career.

Institutions used to study software engineering in South Africa


The University of the Witwatersrand

The University of Cape Town

North-West University

The University of Johannesburg

The University of Pretoria

The University of Stellenbosch

The Cape Peninsula University of technology


What do Software developers get paid?

Software engineers are in extremely high demand in South Africa with the average salary beginning at around R39 298 – R90 000 per month dependent on the skills and experience that they have.



Job Title Description Degree required
Software Engineer Software engineers work together with stakeholders’ programmers and designers to plan and test function designs. Bachelor’s Degree
Principal Software Engineer These engineers oversee of all the technical details of projects. Their

task is the scaling and maximization of performance.

Bachelor’s Degree +         Software certification

7-10 Years’ Experience

Lead Software

Development Engineer

Lead Software Development Engineer creates software specifically built (custom made) so suit a certain organization’s needs. They usually manage

a team of junior engineers and their main duty is project management and

Network server applications.

Master’s Degree


With the world being so dependent on computers and software development you cannot go wrong in pursuing and achieving your software development dream job, but remember, it will not come easy.  You need to put in the time as well as work hard to achieve your study goals.


“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, a love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pelé,

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