Today’s digital landscape has opened up doors to a vast section of tech careers, especially in the field of Software Engineering. Giants like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google (FAANG), along with newly formed tech companies, are always on the lookout for an expert Software Engineer to tackle real-world problems. In order to get these jobs, you will need to know what they require for requisites from perspectives candidates.
By the time you’ve finished reading this article, not only will you know about the various degrees and education required to become a Software Engineer at FAANG companies. Additionally, you will also know what skills you should look to acquire, and some roles and responsibilities that you’ll be fulfilling as a Software Engineer in any prominent tech company.
FAANG Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities
Software Engineers are responsible for taking care of the entire Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC). This includes roles like:
- Working with analysts, programmers, engineers, and other departments to gather information on project capabilities, requirements, limitations, etc., to design relevant systems.
- Improving existing software wherever needed - this could include adding new features to a software, running the software through quality control (QC) for performance issues and fixing them, or adding any other value to an already existing software.
- Analyzing user requirements and managing feasibility to provide the best possible output in your solution.
- Meeting with customers, other teams, stakeholders, to discuss software requirements, design systems, maintenance issues, and any such discussions.
- Analyzing different sorts of information, recommending the plan of action based on it, and providing actionable insights to all the stakeholders in the software.
- Supervising and mentoring the team of programmers and technicians wherever needed to help with the software development process.
- Evaluating information such as costs, user experience, business goals, team strengths to determine project feasibility.
- Managing databases for storing, retrieving, and manipulating data. Analyzing system requirements and capabilities.
Education Required for Becoming a Software Engineer at FAANG Companies
Let’s look at some ways of getting relevant education for becoming eligible for Software Engineering jobs at FAANG companies. Here, we’ll talk about both formal education as well as practical education, which can be gained only through internships, working on projects, or doing entry-level jobs.
#1. Start By Getting a Relevant Formal Education
Getting a formal education should be your first step toward becoming a Software Engineer at FAANG companies. The idea is to make your way up to the entry-level positions -you can either choose traditional, formal training programs or look at non-traditional training programs that help you set your foundation. Degrees like a Bachelor’s in Computer Science, Bachelor’s in Engineering, Bachelor’s in Computer Application, and Bachelor’s in Information Technology are good options. A Diploma in Computer Applications or Diploma in Computer Science are also relevant and would help you develop a solid foundation.
That being said, here are some specializations you can look at while taking any of the degree or diploma courses.
- Software Engineering
- Mobile Application Development
- Full Stack Development
- Computer Networks
- Design and Analysis of Algorithms
- Software Testing
- Programming Skills - mastering languages such as C++, Java, Python, Ruby, and more.
Many times, the educational path actually begins in high school - that’s generally considered the best time to begin developing these skills. However, it’s never too late, and the sooner you start, the better it’ll be for you.
The relevant education to help you qualify for entry-level jobs in Software Engineering shouldn’t be more than 4 years full-time. Courses like B.Tech are 4-year long, while B.Sc. or BCA are 3-year each.
#2. Get Hands-on Exposure at an Internship
Now that you have an idea of your field of interest under Software Engineering, you need to look for internship programs that will help you work in real-world situations. The education you will get from your internship will solidify your classroom learning - you understand things much better if you see them in action!
Internships usually last from 3-6 months and give you the opportunity to work on specific field-related projects. You can look for internships in the area of your interest, or look for general Software Engineer internships. You can also take up a major after you complete your internship, and some students - especially those who either want to pursue research or are looking to get into Senior Software Engineer positions - take this route. We’ll talk more about higher education for Software Engineering jobs at FAANG later in the article.
However, if you wish to start your journey at entry-level positions and growing in experience and expertise to climb up the ladder, you should look for jobs directly after your internship.
#3. Work in Entry-level Jobs to Educate Yourself About the Software Engineering World
Once you’ve done your internship, and if you want to continue working in the field of Software Engineering, you should start looking for entry-level jobs. Working in entry-level jobs lets you witness the entire process of Software Engineering up close. You could’ve worked on one specific component of software during an internship, but in entry-level jobs, you get to work on the entire lifecycle.
You may aspire to start your professional journey from FAANG companies, and it’s okay to give it a shot, but don’t be disheartened if you don’t make it. There are many tech companies that are doing phenomenally well and are in need of good Software Engineers for different tasks. You can begin your journey there, and as you gather experience and expertise (and contacts), you’ll soon find yourself in a FAANG company. Startups generally hire (and prefer) students straight out of college or internships.
Make sure to have a relevant resume and a cover letter for your entry-level job in Software Engineering. Since you don’t have any relevant experience yet, highlight your academic achievements in your CV, or talk about your projects or internships.
#4. Get Certified or Participate in Coding Bootcamps
It’s generally a good idea to take up certification courses or participate in coding bootcamps. It can be done at any stage of your career - but it’s recommended you participate in such activities either during college or during your entry-level job.
A certification, coupled with your current job experience, will give you the boost you need to reach larger, more prominent tech organizations - which is the first step to reaching FAANG companies. Combining your formal education with work experience, and then adding a mix of certifications, will place you ahead of your competitors in your race to a high-paying Software Engineering job!
Organizations like Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft, IEEE, and many more provide certifications for different specializations of Software Engineering. Obtain any of these professional certificates, and you’ll open doors to many more Software Engineering opportunities.
Degrees That Help You Become a Software Engineer at FAANG Companies
There are two ways to work as a Software Engineer at FAANG companies. One is starting from entry-level jobs, gaining experience, and building your way to the top; this is while changing jobs, learning new things, getting certified, and more. The other, on the other hand, is the more academic way. As we discussed earlier, one of the bachelor-level degrees or diplomas would be good for starting your formal journey in the world of Software Engineering.
Once you’ve completed your degree, you can go for a specialized Master’s program and focus on growing your specific skill set under Software Engineering. From there, you can do a postgraduate, Ph.D. program, if you want to work as a researcher in one of the FAANG companies.
Let’s look at these options in more detail, along with the various specializations you can take at each stage.
The following bachelor-level degrees are good to help you find entry-level jobs in Software Engineering. Thenyou can jump to better positions and be closer to reaching FAANG companies:
- Bachelor’s in Computer Science
- Bachelor’s in Information Technology
- Bachelor’s in Software Engineering
While majoring in any of these degrees, your focus should be developing a specific skill that you’d want to pursue in your professional life. At the bachelor-level, having a specialization means working on any project in that area. So, focus on creating a project, or getting an internship in your area of interest. This could include the following specializations.
- Software Engineering and Development: If you want to work as a core Software Engineer, you can choose to specialize in Software Development or Software Engineering. You can work on various projects to sharpen your skills, and pursue relevant certifications as well.
- Design and Analysis of Algorithms: If you’re more of a puzzle solver, you might want to specialize in the Design and Analysis of Algorithms. The idea of this specialization is to help you understand how algorithms work, what good algorithms are, and what you can do to optimize various algorithms. FAANG, and generally tech companies, often work on optimizing algorithms for faster and better results; this specialization could help you work in that direction.
- Computer Networking: Computer Network specialists work on optimizing the workflow in case of many interconnected computers and look for ways of minimizing any loss because of network reasons. To specialize in this, you can look for various certifications offered by Cisco and other companies.
- Application Development: Application development goes beyond just website development and includes Android, iOS, and other application development. If you want to specialize in Application Development, you need to know the basics of Software Development and have a good command over some of the following programming languages: C++, Java, Python, Ruby, React Native, etc. The idea of knowing these languages shouldn’t be that you can program in these, but that you can use your programming skills to solve real-world problems or create user-centric products.
Once you’ve completed your bachelor’s, you can look for some master-level programs. These could include degrees like:
- Master of Science (MS) in Computer Science
- Master of Engineering (ME) in Computer Science
- Master of Engineering (ME) in Information Technology
While pursuing your master’s course, you’ll get ample opportunities to choose various specializations and look into deeper aspects of Software Engineering. These specializations will be more oriented to how things work and less towards how to make things work (which was the case with Bachelor's specializations).
Here are some specializations:
- Mathematical Modeling: A specialization in Mathematical Modelling will place you in a good position for jobs at FAANG companies, especially at Senior Software Engineer positions (if you have relevant experience). Mathematical Modelling focuses on describing software and systems in terms of mathematical language and concepts.
- Software Designing: A Software Designing specialization will introduce you to the world of various nitty-gritty that goes into designing various screens of any software. You’ll learn about various design practices, statistical methods of finding which design works, and how to go about solving various design problems. This will help you in finding jobs such as Software Design Consultant, or Software Design Researcher, or more.
- Software Testing; Software Testing is an important specialization from any organization’s perspective. After all, it’s the testing team that stops any bugs from passing through; they’re the ones who know most of the vulnerabilities in the software. As a result, this specialization is good if you want to work in QC or Testing teams of various tech organizations.
- Software System Architecture: Software System Architecture is the studying and creation of various structures of a software system, and looks for ways to optimize that architecture. Again, this specialization will help you land jobs like Software Architect, Systems Architect, and more.
While a master-level degree is better than good to get you a job in any of the best tech companies, if you’re a curious soul and want to study further, a Ph.D. is a good option for you. After Ph.D., you may find yourself working in the field of academia as a researcher. If you want to work for tech companies, you’ll find interesting and high paying jobs likea Software Engineering Researcher, UI/UX Researcher, Software Engineer Team Lead, and more.
Here are some specializations that you can look at for your Ph.D.:
(Note: when it comes to a Ph.D., the options are unlimited - and if you’re going ahead with a Ph.D., you probably know what you want to specialize in. This list is just to give you an idea of the kind of topics one can specialize with a Ph.D.)
- Economics of Software Engineering: Explore the financial world of Software Engineering by taking up this specialization. You’ll learn about all the different financial elements that go into the development of any software - from human resources to any outside tools. You’ll be researching ways of minimizing software development costs without compromising on quality or efficiency.
- Software Engineering for the Internet: Here, you’ll closely look at the changing landscape of the internet, and try to understand and visualize the various Software Engineering trends that have come and gone so far. You will also try to make predictions from those trends for the future. In doing so, you’ll be helping organizations plan ahead.
- Experimentation in Software Engineering: This specialization will involve you working on various statistical tools and techniques, performing experiments and user surveys, to figure out what works best and what doesn’t. You’ll get to experience the world of Experimentation in Software Engineering by taking up this degree.
- Software User Experience and Interaction: This specialization will teach you how to generate user empathy in a way that you can feel their pulse when it comes to the use of any software. You’ll be understanding public opinions and emotions, looking at various UI and UX practices and strategies, and finding ways to improve them in a way that suits the end-users.
Becoming a Software Engineer Without a Computers Degree
So far, we’ve talked about how to become a Software Engineer by either starting with entry-level jobs and going up from there, or taking the academic route and reaching the top of the ladder.
In both cases, the first step is to pursue a Computers-related degree. However, that shouldn’t dishearten you if you’re not a Computer student but still want to build your career in Software Engineering at FAANG companies.
Focus on the following few things to become a Software Engineer without a computers degree:
- Focus on at least two programming languages - build something using those languages.
- Earn a certification to complement your skills
- Read up and learn as much as you can about software development, software testing, software development lifecycle, etc.
- Talk to Software Engineers, get to know the tools they use, and try to familiarize yourself with the same.
- Read up on codes written by other software engineers, try to debug other people’s codes, and try to look for improvements and modifications in any piece of code you find.
- Be an active part of software developer communities. This could be online or offline; just be in touch with like-minded people.
- Work on actual, real-world projects along with whichever language or tool you learn. That’ll solidify your learning and will give you something to take forward!
We hope we were able to clarify your questions around which degrees do you need for becoming a software engineer at FAANG companies. If we missed something, let us know in the comments below!
If you have some queries - let us know, and we’ll get back to you!