Every week, Zikoko will share the hustle stories of Nigerians making it big in and out of the country. With each story, we’ll ask one crucial question in several ways: “How you do am?”

Chisom’s hustle story triggered our “God, when?” button mercilessly, but it taught us anything is possible with determination and the right dose of knowledge and planning.

If, like us, you’ve ever wondered how to start a career in software engineering, keep reading.

Image shows a male software engineer working on a laptop.
Image source: Pexels

Who’s a software engineer?

Remember how in primary school, our teachers told us computers have hardware and software? If you didn’t waste your parents’ money, you’ll remember that software refers to the programs and operating systems of the computer. 

Remember now?

So, the software engineer is the professional in charge of designing, developing, testing and maintaining software, web and mobile applications, operating systems and everything that powers our modern tech world. You’re reading this article without any hassle because of a software engineer.

But like, is it the same as being a software developer?

There’s a slight difference. While software developers typically design specific applications or computer systems, software engineers work on a larger scale to design, develop and test entire systems — they’re involved in the entire software development life cycle.

Also, software engineers take on more collaborative roles in the workplace, working with a range of developers, engineers and members of the product team. Software developers, on the other hand, work more independently as they typically focus on implementing software solutions according to specifications provided by the software engineer or other stakeholders.

In Nigeria though, some people just use both titles interchangeably (maybe because they think “engineer” presents them as a legit coder?) 

What qualifies you to be a software engineer?

A degree in computer science or engineering should be a great starting point for this career, but we’re in Nigeria. No shade to our educational system, but you probably won’t get the practical skills needed for this career path. Whether you have a computer science degree or not, you’d need to attend coding bootcamps and take the relevant courses to develop programming skills and knowledge.

Some of the programming languages required for software engineering include: Python, JavaScript, PHP, Ruby

, C++ and HTML/CSS. It’s advisable to learn at least three programming languages as the work may require engineers to combine multiple languages.

Software engineers also need good communication skills, creative problem solving skills and an eagerness to grow and learn, because like Chisom’s story shows, these will come in handy as you work on software development projects. You’ll also need to continually practice your programming. Remember what they say about practice making perfect?

Is software engineering difficult?

Unless you were born with code in your brain, software engineering may be a bit difficult to learn, especially if you don’t have a technical background, but like a Nigerian mother would say:

Do the people learning it have two heads?

So, how long does it take to become a software engineer?

This depends a lot on your affinity for the required programming and coding skills, as well as your readiness to practice on as many personal projects as possible. It’s also important to build a network of fellow techies as feedback on your practice projects might just be what you need to become better at your craft.

RELATED: The #NairaLife of the Software Dev That Only Thinks in Dollars

Where can you work?

Of course, tech organisations are the first places on the list. We’re trying to help you secure your tech bag, after all. But software engineers can also work in financial services, media, education, information technology, practically anywhere that requires software solutions to achieve business objectives. You can even decide to be an independent contractor.

How much do software engineers earn in Nigeria?

Depending on your level of experience and the industry, software engineers can earn as much as ₦600k to ₦1.5m per month.

How do you start making the big bucks?

At the risk of sounding like a motivational speaker, the key to earning even more as a software engineer is consistency. Make deliberate effort to grow your skills and you might just be the next person we pull in for a Hustleprint conversation.

NEXT READ: What Does a Career in Data Science Involve? Here’s the Tea



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.