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Navigating the Career Pathway of a Software Engineer: Skills, Experience and Salary Insights

by | Jan 4, 2024

Overview

As Singapore’s tech industry continues to thrive, software engineers stand at its forefront, shaping the very fabric of our digital world. Beyond just lines of codes, their expertise transcends geographical borders and industries, revolutionising the way we think, work, and live. 

In healthcare, software engineers create sophisticated systems that improve patient care, and leverage data analytics to predict and prevent diseases. In financial institutions, they build and maintain secure, efficient platforms that handle transactions worth billions (yes, billions), daily. In education, software engineers create platforms that democratise learning and help to level the playing field by making education more accessible.  

These are just some of the many industries that software engineers have and continue to impact. 

Salary Range

With that said, it’s only human for aspiring engineers to wonder about the trajectory of their careers in this ever-evolving landscape. Understanding the salary range, experience and skill required, as well as job responsibilities across various seniority levels can provide a roadmap for those charting their course in this field. 

As junior software engineers who are just starting out on their tech careers, they can expect to earn between SGD 40,000 to SGD 70,000 per annum. With a few years of experience under their belts, mid-level software engineers command salaries ranging from SGD 70,000 to SGD 120,000 annually. As they progress to hold managerial roles and responsibilities, the annual compensation of senior software engineers then increases to an average of SGD 120,000 to SGD 180,000 yearly. At the pinnacle of the food chain hierarchy, lead engineers and tech leads are paid annual salaries ranging from SGD 180,000 to SGD 300,000 or even more.

Software Engineer

Junior

S$3.4k

S$5.0k

S$7.7k

Mid

S$4.5k

S$6.8k

S$10.5k

Senior

S$5.5k

S$7.7k

S$11.5k

Lead

S$6.5k

S$9.0k

S$15.0k

Source: Nodeflair 

Sounds too good to be true? It’s entirely possible, but only with time, tenacity, and a ton of hard work. Afterall, even Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

Stay with us as we share about the different skills and experience required at each level as a software engineer.

Career Progression: Job Responsibilities, Experience and Skills Required 

1. Junior Engineer (0-2 years)

Responsibilities: Fresh graduates or those looking to transition into a tech role often start here, where they work on grasping the fundamentals, assisting with coding and testing, and exploring team dynamics.

Skills:

  • Programming Proficiency: As a start, junior software engineers are expected to possess a solid grasp of programming languages like Python, Java or JavaScript. Competence and familiarity with these languages forms the foundation for their work. In addition to the programming languages mentioned, consider also picking up other popular programming languages to further enhance your versatility.
  • Understanding of Algorithms and Data Structure: As a software engineer, it is essential to have a strong understanding of basic algorithms and data structures. This will aid in problem-solving and optimising code efficiency.
  • Eagerness to Learn: As the saying goes 活到老学到老 (translation: live till you’re old, learn till you’re old) – as an engineer just starting out, it’s essential that one exhibits a thirst for learning. Junior engineers often encounter new technologies or frameworks, and the ability to quickly grasp and apply new concepts is invaluable.

2. Mid-Level Engineer (2-5 years)

Responsibilities: Having acquired a deeper understanding of the job requirements, engineers at this level start to own specific modules, contribute actively to design discussions, and begin to take on the responsibility of mentoring junior team members.

Skills:

  • Deepened Expertise: Mid-level engineers should have deepened their expertise in specific technologies or domains. As they work on different projects, they acquire a more comprehensive understanding of backend frameworks, databases, or specialised tools relevant to their field.
  • Project Management Skills: As they progress, managing projects becomes crucial. Additionally, they should be able to prioritisie tasks, manage and allocate time effectively, and coordinate to ensure that projects are executed successfully.
  • Mentorship and Collaboration: As they begin to mentor junior team members, engineers at this level need to be effective communicators in order to collaborate across teams and disciplines.

3. Senior Engineer (5+ years)

Responsibilities: Here, senior engineers will be tasked with architecting solutions, leading projects, and calling the shots for important technical decisions.

Skills: 

  • Mastery in Chosen Domain: Having at least 5 years of experience, senior engineers should demonstrate mastery in their domain of choice. They should possess an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of their field and would likely have contributed significantly to various projects, large and small.
  • Leadership Skills: Beyond technical prowess, leadership becomes a core skill for a senior engineer. With that, what better way to lead than through example? For instance, guiding their teams through technical challenges, fostering innovation, and maintaining high standards of quality.
  • Strategic Thinking and Problem Solving: Here, possessing strong problem-solving abilities is crucial. Senior engineers should also excel in strategic thinking, foreseeing potential roadblocks, and coming up with solutions.

4. Lead Equivalent Engineer (10+ years)

Responsibilities: Having reached the pinnacle of the hierarchy, lead engineers will continue to drive innovation, providing technical leadership and setting the technological direction of the organisation. 

Skills: 

  • Vast Expertise Across Domains: As lead engineers, they would have amassed extensive expertise across multiple domains. With their experience, they are likely highly proficient in various technologies, architectures, and industries. 
  • Exceptional Leadership: To have earned the role of a lead, these engineers must have demonstrated exceptional leadership that exceeds basic project management. As leads, they set the technical vision for the organisation, aligning it with business objectives, and motivating their teams to work toward this common goal.
  • Innovation and Vision: Lastly, lead engineers should drive continuous innovation, envisioning and implementing cutting-edge solutions that set industry standards.  


The tech industry in Singapore is dynamic and ever-changing, which provides ample opportunities for growth and innovation. As software engineers navigate their career paths, possessing a curious spirit, a strong passion for technology, and remaining adaptable are key drivers of success. Developing the skills above involves a combination of experience, continuous learning, and exposure to a myriad of projects. 

Embracing Learning: Software Engineering Nanodegree at Heicoders Academy

Feeling motivated and prepared to embark on a fulfilling and exciting journey ahead? Heicoders Academy’s SE100: Responsive Web Development is the perfect place to start for aspiring software engineers. In this course, learners will be equipped with a strong foundation in Frontend programming and advanced tech stacks such as react!

Why stop at one certificate when you can get three (and a Nanodegree)? More is more!

After the completion of SE100, learners may go on to pursue a Software Engineering Nanodegree by completing two other courses, SE200: Fullstack Development, and SE300: Architecting Web Applications in the Cloud (coming soon). 

Thankfully for interested learners, all Singaporeans and PRs can enjoy up to 70% subsidy of course fees under the IBF Standards Training Scheme (IBF-STS) for selected courses. Remaining course fees can then be offset either fully or partially with SkillsFuture Credits or UTAP subsidy for NTUC Union members.

Though SE200 is not currently under the IBF-STS subsidies scheme currently, don’t fret! As part of our commitment to ensure that our courses remain affordable to students, we have our very own Heicoders Scholarship, which covers at least 40% of course fees.

Please refer to the tables below for SE100 course fees.

SE100 Course Fees

IBF Subsidy Course Fees after Subsidy (incl. GST)
Singaporeans aged 40 and above 70% $936
Singaporeans below 40 and all PRs 50% $1,416
Non-Singapore Citizens and Non-PRs 40%* $1,656

Further reduce your out-of-pocket costs with:

Heicoders Academy
SkillsFuture Credits can be used to offset course fees for Singapore Citizens aged 25 and above
Heicoders Academy
NTUC Union members can be reimbursed with 50% of unfunded course fees (up to $250 a year) with UTAP
Heicoders Academy
*Heicoders Scholarship available for non-subsidy qualifiers to receive up to 40% course fee support from our Inclusive Education Fund

SE200 and SE300 Course Fees

Heicoders Scholarship Course Fees after Scholarship (incl. GST)
Singaporeans aged 40 and above 50% $1,416
Singaporeans below 40 and all PRs 50% $1,416
Non-Singapore Citizens and Non-PRs 40% $1,656

Further reduce your out-of-pocket costs with:

Heicoders Academy
SkillsFuture Credits can be used to offset course fees for Singapore Citizens aged 25 and above
Heicoders Academy
NTUC Union members can be reimbursed with 50% of unfunded course fees (up to $250 a year) with UTAP
Heicoders Academy
Heicoders Scholarship available for non-subsidy qualifiers to receive up to 40% course fee support from our Inclusive Education Fund

To find out more about the available subsidies, visit our website here, or read our article here.

Upskill Today With Heicoders Academy

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