A lead software development engineer (SDE) plays a very important role for a large number of businesses and corporations due to the reliance on computers and technology of this modern age. The qualifications required involve a number of high-level technical skills as well as important character traits associated with being an effective leader. An advanced knowledge of computer programming and familiarity with a multitude of the most widely used computer languages is required. The types of companies that hire for a lead SDE vary in services, product, design and use of the software, so adaptability and flexibility as to the functionality required in the software is a highly useful skill to have.
The range of expectations a lead software development engineer is very broad, not only between the different companies a lead SDE might work for over his or her career, but also within just one particular organization. A lead SDE can find himself or herself testing website functionality, debugging programs, network accessibility or security threats, designing new software, modifying existing software, and testing the practicality of and efficiency of new software or hardware designs.
As mentioned, a high level of knowledge and experience in programming a multitude of different languages is also necessary to become a lead SDE. This includes, but is not limited to, advanced knowledge of HTML, C++, Java, Shockwave, and other common programming languages and software used in programming. Companies that require advanced computer graphics or animation will require knowledge of PhotoShop, CorelDRAW, Python 3D and other common programs used to create sophisticated graphics for games and applications. Familiarity with various operating systems is often required, as well. A lead SDE should be experienced and comfortable working with the latest Microsoft Windows, Mac and Linux-based operating systems.
A lead SDE could find himself or herself employed at any number of different companies. While there are certainly a high number of jobs for lead SDEs in companies that produce games and software for computers, gaming devices and mobile devices, other industries regularly employ SDE teams, as well. Any company that is using technology to improve its operations is likely to have SDEs employed. Medical research facilities, financial institutions, and manufacturers and distributors wishing to improve their products and services all have a need for modified or new software to help make their businesses successful. It's a wide open field with a range of possibilities for anyone who has the skills to fit the role.
A degree in some computer software-related field is definitely helpful, but not always required. Paid job experience in computer programming and engineering is given high regard, and typically a person needs to have 10 years or more employment experience in computer programming in order to be considered a viable candidate for the job of a lead SDE.
Beyond education and employment experience, a lead SDE should have leadership and communication skills that are effective. The ability to relate information and delegate responsibility and follow up on many different people working on a particular task or goal is a must. The ability to multitask is imperative. Also, a certain amount of flexibility is required as far as working hours go. Normal business hours will be in effect most of the time, but a lead SDE is required to be available at all hours should an emergency or breakthrough require his or her presence either remotely or on site. It's a job that requires a high level of discipline and, oftentimes, a high level of stress tolerance.
Lead Software Development Engineer (SDE) Tasks
- Write, modify, and debug software for web sites.
- Test and document software for client applications.
- Use source debuggers and visual development environments.
- Test and document software for web sites.
- Work with with designers and content producers.
- Write code to generate web pages, access databases and business logic servers.
- Use source debuggers, program dumps, and performance monitoring tools.
- Write code to create multi-threaded, networked server applications.
- Write, modify, and debug software for server applications.
- Write code to create single-threaded or user interface event driven applications, either stand-alone and those which access servers or services.
- Write, modify, and debug software for client applications.
- Test and document software for server applications.