What is a software engineer?
A software engineer is a multi-disciplined person who is capable of designing, developing, maintaining, updating, testing, and evaluating software systems and processes. You may work on services used directly by millions of citizens or APIs used by vehicle retailers and the emergency services. You may be involved in writing computer programmes from scratch or amending existing “off-the-shelf” programmes to meet the needs of a project.
What does a software engineer do in the DVLA?
At the DVLA, a software engineer can be working on a wide range of topics, using many varied tools and technologies. At all levels, you will be creating, updating, and maintaining code which forms part of the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure as well as ensuring the systems you maintain are well tested, performant and secure.
You may also be tasked with designing and developing new systems and processes in close collaboration with system architects, service designers and many other areas of the business. Software engineers are often in control of the strategic direction of the organisation from a technical perspective and have an input into what tools and technologies are used across the wider group.
Software engineers frequently work across many projects and technologies, from Java, Ruby, NodeJS, etc, as well as using cloud services like AWS and Azure as well as modern CI/CD and dev-ops tooling.
What is a squad?
A squad is a collection of people from across multiple areas of the business combined to form a multi-disciplined team. Each squad is typically comprised of several software engineers, an SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test), an ADM (Agile Delivery Manager) and possibly some QE staff. The squad is relatively autonomous, allowing freedom in the way they approach problems and business tasks, using any of the approved technologies or solutions within DVLA, or creating their own solution design for review across the wider group. Each squad will have an associated name e.g. “Flying Squad”, “Vulcan squad” or some of the more comedic names, such as “The muppets”.
What Qualifications and skills do I need?
You don’t have to complete formal qualifications at degree level to become a software engineer and many are self-taught! Most importantly is to have problem solving skills and to enjoy coding. There are many places for beginners to such as https://developer.mozilla.org/ where you can learn CSS+HTML for web development. The DVLA provides access to Pluralsight, A Cloud Guru and Udemy, where courses can be taken for free.
DDat Skills Snapshot
The table below shows the skills required at each level:
How can I become a software engineer?
There are more formal, academic courses emerging, but it is a fast paced, evolving sector. If you have a mathematical aptitude, problem solving skills and an attention to detail – you’re part way there! If you don’t have an IT related degree you may still be able to access a graduate trainee programme or a degree apprenticeship. In the DVLA the CoDE programme recruits Software Engineers giving them an opportunity to develop the practical skills and knowledge to perform.