Software development pays well, the industry is booming, and compared to many other careers, software developers get treated very well. But I think the thing that draws most career-changers to software development, is the search for more rewarding work. Developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or other devices. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. If you don’t know whether you will love this work, try building things with code. Create a simple digital game or develop a small online business, build the website and do all the design and development yourself. Contribute to open source platform and make games. If you enjoy any of these things, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy working as a software developer.
Software developers are in high demand right now. They’re employed in a range of industries, including computer systems design, electronic product manufacturing and finance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 17 percent employment growth for software developers between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average for all occupations. In that period, an estimated 140,275 jobs will open up.
What Software Developers do
Developers design, build and test computer systems that help organizations and equipment to work more effectively. Examples of work include information databases, programs that control robotic systems, and cloud and mobile applications.
Software developers, also known as programmers, design and build computer programs that help organizations, equipment, and machines to work more effectively.
As a software developer, you can work on a wide variety of projects from financial or information databases to manufacturing robotics, and on embedded software found in consumer electronics, like that found in home entertainment systems and mobile applications.
Depending on the job, you may typically:
- discuss requirements with the client, business analysts and the development team
- contribute to technical design and progress meetings
- write new program code or modify existing ‘off-the-shelf’ software packages
- test installation, security and compatibility issues
- keep accurate records of the development process, changes and results
- review test results and fix technical problems (known as bugs)
- install a full version of the software and carry out quality checks before going ‘live’
- maintain and support systems once they are up and running
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||17%*|
|Average Annual Salary (2015)||$100,690*|
Education and Training
Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A degree in mathematics is also acceptable. Computer science degree programs are the most common because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software in order to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. For some positions, employers may prefer a master’s degree.
Although writing code is not their first priority, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.
Software developers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.
Have a look at Natasha Postolovski’s “The Career Changer’s Guide to Becoming a Software Developer.”
Where to find Jobs?