Career Development

Software Developer Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Interested in being a software developer? Learn what a software developer does, what skills make them qualified, and how to become one.

A software developer is a person who writes computer software. Software developers often specialize in a particular programming language, or in one aspect of computer programming, such as networking, databases, operating systems, or user interface design.

A developer may be employed by a software company or may work as an independent contractor. A developer is typically a highly skilled computer programmer, although some developers may have other skills, such as project management or systems analysis.

Software Developer Job Duties

Software developers are responsible for a wide range of duties:

  • Reviewing project requirements and determining solutions to meet those needs
  • Interfacing with clients or end users to determine specifications and functionality of a product or service, as needed
  • Writing, debugging, testing, and documenting code as part of the software development process
  • Documenting development plans and work performed as required by internal policies and procedures
  • Estimating time and resources necessary to complete projects based on project scope defined in a project plan or statement of work
  • Coordinating project activities with other team members within the organization, as well as vendors providing services to the organization
  • Providing technical support for customers who have questions or need help using the software.

The work of a developer can vary greatly depending on what type of company they work for.

Software Developer Salary & Outlook

As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that the median annual wage for software developers is $110,140. The lowest 10% earned less than $65,210, and the highest 10% earned more than $170,100.

The amount of software development jobs is expected to increase by 22% between 2019-2029. Demand will be driven by an increase in the number of software applications, the increasing use of software in consumer electronics, and the increasing use of software in healthcare.

Software Developer Job Requirements

Becoming a successful software developer involves certain requirements, including:

Education

Many employers require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a similar field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree. Relevant coursework includes data structures, computer languages, operating systems, computer hardware, computer networks, database management, and web design.

Some colleges offer two-year associate degree programs in computer science. These programs provide a good foundation for aspiring developers.

Training

Many software developers receive on-the-job training once they begin their positions. This training allows a software developer to learn the company’s processes, workflows, and technology systems. The trainee also learns how to apply their knowledge of computer programs to real-world projects. On-the-job training is usually part of a software developer’s onboarding process with a company.

Certifications

There are several organizations that offer certifications to individuals interested in specific programming languages and technologies. These include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society, Microsoft Corporation, Oracle Corporation, and Sun Microsystems.

Software Developer Skills

In addition to education and experience, software developers need a variety of other skills to succeed:

Strong analytical skills: Software developers must be able to think logically and analytically.

Skill in a programming language: A successful candidate will have a solid grasp of the basics of programming languages such as C++, Java, or Python.

Skill in database management: Database management is crucial for any software developer. This includes the ability to use tools like SQL (Structured Query Language) and Oracle.

Computer security knowledge: Software developers need to know how to secure their programs from hackers.

Time management skills: Software development projects often are under tight deadlines, so the ability to manage time effectively is crucial for success in this role.

Software Developer Work Environment

Software developers work in a variety of settings and have a variety of schedules. In some cases, they may work from home, which is becoming more common as more employers allow telecommuting. In other cases, they may work from an office, which is usually a large room with rows of cubicles where they can be more productive.

The work environment of a software developer is usually a quiet, calm space. Developers work alone in a cubicle with a computer. They generally work during traditional business hours. In some cases, developers may need to work late at night or early in the morning in order to get a project done or provide support in emergency situations.

Because of the work’s deadline-driven nature and time spent working with a computer, eye strain and fatigue can be a problem. They may also be vulnerable to repetitive stress injuries and need to take frequent breaks to rest their eyes and hands.

Software Developer Career Advancement

The software development field is ever-expanding and growing in popularity. From startups to established companies, everyone in the business is in need of innovative and creative thinkers who can develop solutions to everyday problems.

Once you have several years of experience as a software developer, you may want to consider advancing to a senior or lead position. This will allow you to manage a team of developers and oversee all aspects of your group’s work. You’ll set goals and establish quotas for completing tasks and determining when they’re ready to be moved to QA.

You might also advance to a director role within the company and help shape and refine the organization’s overall strategy and roadmap. Either way, you’ll be responsible for keeping your product relevant and high quality while keeping costs low.

Software Developer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how software developers work. Software developers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Software Quality and Reliability

As more and more data is collected and processed by software developers, there is a growing need for them to ensure that their products are highly reliable.

This will likely lead to a greater emphasis on hiring people with an aptitude for ensuring high quality and reliability within products. This trend is also likely to encourage engineers to develop expertise in testing software programs before they are put into use by clients or consumers.

Emphasis on Ethics

The development of AI and algorithms in software design has led to a greater emphasis on ethics and the need for developers to think about the potential consequences of their work.

A number of high-profile incidents have already occurred in which systems were designed without taking into account certain ethical considerations. These sorts of occurrences are likely to become more common as AI technology advances, which means that developers will need to carefully consider how they build their algorithms so that they can ensure a system’s output is safe and ethical.

Greater Need for Continuous Learning

In order to stay competitive in the field of software development, developers will need to continually hone their skills and learn new programming languages and coding techniques.

This can be a challenge because new technologies are released so frequently that it is difficult for professionals to keep up with everything that is available. However, a number of educational organizations have responded by creating a number of different learning opportunities for developers—such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) and free training videos on YouTube—to help them keep pace with this rapidly changing industry.

How to Become a Software Developer

1. Planning Your Career Path

Becoming a software developer can be a rewarding and lucrative career choice, but it requires a substantial investment of time and energy. While certain programming languages, such as Python, can be learned relatively quickly, other languages take years to master.

If you want to become a software developer, make sure that you have the necessary skills and time to study the appropriate languages. Keep in mind that software development jobs require both theoretical knowledge and practical experience, so plan to spend a lot of time reading about programming languages and computer science topics as well as applying what you learn in practice.

2. Writing a Resume

The most effective resumes for software developers focus on their ability to solve problems and implement solutions. To do this, you’ll need to provide detailed descriptions of your past work, emphasizing how you approached problems and the results you achieved. For example, if you developed a program that improved the workflow of a team, be sure to include the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

3. Applying for Jobs

There are many different routes you can take to find a job as a software developer. You can look for jobs on Monster, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. If you have a strong portfolio, you can post it on Github. In addition, it’s a good idea to get involved in open source projects and start your own side projects. These activities will help you to hone your skills and develop a network of people who will be able to provide feedback and help you get a job.

4. Ace the Interview

The most important thing when going into an interview as a software developer candidate is to have an understanding of the technical questions you will be asked. This can be done by practicing technical questions and taking practice tests. It is also important to know about the company’s history, its products, and what they are looking for in this position. You will want to have good communication skills, which means being able to clearly communicate your ideas both verbally and in writing.

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