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How to Become an Applications Software Developer

From laptops to tablets and smartphones, the world runs on software applications. The global population increasingly leans on this kind of technology for their day-to-day activities. You might use a digital calendar to organize your day, an app on your smartphone to pay bills, or a game installed on your desktop to relax in the evening. In the professional world, software allows companies to collect data, forecast outcomes, remain secure, and disseminate information. Applications software developers create and test programs that shape modern life.

The path to becoming an applications software developer typically requires strong analytical thinking skills, experience in a variety of programming languages, an understanding of the needs of the market, and the ability to work as a part of a larger team to meet challenges as they arise. With these skills and experiences, there are many possibilities for software developers to secure interesting and lucrative work in a variety of industries.

An applications software developer works at a monitor displaying his code.

What Does an Applications Software Developer Do?

Applications software developers assess the needs of their clients and the public. They then translate a concept into workable programming code that can be used through an accessible interface. Software developers are the creative, technologically proficient architects behind the programs so many people interact with on a wide range of devices. While this is what applications software developers do in a broad sense, there is ample room for variety and specialization in the field.

Most applications software developers tend to focus on creating software to meet the needs of consumers, though they might also work with businesses or other organizations to meet internal needs. Wherever they apply their skills, they typically create applications that address specific problems. For many, this involves developing, testing, and refining applications for computers, tablets, and mobile devices.

Duties of applications software developers vary, but what an applications software developer does primarily includes four elements:

  • Identify the Needs of the Public or Client. The first step in all software design is to identify how to meet a specific need of the team, project, or client. An applications software developer identifies a problem and then brainstorms creative ways in which an application might offer a solution. This design phase of software development often requires a collaborative spirit, the ability to clearly communicate with others, and an understanding of the design patterns that will shape the rest of the process.
  • Apply Coding Languages in Creative Ways. Applications software designers have intricate knowledge of coding languages, and they must select the right fits for the project and apply them effectively. Developers not only have technical ability, they also possess a great deal of creative vision. Applications software developers need to rise to distinct design challenges and imagine the ways in which users will interact with the software, mitigating problems before they arise. They also frequently collaborate with graphic designers, writers, and other creatives to engineer the best possible user experience. In addition, they craft automated tests to determine the viability of the project.
  • Monitor and Evolve the Application. After applications software designers and their team have created a new application and begun distributing it, they must then monitor its success and make changes as necessary. When problems arise, it is often the responsibility of an individual in this position to find the problem quickly and promptly resolve it so users have a seamless experience. This may lead the applications software developer to design comprehensive updates to the application. As they monitor the system as a whole, they can resolve many complications before they arise.
  • Work with a Team to Ensure the Quality of the Software. Collaboration is key in the field of software design. Applications software designers are always in conversation with others, constantly examining the way their technology works in the world. Design concepts often arise out of such collaborations, and the realization of new software is made possible through teamwork. What an applications software designer does might involve overseeing the operation: that oversight relies on incorporating vital perspectives and know-how of their clients, graphic designers, and other programmers to optimize the application. Together, the team ensures that their software will provide a quality experience.

Steps to Become an Applications Software Developer

The steps to become an applications software developer may look different from person to person, but education and experience remain common threads. A great deal of expertise and a demonstrable ability to apply their skills in meaningful ways can help aspiring developers find success.

Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a Related Field

A bachelor’s degree in computer science or management information systems the foundation for what applications software developers do in their day-to-day work. Formal study provides aspiring software developers with the foundational knowledge they need to understand software architecture and design. Through a variety of coursework focused on programming languages, mathematical skills, user experience, and more, students will receive hands-on, practical experience in software development that can then be applied to future study and practice.

Step Two: Gain Experience Programming

Practical experience in programming is just as important as classroom study. While the work of an applications software developer isn’t solely focused on coding, it does require a strong knowledge of how code works in a practical sense. Most software developers discover their personal style, strong suits, and unique workflow by practicing programming as much as possible — often contributing to open source projects and other work.

Step Three: Continue Education and Expand Expertise

The broader field of software development, and applications software development in particular, is constantly changing. For this reason, it is important for professionals to continually explore new developments, languages, and standards. Software developers must strive to understand changes in the field and incorporate them into their repertoire. While it is possible for applications software developers to find employment with bachelor’s degrees, some developers find it useful to earn an online master’s degree in software development or a related course of study to increase their earning potential or opportunities for advancement. Quartz reports that software engineers with a master’s degree can earn starting salaries as much as $17,000 higher than their counterparts with a bachelor’s degree.

Applications Software Developer Salaries

The IT field as a whole is growing in the United States. Many large businesses use increasingly complicated technology and offer software developers competitive salaries for their ability to navigate complex technological systems. There is a high demand for such expertise, and in 2018, the top paid 25% of software developers earned as much as $128,960.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the median applications software developer salary is $101,790 annually. While this field is generally lucrative, it is important to note that to achieve such a high pay grade, it is often necessary to have years of experience, and even an advanced degree in the field.

Future Growth of Applications Software Development

Software specialists are highly sought after in today’s economy. As competition increases, this computer science niche is set to continue its growth. In fact, the BLS estimates that jobs in the field will grow by as much as 24% from 2016 to 2026. As most industries move their operations to digital spheres and integrate more custom technology solutions, it is likely that applications software developers will continue to be in high demand.

Developers of this kind are employed in a variety of industries, from manufacturing and finance to healthcare and gaming, and many others. The wide range of areas in which these skills can be applied means that applications software developers may have the opportunity to choose to work in fields that are of personal interest and grow with their profession.

Explore Opportunities in Software Development

Due to the high demand for applications software developers in the U.S. today and the variety of industries seeking to hire them, there has never been a better time to explore the field through advanced study. Maryville University’s online master’s degree in software development has the potential to springboard aspiring developers into a highly satisfying software development job. Find out more about the program, the skills you can learn, and how you can apply them in a potential career.

 

Sources: 

App Developer Magazine, “DevOps Salary Report for 2019”

Maryville University, Masters in Software Development Online 

Maryville University, Software Development Careers

Quartz, “Why all programmers should earn their master’s”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Software Developers

U.S. News & World Report, Software Developer Salary