In today’s technological age, nearly all innovation is driven by advances in computer and mobile technology. Consequently, software developers are among the key professionals at the forefront of this growing arena. Software developers design, create, and implement the complex specialized applications the public uses every day. Professionals who have an interest in pursuing this career path will be met with nearly endless possibilities.
Evidence of software developers’ hard work and creativity is everywhere, especially in the widespread use of mobile devices. For example, the Pew Research Center reports that as of February 2019, 52% of Americans owned a tablet computer, and 81% owned smartphones. Tablets and smartphones run numerous applications, all of which are created by software developers.
In addition to phones and computers, the number of products, equipment, and IT platforms that use software of some kind continues to increase rapidly. This is evidenced in a February 2020 study by Statista Research Development, which found that at the end of 2018 there were an estimated 22 billion devices connected to the internet of things (IoT) throughout the world. Forecasts further project that number will rise to 50 billion devices by 2030.
What Does a Software Developer Do?
Software developers are responsible for the development process of software programs, computer and IoT device applications, and the systems that run networks. They are involved in the entire process, from analyzing the needs of users to designing, testing, and developing the programs that will serve those needs.
Software developers frequently work in tandem with computer programmers, giving them instructions and models for creating the code required for an application. In addition, developers supervise the progress of a project to ensure the program or app they’re creating functions correctly throughout testing, maintenance, and future upgrades.
Software Developer Skills
Professionals who are interested in pursuing this career path are likely to have an interest in, and an aptitude for, honing specific computer-related skills. Examples of necessary software developer skills include attention to detail, a deep knowledge of computer science and data analysis, and an aptitude for a variety of programming languages.
- Attention to Detail. Software developers are immersed in detail. Computer programming is one of the central tasks they perform, and accurate computer programming requires concentration and meticulous attention to detail.
- Computer Science Fundamentals. Computer science is the study of computers. Software developers must know the ins and outs of computers, computer applications, how to design hardware and software, how to analyze data, and understand how the algorithmic processes work.
- Data Analysis. Software developers must be able to solve technical problems to meet a variety of client needs. Data analysis is a requisite skill that enables developers to recognize meaningful patterns in data and provide accurate solutions.
Software Developer Job Description
Software developers must have extensive knowledge of computer programming languages and the various stages of the software development cycle. Their primary duties include writing code, testing and modifying software, upgrading interfaces, and adapting software to be compatible with new hardware. The job duties of software developers can vary slightly based on the size of the organization they work for. Other potential responsibilities include:
- Testing and implementing code
- Evaluating new software
- Designing and managing software programs
- Maintaining and upgrading an organization’s network systems
- Working with customers and other departments to resolve technical issues
- Training customers and other departments on the use of new or updated software
- Performing statistical analysis to predict software design consequences
Software Developer Career Path
The software developer career path can be lucrative. For example, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that as of May 2018, the median annual wage for software developers was $103,620. Earners in the highest 10th percentile reported salaries of more than $161,290 per year. The BLS also indicates that employment of software developers is projected to grow by 21% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than growth projections for all other occupations. Employment of professionals who develop applications for internet-connected devices is projected to grow by 26%. Employment of systems developers is projected to grow by 10%. Software developers who wish to pursue other, similar career opportunities may also find employment as software consultants or DevOps engineers.
Professionals who prefer to work for themselves can serve as a software consultant for companies that need assistance implementing or maintaining software programs, technology, and digital or web content. Companies hire consultants to optimize the use of current software or manage digital records, web content, or data. Software consultants usually work with multiple clients and are not on staff at a company. They are sometimes hired on a daily basis to provide troubleshooting and technical support services. Data from PayScale indicates that as of March 2020, the median annual salary for software consultants was $76,074. Earners in the top 10th percentile reported annual earnings in excess of $115,000.
Development Operations (DevOps) Engineer
DevOps engineers act as a bridge between development and operations teams. They must have strong communication skills, as they are responsible for keeping both teams on track to accomplish a common goal. DevOps engineers can begin their careers as software developers, so they are comfortable with technical details. They should be able to code and script, understand automation tools, and demonstrate experience with IT systems and operations. DevOps engineers are business minded and monitor software deployment with the goals of multidisciplinary teams in mind. Data from PayScale indicates that as of March 2020, the median annual salary for DevOps engineers was $93,609. Earners in the top 10th percentile reported earnings of more than $135,000.
How to Become a Software Developer
Most entry-level positions in software development usually require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or another computer-related field. Students who earn a bachelor’s degree in computer programming take classes that are focused on writing code, building software, computer programming, and computer languages.
Most leadership roles require applicants possess a software development master’s degree and extensive experience in the field. The BLS projects that job prospects within this field will be best suited to applicants who possess advanced knowledge and are proficient in one or more programming languages. The coursework offered in a typical software development master’s degree program helps students develop high-level programming skills.
Courses Taught in a Master’s Software Development Curriculum
Students who aspire to attain a leadership position designing and managing groundbreaking projects are likely to benefit from the following courses.
Data Structures. This course expands on fundamental computer programming concepts, taking an in-depth look at how professionals use object-oriented techniques to design and build software. Concepts include project structures, object-oriented modeling, the implementation of data structures, and error resolution.
Web Applications. A course in web applications delves into web languages and professional developer tools, giving students a foundation in both back-end and front-end applications.
Agile Systems Analysis and Design. This course helps students develop skills to work within an agile environment, utilizing agile analysis and design techniques for faster deployment of products while lowering costs and minimizing redevelopment work. Students will benefit from a deep understanding of agile systems that are at the forefront of modern software design.
Applied DevOps. An applied DevOps course covers the software development life cycle. Students gain experience with cloud-based computer networking and system administration. This is a particularly fast-growing field, with an increasing number of desirable job opportunities.
Advanced Topics in Software Development. This course covers the most current trends in software development. Students will have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with specialized and advanced software development technologies such as secure coding, machine learning, mobile application development, Java server development, and NoSQL databases.
Prepare to Advance Your Software Development Career
Software developers who are interested in taking their career to the next level are likely to find that completing an advanced education — such as an online master’s in software development from Maryville University — can provide them with the skills and knowledge to be successful.
In addition to empowering students to learn at their own pace, the comprehensive curriculum is designed to help graduates gain a competitive edge in their industry. Discover how completing an online master’s in software development from Maryville University can help you advance your career.
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Code.org, What is Computer Science and What do People Do Once They Know It?
Forbes, “The Five Most In-Demand Skills for Data Analysis Jobs”
Maryville University: Master’s in Software Development Online
Maryville University: Master’s in Software Development Curriculum
PayScale: Software Consultant Salary
PayScale: DevOps Engineer Salary
Pew Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet
Robert Half, Software Developer Job Description Guide
Statista, Number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices worldwide in 2018, 2025 and 2030
TechRepublic, “10 Critical Skills That Every DevOps Engineer Needs for Success”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Software Developers
World Economic Forum, “Speak Computer? These Programming Languages Are in High Demand”