How to become a Software Developer

Michael Dosunmu

Computers, software, applications, are terms everyone is now familiar with. You must have used at least, one software program today. That is how crucial software development has become in our daily activities. But then, who is a Software Developer and how can you become one?

A Software Developer is an expert who uses computer processes to create those applications we use on our phones, laptops, media boards, and other computerized devices.

Although some other computer experts such as UI Designers and Programmers may be needed to work on some aspects of these applications, a Software Developer is relevant in all the processes involved in creating software packages.

As a Software Developer, you may decide to pay attention to creating applications for a specific sector. This means that your software solutions can specifically be for healthcare, business, education, commerce, automobile, mobile devices, or for laptops and desktops.

How to become a Software Developer

Classifying Software Developers

There are two basic classifications for Software Developers. While some are described as Applications Software Developers, others are referred to as Systems Software Developers.

Application Software Developers create programs like games for clients. Sometimes, they develop programs based on the client’s specific recommendations, and at other times, they simply create applications that they can sell to interested users. Application Software Developers also create custom made software solutions for companies.

On the other hand, Systems Software Developers are those who design the different functions that help computer systems to work as they should. They design and develop operating systems for gadgets, create systems’ interface as seen in electronic devices, cars, and mobile phones.

Your roles as a Software Developer

Your typical daily activities are determined by the field you work in. But here are some basic duties every Software Developer will carry out.

You will:

  • Determine what the end-users of a software program need, design it, develop, test, and confirm the program eventually meets those needs.
  • Assist in updating and upgrading software applications that are already running.
  • Create different parts of an application and determine how they can function as a whole.
  • Work alongside programmers by drawing diagrams to explain the codes that will be needed to create specific software programs.
  • Record all the processes involved in designing and creating software programs so that you can trace errors and glitches.
  • Carry out maintenance services for software programs.
  • Troubleshoot and find solutions to bugs and unexpected errors.

How to become a Software Developer

An overview of your activities

In a nutshell, you will be responsible for managing all the development processes for any software program you work on. Your first action can be discussing with your clients on their goals for the software and the most important functions they expect it to perform. This is important because some clients may ask for some functions that do not go along with the goals of the software they plan to develop. After this, you will proceed to design the software and advice computer programmer who will write the relevant computer codes for it.

Your next action will be testing the software to check for errors, getting feedback on whether the software is easy to use, and if it functions the exact way it should. If the software has one or some of these challenges, your task will be going back to your design records, identify where you need to fix and make changes.

And after end users begin to use the software, you will be expected to carry out regular maintenance activities and when necessary, upgrade the software to meet new demands.

Being a Software Developer, you will collaborate with computer programmers on many projects. However, some employers seek Software Developers who can write codes as they build software solutions.

How to become a Software Developer

What skills are important for an aspiring Software Developer?

We are already in a digital world and the need for Software Developers will continue to grow as more organizations, governments, and individuals, in general, will need solutions that can be proffered by experts in the field. While this is an indication that the chances of getting employment in the field are high, you should also understand that the field will become more competitive with time. Being competent in certain skills can be the difference between you and others who will be pursuing a career in the field too. Below are some important soft skills to master as a Software Developer.

Analytical Skill: You must be able to break down user’s needs, expectations, and goals into notes, diagrams, and charts which will then serve as your guide towards developing the software they need.

Problem Solving Skill: Bugs, Errors, and other technical problems usually occur during the development process of software programs. Your ability to solve these problems is key to completing projects and meeting the demands of your clients. A Software Developer should have solutions to all software-related problems.

Creativity: Making customers satisfied requires an equal amount of efforts in both functionality and aesthetics (appearance) of software programs. This is why you have to be creative, keeping it in mind that the end-users must have a positive experience while interacting with your outputs.

Communication Skill: This is an aspect you cannot afford to be less proficient in. Effective communication between you, your clients, the end-users, and members of your team, goes a long way in putting everyone on the same page. The communication process in Software Development is an ongoing one. Starting from where you need to understand the needs of your clients, you will have to continue to engage everyone one involved in the project, even after the program has begun to run. With excellent communication skills, you can learn about how to improve the software’s functions and usage.

Interpersonal Skill: The journey towards producing systems or applications software is not a one-man affair. At different stages, you will need to collaborate with others such as programmers, end-users, UI and UX Designers, and so on.

Lastly, paying attention to every detail is important when developing a software program. Since your role extends to every stage of development, you have to be able to spot even the littlest of errors. This is only achievable when you concentrate at all times.

Student writing codes on computer systems

You can also consider becoming a UI/UX Designer

How quick can a Software Developer get a job?

Very quickly, I must say. The stats are clear enough.  In a career where growth projection has been estimated to reach about 21 percent in the next 10 years, one can safely conclude that Software Developers are the new Diamond. Every firm wants to have at least one on their team. Application Software developers appear to be leading the charge though. The estimated growth in the field alone is 30 percent. Use of smartphone applications has increased in recent times and even healthcare firms have begun to rely on software solutions to manage their activities and make their processes smoother. This emerging culture of depending on applications in all sectors implies that the demand for Application Software Developers will continue to grow.

On the other hand, jobs for Systems Software Developers will increase by 11 percent over the next 10 years as well. More tech companies have started producing devices that will use software programs. In the last few years, computer and electronics making companies have increased. System Software Developers are responsible for creating the unique functions and interfaces of these gadgets. Furthermore, Firms are now eager to find lasting solutions to security and privacy protection issues for end-users. As a Systems Software Developer, you will be providing this service.

The growth rate for experts in the two classes is quite high, especially when you understand that the average growth for many careers is between 5 to 8 percent.

programmer reading codes

What Careers are similar to Software Development?

Information and Communications Technology has grown into a field with hundreds, if not thousands of disciplines and specializations. It has arguably been the broadest career path since the turn of the 21st century. And despite the numerous breakthroughs and innovations already achieved with Software Development, many more specializations will emerge within the field. Below are some existing ones.

  • Network Architects: These are computer experts who construct communication systems or networks like Local Area Networks (LAN)  and Wide Area Networks (WAN)  that companies use either for internal communication or communications with customers. Network Architects are also referred to as System Analysts as they also check through a company’s existing communication networks, analyze it and then provide improved networking or communications solutions.
  • Database Administrators: Professionals who help companies to create and manage their database are referred to as Database Administrators.  The Data they manage may include financial records, customer profiles, among other documents that firms intend to secure.
  • Computer Programmers: A Programmer creates the computer codes that make systems and application software function as they should. After a Developer must have created a design for an application, for instance, a programmer will then turn the designs into codes that a computer system will act on. Learn more…
  • Web Developers: Websites, blogs, and online stores are designed and maintained by Web Developers. They create the appearance (interface) and the functionality of web pages. Web Developers are also in charge of upgrading the capacity of these webpages and fixing errors whenever they occur.
  • Information Security Analysts: Preventing or managing cyberattacks is shaping up into a specialization on its own. This is not just because there are specific skills you need in carrying out these activities but also as a result of the increasing number of online business transactions. Companies that transact online need security analysts to help protect their processes.

Places where Software Developers can work

According to the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS),  Software Developers held a total of 944,200 jobs in different sectors as of May 2018. By now, that number must have increased significantly. Sectors that employ Developers include:

Software Publishing, Computer systems design, Finance, Manufacturing, Engineering, and Education.

Your role as a Software Developer may make you stay beyond the usual closing hour of an organization. This is because errors and bugs are unpredictable and since end-users of software programs can use them at different times of the day, fixing such errors may keep you at work for more hours than other regular staff members.

However, some activities do not require your presence. This means that there is an opportunity to work from home too.

Courses you can study to become a Software Developer

A bachelor’s degree in either Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Software Engineering is an ideal foundation for anyone intending to pursue a career in Software Development. But Computer science it most ideal. You get to gain knowledge from a wide range of topics and areas of specialization in ICT.

Nonetheless, you need to pay more attention courses where you learn the basics of building software programs.

Gaining relevant experience in Software Development is also very important as you progress with your Higher Education. To make this happen, enroll for an internship at a Software Development firm where you can see how your theoretical knowledge is applied.

Beyond this, you need to practice on your own. Take up projects that will help you learn new things and improve your outputs.

Software Developers brainstorming

Other areas to work on

Some roles or organizations may have preferences for Developers who have undergone a  Master’s Degree program in the field. However, an MSc degree has the same value as professional courses for some employers. So, if enrolling for a Master’s program will be too demanding for you, you can get relevant professional certifications to keep the balance.

Furthermore, writing codes may not be required every time you need to develop software programs. Yet, you need to have a sound grasp of basic programming. Lessons on how to write codes will be part of the curriculum in your undergraduate studies. Learn, and keep updating your knowledge regularly.

Another area to consider as you grow in your career is getting familiar with practices in the industry you work in. For Instance, you need some form of knowledge in finance when developing software solutions for the banking industry. That way, you can quickly understand the needs of end-users and provide the required solutions.

How much do Software Developers earn?

Professional Software Developers are in high demand in different parts of the world. This is due to the important role they play in businesses. Their earnings rank among the highest paying jobs in the 21st century. See a breakdown of how much you can earn as a Software Developer in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America below.

  • UK: Experienced Developers: £60,000, Entry level Developers: £24,000, Mid-level Developers: £35,633.
  • Canada: Experienced Developers: $96,000, Entry Level Developers: $51,000, Mid-level Developers: $75,000.
  • United States: Experienced Developers: $121,000, Entry Level Developers: $68,000, Mid-level Developers: $91,000.

How to become a Software Developer

Universities you can study Software Development

After considering their research strength, infrastructure, and teaching standards, here are some ideal institutions where you can kick start your career by either studying Computer Science or specializing in Software Development.

Country: United States of America

Country: United Kingdom

Country: Canada

If you need assistance and further counseling on how to apply and gain admission into any of these Higher Institutions, I can help. I am committed to ensuring that you pursue the career you can excel in. Let’s start with getting you a proper academic foundation. You can either send me a mail or use the chat button below the page to reach me.

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