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Software Developer Career Guide

How to Become a Software Developer

Whether users are watching a movie, filing online taxes, shopping, or playing a digital game, software makes it all possible. Since computer procedures can help complete just about any task, software programs are increasingly commonplace in modern society, making possible a range of innovations from ATMs to cruise control in most cars.

As the creative source behind any successful piece of software, software developers regularly wield technical skills to create software according to a company’s preferences. They help to build programs useful for employees completing job tasks, students fulfilling homework assignments, and consumers seeking passive entertainment.

Any individual with a technical skillset and a passion for creating useful, code-based tools should seek out a career as a software developer.

A middle-aged man works on a laptop in a cluttered backroom.

What Is a Software Developer?

Software developers create programs useful in corporate and residential settings. They are also responsible for the maintenance and optimization that keeps a software program up-to-date as time passes. They are responsible for many facets of the software system, from initial ideas to fixes after a piece of software is launched. They are responsible for making sure every element of a software system is designed properly and working effectively.

What Does a Software Developer Do?

Software developers fulfill a variety of job duties. Often independent from the code-heavy responsibilities of a programmer, software developers are typically involved in nearly all stages of a program’s lifecycle. The exact responsibilities of a software developer can include:

  • Developing software programs for specific private and corporate applications.
  • Testing programs during the creation process.
  • Updating software programs to ensure their continued usefulness.
  • Optimizing software features in light of any industry changes.
  • Troubleshooting software bugs or issues when they arise.
  • Communicating with fellow team members and executives regarding software creation timeline updates, specific program features, and any other needs.
  • Documenting the software creation process, to expedite any related software program updates or the creation of similar programs in the future.
  • Maintaining sufficient program quality during software creation, testing, and launch stages.

These and other responsibilities define the day-to-day habits of a software developer, as they work to create useful programs for deployment online and on user devices.

What Education Does a Software Developer Need?

Software developers fulfill highly specialized software design career options, requiring sufficient schooling to fully understand all necessary aspects of development. Education for potential software developers often begins with a bachelor’s degree in software development or a related field, where students establish a solid foundation in required computer programming and web development fields. In this degree program you will learn Java, C++, web development, UX and UI, technical writing, and data management skills. All of these courses are vital in helping you get the credentials and knowledge you will need for software development.

Where Do Software Developers Work?

Software developers often work onsite at an employer’s place of business. Given how regularly a software developer may work with a company’s IT department, developers often maintain proximity to other individuals in an office-based setting.

Alternatively, some software developers will be contracted to clients individually — or as part of a development team — from a software development firm. Software developers employed by development firms will often work alongside other developers, typically collaborating on larger projects for clients.

Other developers with the necessary tools can fully perform all necessary job responsibilities in a remote environment.

Software developers are hired by a wide range of companies, because of their capacity to create useful, secure platforms that immediately satisfy customer needs. These employers can include financial institutions, schools and universities, government businesses, and entertainment firms.

Best Bachelor's Degrees for Software Developers:

Software Development – B.S.

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the...

You're a creative and tech genius who wants the bigger opportunities.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,920 per 6-month term.
  • Certifications: several CIW and CompTIA included in this program.

Certified Internet Web certification included:

  • CIW User Interface Designer

CompTIA certifications included:

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Project +

Software development is the second-highest rated specialty within IT. Secure your future with a degree and additional certifications.

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Top Certifications for Software Developers

Top industry certifications along with a degree are often required by employers of software developers. That is why WGU offers valuable certifications with degree programs, at no extra cost. Learn more about certifications and how they add value to your résumé.

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What Skills Does a Software Developer Need?

Software developers regularly use a defined skill set, to create technical assets for use during the creation, testing, and launch phases of software development. These individual skills can include:

  • Programming language proficiency: The ability to understand and use common programming languages like C++, Java, and HTML.
  • Interpersonal communication: The ability to correspond with fellow software developers, programmers, engineers, and clients, to create programs that fulfill specific needs.
  • Program troubleshooting: The ability to troubleshoot issues in software functionality, before and after launch.
  • Program optimization: The ability to adapt existing software applications, to meet changing client and consumer needs.
  • Mathematical proficiency: The ability to use appropriate mathematical formulas to project software program results and promote program success.

These and other skills help software developers find success daily, throughout all stages of the software creation, testing, and launch process.

How Much Does a Software Developer Make?


Exact income figures for a software developer can vary, depending on their years of experience, employer, employer location, and the industry in which they are hired.

On average, the salary of a software developer was $110,140 as of May 2020. The lowest 10% of earners saw less than $65,210 per year, and the highest 10% of earners took home more than $170,100.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


Increased dependence on technology creates a favorable outlook for software development in future years. Specifically, employment for software developers is expected to grow 22% from 2019 to 2019, a much faster rate than the average across all occupations.

The need for new software programs is particularly high for any businesses that offer services through phones and tablets, where mobile-based development has seen an uptick in recent years. From cell phones to in-home appliances, the prevalence of software in the consumer space should contribute to a parallel need for more software development positions.


Do I Need Certifications to Become a Software Developer?


Software developers often further their understanding of specific development fields through specific certifications. These certifications often contribute to improved comprehension of individual programming languages, and the software development field in general.

Individual certifications useful in software development can include:

-CompTIA A+

-CompTIA Project+

-CIW User Interface Designer

-ITIL®1 Foundation

Interested in Becoming a Software Developer?

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