Career Profile: Software Developer

What is a Software Developer?

Software runs much of the world, and it is software developers who create this software. Creating software requires knowledge of one or more programming languages and knowledge of the software design process. Jobs vary, but most software developers will spend much of their time writing and testing code. Others may work with individual clients and businesses to help craft customized solutions. Software development companies range in size from only two or three team members to hundreds, and the field offers room for growth as experienced developers are often asked to oversee the software development process. Some may choose to work as consultants or contractors.

Degrees and Experience

Most computer scientists start by earning a computer science degree. This degree program does not specifically how to program and instead focuses how computers work in the abstract. The degree requires students to learn a number of math skills, and many of these skills deal more with discrete math instead of continuous math. A degree, however, is not strictly required to land a job as a software developer; those who can demonstrate the ability to write great programs are often hired with a degree in a different field or even without a degree. Additionally, some computer engineers may find themselves using their skills in a software development environment where low-level coding is necessary to interact with hardware. It is, however, crucial to realize that changes on the market will demand that software developers learn new skills over time; while Java is the dominant language on the market today, it is likely that software developers will need to learn a new language in the future.


Pay varies greatly across the nation and at different companies. Some jobs pay hourly, but most computer scientists will find themselves converted to a salary at some point in their careers. Like most jobs, those in large cities where the cost of living is higher can expect better rates of pay. The West Coast often pays substantially more than other regions, but employers in Silicon Valley and other high-tech spots generally have more stringent job requirements that those in other locations. Education can have a major impact on one’s salary, and some of the major employers primarily hire those with advanced degrees. Still, those with extensive experience and a proven record may see themselves earning more that their peers with advanced degrees.

Future Prospects

The future of the software developer position looks bright. Computers continue to reach into more places than ever before, and it is up to the software developers to maximize what they can do. In recent years, a new class of computers, smart phones and other smart devices, have become the top-selling computers. Experts expect this trend to continue in the future. In addition, more companies are looking into creating their own programs suited to their specific needs. The cloud paradigm is sweeping through businesses and other institutes across the nation, and those who are capable of programming networked devices will see a major increase of future jobs. There has consistently been a shortage of experience developers, and those with the knowledge and experience necessary to make a difference will only see demand and pay for their work increase.