Software Developer Job Description

Software developers create and modify computer software. Any time you fire up your computer or open an application on your phone or tablet, you are looking at the work of software developers.

At the beginning of a project, software developers have to understand the problem that the software is trying to solve. How will the customer use it? What features does it need to have? What will the software do? What are the technical requirements?

When they have the answers they need, software developers can start drawing up a design that turns the requirements into a series of logical steps. Flow charts are commonly used as part of the design process. These charts illustrate the various decisions that a program will have to make based on user input and the functionality required.

In some companies, software developers write code themselves. In other companies, developers design how the program should work, and then hand the designs off to the programmers who will actually write it.

Even if they don’t actually write the code, software developers need to have a strong programming background so they can design the software in an efficient way.

Sometimes, software developers also work as project managers. In these roles, they are responsible for organizing a project, assigning tasks to programmers and user experience designers, and developing a plan to make sure that the project is completed on time.

Most software developers work full time, and working overtime is very common in this occupation. Software developers often work on extremely tight and demanding deadlines, and working long hours is often needed to meet them.

The roles of software developers can change drastically from one company to the next, but all software developers can be categorized into one of the following groups:

Systems software developers create the operating systems that control our computers, phones, tablets, GPS systems, and other electronic devices that we rely on each day.

Applications software developers develop applications that run on the operating systems. For example, they might design a game for a phone, or a spreadsheet program for a personal computer. They also design applications that people and organizations use over the internet.

How to Become a Software Developer

Most software developers have a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, mathematics, computer science, or a related field. Regardless of the chosen major, software developers need to have excellent programming skills.

The fundamentals of programming are taught in computer science courses. These courses vary in complexity, and cover everything from introductory topics to advanced algorithm design. Many computer science classes are theoretical in nature. While theoretical courses can be very helpful, it’s also important to take courses focused on software development and design.

Some employers prefer to hire candidates with a master’s or doctoral degree in computer science for their advanced positions. These degrees are often required for positions where software developers need to have an academic background in research to do their jobs well.

If you’re still in high school and you’re considering a career in software development, taking as many math and computer science courses as possible will help prepare you for your college coursework.

Employment Outlook

There are currently 520,800 software developers in the United States, with 19,790 new software developer job openings created each year.

Software Developer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Software Developer Salaries

Overall Salaries

Software Developer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most software developers make between $70,300 – $112,000 per year, or $33.80 – $53.84 per hour.

Updated: 09/02/2017