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Working as a Software Developer

What Does a Software Developer Do

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Duties

Software developers typically do the following:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design each piece of an application or a system and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that instruct programmers how to write software code
  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or a system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Software developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program. They may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software. They must identify the core functionality that users need from software programs. Software developers must also determine user requirements that are unrelated to the functionality of software, such as the level of security and performance needs. They design the program and then give instructions to programmers, who write computer code and test it.

If the program does not work as expected or if testers find it too difficult to use, software developers go back to the design process to fix the problems or improve the program. After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance.

Developers usually work closely with computer programmers. However, in some companies, developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to the programmers.

Developers who supervise a software project from the planning stages through implementation sometimes are called information technology (IT) project managers. These workers monitor the project’s progress to ensure that it meets deadlines, standards, and cost targets. IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies are included in the profile on computer and information systems managers.

The following are examples of types of software developers:

Applications software developers design computer applications, such as word processors and games, for consumers. They may create custom software for a specific customer or commercial software to be sold to the general public. Some applications software developers create complex databases for organizations. They also create programs that people use over the Internet and within a company’s intranet.

Systems software developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly. These could be operating systems for computers that the general public buys or systems built specifically for an organization. Often, systems software developers also build the system’s interface, which is what allows users to interact with the computer. Systems software developers are creating the operating systems that control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including the systems in phones or cars.

How To Become a Software Developer

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and strong computer programming skills.

Education

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. A degree in mathematics is also acceptable. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software in order to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. For some positions, employers may prefer a master’s degree.

Although writing code is not their first priority, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.

Software developers also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.

Other Experience

Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college.

Some software developers first work as computer programmers and then are given more responsibility as they gain experience. Eventually, they become developers.

Advancement

Software developers can advance to become information technology (IT) project managers, also called computer and information systems managers, a position in which they oversee the software development process.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Developers must analyze users’ needs and then design software to meet those needs.

Communication skills. Developers must be able to give clear instructions to others working on a project. They must also explain to their customers how the software works and answer any questions that arise.

Computer skills. Developers must understand computer capabilities and programming languages in order to design effective software.

Creativity. Developers are the creative minds behind new computer software.

Detail oriented. Developers often work on many parts of an application or system at the same time and must therefore be able to concentrate and pay attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Software developers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software.

Problem-solving skills. Because developers are in charge of software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process.

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Average Salary$84,632
Job Growth Rate21%

Software Developer Jobs

Software Developer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Software Developer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Software Developer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Software Developer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

Software Developer Career Paths

Top Careers Before Software Developer

Top Careers After Software Developer

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Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Software Developer

Software Developers in America make an average salary of $84,632 per year or $41 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $105,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $67,000 per year.
Average Salary
$84,632

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Salary Range91k - 129k$109k$108,584
Salary Range89k - 125k$106k$106,288
Salary Range84k - 117k$100k$100,090
Salary Range79k - 110k$94k$94,044
Salary Range77k - 105k$90k$90,037
Salary Range75k - 104k$89k$88,710
$49k
$129k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
Software Developer IV-UX
Software Developer IV-UX
Cash Store
Cash Store
10/29/2020
10/29/2020
$125,00010/29/2020
$125,000
Software Developer/.NET/Financial Industy
Software Developer/.NET/Financial Industy
Management Decisions, Inc.
Management Decisions, Inc.
10/27/2020
10/27/2020
$90,00010/27/2020
$90,000
Software Developer-C#, .NET, T-Sql
Software Developer-C#, .NET, T-Sql
Kelly Services
Kelly Services
10/27/2020
10/27/2020
$123,59210/27/2020
$123,592
Software Developer
Software Developer
Aerotek
Aerotek
10/26/2020
10/26/2020
$80,00010/26/2020
$80,000
Software Developer
Software Developer
Robert Half
Robert Half
10/24/2020
10/24/2020
$75,00010/24/2020
$75,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Software Developer Demographics

Gender

male

68.0%

female

24.6%

unknown

7.4%

Ethnicity

White

54.7%

Asian

26.6%

Hispanic or Latino

8.4%

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

31.5%

French

11.4%

Chinese

7.6%
See More Demographics

Software Developer Education

Degrees

Bachelors

51.7%

Masters

37.9%

Associate

4.1%

Top Colleges for Software Developers

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Tuition and fees
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. Duke University

Durham, NC

Tuition and fees
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Tuition and fees
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

4. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA

Tuition and fees
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Tuition and fees
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY

Tuition and fees
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

7. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA

Tuition and fees
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

8. Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA

Tuition and fees
$52,930
Enrollment
5,030

9. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN

Tuition and fees
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840

10. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

Tuition and fees
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483
See More Education Info

Entry Level Jobs For Becoming A Software Developer

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Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Top Skills For a Software Developer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 9.2% of software developers listed application development on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and creativity are important as well.

Best States For a Software Developer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a software developer. The best states for people in this position are Washington, California, New York, and New Hampshire. Software developers make the most in Washington with an average salary of $107,086. Whereas in California and New York, they would average $99,557 and $93,864, respectively. While software developers would only make an average of $92,568 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Software Developer Jobs:
5,404
Highest 10% Earn:
$148,000
Location Quotient:
2.31
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. California

Total Software Developer Jobs:
12,403
Highest 10% Earn:
$137,000
Location Quotient:
1.2
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. District of Columbia

Total Software Developer Jobs:
1,053
Highest 10% Earn:
$136,000
Location Quotient:
1.67
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
View Full List

Software Developer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a software developer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

At Zippia, we went through countless software developer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Write a Software Developer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless software developer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Detailed Information

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Top Software Developer Employers

We've made finding a great employer to work for easy by doing the hard work for you. We looked into employers that employ software developers and discovered their number of software developer opportunities and average salary. Through our research, we concluded that NetSuite was the best, especially with an average salary of $106,079. Mastech Digital follows up with an average salary of $99,051, and then comes Compunnel Software Group Inc. with an average of $74,953. In addition, we know most people would rather work from home. So instead of having to change careers, we identified the best employers for remote work as a software developer. The employers include ManTech International, U.S. Bank, and Jacobs Engineering Group

1. NetSuite
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$106,079
Software Developers Hired: 
2,570+
2. Mastech Digital
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$99,051
Software Developers Hired: 
1,890+
3. Compunnel Software Group
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$74,953
Software Developers Hired: 
1,885+
4. IBM
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$84,673
Software Developers Hired: 
1,733+
5. Bloomberg
4.9
Avg. Salary: 
$111,840
Software Developers Hired: 
1,247+
6. Epic Systems
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$65,183
Software Developers Hired: 
985+

Software Developer Videos

Recently Added Software Developer Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020