What is a Software Developer

As a software developer, you'll spend a lot of time analyzing what exactly customers need. In fact, you might put those needs ahead of other aspects of your job. After all, a happy customer means a happy business.

On top of assessing needs, you'll be responsible for making sure those needs are met through developing special software. You might even recommend certain upgrades for customers, if you feel that will help them along the way.

Most employers will expect you to have a bachelor's degree. So it looks like you might need to put some time and resources into your education. Just to make sure potential employers are impressed. If nothing else, the extra education may put you ahead of your colleagues.

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.

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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
$80,437
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
21%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
217,097
Job Openings
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Software Developer Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Software Developer

Software Developers in America make an average salary of $80,437 per year or $39 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $102,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $63,000 per year.
Average Salary
$80,437
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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.

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

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Software Developer Demographics

Software Developer Gender Statistics

male

68.0 %

female

24.6 %

unknown

7.4 %

Software Developer Ethnicity Statistics

White

56.9 %

Asian

27.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

7.5 %

Software Developer Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

31.5 %

French

11.4 %

Chinese

7.6 %
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Software Developer Education

Software Developer Majors

Software Developer Degrees

Bachelors

71.6 %

Masters

19.5 %

Associate

5.4 %

Top Colleges for Software Developers

1. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,420
Enrollment
7,582

2. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

4. Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, GA • Private

In-State Tuition
$12,424
Enrollment
15,201

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216

7. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

8. Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$52,930
Enrollment
5,030

9. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840

10. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,465
Enrollment
6,483
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Online Courses For Software Developer That You May Like

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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, 9.4% of software developers listed python on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

12 Software Developer RESUME EXAMPLES

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 $101,422. Whereas in California and New York, they would average $100,014 and $89,837, respectively. While software developers would only make an average of $86,574 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:
3,717
Highest 10% Earn:
$136,000
Location Quotient:
1.66
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:
12,886
Highest 10% Earn:
$139,000
Location Quotient:
1.44
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:
993
Highest 10% Earn:
$125,000
Location Quotient:
1.93
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
Full List Of Best States For Software Developers

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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 Compunnel Software Group was the best, especially with an average salary of $87,555. Oracle follows up with an average salary of $111,120, and then comes Mastech Digital with an average of $86,745. 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 Experian, The PNC Financial Services Group, and IBM

Software Developer Videos

Software Developer FAQs

Can software engineers work from home?

Yes, software engineers can work from home. The normal requirements for a software engineer to work are an internet connection, a sufficiently fast computer, and a quiet area to focus. This means that working from home is an option for most software engineers. However, some people find it hard to focus at home due to family, insufficient space to work, or the lack of feeling of oversight. So, while working from home is an option, it might not be the best option for every engineer.



Before the pandemic, software engineers were one of the few professionals that were already working from home. For the above mentioned reasons, software engineers can have flexible work schedules where they work for part of the day at home and part of the day at the office. In fact, surveys have shown that over 30% of software engineers were already working from home part time.


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How can I become a software engineer at 30?

To become a software engineer at 30, sign up for an introductory coding course. There are free coding courses, or paid introduction courses through popular sites like Udemy, Codecademy, Skillshare and Linkedin Learning.

There is also immersive training, often called "boot camps," that train you to be ready for a job in four months. These are offered through both universities or private entities. To go deeper into the field, you can enroll in a basic software engineering degree at a university which takes three to four years to complete.

You won't be alone coming late to the field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports software developers are projected to grow 22% through 2029.

Only 43% of developers have a bachelor's degree, and 69% claim to be partially self-taught. If you've already been coding as a hobby or you are fluent in coding language, you may be in a position to succeed in an entry-level job.

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How many years does it take to become a software developer?

It takes less than one year to become a software developer. You may be able to become a software developer in a matter of weeks depending on your capability. The fastest way to become a software developer is through a coding boot camp which can take between 17-36 weeks.

Coding boot camp is an intensive training program to develop practical skills. They are cheaper and faster than a traditional degree and you'll be given the opportunity to learn software engineering language to set you up for success as a coder.

Going the more traditional route, you can start with a Bachelor's of Information Technology, Computer Science or Engineering to enter the playing field at a higher level with more room for growth. This will take between 3-4 years to achieve.

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Is being a software developer a fun job?

Yes, being a software developer is a fun job. This is because the job allows for variety, both for your projects and your schedule.

Software engineering can be creative and cutting edge. For example, you can work on projects in anything from mobile development to web applications, or even make video games all day.

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Is being a software developer a good job?

Yes, being a software developer is a good job. Software developers are rewarded with various projects, a flexible work schedule, plenty of opportunities to grow, and good pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports software developers are projected to grow 22% through 2029.

Beginning software developers typically make between $60,000 and $70,000. With more time and training you can quickly earn six-figure salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports software developers are projected to grow 22% through 2029.

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Is being a software developer hard?

No, being a software developer is not hard. The job requires knowledge of programming, learning coding language, attention to detail, and being a team player. Software developers are responsible for designing computer applications and programs.

There are a fair share of challenges that come with software development. There can be tight deadlines around product launches and multiple people who depend on you for answers.

Likewise, you have the important role of building, fixing, and maintaining application functions which can be hard when there are bugs in the program you built or if your clients have a vision but are having a hard time with specifics. This means that both communication skills, creativity, and problem-solving are all part of the job.

Plenty of training is available to learn the skills needed to become a software programmer. Some courses are less than four months and can lead students directly into entry-level positions in software development.

There is a constantly changing set of online standards and languages so once you are working in the field, you are still learning and researching the latest tools and updates.

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What are the qualifications to be a software developer?

The qualifications to be a software developer vary depending on the job. It's helpful to have a Bachelor's of Information Technology or Computer Science to qualify for jobs as a software developer.

The highest-paid software developers may also hold degrees in engineering, computer science, or mathematics. However, only 43% of developers have a bachelor's degree, and 69% claim to be partially self-taught.

The key to getting a job as a software developer is to be fluent in more than one coding language. There are free coding courses or paid introduction courses through popular sites like Udemy, Codecademy, Skillshare, and Linkedin Learning.

There is also immersive training, often called boot camps, that train you to be ready for a job in four months. If you really want to be able to advance in your career, higher education programs give you a competitive edge.

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What do you need to become a software developer?

To become a software developer, you will need ongoing training, self-motivation, and keeping up-to-date on technological advancements.

An important part of becoming a software developer is being able to have both good communication and be part of a team. Another important aspect is looking at screens and writing programming code.

That means becoming fluent in coding languages like Python, C++, and Java. It's also important to understand operating systems like Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X, and Windows.

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What is the difference between a software developer and a software engineer?

The difference between software developers and software engineers is that software engineers generally work on projects larger in scale and are able to handle the complete architecture of a project.

Software developers take on more of a creative role and are responsible for putting together the pieces that bring projects together. The title "engineer" often refers to education and training, which allows them to employ scientific methods when designing software solutions.

Software engineers ensure that the structure and stability of systems are in order and make sure software is functioning properly. They apply engineering principles to the creation of computer programs and systems.

Engineers will typically outsource development tasks to software developers and focus on the entire construction of the project. Contrarily, software developers focus on building one part of the system at a time.

Software developers have more of a creative role, as they're responsible for building and executing development plans and programming software. Software developers use their skills to write, change and debug software for clients. Software developers sometimes perform the same tasks as engineers but on a more limited scale.

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Updated August 18, 2021