Becoming a software developer isn’t just about programming computers or creating apps, it’s a chance to unleash your creativity and passion for problem-solving. If you love puzzles, enjoy maths and are first in line when a new gadget is launched then it could be the perfect role for you.
What does a software developer do and why is it a great role?
Think of your favourite phone app or that virtual reality game you enjoy playing with your friends. Perhaps you logged onto to do a bit of online banking earlier. All those programmes you used will have been designed by software developers. With technology increasingly being used in every aspect of our lives, software developers are in high demand.
It’s an exciting career to have because it is extends to so many different industries. Whatever your interests, there will be software required to support it and software developers needed to design it. It will let you flex your problem-solving skills as you immerse yourself in the world of tech. And it will give you a chance to show off your creativity – software developers, just like musicians or writers, are encouraged to incorporate personal style into their work.
What is the day-to-day role like?
Depending on where you work, your role will be to look at the needs of the user, then create, test and develop new software. You might also be responsible for maintaining the software and making continuous improvements. If you’re at the start of a project your work will be more focused on gathering information and finding out project requirements. As it progresses you’ll get stuck into active development and testing before the app, game or product is launched to the customers.
What qualifications do I need?
The best way in is with an IT-related degree such as computer science, software development, maths, software engineering or information technology, for example. Some companies might take you on without an IT-related degree onto a graduate training scheme but you’ll need to demonstrate a good understanding of IT, coding and programming languages and project management. You might also be able to get a role through a digital apprenticeship and study for a degree as you learn on the job.
What hard and soft skills are useful?
You’ll need decent maths skills and a thorough understanding of programming languages but you’ll also need to be a great communicator and project manager. The stereotype of lone techie working without a team is a bit of a myth and you’ll need good interpersonal skills to work with other people as you develop software.
Being able to work under pressure and to deadlines is also useful and you might want to consider your leadership skills too. As you develop your career you’ll manage more junior team members and you’ll need to be able to inspire and motivate them.
Salary and hours.
The good news is software developers are generally very well-paid because they are in such high demand. The salary will depend very much on your experience and specific role but you can expect to start on around £20,000 after graduation, moving up to £30,000 as you gain more experience. If you’re good at your job you can progress quickly up the pay scale – some experienced software developers will earn £55,000 or more. Top people in the industry can expect to earn more than £100,000 a year.
As you gain more experience you can become a senior developer, start managing a team or move into research and planning. You could also start your own IT company creating your own software and selling it to other markets. Who knows, you could even be the next Mark Zuckerberg creating the next generation social media platform after Facebook. The point is you could do anything – software development is the backbone of the future and software developers are the ones building it.