Software development is a highly specialised field and candidates for software development jobs need to establish a creative approach when solving problems. They have a core function in a business, designing and building the computer programs that allow organisations to function effectively.
Job DescriptionTo successfully secure a position as a software developer, candidates need to demonstrate a good level of technical skill and the ability to communicate well at all levels of the business. The developer is responsible for being aware about the context of a project and what the company they are working for is trying to achieve. They must be aware of what the current processes are and have an understanding of the problems from various stake holders that are affected by the decision in hand.
Developers in this area of IT often work across sectors and may find themselves building financial and administrative databases, designing computer control systems for manufacturing and industrial machinery, or developing embedded controls for home entertainment systems.
A software developer works closely with business analysts and senior planners, hence the need for good communication skills, and from those discussions will create the technical plans designed to meet the needs of the client.
Software development is mostly project based, so there are many opportunities to develop new skills in different industry sectors. Employees may be tasked with:
- Programming a test version of some software to see how it might work.
- Testing the software installation and seeing if there are compatibility issues to be addressed.
- Checking the test results and fixing any technical problems – a technique known as debugging.
- Installing the full version of the tested software and running final checks before the system goes
- Supporting and maintaining the systems when they are fully functioning.
A software developer needs to know how to write a computer program from scratch to satisfy a company’s needs, but should also be conversant in the techniques required to amend existing programs in order to address the technical requirements for each project.
A good knowledge of web-based technologies is essential for the role, as is good teamwork skills and the ability to use a range of development languages. These may include PHP, HTML, C++, Java, Oracle, and .net.
Qualifications and progression
Most employers will want a software developer to have higher qualifications such as a foundation degree or degree in computer science and related IT subjects. A BTEC HND/HNC may also allow entry, and trainee programmes may be available for those with a strong showing in IT subjects at A or As Level.
Such is the demand for software development, there are many opportunities for career development in the field. From entry level candidates could progress to a senior or principal developer and then to a project manager’s post. Many experienced developers also go freelance and use a recruitment site to keep in touch with job options.