Individuals pursuing a career as a software developer are expected to have excellent job prospects in the coming years, as information technology remains among the bright spots in the employment landscape. Software developers create, test and evaluate software systems and applications used for everything from computer operations to workplace productivity and entertainment. Enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in computer information systems (CIS) can be the first step to becoming a software developer.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of software developers nationwide will increase by 22% from 2012 to 2022, which is twice the average growth rate of 11% forecast for all occupations during the same period. Jobs will be created as computer networks expand and Internet technologies continue to evolve. Software developer career opportunities will also occur as businesses’ technology needs become more complex – resulting in more sophisticated computer systems and networks – and as mobile technology drives demand for new products and applications.

Software Developer Job Duties

Software developers help organizations achieve goals with software-based solutions. Often, they specialize in a particular software package or coding language. These information technology professionals may update existing software or develop new programs to address a specific need or solve a particular problem.

Many companies rely on software developers to contribute to business growth. To accomplish this, software developers may generate ideas to improve system design or streamline product delivery, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction, sales and profits. Analyzing information to determine, recommend and plan new programs is another way developers meet this objective.

Much of a software developer’s effectiveness may depend on her or his ability to make good technical decisions that positively impact adjacent systems or provide useful features. A software developer may achieve this by consulting with management and staff to determine needs, interacting with other developers, documenting best practices and frequently reviewing code.

Some software developers may supervise or assist other computer information systems staff. They might coordinate the installation of new software systems, train staff on how to use software and provide ongoing support. Preparing reports, writing proposals, updating project specifications and publishing updates may also be among a software developer’s responsibilities.

These professionals often interact with marketing, sales or supply chain department heads. Those working for software vendors may be required to travel to customer locations.

Potential Salary for Software Developers

For professionals who embark on a software developer career, salaries may vary depending on whether their specialization is systems software or applications software. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for systems software developers was $104,480 as of May 2013, while the average for applications software developers was $96,260.

Recent graduates typically start out toward the lower end of salary ranges and can boost their earning potential with additional experience and advanced education. Local market conditions, the size and type of employer, and a candidate’s work history and qualifications are among the factors that influence potential salary ranges.

Education and Training

Entry-level software developer positions generally require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field and employers may seek to hire candidates with software development experience.

The path to a software developer career can begin with earning a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems. Coursework usually includes a survey of software systems, programming in Java and C++, Visual Basic, an introduction to Internet applications, and systems analysis and design.

Graduates of a computer information systems program should be able to:

  • Develop and implement software systems and applications to achieve corporate objectives
  • Apply theories of decision analysis to forecasting and linear programming
  • Analyze current systems and create, test, implement, maintain and document programs through knowledge of the system-development cycle
  • Understand the Internet’s role in business, including web-based marketing, security and the regulatory environment

Through continuing education programs offered by employers it may be possible for software developers to gain an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree and use tuition assistance to further their education and career.

The Path to a Software Developer Career

If you are highly analytical, self-motivated, creative, inquisitive and a natural with computers, you could be well suited to a software developer career. Other essential attributes include excellent communication and research skills, a knack for understanding new concepts quickly and an interest in the latest technological developments. By combining these talents with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, you could have the tools for a software developer career.

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