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How to Become a Software Developer

For many people interested in a field that provides job security, good pay, and work to feel passionate about, software development often tops a list of great careers. Software development jobs come in a variety of forms, and developers are employed in nearly all sectors of the economy, from healthcare to government to the private sector, and their roles range from security specialist to video game designer.

Here are just a few facts about the software development field, and why it might be right for you.

What Does a Software Developer Do?

So what do software developers do, exactly? If you’ve ever used an app on your phone or operated a program on your computer, you’re already familiar with software development and computer programming. Programmers often specialize in app development, mobile development solutions, and creating custom software either as independent contractors or as employees of companies, hospitals, or government agencies. Whether you’re interested in creating a program that protects the computer security and intellectual property of businesses or in designing your own video game, you’ll be putting software development skills to use in big ways. So how does one become a software developer, exactly?

Educational Requirements for Software Development Jobs

Unlike fields such as law or medicine, where completion of a specialized degree is a necessary step towards career development, the educational requirements for software developers often depend on the needs of the learner. In fact, some of the biggest names in software development (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and others) never completed college. Nowadays, a degree in software development or computer science can be a serious leg-up in the job-search process, but some software developers still prefer to emphasize their work portfolio over their formal education in job interviews, and self-taught programmers are a common sight at even the most prestigious computer industry firms.

What Programs Do Software Developers Use?

For many software developers, the selection of a programming language to specialize in is often a matter of personal taste; some old-school programmers favor tried-and-true languages such as C or C++, but for a straight-forward introduction to the field, you may want to try learning the Python language first. Python has the usefulness and directness of languages such as Java, but its no-fuss design and ease of use make it popular with new learners who want to master an relatively easy coding language. Because of its ease of use, Python is often the first computer language that is taught to computer science degree candidates at universities like MIT, for example.

What Companies Do Software Developers Work For?

For coders with a strong-work ethic and an openness to learning new skills, the sky is truly the limit. There are software development companies in San Francisco and Seattle looking for talent and are in the company of some of the biggest names in the computer industry (Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and others).

Unlike the fields of law or medicine, where an Ivy League education is often a prerequisite to securing upper-echelon jobs in the practitioner’s specialty, hiring managers of companies such as Facebook or Google tend to emphasize a job candidate’s coding skills over their educational history. A degree in computer science certainly helps in terms of getting one’s foot in the door for an interview with a top firm, but an Ivy League education is not the end-all-be-all in the software development field that is in many other professions.

 

For these reasons, a career as a software developer can be rewarding. Whether you have a lifelong passion for computer science or are interested in developing a new career path, software development may just be the right choice for you. With its interesting challenges and possibilities and its value within a competitive job market, it looks like the future for software development is very bright indeed.

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