How to Become a Software Developer

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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 control networks. Much of the technology that we take for granted every day is the work of countless software developers. That app that rings, sings or buzzes you out of deep sleep in the morning? A software developer helped design that. And when you roll into the office and turn on your computer, clicking and scrolling through social media, music, your personal calendar? Yes, software developers had a big hand in shaping those, too.

Careers in software development are some of the most sought-after jobs in today’s market. Employment is projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. A large increase in the demand for computer software and attractive salaries for software developers (their median annual wage was reported as $100,690 in May 2015) are the main driving forces behind the field’s rapid growth. What can you do to jumpstart your career in software development?

1. Consider if becoming a software developer is right for you.

Compared to other jobs and professions, the salaries for most software programming jobs are quite high. Why? Think of it this way: there is no cost to sell one extra copy of software you have already developed, and with the increasing demand for developers, chances are that any software development job you land boasts a hefty paycheck. In addition, many companies that employ software developers are known to be excellent work environments, such as Google or Facebook.

However, because technology progresses so rapidly, you have to keep yourself very active and up to date with the latest software development skills. It can often be very stressful to work in such a fast-paced environment.

2. Earn a degree.

Most software engineer positions require a bachelor’s degree. Majoring in software engineering will provide the most useful knowledge for designing software. Computer science is another choice, but it is typically more theoretical and best suited for future graduate students and research and development work. Some companies may accept applicants without IT-related degrees or training programs if the applicants have good understanding of programming languages and frameworks. A wide variety of educational companies offer online programming courses that vary in price, length, and difficulty to best fit your schedule and budget. Many also provide certification upon completion of courses.

3. Get as much programming experience as possible.

You will need to know at least a handful of coding languages, as well as a deeper understanding of how they function. Some of the most popular choices include C++, C#, Java, Java Script, and Python. For many employers, hands-on experience in software development can be much more valuable than your GPA or level of theoretical knowledge. Many software engineer students work as interns after completing their studies. This can be an excellent way to gain hands-on training and network with potential employers.

4. Look for job opportunities.

Software engineering is a fast-growing field, and you have a good chance of immediate employment upon graduation. Ideally, you should start searching for employment before finishing school. Take the time to speak with your professors, department staff, and the career services office about finding job opportunities. You can also use your personal contacts and meet people in the field through career conferences. In addition, try uploading your resume to professional websites where you can easily submit job applications and build your online network.

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