How to Become a Software Developer


Last updated March 27, 2024

Are you curious about how your favorite apps are built? Curiosity is one of the fundamental skills that software developers possess. Software developers play a crucial role in our digital age by creating innovative software solutions that make our lives easier and more convenient. 

They are highly skilled professionals with the knowledge and expertise to design and create cutting-edge software applications from scratch. Their work involves constant problem-solving, creativity and attention to detail. If you are passionate about technology and interested in pursuing a career in this field, here’s how to become a software developer.

What is a software developer, and what do they do?

Software development is a process of creating computer programs and applications that are innovative and useful. It is a team effort that involves designing, coding, testing and maintaining software that meets specific needs. Developers use programming languages (there are many – think SQL, Scala, Ruby on Rails, etc.) to write instructions and communicate with computers to achieve the desired results. The main objective of software development is to create software that works efficiently and helps make tasks more accessible for users. 

Create compelling software

To create compelling software, developers must have the ability to understand users’ needs and expectations. Software developers work closely with design, QA and product management teams to create functional, visually appealing and user-friendly software. 

Collaboration, communication and problem-solving

The job entails collaborating with cross-functional teams, solving problems, documenting, coding and programming, continuous learning and effective communication. They must follow industry standards to ensure the software is reliable, efficient and productive.

What do you need to become a software developer?

As a software developer, you need specific skills beyond programming to navigate the complexities of your role successfully. Problem-solving skills are key as you regularly encounter challenges that demand innovative solutions, which complement your analytical skills to help you understand complex systems and optimize code for efficiency. 

Collaborating seamlessly with your team requires effective communication, attention to detail and clear articulation of ideas.

Your ability to learn and adapt is crucial in a continually changing field that demands embracing new technologies and methodologies. Effective time management and organizational skills are key to meeting project deadlines and maintaining productivity.

What coding languages do software developers need to know?

Developers who are proficient in multiple programming languages open themselves up to exciting job opportunities. Widening the scope of your skills enhances your adaptability, making you more competitive in today’s job market.

Since different companies and projects require specific languages, a diverse skill set enables developers to switch between various tech stacks seamlessly, making them more valuable to potential employers. It also showcases versatility and a deeper understanding of programming concepts, making developers more capable of solving diverse problems. Here are a few (of many) programming languages in the market. 

JavaScript

JavaScript is a widely used programming language that operates in web browsers to make the user’s experience seamless. It is also flexible and can be used on the server side with platforms like Node.js. JavaScript is easy to learn and is used by major web browsers, making it a popular choice for developers.

Python

Python is a widely used programming language popular for back-end development and data science. It is a general-purpose language that can be customized to suit various projects and programming styles, including object-oriented and functional programming. Python is commonly used for developing web applications, data analysis, artificial intelligence and automation. Its extensive standard library and a vast ecosystem of third-party packages are among the many reasons for its popularity.

Go

Google’s programming language, Go, has become increasingly popular since its creation in 2009. Go is designed to be simple and efficient, focusing on scalability and ease of use. Go is known for its fast compilation times and strong support for concurrent programming, which enables multiple tasks to be performed simultaneously. Its straightforward syntax and performance characteristics make it a popular choice for projects that require speed and efficiency.

Ruby on Rails

Ruby on Rails, commonly referred to as Rails, is a web application framework written in the Ruby programming language. The framework provides a structured and efficient way to build dynamic web applications backed by a database. Ruby on Rails is known for its developer-friendly syntax and encourages agile development practices, making it a popular choice for building scalable and robust web applications.

How long does it take to become a software developer?

Becoming a software developer requires education and one to three years of experience. Often, employers prefer candidates with hands-on experience, professional credentials, specialized skills or a combination of these. The time it takes to become a software developer depends on your academic route.

  • Coding boot camps. Coding boot camps are intensive learning programs with specific tracks that often take three to six months. You work in small cohorts and end with a large final project. Check the school’s credentials before enrolling and see if they have placement services after graduation.
  • Professional certificates. Certificates offered by universities or online sites like Udemy and Coursera can be helpful to add to existing experience. Often, a certificate can be completed with a full-time job within six months.
  • Bachelor’s degree. Prospective software developers focus on areas of study like computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering and IT. For example, pursuing a computer science degree takes around four years to complete.
  • Self-taught education. If you choose the self-taught approach to learning app and software development, you can use YouTube videos to gain knowledge and experience to enhance your resume. However, since you won’t have the guidance of a professional or a suggested study schedule, your learning process may take longer.

Securing a job in software development

To work in software development, you need more than just a resume. Employers want to see the personal and professional projects you’ve worked on. A well-curated GitHub profile and various personal coding projects set you apart from other candidates. Your personal coding projects and contributions to platforms like GitHub show your skills and creativity. Employers see GitHub as a way to evaluate your coding and collaboration skills. 

Your collection of personal projects shows you are committed to learning and contributing to the coding community. You should keep learning and stay up to date on new trends in your programming language. Internships can be helpful for real-world experience, but working on personal projects and going to in-person meetups and online communities to network with other leaders in the space to expand your knowledge should also be a priority.

Why become a software developer?

You’ve learned more about how to become a software developer, and it sounds like a viable career path for the skill set you have. If you are considering pursuing a high-demand career in software development, you will be entering a field that offers countless possibilities for growth and advancement. As a software developer, you will be crucial in shaping technological progress. You will use your problem-solving abilities to contribute across various domains and industries, including health care, finance, e-commerce, artificial intelligence and others.

There are many different areas of software development to explore, so you can find one that matches your interests. Pursuing this career can be both fulfilling and rewarding, and it also gives you the chance to shape the future of technology and tackle important challenges.

How much money can you make coding?

Software developer salaries depend on what industry you work in. Yes, that’s correct – software developers don’t just exist in the startup technology industry. The role exists in many tech-adjacent industries, as everyone needs a software developer to build new products for their customers. You can find software developer roles in the food, procurement, manufacturing and financial industries, among others.

Software development is a growing field

Employment for software developers is projected to grow 25% from 2022 to 2032, which is much faster than the average rate for all occupations. Generally, the average annual pay for an entry-level software developer with less than a year of experience hovers around $80,000 to $90,000 annually. For one to three years of experience, you’ll see a bump from $95,000 to $100,000 per year.  

The more you master, the more you could make

Professional development is a highly effective way to increase your salary range. You can enhance your resume by obtaining professional certificates and completing online courses from leading companies in the tech industry. You may only need to use a few programming languages as a developer, but mastering more will make you more competitive in the job market. As a beginner, it may be tough to know where to begin. However, selecting a specific area of software development can help you focus and improve your skills.

Start your career in software development

Now that you know how to become a software developer, start thinking about your next steps in this career path that offers numerous opportunities for growth and impact. To succeed in this field, you must continually improve your skills. Engage in personal projects, contribute to open-source initiatives and keep up with new technologies. Seek mentorship and network with professionals in the field to gain valuable insights. Once you have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge, you can start applying for software developer jobs. 

As a prospective software developer, it’s essential to embrace the ever-evolving technological landscape and appreciate the dynamic nature of software development.

The perspectives and thoughts shared in the Furman Blog belong solely to the author and may not align with the official stance or policies of Furman University. All referenced sources were accurate as of the date of publication.

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