As their name suggests, software developers develop (write) the the software (code) that instructs a computer how to perform commands, functions and routines. In short, software tells a computer what to do. Specifically, software developers program, maintain, test and debug software and computer programs used to retrieve, store, organize and display information. Software developers use programming languages, including, but not limited to C++, AJAX, PHP, HTML, .net, Cold Fusion, and Python, to develop the software code that communicates with computer hardware systems. By definition, software developers develop software, however, experience software developers often migrate into technical and upper management positions with the companies they work for-and may stop programming entirely at some point.
Software Developer Job Outlook and Compensation Figures
Almost everything depends on technology these days. And almost all technology depends on software. Consequently, there is strong and stable demand for software developers. In fact, talented developers can just about write their own ticket. Employment opportunities for the software industry are predicted to grow by double digits over the next decade (much faster than the average for all occupations) and employers will hire over 50,000 new developers during the same period. Notwithstanding, competition for the best jobs will be intense and only the most qualified developers will find top positions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2010 the median wage for software developers was about $75,000 a year. The bottom 10% of all developers earned about $45,000 a year, while the top 10% earned over $112,500 a year. Software developers who earn the most work in the following industries:
- Telecommunications – $86,000 a year
- Equipment Manufacturing – $98,000 a year
- Securities and Commodities – $85,000 a year
Some of the top paying locations for software developers include:
- Rochester, Maine – $115,000 a year
- Santa Fe, New Mexico – $109,000 a year
- Durham, North Carolina – $99,500 a year
- San Jose, California – $99,000 a year
- Newark, New Jersey – $97,800 a year
Education and Training
Some people’s minds are just wired for programming. In fact, many individuals who pursue careers in software development start programming as a hobby at a relatively young age. Notwithstanding, given the complexities, sophistication and ever changing nature of technology, earning a degree in computer science, programming or related discipline is becoming more and more common among developers. Not only do most developers earn a degree, they’re required to keep abreast of all new technologies and often take continuing education course to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.
For entry-level IT, computer programming and software development positions earning an associate’s degree or technical certificate may be sufficient, but most positions these days require a bachelor’s degree or higher. For developers aspiring to supervisory or management positions, earning a master’s degree in a technical field or even a MBA is useful. While earning a degree or technical certificate will help you get a foot in the door, at the end of the day it’s what you know and what you can do that counts-so become the very best developer you can.
While most large college and universities offer several relevant degree programs for aspiring software developers, there are now a lot of reputable schools that offer distance learning and online degree programs in computer programming and software development. Online degree programs are a relevant, affordable and convenient option for students who are working and developers who want to acquire new skills while maintaining their current career.
Software Developer Degree & Certificate Programs
Southern New Hampshire University
You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there. Whether you need a bachelor's degree to get into a career or want a master's degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you. Find your degree from over 200 online programs. Learn More >