The word “software” was coined in 1957 by mathematician John Tukey. Back then, massive computers were used to perform complex mathematical calculations, right alongside teams of human computers and programmers. By the 1970s and 80s, personal computers meant that software and computers needed to do a lot more than mathematics, and software developers needed to help give the instructions.
This necessity for humans to help computers understand instructions hasn’t changed—in fact, it has grown significantly. Today, employment of software developers is expected to grow 22% by 2029. This statistic undoubtedly answers the question, “Is software engineering a good career for the future?” But the numbers alone can’t help you decide if software development is a good career for you.
At Eleven Fifty Academy, we specialize in software development bootcamps that teach new members of the workforce and career changers alike the skills they need to break into software development. If you’re curious about what opportunity software developer jobs might represent for your future, learn more about software developer careers and software developer salary in this ultimate guide.
What Does a Software Developer Do?
Simply put, software developers are the creative minds behind computers. Some of them develop the framework operating systems that allow computers and devices to function. Others create applications that allow users to complete tasks, play games, or use the Web.
However, developers also take into account concerns like cybersecurity, future needs of the software or program, and the outcomes of collaboration with other developers, designers, and programmers. Depending on the career path you take, you may become specialized in some of these duties over others. If you’re curious to learn more about the day-to-day life of a software developer, visit this blog post. Otherwise, let’s look at some of the common roles and responsibilities developers assume at companies.
What Are Common Titles In Software Developer Jobs?
Because software development is such an important industry, developers are likely to exist in some form or fashion at every mid-sized to large business. However, even two developers with identical duties may have two radically different job titles. More than many other industries, identical job titles in software development can be applied to very different roles. Sometimes software development job titles are based on skill level, other times on responsibilities, and still other times might reflect the chain of command or even sense of humor at the company.
However, there are some software development job titles that are more searched than others, revealing where the expectations of job seekers and potential employers must converge. Here are the most-searched software job titles and a summary of the duties:
- Web Developer: code, design, and lay out a website according to company or client specifications.
- Software Engineer: create, maintain, audit, and improve software code or a software system.
- Front End Developer: implement the visual design of software that a user interacts with.
- Entry Level Software Developer: develop, test, and maintain software, apps, or programs.
- Java Developer: design and develop enterprise-level software in the Java language.
- iOS Developer: design and build applications for Apple’s iOS operating system.
Entry-level software development job titles also exist for the Android operating system, languages like SQL, and platforms like Salesforce. However, those are searched far less often. Ultimately, it’s the duties and skills required of the software development jobs that make the difference, not the names assigned to the role.
Is Software Development a Good Career?
The increase in the number of consumer products that use software is one of the biggest drivers of the rising demand for software developers. Smart devices need programmers and developers to become smart! And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for software testers and quality assurance analysts is also rising.
Software development is a great career due to a high volume of available jobs, but also because you can diversify and specialize as you gain professional experience. Here are some of the senior-level software developer jobs you can grow into, and a description of the duties that come along with each:
- Software Architect: design and develop software to address complex business issues, while also serving as a leader in the IT department.
- Senior Developer: write code, analyze data, and contribute to the design and implementation of software.
- Software Engineering Manager: supervise training and development of a team of software developers while delegating work and managing team performance.
- Machine Learning Engineer: design self-running software to automate duties and learn as it carries out assigned operations.
- Director of Software Engineering: lead the engineering department, including getting buy-in for projects, maintaining the budget, and hiring and training staff.
- Chief Technology Officer: make executive decisions about a company’s technical interests and use of technology to improve business outcomes.
Some of these advanced software developer jobs are achieved by deepening and improving your IT skills. Others require leadership development and a focus on interpersonal soft skills. Some even require both! This sampling of high-level software engineering roles shows how diverse and self-directed your future in a software development career is. Though you may start out writing or testing code, that doesn’t mean your duties will be limited to that skill set throughout your career—unless you choose that path.
Software Developer Salary Averages
How much does a software developer make in 2020? The answer is, upwards of $20,000 more than the national average salary, even in entry level software developer jobs. For instance, consider the nationwide average salary for the basic software engineering jobs we listed earlier:
- Web Developer Salary Average: $68,524
- Software Engineer Salary Average: $86,284
- Front End Developer Salary Average: $69,411
- Entry Level Software Developer Salary Average: $82,231
- Java Developer Salary Average: $104, 561
- iOS Developer Salary Average: $97,986
Because of the inconsistent nature of software development, some of these averages might include the compensation of mid-level or high-level professionals. Salaries can also vary widely based on where you live. However, even making a lower salary than these averages still represents an excellent standard of living that can be achieved through simple training like a software development bootcamp.
Now let’s examine how a software developer salary changes over time as you move into more advanced roles like the ones below:
- Software Architect Salary Average: $124,925
- Senior Developer Salary Average: $121,521
- Engineering Manager Salary Average: $139,025
- Machine Learning Engineer Salary Average: $147,218
- Director of Engineering Salary Average: $169,243
- Chief Technology Officer Salary Average: $171,944
These average salaries represent how quickly a software developer salary can grow to six figures. Plus, keep in mind that software is one of the industries where your own capability directly impacts the growth and potential of your income. If you become an excellent, high-demand developer, engineer, tester, or manager, your salary will grow to reflect the essential nature of your presence on a team.
How to Become a Software Developer
By now you might be wondering just how easy it is to become a software developer. It might surprise you to learn that two out of three developers are at least partially self-taught. Almost half of developers also report receiving extensive training on the job. Only around 35% actually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field.
Whatever your professional background, or lack thereof, coding bootcamps have become one of the fastest, most accepted and low-cost pathways to becoming a software developer. Learning to code is easy, but mastering a coding language comes with experience and real-life practice. Read our blog post about how to get into software development to get a better understanding of how learning the basics will set you up for an exciting career full of learning and exploration.
Biggest Software Developer Employers
There were about 1.5 million software developers in the United States workforce in 2019, but only around 1/3 of these professionals actually worked at a software or computer systems company. Finance, defense, and healthcare are some of the other top industries where software developer jobs are common, as well as retail and gaming.
Here are the top seven companies that hired the most software developers in 2019:
- Amazon is much more than an ecommerce site these days thanks to Amazon Web Services.
- IBM has grown over the last hundred years to a multinational tech and consulting firm.
- US Bancorp is the fifth-largest bank in the United States.
- JP Morgan Chase is the largest bank in the United States and the seventh-largest bank in the world.
- Northrop Grumman is one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers and military tech providers.
- General Dynamics develops air, space, land, sea, and cybersecurity defense systems.
- Booz Allen Hamilton provides digital transformation consulting and services to public and private sector organizations.
These are the largest software developer employers by size, with Amazon alone employing almost 10,000 software developers. But overall, these seven companies employ a total of 35,000 software developers. Compared to over a million people in the software development workforce, they actually represent a small sector of the market share, even though they have the largest development teams.
This fact reveals something about the software development industry, namely, that developers can often expect to work on small teams, and perhaps at small to mid-sized businesses. In fact, a full 20% of software developer jobs are at startups, a number which has doubled in the last 2 years.
Other companies hiring software developers include social media platforms, telecoms companies, and even nonprofits or public entities like schools. Ultimately, software development jobs are available everywhere an industry relies on software—which is to say, is nearly every industry .
What is the Software Development Hiring Process Like?
The software development hiring process is widely varied, depending on the size and maturity of the company where you are applying for work.
At established companies like the Big 7 we identified above, software developer candidates are likely to experience a hiring process like other IT roles, or really any other job. Your resume and cover letter are likely to be screened for keywords that indicate you have the skill set and experience needed for the position. For this reason, it’s important to update your resume to align exactly with the language of each position you apply for. Don’t exaggerate or overstate your skills, but do make sure you are using the same language to describe them as the job posting you are responding to. For instance, if they ask for a “Java developer” but you include “Java engineer,” your resume might not get passed through to the hiring manager.
Most job interview processes are at least three steps, including a screening interview, a small test of skill, and then at least one final interview. This means you may be invited to a quick conversation with an HR professional, followed by a small coding or development assignment to see if you can carry out the day-to-day tasks of the software developer position. After the hiring team has seen your work in action, only then are you often invited to meet with the person who will be your manager, or peers on your team
On the flip side, a startup hiring process could be extremely different from this traditional approach. One software developer at a startup shared her story of how she didn’t send in a resume, emailed and spoke with the CEO directly, and then did some paid freelance work for the team before she was offered the job.
As an entry-level software developer, you may even be in the lucky position of choosing which jobs to apply for based on the kind of company culture you want to be included in and the hiring process you want to go through. While you can always be expected to get asked to prove your skills and have multiple conversations, the structure of the hiring process is as varied as the types of companies you have the opportunity to work for.
Common Software Developer Interview Questions
Once you have an employer’s attention, what should you expect during a software developer job interview? Here are some of the basic technical questions you might expect:
- Describe your process for taking on a programming task, from requirements to delivery.
- What are the different kinds of software development lifecycle and which do you like best?
- What are your top two or three programming languages?
- How do you manage errors and bugs?
Depending on the specific type of software development role you are applying for, there will certainly be more specific technical questions. For instance, a front-end developer needs different technical capabilities than a back-end developer. All these questions are targeted to help the interviewer understand your knowledge base, how organized you are, and if your process will fit in nicely with the existing team.
In addition to the technical questions of the interview, you should also expect some basic interview questions, such as:
- Where do you want to be in your career five years from now?
- What attracted you to this company?
- What do you like the most/least about your current or last job?
- What helps you succeed in a work environment?
- What are your goals for personal growth?
Whether it’s a technical question or a personal question, don’t feel pressured to answer immediately when asked. Considering your answer and giving a thoughtful response lets you make the most of the opportunity of the interview.
Lastly, don’t forget to come prepared with some questions of your own. Some of these could be related to the company itself, like asking about its history, mission, or culture. In addition, here are some good general questions to ask in a software developer interview:
- What are common challenges someone faces in this role?
- What are the most immediate projects I will be working on?
- Are the responsibilities of this role expected to change in the next year?
- How will I be trained and supported in this role?
- What gets you most excited about the company’s future?
The answers to these questions and others you come up with will help you gain confidence the software developer position is the right opportunity for you.
What Software Development Certifications Are There?
Certification is a way for software developers to prove their existing skills, or grow new skills that advance a career along a desired specialty pathway. Here are some of the categories of software development certification you might pursue as you grow:
- Database Certifications: These include IBM, Microsoft SQL, SAP HANA, and Oracle certifications.
- Big Data Certifications: There are at least 11 certifications for data scientists and data analysts.
- Cloud Certifications: Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all offer multiple levels of cloud computing certification on their platforms.
- Programming Certifications: These include certifications for different programming languages and environments.
- Quality Assurance Certifications: National and international software testing certifications exist for test engineers and quality analysts.
- Project Management Certifications: The Project Management Institute has developed some certifications specific to Agile development environments.
New certifications are always emerging as the technical world grows. You might even peruse some of the job listings for your ideal software development job to see if some certifications are preferred. Others might be provided and paid for by an employer who wants to help you skill up for long-term employment at their organization.
Is It Worth Doing a Software Development Bootcamp?
A software development bootcamp is a great way for new job seekers to get the skills they need to get hired as a software developer. It’s also an excellent pathway for a current software developer to expand their skill set and become more competitive in the job market. A bootcamp education comes without the hefty price tag of a four-year college degree is typically a 3 or 6 month fast-track program, and also includes a structured, immersive learning environment rather than trying to self-teach in your spare time.
If you’re still not convinced software development is a good career for your future, we invite you to take one or more of our free introductory bootcamp classes to learn the details about the options in this industry. Software and the devices it powers is the foundation of humanity’s future. We want to help you become a part of it on your terms. Contact our admissions team today to share your questions and learn more.