If you want to learn how to become a software developer, you will need the right strategy. There are many ways to enter the field of software development. This is a career field without a one-size-fits-all option.
You might not have any coding knowledge right now, but you can still enter this career. Maybe you have coding knowledge and you’re ready for a change. Either way, you can become a software developer with the right training.
Let’s look a bit closer at this career option to figure out the job duties and how to become a software developer.
Job Duties of a Software Developer
Your job duties will depend on the type of software developer you become. Front-end developers will work on the aesthetics and functionality of websites. Back-end developers, on the other hand, work on the behind-the-scenes infrastructure. If you become a full-stack developer, you will likely perform the job duties of both a front-end and back-end developer.
The main day-to-day job duties of a software developer will include:
- Analyzing the needs of the person using the software
- Designing and testing software programs
- Creating diagrams and models to outline the necessary code for the software
- Performing maintenance on existing software
- Documenting everything and providing information for upgrades
These job duties are rather common for software developers.
How to Become a Software Developer in 5 Steps
Step #1 – Complete a Degree Program
A bachelor’s degree in computer science can help you become a software developer. It’s a good option to learn quite a bit and show employers you’re serious about your career.
If you want to stand out above the rest, consider getting a Master’s degree in computer engineering or information technology. However, getting a degree is optional and not the only path to becoming a software developer.
Step #2 – Use Coding Bootcamps
The most important skill for a software developer is coding. You can use coding bootcamps to learn the necessary programming languages. With these bootcamps, you can learn to code quickly. Many different coding bootcamps are offered online.
Some bootcamps are more intense than others. some last weeks, while others may last months. Going this round might be expensive, but it can get you into your career faster.
Step #3 – Teach Yourself
You can also teach yourself how to code. With the right online tutorials, you can learn how to code on your own. This is a harder path and won’t fit for everybody, but it can lead you to become a software developer.
Step #4 – Do Freelance Work
When you first start out, you might want to do some freelance work as a software developer. This can help you build a portfolio and get some experience. Of course, an entry-level job can help, too. However, if you cannot find a job right away, consider doing some freelance work.
Step #5 – Become Certified
Getting the right certification can help boost your resume. There are many certification options for software developers including:
- Certified Software Developer Professional (CSDP) – You will need to pass the exam from the IEEE Computer Society to get this certification. Earning the CSDP will cost $395 for the exam if you’re a member of the IEEE CS or $495 for non-members. The test will include 160 questions and you will have three hours to complete it.
- Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) – If you plan to work in cybersecurity, this certificate is for you. It will help you show that you can identify vulnerabilities in software projects, guard against breaches, and help to protect client data. The exam has 175 questions and you will have four hours to complete it. The cost is $599 for the CSSLP course and exam.
- Certified Software Engineer – A certificate from the Institute of Certification of Computing Professionals, becoming a Certified Software engineer is a great option. This certificate requires three exams covering information system core, software engineering, and object-oriented analysis and design. The cost is $45 for a membership, $299 for the exam, and $50 for the proctor fee.
- Oracle – You can become certified through Oracle, which is a very popular platform. The Oracle certifications in database development, Java, SQL, cloud infrastructure, and virtualization are all great for software developers.
- C Programming Language – Becoming certified in C programming language is a great option. You will need to start with the C Programming Language Certified Associate level before going on to the C Certified Professional Programmer level. You can also go through both levels with C++. Each exam will cost $295.
- Amazon Web Services – If you plan to become a software developer for a company using Amazon Web Services, you will likely need an AWS Certified Developer certification. This certification starts with the associate level exam and moves on to the master level. The associate level exam cost $150.
- Microsoft – Microsoft offers several certifications with Azure. You can become certified in Azure Fundamentals, which will qualify you for many other levels. The exam will cost $165.
There are other certifications to consider, but these are the main options. Some companies may also look for certifications in Salesforce, Chef, or Agile, but these are not as common.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Software Developer
How much can I make as a software developer?
According to Salary.com, you can earn between $61K and $77K, on average, every year as a software developer. Payscale.com puts the average pay at about $72K per year with a range from $51K to $106K. ZipRecruiter has an even higher average at more than $86K. The range goes from $33,500 to $138K, however.
Your actual salary will be based on experience and location. Cities in California tend to be the highest paying areas. San Mateo, Berkeley, Daly City, Richmond, and Irvine are all the highest paying cities and they are found in California. Odessa in Texas, Stamford in Connecticut, Plymouth in Massachusetts, and Bellevue in Washington are some of the highest-paying locations outside of California.
The type of software developer you become will also determine your salary. Remote developers are the highest paid, while financial software developers are a close second. If you work as a cloud software developer or an enterprise software developer, the salary is still rather high.
Are software developers in high demand?
Yes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job is expected to increase by 22% over the next ten years. This is much higher than the average of all occupations. As technology grows, it’s likely software developers will be in even higher demand.
How long will it take me to become a software developer?
The answer to this question depends on your current skills, the type of developer you want to become, and the path you take. If you go the traditional route of getting a degree, you will need more time than if you become a self-taught software developer. However, you will have better credentials to land a job.
Some will be able to learn the skills in just a few months. However, if you want to become a full-fledged software developer, it may take a year or longer to learn the skills.
Which programming languages are most common for software developers?
As a software developer, you will likely need to learn multiple programming languages. Java, Python, C/C++, Swift, Ruby, and Scala are all very common. Scala is a higher-level programming language, while the others are very popular and very common.
What type of hours will I work as a software developer?
Most software developers work a full-time week with a little bit of overtime. It’s common to work a consistent schedule close to a 9-to-5 schedule. However, you may have to work some late nights and weekends when deadlines are looming. Other times, you may not work any overtime at all.
Is it hard to become a software developer?
This is a very accessible career. Anybody willing to put in the time to learn the right skills can become a software developer. However, you will need to have an interest in information technology. With the right training and experience, you can enter this career option.
Can I work as a freelance software developer?
Yes, and many software developers do work freelance. The salary is similar to working for an employer and you get to choose the hours you work and the clients you work for. If you go the freelance route, you will likely want to specialize.
If you want to become a software developer, you have many paths to choose from. You can get a degree or learn on your own through coding bootcamps or online tutorials. No matter the path you choose, becoming a software developer can lead to a very rewarding career.