How to Become a Software Developer

No matter where you look IT is taking over and computers are at the heart of that. So naturally one of the hottest jobs at the moment is going to be Software Developers.  As they write the code that runs the computers. It is one of the main growth areas and if you have coding skills then you definitely have an advantage. As it is such a hot job; this guide will show you, what exactly is involved in becoming a software developer.

What Do Software Developers Do?

While many people may think that a software developer is just a fancy word for a computer programmer the fact is that they do a lot more than just write code like a robot. Software developers are very involved with the software development and business processes as a whole. A software engineer is usually a senior software developer who essentially designs the system and usually overseas the project. Here are some of the tasks that you would have to perform depending on the company you work in.

  • Writing code for either a completely new system or improving code on the code that was in place before.
  • Designing a new system or improvements including the possible costs. This job is usually carried out by a software engineer but in a very small team there may not be a specialist software engineer.
  • Produce a detailed product specification along with the customer and business analysts.
  • Test code either before, during or after all phases of the development process. However, much of this may be done by a specialist testing team if your company has one.
  • Create training manuals for customers.
  • Maintain the system for a certain amount of time once a programme has been finished.
  • Design code for either a web application, computer based application or a mobile device.


It is a real growth area and so the pay is relatively high. However, it is a job where pay seems to vary quite a bit depending on company and geographical location. A good summary of the average UK salary can be seen in the following table:

Graduate or Entry Level

£20,830 to £25,770

Experienced or Software Engineer

£37,500 - £50,000

Management or Senior

£45,000 - £70,000 or higher


Ultimately what you get paid depends on your experience, expertise, and what your employer can afford.

What Qualifications are Needed

In order to be an effective software developer you need to be a logical and analytical thinker with the ability to learn new technologies quickly. An undergraduate degree in one of the following disciplines is usually advised:

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  •  Computer Science
  •  Software Engineering
  •  Electronics
  •  Mathematics
  •  Physics

But if you show talent then you do not have to have any technical qualifications at all. People who find it easy to grasp mathematical concepts or are good at science are generally good at programming. So if you know or find learning one of the following programming languages easy then, you would be an excellent software developer:

  •  Java
  •  C++
  •  C
  •  C#
  •  PHP
  •  Python
  •  JavaScript

It is also easier than ever to learn these languages without going to university, with free online resources such as codeacademy and the NewBoston.

Professional Training

As a software developer it is extremely important to keep up with the changes in programming languages and the IT sector in general. Once you learn one programming language most others will begin to seem quite similar so you must always keep learning but it becomes much easier and faster.

Gaining certification as a tester by taking the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB) exam could be a good idea. Many companies value developers who place a lot of value on testing software thoroughly these days. The most important thing though is just to never stop improving your skill set.

Career Prospects

A talented software developer who knows at least one language well and is capable of learning new programming languages easily is highly employable. They have a great amount of flexibility on where they can work and can progress quite quickly through the ranks compared to other jobs depending on how talented they are.

The software developer career is definitely one of the best paths to take in the current environment. However, not everyone can be a software developer. Unless you have a mathematical mind or think in a very logical way it can be difficult to become a software developer.