How to Become a
Software Developer

Education Pathways, Skills, and Certifications

Over recent decades, society has grown to demand more software developers in the workforce. Because many businesses are reliant on computer programs and applications in their systems, this high demand won’t falter any time soon.

Pursuing a career in software development is a great option. Depending on your portfolio and skills, you can find many lucrative jobs in tech. Read our guide to dive deep into the details of how to become a software developer.

What Is a Software Developer?

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A software developer is a tech expert who designs and develops web and mobile software programs. Industries that need operating systems, like the medical and ecommerce fields, will be interested in hiring software developers.

We have all used an application or program at some point in our lives. Simply sending an email or using a calendar to track tasks uses complex systems. The creative teams behind these systems are composed of software developers.

What Does a Software Developer Do?

Software developers build programs and applications from scratch to perform certain tasks. The design varies depending on the project’s purpose, for example, whether it’s for gameplay or data entry. Below are the main duties of software developers.

Gauges User Needs

Software developers are involved in the whole development process. They communicate with target users to identify the solutions to their problems and ensure the usability of the system.

As a software developer, you will need to determine what main functions a user needs, including what outcomes they expect. You will then create the design with the goals in mind and continually modify the software until it satisfies the client.

Works on a Team

If you want to be a software developer, you’ll need to understand the full depth, scope, and limitations of a specific project assigned to you. This will help you make decisions as you develop software. To do this, you will need to work with a team.

To know the scope and limitations of the project, you should constantly communicate and ask for updates from system analysts and engineers. It also helps to ask if they have existing documentation with an overview of what has been done, what didn’t work, and what needs to be completed.

Upgrades Existing Systems

When software developers are just starting their onboarding process with a company, they will assess whether the existing systems need upgrades or modifications. They may suggest certain improvements to make the systems work more efficiently or address specific functions that have been overlooked.

Communicates with Clients

Regularly consulting with the client regarding your system plans is key to creating an efficient workflow as a software developer. You will have to follow up on the work being done by other collaborators so that everything stays aligned with the overall goals of the client.

You might also be on standby for technical issues after the program is launched so that you can address them and add preventative measures. This way, the system operations will run smoothly.

Software Developer Education Pathways

Software developers can innovate and manage the development of computer programs in a team. Since the skillset needed to become a software developer varies, there are numerous education pathways you can take.

Software Developer Degrees

Most software developers possess a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or related fields. The curriculum offers training in both soft and hard skills. Breadth of knowledge and personal aptitude is important for any career advancement.

Students should concentrate on classes that will make them most valuable in the field. They can add to their merit by getting software development experience from working for a software company during their final years of study. Moreover, an advanced degree in related fields, especially in business, can be an advantage for some job positions.

Software Developer Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are short-term educational programs that can help you learn tech skills. Many bootcamps provide programs specifically to help you become a software developer. You can learn how to code, discover different methods, and even network in the field.

Many students choose bootcamps because they are less expensive and lengthy than degree programs. They can help save time and money in the long run. Some popular software development bootcamps include Coding Dojo, Flatiron School, and General Assembly.

Software Developer Courses

With online course providers, there are numerous software developer courses you can take. The best part is that you can go through them at your own pace, and you can access many resources for free. However, to get a certificate, you may have to pay a fee.

Online courses cover many different software development tools, such as programming languages like Python, JavaScript, and HTML. After, you will be equipped to fill in more software developer roles. You can find software developer courses from providers like Coursera, Udemy, and edX.

How to Become a Software Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Software Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Not every software developer follows the same path, but there are some crucial steps you need to take. Read below for a step-by-step guide on how to become a software developer.


Get educated

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most software developers have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Getting a degree can teach you how to use data structures, algorithms, and other essential tools for this career.


Work on your soft skills

Being a software developer requires you to interact with clients, users, and other stakeholders. You need to hone your soft skills such as attitude, diligence, and flexibility to work seamlessly with others.


Decide your specialization

There are a variety of programming languages you can learn. If you are just starting out, we suggest learning Python, Java, C++, or Scala. These can help you specialize in different aspects of software development.


Get experience

To get hired as a software developer, you need to be able to share past projects that demonstrate your proficiency in several programming languages and systems. Time spent working on different projects broadens your familiarity with the intricacies of the job. Try creating personal projects or getting an internship.


Keep learning

The field is continuously changing and introducing new methods, languages, and tools. In a coding bootcamp or online course, you will be constantly updated with the latest technological trends, which you can apply in your own job.

Top Software Developer Skills

With the rapid development of technology, it can be hard to catch up on the latest tech skills. As an aspiring software developer, you need to be adept at these fundamentals so you can stay relevant in the competitive software development market.

Below are the top skills to learn to be a software developer.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a discipline under artificial intelligence (AI) that helps computer systems learn data patterns using algorithms and statistical models. Some specific competencies that fall under this are programming, system design, and computer science principles.

This kind of AI is used to optimize search engines and detect unusual online transactions. When creating algorithms for your program, machine learning skills are vital.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing helps machines store, manage, and process information remotely through the Internet. It’s economical for organizations to employ an online system because it allows them to access servers, databases, and software faster and more flexibly.

Shifting workplace environments have accelerated as a consequence of COVID-19. Companies need software developers to make online productivity seamless now more than ever. With this, cloud computing skills are key. Platforms like Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Microsoft Azure are popular ones to learn.

Programming Languages and Scripting

A high-level programming language like JavaScript and Python can help you in the field. However, it’s important to note that different types of software developer roles require different languages. Establishing what you need to learn should be done well ahead of time.

Python, in particular, is a common foundation for open-source web frameworks like Docker. It’s also suitable for object-oriented programming (OOP), which is another good skill to learn for the automation of repetitive tasks.

Software Developer Salary and Job Outlook

Software developer salaries range depending on the job description, employer, geographic location, and experience. According to Glassdoor, a software developer’s average annual salary is $95,016. As well, the BLS states that the projected employment growth for software developers is 22 percent by 2029. This is well above the national average.

Entry-Level Software Developer Job Requirements

For an entry-level software developer job, the requirements include basic programming languages, database and operating system knowledge, and a good understanding of office systems. You should have a degree or some sort of certificate in a computer science topic. A university or bootcamp can help you get the right training.

How to Prepare for Your Software Developer Job Interview

Preparing for your software developer job interview boils down to your attitude. While it may be challenging to stay calm on your big day, this is one of the qualities employers will be looking for in a candidate. To achieve this, you should start preparing early.

Below are some of the most common software developer job interview questions that should help you practice.


Software Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • What is a difficult technical software development issue you faced, and how did you overcome it?
  • What contributions have you made in your previous software development projects?
  • What is your process in identifying and solving bugs in code?
  • What are the obstacles you faced during a software development project, and how did you handle them?
  • How well do you work with others?
Software Developer Certifications

Software Developer Certifications

Obtaining a software developer certificate will give you an edge to stand out from other applicants. Let’s take a look at some of the certifications that can help boost your career.

AWS Certified Developer – Associate

For software developers who want to design, create, and operate programs in the AWS platform, this certification is for you. This programming certificate demands no prerequisites, but you will need to review the basics of designing and debugging AWS cloud-based solutions.

MySQL 8.0 Database Developer Oracle Certified Professional

The MySQL certification by Oracle provides accreditation for software developers who write MySQL database server software. Just like the AWS certification, this also has no necessary prerequisites, but it is highly recommended that you take the MySQL for Developers course beforehand.

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Developer Certification

The MTA certification by Microsoft is intended for entry-level software developers or complete beginners. Through this certification, you will earn a strong foundation in software development fundamentals.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Software Developer?

It will take you at least a year to become a software developer. You can earn a bootcamp certificate in only a few months. If you want more attractive job prospects, you could dedicate at least four years to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Software Engineering, Computer Science, or other related fields.

Why You Should Become a Software Developer in 2021

Becoming a software developer in 2021 has numerous practical benefits. First, programming-related careers have greater earning potential as more companies transition to digitalization. Second, there is a high demand for software developer jobs, so it’s easier to find employment. And third, the role gives you career flexibility as demand increases.

Software Developer FAQ

If you become a skilled software developer, it is a promising career. There is high remuneration in this field, and it is easy to find job opportunities because software developers are in demand.

One of the best career tips for aspiring software developers is to simply start learning. Most beginners say that they can’t find the right place to begin. The best advice is to just start and put yourself out there.

To become a software developer, you would need a computer, learning materials, and plenty of hard work. It will require a certain level of intelligence, but you just need to be adept at some skills to become a decent programmer.

Software developers have challenging tasks, but they don’t have to lead to out-of-control stress. You will need to be interested in the job in the first place. Your tasks will be much easier if your heart is in them.

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