April 25, 2016  |  Andrew August and Rhonda Chicone  |  Updated April 18, 2022

Everywhere you go, you can see software in action. Take a look around. You use it at the ATM, at your grocery store, and on your car’s electronic dashboard. Software is what makes hardware come to life!

Software is so commonplace that you may not even notice how often you use it, but it is an essential aspect of our daily lives.

You have likely heard of the Internet of Things (IoT). Essentially, the IoT is what enables gadgets, machines, and other devices to communicate with each other. An example of an IoT gadget could be your Roku device or your front door’s electronic deadbolt; software is what makes these devices do what they do. The Internet doesn’t move data back and forth on its own—it needs software to do that.

The IoT market has been steadily growing over the last decade. By 2025, there will be more than 27 billion IoT connections, IoT Analytics reports. The rise of IoT and other industry trends provide unique opportunities for those interested in software development. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that jobs for software developers and quality assurance analysts will grow 22% from 2020–2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.*

If you’re interested in how to become a software developer, it’s important to understand what the role involves and what traits can benefit you in this career.

What Does a Software Developer Do?

Software developers design and build computer applications. This can include software for desktop use, mobile apps, or IoT devices. According to the BLS, typical duties include developing software to meet users’ needs, recommending software upgrades, and documenting every aspect of how an application functions. Some software developers design artificial intelligence-based systems and others reverse engineer malware.

What Skills Do You Need as a Software Developer?

You’ll need to master several technical skills before becoming a software developer. Here are a few of the most critical:

Creating a Plan or Part of One (Without Coding)

Many people think that coding is all there is to being a software developer. Yes, software developers do write code—but first, they must plan or design what they are going to code. This is called an algorithm, and designing it doesn’t require any coding. Instead, the software developer will use software design tools and techniques. This is similar to what an architect does before building a house.

Coding

Once a plan is created for a software application, developers will start writing code. What does coding look like? Well, much of the time it looks like the English language. Many programming languages are used in the world today: C/C++, Java, C#, PHP, Python, and JavaScript, among many others. Nine times out of 10, once software developers become comfortable with one programming language, they can easily learn additional programming languages.

Developer Testing

As software developers are coding, they are simultaneously debugging and testing (including security testing) the code. This is an important step for ensuring that applications run as they should. We’ve all used software that didn’t work correctly. The software developer has a responsibility to test their code for functionality.

Software Quality Assurance

Multiple pieces and components of code usually make up a software application. Software developers may be responsible for testing the software application as a whole, sometimes called system testing. There are many ways to perform system testing, but the goal is to ensure the software application meets a predefined set of the quality standards.

What Traits Can Benefit Software Developers?

In addition to technical know-how, many soft skills can help you succeed as a software developer. If you’re wondering if you have what it takes to become a software developer, consider whether the following traits apply to you:

Curiosity

Are you that person that always wonders how something works? Do you find yourself picturing how things function in your mind’s eye? You may even go so far as to take things apart just to put them back together again. A software developer must have the curiosity to know how things work.

Perseverance and Tenacity

Do you get frustrated when things don't work right away? In software development, a solution to a problem is rarely found the first time around. A software developer must have perseverance and tenacity. Instead of giving up, software developers will be driven to find a workable solution to the problem at hand—otherwise, it may cause sleepless nights.

High Tolerance for Ambiguity

Oftentimes, the requirements for a software application change over the course of development. As a software developer, you should expect this and develop a high tolerance for ambiguity—that is, do not get overwhelmed when you lack a clear set of instructions for reaching a goal.

Adaptability

Being able to respond to change is key for software developers. Good software continues to evolve over time, and you should be open to making changes to your application according to shifting industry standards and customer demand. A good software developer should be willing to adapt their designs, code, and test plans as needed.

Communications and Teamwork

The idea that software developers don’t need strong social skills is just one of several myths about software developers. A successful software developer should have strong communication skills, both oral and written. They also need to know how to work in teams. A software developer often must work with another software developer’s designs, code, or test plans. This is made much easier when you can communicate effectively with your team members.

Take the Next Step Toward Becoming a Software Developer

The software development field is exciting and growing. Purdue Global offers a variety of online information technology degrees, including a Programming and Software Development Postbaccalaureate Certificate. This certificate builds upon foundational knowledge, covering advanced programming, database, and development concepts. For more details, reach out today.


About the Author

Andrew August and Rhonda Chicone

Andrew August and Rhonda Chicone are faculty members within Purdue Global's School of Business and Information Technology. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not represent the view of Purdue Global.


NOTES AND CONDITIONS

Employment and Career Advancement: Purdue Global does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement. Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience and opportunities for employment. Additional certification or licensing may be required to work in certain fields.

*Job Growth Projections: National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.