Not all professions in the field of technology involve working behind a desk, absorbing and writing code each day. Software development professionals, for example, are able to use their imagination in a hands-on setting, working with a team of people with a variety of skills to bring a shared idea to life.
Over the past couple of decades, software developers have allowed us to turn our cellphones into miniature, mobile computers. They have given us tools to increase our productivity, health, and mindfulness and to connect with anyone we want at the push of a button. As technology continues becomes an ingrained part of the daily experience for every person, organization and industry, software development is a need that grows rapidly as we discover and work to use technology to our advantage.
THE CAREER PATH
As a software developer, you will develop, test, maintain and troubleshoot software systems and applications. Other common job titles include programmer, analyst, scientific programmer and computer applications engineer. Your strong base in computer science may let you work on other projects, as well. Your work could be done independently, but more than likely, it will be within a group effort.
Software development is the perfect career for creative-minded techies. Professionals in this field develop applications to operate and control devices or to perform specific tasks on those devices.
If you have an interest in the inner workings of functional technology, consider a career in software development. Not only can software development be a lucrative profession—earning approximately $100,690 each year, according to the Department of Labor—but it can also provide ample job security. Software development is expected to grow by a rate that is more than double the national average.
When seeking a career in software development, there are a few options available that allow professionals to customize their expertise and direction. Individuals can choose to focus on the development and design of applications for consumers (such as Microsoft Word), or they can focus their work on the creation of systems that allow devices to operate properly (the different OS versions behind Apple, for example).
Software developers work in every setting imaginable; they can work for nonprofits, for big corporations like Google, they can even work to bring their own ideas to life as free-lance professionals. Your other interests may help guide you to an industry or career goal. Popular niches include mobile app development and video game design. No matter where you go in the world, there will be a need for someone with the skills to develop new software.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
An online software development degree lets you combine your love of computer science, math and logic into one program. Software development is also one of the most creative professions within computer science and information technology. In addition to a deep understanding of computers and the science behind their programming, software developers must have the originality it takes to fuel their professional development and growth.
In addition to computer skills and creativity, software development requires analytical skills and the ability to collaborate and communicate with colleagues and customers in order to bring projects to life.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
For most professionals in software development, a bachelor’s degree—particularly focused development or engineering—is most common. An online master's degree in software development may help you move up from applications development to the management of corporate systems.
This career typically falls along a web in which each opportunity can lead to another and some require a substantial repertoire of experience. For the ambitious types, a career in software development can be one of the stepping stones along the path to IT management and other executive positions.
When considering the type of path that you would like to take in your professional career, research a variety of programs that may cater to your goals. Some programs allow their students to focus specifically on applications or other concentrations, and many may provide internships that will correspond to the curriculum in a way that can provide advantageous experience, networking, and learning opportunities.
You'll learn how to design, build and test software systems. You may want to consider taking a few communications classes as well—many software engineers have to work in large teams, so excellent interpersonal skills could serve you well in your career.
Common courses include:
- Scripting & Programming
- Software Applications
- Operating Systems
- Web Development
- IT Fundamentals
- Technical Writing
Keep an eye out for programs that provide students with the preparation for particular certifications upon graduation. Many employers will take a special notice of Certified Software Development Professionals and candidates with other IT certifications.
GetEducated found that the average online four-year degree (bachelor's) in computer science costs $50,000. When deciding on a program, consider what types of resources are included in the price of a degree. It is also important to consider that technological equipment, books, and other expenses are not included in the total estimated cost.