What Does a Software Developer Do? A Behind-the-Scenes Look

what does a software developer do

You’ve always had a penchant for solving puzzles and problems — especially when it comes to technology. Not only that, but friends and family count on you being the first one in line when a new gadget is released. You simply love the innovative and avant-garde world of tech.

You have a lot of the characteristics of a person who would make a great software developer: you’re musically inclined, you like working with people, and you stay intrinsically motivated. This techy job seems like a great place for you to start, but you’re probably wondering, What does a software developer do every day?

We connected with professional software developers across the country and gathered government data to help you answer this very question. If you’re interested in a sneak peek of the career life of a software developer, read on.

What exactly is a software developer?

You know that app you love on your phone? That computer game that kept you transfixed for hours as a middle schooler? That program that helps you budget and track expenditures? Software developers created all of them.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developers are the creative, brainstorming geniuses behind computer programs. While some software developers may focus on a specific program or app, others create giant networks or underlying systems that help trigger and run other programs.

Everything in today’s world is revolved around technology, which means qualified software developers are a hot commodity. The BLS projects software development jobs will increase 17 percent through 2024. This is more than two time faster than the national average for all occupations. And this demand is met with above-average earning potential. The median annual salary for software developers in 2015 was $100,690, according to the BLS.*

What are the job duties of a software developer?

Much of the actual creation of software programs happens through the writing of code, and software developers oversee that. Depending on the company where he or she works, a software developer will analyze the needs of the user and then create, test and develop software that will solve a problem, bring joy or make life easier for that target market.

After mapping out the design, creating flowcharts and drafting out each step of the process, developers will create diagrams and models to instruct programmers how to write the code for the program.

Other job duties include mapping out the software to have on record for future upgrades and enhancements, testing the software, and collaborating with other computer specialists to make sure the software is top notch and functioning properly.

What skills does a software developer need?

Not only are software developers in charge of outlining and creating the code and design for a program, but these types of careers generally involve a lot of collaboration. It’s important for a software developer to have a combination of technical know-how and excellent people skills.

1. Problem solving

The whole point of developing software is to create programs that solve the user’s problem. If you’re the type who isn’t discouraged by looking at a program and figuring out the best way to approach it, you might enjoy the world of software development.

2. Great people skills

Contrary to what’s commonly assumed, software developers spend a lot of time teaming up with other developers and programmers to create a prime product for the user. Great communication, empathy and a knack for working with others is a must.

3. Puzzles and strategy

Coding and software are enigmas of a sort, and if you’re someone who likes solving a mystery by looking at the big picture as well as the smaller steps along the way, you’ll be right at home developing software. There’s a lot of planning that goes into these types of programs, and if you can figure out the fastest path from point A to point B, the world of software development will welcome you with open arms. 

4. Intrinsically motivated

Creating software can be tricky work, so it’s important that you don’t get bogged down and discouraged when you don’t succeed the first time you try something. Staying upbeat while continuously solving puzzle after puzzle serves software developers well.

Where do software developers work?

Software developers held 1.1 million jobs in 2014, according to the BLS. The environment in which you would work depends on the type of product you’re creating. While some software developers spend much of their time in office environments, others work in firms or telecommute. The BLS reveals that they work for organizations that offer variations of the following services:

  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Software publishers
  • Computer and electronic product manufacturing
  • Management of companies and enterprises

There are several options when it comes to the work environment, as well as the type of work a software developer may end up doing. You can tailor your career to your individual tastes and interests with this kind of variety.

Will you live long and prosper?

As the Vulcan salute from Star Trek proclaims, we want you to prosper — and if you have the aforementioned qualities, we think you’ll thrive in a career as a software developer. Nowadays, every corporation needs some sort of connection with developers or a company that employs them. The future for this job is bright!

Now that you’ve had a backstage look at the life of a software developer, you can better discern whether this career is the right fit for you. Check out our software application development page to learn more about how Rasmussen College can help prepare you for success in this growing field.

*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.



This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college and Public Benefit Corporation.

Lauren is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She enjoys helping current and potential students choose the path that helps them achieve their educational goals.

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