Software developers are the creators of both computer programs and the underlying systems that run said programs. Applications software developers create computer applications and games while systems software developers engineer operating systems and interfaces for the platforms themselves.
Whether it’s the banking app we use, the online store we love to shop in, the zombie-filled game that we can’t seem to put down, the smart system we talk to in our cars, or even the behind-the-scenes programming running our cell phones, our lives are heavily impacted by the work of software developers.
These professionals are more often concerned with the facets of the software development process rather than actually writing the code for it, though they sometimes do both. The development process includes researching, designing, testing, and programming computer software. Not only must they analyze users’ and customers’ needs, they must also be able to provide step-by-step instructions for how to realize these needs. The ability to design complex systems using easy-to-understand flow charts, models, and diagrams is a must as these are what are passed along to the computer programmers to code the software.
Once the software has reached a certain point, software developers focus on ensuring that the software works as expected by working closely with programmers and testers. If either reports difficulty in use or errors in functionality with the software, developers must perform the necessary updates and maintenance.
Many software developers work creating industry-specific software to benefit various medical, business, aerospace, military, industrial, and scientific applications. Since these applications and networks can be incredibly complex, software developers must be keen problem-solvers, good communicators, and highly strategic in their approach. The best software developers can envision the ‘big picture’ and the minute details, to determine a strategy to incorporate all of it. Working as a team, software developers brainstorm and devise the best ways to strategically create the best solutions through lots of planning, troubleshooting, and testing.
Since the field is technically and mentally demanding, these professionals have vast and varied job opportunities are in high-demand.
The skills required for a career in software development include four Cs vital in 21st century skills learning – critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.
- Determine the best approach in creating the necessary program or network
- Engineer efficient solutions
- Problem-solve and troubleshoot errors and bugs
- Determine the client goals and priorities
- Coordinate within a team
- Consider co-worker ideas and strategies
- Listen to the needs of the client
- Establish and communicate project timelines and expectations
- Delineate software needs using models and diagrams
- Divulge project updates regularly
- Brainstorm potential solutions and platforms
- Optimize strategy for efficiency
- Develop more efficient processes and procedures