Software development is a varied, creative and challenging career including problem-solving, continued learning and collaboration on several projects. It’s an incredibly rewarding career and, as high-quality software developers are in constant demand, can offer impressive salaries. However, the fact that software developers are needed does not mean that it’s easy to walk into a job. The industry is fast moving and, to be successful, you need to develop a varied skillset to outshine the competition. If you’re interested in becoming a software developer, here are some of the essential things you need to know about the career and its many benefits.
Why Become a Software Developer?
Software development may not be suited to everyone, but for some people, it offers the perfect career, and if you like the sound of the following, you could be one of those people.
Software developers are constantly called upon to find solutions to problems for users from quick fixes to broader strategic projects. Spending your days finding answers can be challenging but also extremely rewarding.
You need to be able to think through problems and solutions, experiment and adopt different points of view to create the best resolution and make new technologies work to your advantage.
Software developers tend to work on a variety of different projects with each one bringing technologies, systems, and skills, as well as opportunities to explore new areas of businesses.
You’ll constantly be adapting to new technologies and a range of programming languages to keep up with the industry and stay ahead of the competition.
A software developer needs to have exceptional technical skills as you would expect, but the best are also great team players and communicators. You’ll be collaborating and sharing knowledge at every turn as well as working with colleagues in other departments.
Being able to work from home or wherever you have a good internet connection is ideal for maintaining a work/life balance. Software developers can often live wherever they want, work for companies on completely different continents and build a work schedule around their personal life rather than the other way around. If you choose to be an independent freelance developer, you will have even more flexibility.
Technology and software are replacing the need for several types of jobs, but as they do so they are only solidifying our reliance on developers who can improve and maintain these systems, so you should be confident that you’ve chosen a secure career path with good prospects.
How to Start a Great Career in Software Development
Make Code Your Life
The foundation of your career as a software developer is coding and programming, so you need to make it a part of your everyday life until it essentially becomes a second language. Practice in your spare time and stay up to date with changes in the programming world.
Widen Your Knowledge
Some software developers choose to specialise in a specific programming language, but when you’re starting out, it’s best to ensure you have a diverse skillset so you will have more employment opportunities. You can spend more time on the most popular coding programs, plus later in your career, you may be able to focus on one and establish yourself as an expert.
You can also broaden your knowledge and skills by studying related areas of computer and data science or applied statistics which could make you an invaluable asset to a company. For example, the American university Michigan Tech offers an online degree in statistics which can enhance your professional skillset.
Get Experience with a Big Company
Any experience is going to help you build your CV, but if you can get a position at a high-profile technology company, it will make you more noticeable to potential employers in the future. However, smaller companies are always on the lookout for quality developers, and these can be ideal opportunities to develop more rounded skills.
Build Your Own Website or Do Some Freelance Work
When you do have a full-time position, it’s still a good idea to keep your own side projects on the go to ensure you stay in touch with what’s happening in the software development industry. You may also be able to manage freelance work so that you can continue to build your experience and ensure you don’t get too set in one company’s way of working.
Join Online Software Development Communities
There are some great online communities and forums of software developers which can be great places to share knowledge and ask questions to further your skills.
Don’t forget to work on your soft skills alongside your technical expertise. You need to be able to communicate effectively both in interviews and once you’re working within a team. Show that you’re personable, capable of thinking creatively and that you’re not afraid of a challenge.
Consider Moving Jobs
If you’re happy in the same company working on the same types of projects for the long term, then obviously this point is not relevant for you. However, if you don’t have any desire to stay with the same company, then you’ll find moving companies will give you the most extensive breadth of experience. However, remember that moving around too frequently or being unreliable will not stand you in good stead when it comes to your reputation. Ensure you’re always professional and build positive working relationships in both steady jobs and when working freelance.
One of the most important things to remember throughout your career is that you can never be too skilled. Continue to study, experiment, learn and share knowledge to ensure you attain the highest level of expertise you can. The beauty of a career in software development is that you are only limited by your own ingenuity and willingness to learn. Work towards your own goals as well as those set by an employer whether that’s learning a new coding language or understanding another side of the business such as UX or marketing.