What Is a Software Developer? Definition and Skills

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 9 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Software developers create computer programs and solve technical problems using their creativity, analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. With the world becoming more digitised, these professionals are high in demand. While software development is a lucrative profession, you need to have the necessary education, qualification, practical training and skills to be successful in this career. In this article, we will discuss what is a software developer, what they do, why become one, explore their salary, understand the skills, programming language needed and steps required to become a software developer.

Related: How To Become a Web Developer

What is a software developer?

A software developer is a professional who is responsible for designing and building computer programs. Some may build underlying operating systems, while others may focus only on developing new mobile and desktop applications. They also develop computer games and other digital architecture. Using their skills, they create internal programmes that help a business be more efficient or create software which their company can sell in the open market. Furthermore, they can either work in a team or as a freelancer.

What does a software developer do?

A software developer writes code to build online structures, environments and applications. As a result, mastery over one or more programming language is necessary for this job role. They perform the following tasks:

  • Develop and test software based on client's specifications

  • Upgrade existing software

  • Document their work for future references

  • Perform quality assurance on applications they develop or upgrade

Why become a software developer?

Here are a few reasons for becoming a developer:

  • High demand: as every industry requires different software products, these professionals are high in demand. With the increased use of technology, the demand for these skilled professionals is likely to rise in the coming years.

  • Various career options: as a developer, you can choose the programming language in which you want to code. Also, you can choose between working as an independent contractor or freelancer or with a large multinational company. These professionals can work in different industries, from content management to healthcare to gaming.

  • Higher learning prospects: there are plenty of tools available online using which you can learn different programming languages. While a degree in software development is preferable, it's not always mandatory. You can learn the basics from books, videos and online courses.

Software developer salary

The average national salary of a software developer is ₹6,44,677 per year. However, the salary varies depending upon your qualification, programming languages you use, experience and job location.

Some high paying Indian cities for this job profession are:

  • Hyderabad: ₹8,26,752 per year

  • Chennai: ₹7,84,588 per year

  • Bengaluru: ₹7,75,047 per year

  • Mumbai: ₹7,58,636 per year

  • Pune: ₹5,69,817 per year

  • Gurgaon: ₹5,22,681 per year

  • Noida: ₹4,41,319 per year

  • New Delhi: ₹4,33,732 per year

What skills do you need to be a software developer?

A successful software developer requires both hard and soft skills to work efficiently and create applications. Though hard skills may be different for every job role, you should know some basic coding to excel in this field. Here are some of the primary hard and soft skills required by developers in their workplace:

Hard skills

Here are some of the more technical skills you may need:

  • Programming language and framework

  • Mathematics and data analysis

  • Data structure and algorithms

  • Source control

  • Integrated development environment

  • Databases

  • Environment

  • Agile and scrum development methods

  • Software development lifecycle

  • Debugging and software testing

Soft skills

These are the less technical skills you may need that are still important:

  • Problem-solving

  • Open-mindedness and adaptability

  • Empathy

  • Patience

  • Critical thinking

  • Creativity

  • Accountability

  • Confidence

  • Teamwork and collaboration

Programming languages needed

Some of the essential programming languages for software development and aspiring developers are:

  • Java: a general-purpose programming language that works on a variety of platforms. If you want a career in Android Smartphone application development, learning this language is desirable.

  • Python: a high-level object-oriented programming language making it a preferred choice for application and web development. Though Python programs generally run slower than Java programs, they are four to five times shorter than Java program.

  • C++: another object-oriented programming language used for high-level and low-level functions. It is a universal programming language that can work on every operating system and develop any software type.

  • Ruby: one of the simplest languages because one does not have to learn commands or vocabulary. It is ideal for developing small websites.

  • Scala: it is a relatively new programming language. When compared with C++ and Java, Scala is easy to learn. Also, the language combines functional and object-oriented programming in one concise language.

  • JavaScript: it helps in developing interactive front end application. JavaScript is the programming language of the web and highly versatile and software developers can use it to build a diverse range of applications.

Related: Front End Developer Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a software developer

Follow this step-by-step guide to become a software developer:

1. Clear your higher secondary or 10+2

If you want to enter the field of software development, you have to clear to 10+2 or any equivalent examination from a recognised board with Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry as compulsory subjects. Those who do not want to pursue their graduation can complete different software development certifications offered by reputed companies. These certifications can bring a lot of opportunities and enhance your skill set.

2. Earn a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology (IT) or a related field can help you enter the software development field. You can either pursue a diploma course or go for specialised degrees like B.E or B.Tech. For getting admission into engineering colleges, you will have to clear engineering entrance exams.

3. Further your education

To further increase your prospects and earn a higher salary, you can consider completing a post-graduation course in computer or related fields after earning your bachelor's degree. Most senior roles in software development often require a master's degree. So, you can either gain some work experience and pursue your higher education or complete it soon after completing your bachelor's degree.

4. Complete your internship

It is mandatory to complete an internship in your engineering course but if you pursue a diploma course, to get hands-on experience and exposure, complete some internship. As you gain real-life experience, you can decide on the programming language you want to master to start your career. Often, companies hire their software development interns as full-time employees upon completion of their internship.

5. Learn software tools and programming language

During your engineering or diploma course, you will learn the basics of different coding languages. Employers prefer hiring candidates knowing one or two programming languages. So, based on your interest and market demand, you can learn any of the languages, including Ruby, Java, ASP.NET, C++, C#, Javascript, Python. Start with learning and mastering one language, get well-versed in it before switching to another language. Whichever language you choose, remember to learn about its syntax, libraries, rules and features.

Related: What Is JavaScript?

6. Create your CV

To provide potential employers with detailed information about your professional accomplishment and skill set in the development field, create a compelling CV. Also, mention your skills, educational experience and anything that sets you apart from other candidates. Also, tailor your CV based on the job requirement and use keywords from the job description to make your CV Applicant Tracking System (ATS) compliant.

7. Develop a portfolio

For entry-level candidates, having a portfolio is the best way to showcase your passion for the field. You can highlight any contribution you made during the internship or your graduation. Also, you can even include code experiments in your portfolio.

What is the difference between a software developer and a software engineer?

Software developers create programs running on a computer, whereas software engineers apply engineering principles and best practices to develop different software products and run network control systems. The primary difference between software developers and software engineer are:

Job focus

While software engineers develop software and process that can perform specific tasks, developers primarily give importance to the design and user experience of programs they create. These software developers are responsible for providing the look and feel of the applications they develop. Also, developers develop apps using pre-existing or readily available tools, whereas engineers create tools to build software.

Work process and style

Engineers usually work with other engineers when building a system, whereas developers take care of only development and may or may not work with other developers. Also, engineers follow a more systematic approach, whereas developers have more scope for creativity.

Career path

The common job titles of software engineers are lead software development engineer and principal software engineer. In software development, the common job roles are software architect and software developer.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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