Software Developer: Career Guide & Salary Facts

Learn more about careers as software developers. Find information on career opportunities, duties and task, education and training, career specializations, and salary information. View popular schools that prepare students for careers as software developers.

Duties & Tasks

Software developers develop software, conduct system testing, and modify existing software for accuracy. They develop software to meet the needs of an organization and recommend upgrades when needed. Software developers maintain the functionality of software through routine maintenance and document any issues for future testing. They also correspond with customers on the status of their software programs with regard to upgrades, maintenance, and technical issues. Software developers may also be tasked with supervising a software development project from beginning to end. In addition, they provide computer programmers with development instructions in order for the code to be written for the software program.

Education Requirements

Those interested in becoming a software developer should have an aptitude for computer science and mathematics. Software developers typically hold a baccalaureate degree in areas such as software engineering, computer science, or other technology-related field. Some employers may require a master’s degree as well. Students should take courses in coding and software building. Software developers should also have a solid foundation in the industry in which they plan to work, such as finance or healthcare. Graduates of software development programs also need to keep up to date on the newest tools, innovations, and computer language in order to remain relevant in the field.


There are two specialization areas that software developers can focus on. These specializations include the following:

  • Applications Developer:
  • This type of software developer is tasked with designing computer applications. These applications may include programs such as word processors, graphic design programs, or games. They may design both customized software for clients and commercial software for the public.

  • Systems Developer:
  • This specialization area focuses on the creation of operating systems. They may design operating systems for the general public or provide customized software for a specific client.

Salary & Job Growth

Employment opportunities for software developers are expected to increase by 30% from 2010-2020. This rapid rise in employment may be due to the increased demand for computer software. The increase in mobile technology may also be a cause for the increase as these products utilize software programs. There were over 900,000 software developers employed as of 2010. They earned a median annual salary of $90,530 and an average hourly rate of $43.52.

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