The position of a software developer is one of the best-paid positions in the computer industry. Despite the high salaries, there are still not enough programmers in comparison to the demand for computer software.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2014, the median annual pay for a software developer was equal to $97,990. The same institution forecasted that the employment would grow by 17% within the next ten years.
Today, in the world of software development, programmers remain highly demanded professionals. Moreover, the need for such individuals is likely to grow due to the increasing demand for new applications.
The relatively high salary and a good work environment that the employers provide for software developers might make many people think about pursuing a career on this field. However, there must be a reason there are still so many vacancies for programmers on the job market. The job is not for everyone, and many people fail to understand what it takes to become a good software developer.
“Programmers have a drive to create and build new things,” said Eva Groudas, an instructor of computer science at Saint Leo University. “Unlike an architect who builds buildings that can last centuries, a programmer’s work may become obsolete in less than a year. A programmer’s job is never done. As technology changes such as devices, hardware, operating system upgrades, etc. their software must constantly keep up. Sometimes a programmer must rewrite their code to a completely new platform.”
Many developers dream of creating a product that would be as successful as Apple’s or Microsoft’s software. Even though the programmers put a lot of effort into creating applications they believe will be successful, they do not always reach that goal. In contrast, there are developers who create applications because they love what they do. A good example of this kind of programmer could be the creator of the Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen. In 2014, the application was one of the most popular games on mobile devices. However, when he discovered that people who played it became addicted to it instead of using it to relax, he decided to get rid of the application from the market.
The example of Nguyen indicates that sometimes the success might come when nobody expects it. In some cases, the success is just a matter of good luck. Many software developers believe that they can be lucky, and they can create their future by designing just one very good program.
“Many programmers start out thinking ‘I can create one program and become a millionaire;’ the ’create once and make a million copies’ philosophy,” said Groudas. “Some programmers have been lucky to achieve this, but many have failed and, as a result, give up pretty quickly. Many of those who have succeeded had to overcome many failures and keep going. If you keep at it, keep improving, keep adapting, even if it means trashing what you have done and starting over, maybe even on something new, et cetera, it will lead to success.”
The hard work and perseverance seem to be a key to becoming a successful software developer. However, those who want to pursue this kind of carrier need to make a choice whether they want to be hired by a software design company or they want to start their own business.
According to Groudas, “some programmers are entrepreneurs at heart, but with that, they must understand the pitfalls along with the gains. As an entrepreneur, the odds are against you when creating a new company and most do not make it past five years of operation. “
People who have never had any experience with programming might consider it difficult. Unfortunately, because of such reasoning they do not even wonder about becoming software developers. The lack of knowledge about what the job actually is, creates in them a fear of trying and being challenged.
Good training allows people to become experts in their professions, and the job of a programmer is not any different. The routine of trying, failing, and trying again could be the best solution for anybody who wants to become a developer. Regardless, people might ask how difficult it actually is.
“When you love what you do, it is never difficult, it’s challenging. Programming is challenging in that you must think for the computer and in order to tell it what to do. You figure the ins and outs of what is possible,” said Groudas.
Of course, to love the job, a person needs to have a set of particular personality traits. Not everybody can like it but, certainly, anybody can try it. Despite all the challenges that the occupation might entail, some people may consider the challenge being worth the effort. Since the market of software design is growing, more and more developers will be needed to meet the user’s demands.
However, in order to become a successful software developer, one will need to learn more than just coding. Since the demand for computer applications is getting higher, the developers are asked to perform more and more tasks. When this happens, they are referred to as software engineers instead of just programmers. Being able to multitask is the feature that employers look for in recruits. The feature also allows the employees to earn more money that while coding the programs only.
“In short, programmers/developers/software engineers get paid well, because they do many jobs efficiently,” said Groudas. “Unfortunately, many times they burn themselves out and decide to move up the chain to IT Managers/IT Chairs, etc. or they make enough money to venture to another career.”
Paradoxically, the development of technology can be a friend as well as a challenge for the developers. Even though it somewhat ensures that they are likely to remain on their positions for many years, it also provides them with many new tasks every day. In order to maintain their effectiveness in the job, they have to learn about the new technologies and adapt to them as quickly as possible.
Even though the position of a software developer seems to be very appealing for anyone who seeks a high income and a safe future in the computer industry, not everyone will become a professional on the field. Although, the lack of understanding what the software development is, makes people less likely to try to learn programming.
Computer programmers are professionals who help users interact with their computers and take advantage of any utility that the machines might provide. Since the demand for software developers is relatively high, many people decide to pursue the career. However, some might ask what the first step towards the career should be.
The process of becoming a software developer is slightly different than careers in other areas of technology or business. Because of the ongoing development of technology and the high demand for skilled professionals, becoming a developer does not always lead through a four-year college degree or earning certificates.
The most important aspect while trying to pursue a career in this field is if the prospective employee can prove that he or she is capable of doing the job efficiently enough, then the college degree is not required. Nevertheless, those people who earn their bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, are more likely to be hired by big companies.
“Most programmers in the industry either come from straight from college, or they are high school graduates who may have taken a course or two and earned a certification in a programming language,” said Groudas. “Thus, the process of becoming a programmer requires education.”
Even though becoming a programmer does not require a college degree, it might be very helpful while looking for the job and after being hired.
“The huge benefit of earning the college degree is that you have taught the vast areas of computer science and taught how to think like computer scientists, thus moving up the chain to Software Engineer/Architect is must easier,” said Groudas. “With a college degree, you are respected more, paid more and you are more marketable. Companies love to advertise how many college graduates they have, especially with consulting companies bidding for working.”
Early education allows prospective programmers to build a strong foundation for their future career. Through learning they can also get familiar with the technology that might become more complex in the upcoming time. Not only does it help them to understand what it takes to be a computer programmer, but also it allows them to become more interested in the profession.
“Many high schools today offer computer programming classes, and I think it’s great,” said Groudas. “The sooner you get exposed, the better, and the stronger your interest may become in the field.”
Nevertheless, looking to be hired by a company is not the only path that a computer programmer might take in order to achieve a successful carrier. Some developers decide to start their own business by designing computer software, web services, or mobile applications by themselves. However, those people who decide to pursue the career of a computer programmer by this way need to have an entrepreneur’s personality and a set of particular skills.
“Successful entrepreneurial programmers know their target audience, understand what they want and need and provide that service, and do not worry about competition,” said Groudas.
In regards to the set of features that a good software developer should have, Groudas mentioned that “a good programmer must love challenges, love to solve puzzles and be able to analyze. The person must be willing to keep learning, and be willing to accept failure and move on quickly. The person needs to have creative nature and understand aspects of computer science. Loving math is a huge plus as well.”
Some people might ask what the first step towards the career of a computer programmer should be. In fact, becoming a good programmer does not only require strong coding skills. In order to create good applications, programmers need to have open minds and be able to take advantage of knowledge from disciplines other than computer science or math.
“First, I recommend they become proficient in at least one object-orient programming language,” said Groudas. “Then I recommend taking as many vast classes as you can in computer science, and take classes outside of computer science. For example, I recommend taking business classes, if choose to become an entrepreneur or move up the company chain. I also recommend classes such Art, Communications, Journalism, etc. As a developer you want your applications to follow art, communications, and journalism principles that make it welcoming and sell.”
In general, education is the key to becoming a successful programmer. In this field, education does not necessarily mean earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Understanding the technology, being able to take advantage of its features, and knowing how to fulfill end-users’ demand are the most important aspects while being a software developer
Programming, like any other profession, requires some time to master it, and the earlier the prospective programmer starts his education, the more likely it is that the success will become a reality. Of course, not everybody can be successful, but anybody can try to get involved in creating new applications.
Even if some people have already started his or her career in a field that seems to be not associated with programming, it does not mean that the knowledge they have will not help them become good programmers. In fact, the knowledge of how to incorporate multiple disciplines of arts and sciences into a program is crucial to make the application comprehensible and easy to utilize for the end-users.
The main reason there are still not enough programmers on the market is the rapid development of technology. The demand for new applications is disproportionate to the amount of time it takes to educate and train new software developers. Along with the growth of the field in a computer industry, some developers might follow the path of big companies such as Microsoft and design their own products. Taking into account that such companies hire many employees to develop their programs, the profession of a software developer is likely to remain in demand for a long time.