How to Get Started
as a Software Developer

Refine Your Skills and Remain Relevant

Software engineers are constantly learning. As a software developer, you can always learn new skills to progress your career. Programming languages are always evolving so it is important to remain constantly on top of newly released tech.

This article covers how to become a software developer. It also looks at how to refine your skills if you already have a background in coding. We will cover career and educational paths. If you want to find out more about what software development entails, this article is for you.

What Is a Software Developer?

A software developer is a programmer that creates code to build and upgrade software. A software developer is the same as a software engineer. Developers use tools and technologies to create websites and applications.

A software developer uses programming languages such as JavaScript, Python, C, C++, and PHP, among others. These languages serve as a middle-man between the programmer and a server. Software engineers also use pre-existing software such as GitHub, ProofHub, and LeanKit. A software engineer should be fluent in these tools.

How Does Software Development Relate to Data Science?

These fields overlap and complement each other. One characteristic they share is a need for coding. Software engineering is primarily concerned with coding, while data scientists need to have basic knowledge of at least one programming language.

However, there are some elementary differences. Data science is more focused on finding insights from data, while software development focuses on building systems.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Software Developer?

The most popular option for becoming a software engineer is to complete a bachelor’s degree, which generally takes four years.

A bachelor’s degree allows you to specialize in a technology or a tool that interests you. For example, you can enroll in a bachelor’s degree in computer science at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and pursue a specialization in programming with Python.

If you don’t have four years to spare, there are quicker ways to become a software engineer. For example, you can complete a coding boot camp program. These can last anywhere between four and 18 months. Coding boot camps are fantastic for young professionals looking to switch careers.

Finally, if you want to learn by yourself, you can use resources such as YouTube.

Where to Study Software Development

Where you study will depend on what your goals are. If you have no coding or computer science background, it is highly recommended to get a bachelor’s degree. If you are a professional and simply want to switch careers, coding bootcamps or online courses can do the trick.

Software Development Community Colleges

In the US, community colleges are also referred to as technical colleges. Community colleges provide a two-year education and can be a great place to study software engineering.

Software Development Universities

University is the best place to study software engineering. American universities can be competitive and selective in who they choose to admit. It helps immensely if you have a high school diploma. Universities also accept applications from young professionals with experience.

Software Development Coding Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps are designed to address the growing demand for developers and software engineers. The great thing about bootcamps is that they are short. Furthermore, courses are laser-focused on specific topics. Coding bootcamps are offered online or in person.

Software Development Online Courses

The Internet has become a great tool for training and education. There are hundreds of engineering courses on the web, some of which are free. In most cases, online course providers ask for a fee to provide students with a certificate of completion. Certificates are a great way to bulk up your resume and impress employers.

How to Become a Software Developer A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Software Developer A Step-by-Step Guide

There are many avenues you can choose to become a software developer. We’ve provided you with a step-by-step guide on how to start.

Get an education

You should start by setting your sights on getting an education. As mentioned above, there are many options available. With your background in mind, think about whether a university degree or a bootcamp program would be best for you.

Get some practical experience

As with most professions, a degree is not enough. To become a proficient software developer, you need to demonstrate your abilities. The best way to get experience is through an internship. You may want to consider offering your services for free to build up a portfolio.

If you are proactive, you can also try your hand at working on personal projects. Employers are always looking out for creative individuals to hire.


Now that you have an education and some experience, find a specialization that works for you. There are thousands of coding enthusiasts like yourself so find a specialization you’re passionate about.

Get certified

Whether you want to work freelance or at a company, get certified. Many organizations offer certifications online. A certification will boost your professional credentials and allow you to land senior roles later on.

Apply for entry-level jobs

Now that you have a robust resume and some solid credentials, make yourself visible to employers. The best way to land a software developer job is to apply directly to a company that you love. Alternatively, you can use social media tools such as LinkedIn to reach out to potential employers.

Entry-Level Software Developer Job Requirements

With no professional experience, applying for jobs can be daunting. Software engineering jobs require specific skills. You should have in-depth knowledge of basic programming languages like C++, HTML, and JavaScript, as well as basic programming experience.

Education is likewise paramount; you are much more likely to get hired if you have a degree or have completed a boot camp.

Software Developer Salary and Job Outlook

Software engineering can be a lucrative profession. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for software developers was $110,140 in 2020.

Furthermore, software engineers are very much in demand. The amount of jobs in software engineering is set to increase by 22 percent between 2019 and 2029.

Example Software Developer Job Interview Questions

  • In your opinion, what does the software development process entail?
  • Why would you like to work in our company?
  • What is responsive design?
  • How do you go about testing bugs and resolving problems when designing software?

What Does a Software Developer Do?

Software engineers build the applications and websites that make the world go round. Software engineering is a profession that is expanding constantly. Software engineers need to stay on top of new technologies and skillsets. We’ve provided some insight into what developers do daily.

Design the Software Development Life Cycle

A software developer has to create and implement a strategy to create software. This involves brainstorming, setting schedules, and executing plans. This process usually involves collaboration. Software developers work in tandem with web designers, other programmers, and quality assurance professionals.

Backend Development

Software developers can specialize in different aspects of coding. Software developers who specialized in backend development typically focus solely on server-side programming. This usually involves collaborating with front end programmers to fix API issues. Backend developers also create libraries of reusable code that a company needs.

Data Engineering

Software developers have to work with data to create effective and functional code. Programmers are expected to know how to build data pipelines. This usually involves using extract, transform and load tools (ETL). In some cases, developers work with data scientists. In other cases, they solve data-related issues on their own.

Essential Software Developer Skills and Certifications

Essential Software Developer Skills and Certifications

Exhibiting certain abilities is necessary for any software developer. To land a job at a company, developers need to prove that can complete specific tasks using specific technologies.

Software Developer Skills

Programming Languages

The most important skill that a software developer needs is mastery of a coding language. There are many languages a developer can choose from. They must learn JavaScript, C++, and Python. Coding languages can be used to work on the client or server-side of programming. JavaScript was the most popular language in 2020.


Most software development courses and programs cover algorithms and data structure, essential skills for any software developer. Algorithms help developers use and organize data to solve real-life problems.

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

IDEs are crucial tools for software developers. They allow you to write, test, and run your code, all in one environment. There are many IDEs available, each with their own specifics. Every developer needs to know how to utilize different IDEs as companies work with different environments.

Software Developer Certifications

A certification is the perfect way to show what your capable of as a software developer. Certifications are a surefire way to ramp up your credentials.

Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional

The International Information System Security Certification Consortium provides certifications for professionals who wish to further their skills in development safety practices. The certification consists of training and an exam and costs around $500.

The Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP) is a certification offered by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This certification is geared towards software developers with at least two years of experience and costs about $400.

CIW is a very reputable IT certification. It is awarded after passing three examinations. These include Perl, JavaScript, and database design specialist exams. The price of the exams varies from country to country but expect to pay a total of more than $400 to earn this certification.

Reasons to Become a Software Engineer in 2021

Software engineering is a growing and diverse field with a very promising job outlook and high earning potential. In addition, a skilled software engineer can choose to work as a freelancer or seek employment at a company.

The market for software engineering is expanding in 2021. Coding bootcamps have been designed to fill the gap in the supply of software developers; these programs are a testament to the number of professional opportunities in the field.

Software Engineer FAQ

Is it possible to work at home as a software developer?

Software developers can work from home with the correct tools. If you have a powerful computer, you can technically work from home. In light of the pandemic, companies have increasingly shifted online, and more and more developers are working remotely.

Where is the best place to be a software developer?

Software engineers are in demand globally. San Francisco is known to be the best place to be a software engineer in the US because engineers fetch the highest salaries countrywide there.

How do I write a software developer resume?

As with most resumes, you should break down your software developer resume into sections. Make sure your education and certifications are very visible. You should also include any relevant personal projects or side projects.

Is it hard to become a software developer?

Becoming a software developer takes years of practice and self-improvement. To become a good software developer, you should try your hand at mastering related skills. These include, but are not limited to, math, science, communication, and digital marketing.

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