Do friends and family often come to you with their tech troubles? Have you always had a penchant for solving issues and puzzles, especially technology-related? If so, becoming a software developer may be just the career for you.
Having many years of experience in the world of technology, I have put together my 13 tips on becoming a software developer to give you a helping hand:
Table of Contents
What is a software developer?
A software developer is a creative mastermind behind every sort of computer program. While some software developers focus on specific types of computer programs, others are broader in their approach.
You will be tasked with identifying, designing, testing, and installing a software system that you have built.
Some of the different skills that are required for this role include:
- The ability to create complex databases for organisations
- Strong problem-solving skills
- The ability to write and maintain software
- Keen attention to detail
- Critical thinking
- Effectiveness at designing, testing, and developing software to meet user needs
- The ability to use more than one development language
13 ways to become a software developer
Now that you have a good understanding of what a software developer is and the sort of skills you are going to need, let’s take a look at some of the steps you can follow to craft a career for yourself in this area:
1. What is your end goal?
There is only one place to begin, and this is by figuring out what your end goal is. Where do you envision yourself working? What sort of projects do you want to work on? Do you want to work for yourself or do you see yourself working for a certain type of business?
You do not need to have all of the answers yet. Nevertheless, by outlining your objectives, it will help you to plot your career path more effectively.
After all, software developers can work in so many different industries, including computer system design, insurance, finance, software publishing, and much more.
Some people prefer to work remotely, others want to be in a traditional office environment. There are many different options, so it makes sense to have a little conversation with yourself and figure out what you want. This will make it easier for you to have direction in your job hunt and skill-gathering process.
2. Learn a programming language
If you want to have a good career in software development, a solid foundation in programming languages is a must. Four of the main programming languages today are Scala, C++, Python, and Java.
- Python is a good place to begin, as it is widely deemed one of the easier languages to learn. This makes it ideal if you are new to the world of programming. It is an object-oriented language, which is known for being incredibly versatile, with applications in data analysis, development, and scripting.
- Java is a language we are sure you have heard of. Java is an all-purpose programming language, which is utilised to develop server-side applications. It works on a number of different platforms, including Android smartphones and Internet applications.
- Scala is a high-level programming language. It brings both object-oriented and functional programming concepts together. Because of this, it is a good skill to have, but you probably wouldn’t want to start off with Scala. The reason Scala was designed was to address some of the shortcomings Java had.
- C/C++ is a popular language for systems programming, in particular. Based on C, it is also regularly used by those involved in game development. You can learn both languages, as they are quite similar.
3. Take a course
The vast majority of software developers hold a degree of some sort. While it is not a necessity to complete a degree in order to become a software developer, it can certainly help. Not only will you acquire the skills that are required to make it in this role, but you will also meet a lot of people that can help you along the way.
As you look for the best degrees to take, you may want to consider those that place an emphasis on the likes of information technology, computer science, and software engineering.
4. Supplement your studies
A lot of the educational books available today are out of date. After all, technology moves at such a rapid pace today.
Because of this, it makes sense to supplement your studies.
You can also make the most of StackOverflow, which is a great question and answer website that has been designed with developers in mind. You can search in accordance with the language, problem space, or technology that you want to enhance your skills in.
5. Work on the important soft skills
No matter what career you are attempting to carve for yourself, it is important to have soft skills. Soft skills, otherwise known as non-technical skills, relate to personality traits and the manner in which you work.
As a software developer, it is imperative to have exceptional communicate skills, both written and verbal, as well as having excellent problem-solving skills, outstanding attention to detail, and great creativity.
Develop your technical skills
Not only will you need to master some programming languages, but you can also put yourself at the front of the queue by getting experience in tools that software developers often use.
Some of the most common examples are as follows:
- Integrated development environments that enable the writing, debugging, running, and modification of development code
- Mercurial SCM, Git, and other tools of this nature for source control that tend to be used in the software development process
- SQL, which is a common language used for powering database engines
7. Practice makes perfect
It does not matter whether you decide to do a course from home, teach yourself, or go down the formal education route, it is imperative to devote time to working with programming languages and practicing development. After all, it is one thing to learn the theory, but you need to be able to put this into practice. This will help you to become more accurate, efficient, and productive in your role.
If you are passionate about application design, for example, you may want to consider trying your hand at building a mobile app. If you would rather work on the infrastructure of servers and computers, you may decide that DevOps engineering makes sense for your specialism. Either way, it is important to immerse yourself in the world of the area that you want to progress into. Practice is imperative!
8. Read code that has been written by expert developers
Another useful piece of advice that I have for you is to read other people’s codes. You can visit sites like GitHub, where you can use their repositories to read the code that other people have written.
It is worth pointing out that while the majority of the source code is accurate in these websites, sometimes the documentation is wrong.
Therefore, if you learn to read the code, you will get a better comprehension of how specific programs work.
This helps you to see your work from the other side, which is critical when advancing your skills and becoming a well-rounded programmer.
9. Put together a portfolio to show off your software development work
All software developers should have a portfolio that shows off their work. Whenever you apply for a job, you will be able to show off your skills with an impressive and carefully crafted portfolio of your work.
Make sure your portfolio contains all of the following, at a minimum:
- Personal projects and professional projects
- Awards or accolades
- A link to your resume
- Relevant skills
- Contact details
- A short biography
As time goes on and you gain more experience, keep on amending your portfolio so that it only displays your very best work. Make sure you always incorporate projects that demonstrates your work with technology that is aligned with the job you are making an application for.
You can create your own website to host your work. This will make it easy for you to direct people to examples of your work in the future.
10. Certify your skills
Certifications can also help in terms of skill validation. They show to employers that you have the skills you claim to have on your resume, showing them just how proficient you are. This can be especially beneficial if you do not have a lot of work experience on your CV just yet.
Some of the different software developer certifications you may want to consider are as follows:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Oracle Certified MySQL Database Administrator (CMDBA)
- Certified Data Professional (CDP)
- Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect
- Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
The next piece of the puzzle is to network effectively. You never know what opportunities could come your way from networking.
Look for any events that are happening in your local area, and make sure you show up at these events and speak with people. It can be scary at first but you will soon get used to it.
You can also network online today. Reach out to people to build real, genuine, and mutually beneficial connections.
Also, keep an eye out for any relevant online events that are happening in the software field.
12. Practice your job interview skills
I would also highly recommend that you spend some time working on your job interview skills. After all, once you start applying for jobs, if someone is interested in your CV, they will then invite you for an interview.
While you do not want to come across as memorising your answers, it can certainly help if you spend some time doing some fake interviews and answering some of the most common questions so that you are more prepared and feel more confident when a real interview happens.
13. Apply for jobs
Last but not least, if you master the 12 steps I mentioned above, you are certainly going to be ready to apply for jobs. There are lots of great software development jobs in different fields available at the moment, as demand is high.
I am sure you are going to be applying for a number of different jobs, so make sure you tailor your cover letter and CV for the job in question, so it does not look like you are simply sending a generic resume to everyone.
Final words on becoming a software developer
I hope that you have found these tips on becoming a software developer helpful. If you feel that this is the career for you, the good thing to know is that this is a thriving part of the industry that is very much in demand, so there are lots of great opportunities to be had. It is simply about putting yourself in a position to capitalise on them.
FAQ about becoming a software developer
- Who gets paid more, a software engineer or a software developer? According to PayScale, the average salary for a software programmer is $65,000 while developers earn $73,000 per annum on average, and software engineers earn approximately $88,000. However, this should only be used as a very rough guide, as there are a number of other factors to take into account too, such as your location and experience.
- Do you need to understand coding to become a software developer? Yes, strong coding skills are a necessity as a software developer. However, there are a number of other skills needed too, including some important soft skills.
- Can you teach yourself to become a software developer? Yes, you can. Many people have transitioned to this role by teaching themselves, so it is certainly possible. However, there are also a lot of courses available today, many of which are remote, so you can take a course from home if that is more suitable.
- What do I need to become a software developer? You will typically require a Bachelor’s Degree to become a software developer. This should be a degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related feel. Some of the senior-level roles may ask that you have a Master’s Degree.
How long will it take to become a software developer? It can take anywhere from three months to four years to become a Software Developer. This depends on your professional background, technical experience, and career path.