Software Developer: What They Do, Types, & Skills

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Celso Crivelaro
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Celso Crivelaro
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Head of Engineering
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Learn all the aspect of what a software developer does, and what their job actually entails here. If you are looking to hire a software developer to join you development team, start here!
Published on
June 5, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

With the digital era in full swing, software developers are becoming increasingly crucial for businesses and users. As software becomes more integral to daily life, software developers are starting to have invaluable roles in firms across industries.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) 2021 occupational handbook for software developers paints a bright picture of software developer jobs. It estimates a 25% growth rate in software developer jobs from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. This alone demonstrates the increasing demand for software development and software developers.

If your organization wants to hire a software developer, you should first learn what software developers do, their unique roles and responsibilities, and how much you should pay them. Luckily this guide will cover all these topics and more, providing you with a comprehensive guide on software developers so you can make the best decision for your software development needs.

What Is Software Development?

Before delving into the software developer roles and responsibilities, it’s essential to understand software development and its history. This provides context for software development today and an understanding of software development’s role in the digital age.

Software development dates back to the 1940s when computer scientist Tom Kilburn wrote the first piece of software to execute mathematical computations. During this time, software development was primarily done linearly. Software developers wrote complex algorithms that told computers how to perform tasks. Developers would then use these algorithms to create software programs that businesses and consumers could use.

Today, software development is much more complex. Advances in software development languages and engineering practices have enabled developers to create applications with greater complexity, speed, and efficiency. This change has been fundamental in the growth of software development today and the increasing demand for software developers.

What Is a Software Developer?

Due to blurred industry lines, there are many conflicting definitions of a software developer. Nonetheless, it’s helpful to start with base definitions to fully understand what a software developer is.

In general, a developer is someone who designs and creates software products. From this definition, a software developer works with software and software systems by creating new applications or modifying existing software applications to meet customers' needs.

The BLS defines software developers as individuals who "create the computer applications that allow users to do specific tasks and the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks." In other words, software developers create programs or applications to enhance customer experiences and simplify users' lives.

Computer Programmer vs Software Developer

On the surface, software developers and computer programmers may appear the same. After all, they both work with software and software systems. However, software developers focus more on designing and creating software applications, while computer programmers focus more on coding.

A look at BLS’s definition of a computer programmer will help explain the difference. They describe a computer programmer as someone who "writes, modifies, and tests code and scripts that allow computer software and applications to function properly." Essentially, computer programmers translate the creations of software developers and engineers into instructions computers can follow.  

A software developer usually has more experience than a computer programmer. Depending on their organization, they can fill a position between management and execution. At larger companies, they may be less involved with the actual coding of the product but will review the code for bugs and errors.

What Does a Software Developer Do?

Now that we know what a software developer is and how they differ from a computer programmer let's look at software developers' roles and responsibilities. Since there are different types of software developers, the duties of software developers can vary depending on their roles.

However, software developers' primary duties typically involve the following:

  • Meeting clients to determine the needs for a software solution
  • Analyzing software requirements and developing software prototypes by building models and diagrams
  • Overseeing software programming
  • Integrating software components into larger software systems
  • Monitoring software performance to ensure software applications run smoothly
  • Troubleshooting software issues at various phases of programming and updating software products when needed
  • Documenting software development
  • Collaborating and working with computer programmers, software testers, and software architects
  • Managing software development projects and software developer teams

Types of Software Developers

Though all software developers create software applications, there are different types of software developers. Depending on the software development needs of your organization, you may need to hire a specific software developer. The various software developer roles include:

  • Back-end Developers: Back-end developers create the software architecture and logic to power software applications. They also handle complex software tasks like network security, databases, and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
  • Front-end Developers: Front-end developers create software applications that users can interact with. They specialize in the look and feel of software products and user experience.
  • Full-stack Developers: These professionals possess the skills of both back-end and front-end developers. They create software that covers the software architecture and user interfaces of software applications.
  • Mobile App Developers: These developers specialize in building software applications designed to run on mobile devices. They have expertise in software development languages and technologies specific to mobile platforms like iOS and Android.
  • Web Developers: These software developers specialize in developing applications that run on web browsers. They use software development languages and technologies to create applications accessible online.
  • Game Developers: Game developers create software applications to entertain users. They must have a strong understanding of software development languages and graphics software, as well as software design and game mechanics.
  • Embedded Developers: These developers specialize in software applications built into physical products. They create software applications to control the product’s functions, making them software development and hardware engineering experts.
  • Data Scientists: Also known as big data developers, data scientists develop software applications to collect, analyze, and interpret data to gain insights.
  • Desktop Developers: These developers specialize in software applications running on computers and laptops. They use software development languages and technologies to create software applications for desktop users.
  • Artificial Intelligence Developers: AI software developers have expertise in creating applications that use AI and machine learning tools to automate tasks.
  • DevOps Software Developers: A combination of software development and Information Technology (IT) operations, DevOps software developers specialize in software development and IT operations that include software deployment, software testing, software debugging, software maintenance, and more.

How to Become a Software Developer

Software development is a highly technical job requiring a combination of software engineering, programming skills, and education. Learning about the career path of software developers will allow you to better sift through candidates and hire the best person for the job at your organization.

Software Developer Degree Requirements

Generally, a career in software development may require a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, Computer Programming, Software Development, Software Engineering, or a related discipline. When hiring software developers, you may also need to look at additional educational qualifications software developers possess, such as certifications in software engineering and development.

Some popular software development certifications include the following:

  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate
  • Google UX Design Professional Certificate
  • Oracle Java SE
  • (ISC)2 Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional
  • Oracle Certified Professional, Java EE 7 Application Developer

Software Developer Skills

Software developers need a combination of hard and soft skills for software development. When hiring software developers, look for candidates who have the following hard skills:

  • Programming languages: Software developers need to be proficient in software programming languages like C++, Java, Python, JavaScript, and more.
  • Software security: One of the primary responsibilities of software developers is to ensure software applications are secure and protected from cyber threats.
  • Algorithms: Software developers should understand algorithms and how to apply them to software development.
  • Databases: Software developers need to understand how to access, store, and organize data using software databases like MySQL, Oracle, Access, and more.
  • Software Architecture: Software developers should understand software architecture, software engineering principles, software development life cycles, and software design patterns.
  • Development operations (DevOps): DevOps involves software development, software testing, software deployment, and software maintenance. Software developers should understand DevOps principles and processes.

When it comes to soft skills, look for the following in your candidates:

  • Communication: Software developers need to be able to communicate their ideas effectively with software development teams.
  • Problem-solving: To be successful in their jobs, software developers should be able to solve software-related issues quickly.
  • Teamwork: As software developers primarily work collaboratively, they must work well with others.
  • Attention to detail: Software developers need keen attention when overseeing and managing coding software applications and software systems.
  • Creativity: These professionals also need to have creative skills for software design.

Essential Programming Languages for Software Developers

For software developers to be successful, they need to be proficient in various programming languages. This is because most software applications today use a combination of programming languages.

Therefore, when hiring software developers, consider which specific programming languages your candidates excel in already. The most popular programming languages for software development include:

Java

Java is an object-oriented programming language used for developing cross-platform applications. It's known for its scalability, security, and ease of use. Developers widely use Java for developing server-side applications, web applications, mobile applications, and game development. Therefore, Java is an essential language for software developers to learn.

Python

Python is an interpreted, high-level programming language for web development, software development, and scientific computing. It's one of the most popular programming languages for software development due to its user-friendly syntax and readability. Software developers use Python for machine learning, AI development, big data management and analysis, game development, and web development.

C++

C++ is a powerful and versatile programming language for developing desktop applications, mobile applications, gaming development, and system programming. Professionals widely use it for creating high-performance software applications. C++ is also a popular language for embedded systems programming.

C#

C# is a popular programming language used for developing software applications. Developers commonly use it to create Windows-based, web, and mobile applications. They also use it for game development, server-side programming, and enterprise software development.

C# is an essential language for software developers to learn, providing a wide range of features, libraries, and tools.

JavaScript

JavaScript is another popular programming language for developing web and mobile applications. It's a versatile scripting language developers use for front-end, back-end, and game development.

Software Developer Salary

Understanding how much software developers earn is essential to budgeting software development work. It also gives you an idea of how much software developers are worth in the software industry so that you don't overpay or underpay your hires.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for software developers was $120,730 in May 2021. As in all other occupations, the median annual pay of software developers represents the line between the highest and lowest compensation, meaning one-half of the software developers earned below and the other half above the cited figures in 2021.

Software developer salaries also vary considerably by industry. For example, data from the BLS reveals that software developers in software publishing earned the highest in 2021, with a median salary of $120,180. Other top industries included manufacturing, finance and insurance, management of companies, and computer systems design.

Other varying factors for how you may end up paying your software developer are:

  • The type of development work you are hiring for
  • The location and size of your software development team
  • The software developer's experience and qualifications

Hire Software Developers With Revelo

As you can see, these professionals make invaluable assets to any business looking to leverage software to improve operations and customer experience. However, choosing software developers that fit your business’s specific requirements and needs is essential.

At Revelo, we can help you source the best talent from Latin America and build a perfect tech team for your organization. We handpick software developers for you from a large pre-vetted talent network and aid you in candidate onboarding and management. That way, you can spend less time worrying about the hiring process and focus more on your growth and operations.

Contact us today to learn how Revelo can help you hire software developers that best fit your needs.

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