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What Is Software Development? Take a Look Inside This Growing Field

By DeVry University

July 27, 2020
7 min read

Today’s world is driven by technology. From how we conduct business to the way we manage our daily lives, we’re constantly connected. But this kind of connectivity and the devices that enable it couldn’t exist without the professionals that develop, maintain and troubleshoot software on a daily basis.

If this type of hands-on work interests you, chances are you’ve considered a career in the software development industry. But with all the different facets of technology, you still may be wondering – exactly what is software development and what does this career path entail?

Read on for a more in-depth look at trends in software development, the software development career path and software development training programs.

What is Software Development?

Software development encompasses a number of specific disciplines. In general, a software engineer or developer designs and updates software or applications, including creating proprietary software or working with existing software to implement changes. Specifically, a career in software development might encompass:

  • Software design and programming.

  • Big data and analytics work.

  • Web and mobile applications development.

Software development is a relatively broad term, and the career field itself offers choices to those who pursue it. Some developers work on teams or in larger companies and put their skills to use in a set type of development. Other engineers may take a more creative approach and design their own software to meet a growing need that they see in a set demographic. This discipline paves the way for everyone from entrepreneurs to entry-level developers with tasks like:

  • Analyzing the needs of users and creating software to meet them.

  • Auditing and upgrading existing programs and systems.

  • Specializing in one type of software or application, like computer applications (word processors, games), databases or operating systems.

  • Creating models that drive software code creation.

  • Ensuring maintenance and testing is effective without disrupting software functionality.

  • Documenting how a system or application works to pave the way for effective maintenance and upgrades.

Is Software Development a Good Career Choice?

The U.S. News & World Report 100 Best Jobs of 2020 ranks the role of Software Developer number one. Several factors contribute to this ranking, including salary potential and the lower-than-average unemployment rate in the field. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of software developers is projected to grow by 22% from 2019-2029. This faster than average growth rate indicates that software development is likely to continue to be a sought-after skill set for the foreseeable future.

What Does a Software Development Career Path Look Like?

Many software development roles require at least a bachelor's degree. When just starting out, there are a few paths developers might take. For example, you might choose to specialize in systems development, programming or application development.

Systems Software Development

Systems software developers keep things running smoothly. They work with computer operating systems and interfaces – whether public or built specifically for organizations. Systems software developers are responsible for creating the operating systems that help cell phones and cars function, for example. Or, they might be responsible for ensuring your laptop operates efficiently.

One specific role you might pursue in this arena is Database Management or Administration. Database Administrators are responsible for the storage and organization of data. They primarily focus on:

  • The security of organizational data.

  • Data backup, permissions management and restoration.

  • The creation and administration of databases that fit specific user needs.

  • Efficient operation and maintenance of databases.

  • The change from old to new databases.

Programming Software Development

In this role, developers create web applications and other programs for the end-user. This kind of software developer might spend his or her days creating code, debugging code or building new software from the ground up.

A programmer will become familiar with several programming languages, including:

  • Python.

  • JavaScript.

  • Java.

  • C++.

  • PHP.

  • Swift.

  • Ruby.

One role you might pursue in software programming is web development. Web developers are responsible for creating websites and often work directly with clients to design and build the end product. They often write code for the site, create applications, integrate multimedia functionality and monitor traffic, among other integral roles.

Application Software Development

Application software is also created for an end-user. This type of software development focuses on delivering a user-friendly computer application experience. From games to processing software, applications software developers create databases and programs for use over the internet or within a company’s intranet.

In this area, you might pursue hands-on software development training in:

  • Mobile Application Development: Mobile apps have exploded in popularity and are integral for many businesses, as well as for entertainment.

  • Game Development: Gaming is on the rise, especially in the current 2020 climate. According to Economist, video game traffic on the internet has increased by 75% in 2020. Though this trend is likely to slow a bit as the world continues to return to normal, gaming is an incredibly popular pastime for people around the world. And where there are gamers, there are game developers creating and maintaining the software that drives their fun.

How Much Money Does a Software Developer Make?

A software developer’s salary can vary based on experience, education and the company or industry in which they are employed. For a general understanding of a software developer’s earning potential, we recommend referencing data provided by the BLS.

What Are the Current Trends in Software Development?

As mentioned above, software development is one of the fields that changes continuously as new technology emerges. For students who enjoy learning new skills and updating their knowledge, this is an exciting aspect of the field.

Though no one can project all of the new technologies that will emerge in the coming decades, there are several trends that continue to change and advance the field of software development. Some of these trends include:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)

    IoT has taken center stage in the last few years and promises to keep growing. This is the ability to connect devices to the internet for greater functionality and remotely control your surroundings. Some examples of this include home security systems, automobile safety devices, and even thermostats.

  • Progressive Web Applications

    This technology is just starting to take off. Web developers realized that there was something lacking in mobile apps and these designs can be easily created and load quickly.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    AI has been a staple on trend lists for technology for most of the past decade, but it will not be leaving the list any time in the near future. This technology makes streamlining professional and personal tasks far easier and will continue to grow.

  • 5G

    You can't visit a tech news site without reading about 5G. It is one of the latest technologies out there and we’re expecting to see big developments focused on this in the coming years.

Software Development Training

Often, the first step toward pursuing a software development career path is advancing your education. Finding a degree program that offers hands-on learning can be a great benefit, as it helps you develop real-world problem-solving skills within the field.

Typical coursework for a bachelor’s degree in software development includes a mix of essential courses along with technology knowledge-building, networking, information technology and programming. Students can expect to encounter courses on topics such as:

  • Technology and information systems and operating systems.

  • Programming (including object-oriented programming).

  • Digital devices.

  • The fundamentals of information technology and networking.

  • Database systems.

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning.

  • Data structures and algorithms.

  • Data analysis and design (structured and object-oriented).

  • Web architectures.

  • Business applications of software development.

  • Product, project and people management.

In the rapidly evolving field of software development, learning never stops. Whether you are troubleshooting a piece of code or keeping up with new strategies, continuous learning is a key component of staying up-to-date in your industry.

Is a Career in Software Development Right for You?

Whether you are interested in a career in systems development, programming or application development, a career in software development can offer a diverse set of opportunities and stable industry growth. A career in software development could suit your personality if you:

  • Are interested in application development, software systems analysis and software design.

  • Have strong communication skills for describing methods and findings.

  • Have problem solving skills.

  • Are all about data.

DeVry University offers several tech programs that help you focus your studies in the software development niche of your choice. With our Bachelor’s in Software Development, you can choose from the following specializations:

Our Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems also offers the following software development-focused specializations:

Ready to get started? Request information to learn more – and get on the fast track toward pursuing your career goals.

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