What Does a Software Developer Do?

Software developers use programming and design knowledge to build software that meets the needs of users. Typically, they will meet with a client who has a need for software to be developed, and then will build, test and deploy that software based on the specifications they have received.

Today, software developers are some of the most vital people in the many aspects of the economy. Software isn't just codes, video games and apps, it's the driving force of every computerized device on the planet.

In this article, you'll learn about the essential duties that software developers perform and the skills that they may utilize in the field as we answer the following questions:

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What Is the Job Description for a Software Developer?

Software developers design, program, build, deploy and maintain software using many different skills and tools. They also help build software systems that power networks and devices and ensure that those systems remain functional. Their job may also involve meeting with clients to determine the needs for a software solution, which will help them design the final product.

Software developers work in a wide variety of industries, and some even work as freelancers. Software is involved across virtually every industry to power the devices and applications used within that field. You can find software developers working in business, technology, defense, healthcare, aerospace and manufacturing.

Depending on the setting, a software developer may work alone or on a team with other developers and programmers. In general, larger companies tend to have teams of developers due to the complexity of the software they are designing.

What are Common Job Duties for a Software Developer?

The job duties of a software developer typically include tasks such as overseeing software programming, testing software at various phases of completion, laying out software design, building models or diagrams to communicate the end goal and mapping out future software upgrades.

Software developers are usually further along in their career than software programmers, and depending on the company, work somewhere between management and execution. They are less likely to be involved in the actual day-to-day programming of the software, especially at larger companies, but they do review code for errors and find places where it could be improved. Usually, they begin their career as a software programmer and rise to the level of a developer.

Once a piece of software has been deployed, the job of a developer is still not finished. At this point, they will continue to monitor for bugs and issues that are uncovered by users. If a bug is found, they work with a smaller team of programmers to correct the issues and release software updates that resolve the problems. They will also release updates that change the design and functionality of the software in the event that its User Interface (UI) becomes dated or the objective of the software changes.

What Skills do Software Developers Need?

Software developers utilize a wide range of skills that enable them to oversee a team and get directly involved in the programming and design process. Some of the skills a software developer may need to have include:

  • Linux: Linux is an open-source operating system (OS) that is highly customizable and contains several tools that are useful for programmers, such as sed, awk piping, and grep. The OS is also more secure than most, making it useful for improving the cyber security of software.
  • Software engineering: Software engineering refers to the entire process of building a piece of software. Having software engineering skills means that you are capable of designing software that accomplishes a specific goal using programming and analytical skills.
  • Development operations (DevOps): DevOps involves several practices that blend together information technology (IT) and software development skills. It involves careful management of resources with the goal of delivering functional software quickly and affordably.
  • Problem-solving capabilities: Most software is designed to provide a solution to a problem. Software developers must be able to identify the issue that a piece of software aims to remedy and build software that solves the problem. They also need these capabilities to address any issues that come up during the development process or to work out bugs.
  • Communication skills: Developers may manage a team of programmers, which means they need to be able to clearly communicate expectations and talk through solutions. Additionally, they may be responsible for providing detailed reports on the development process to executives who likely do not have a technology background.
  • Analytical thinking: When building software, a developer has to constantly analyze the state of the software and its code. As they do this, they need to determine whether the software is likely to achieve its goal. Analysis may also be needed during the design process to conceptualize something that solves the unique challenges facing their client or the end users.
  • Programming: A software developer needs to understand programming languages and functions in order to oversee the development process. They also need these skills to get directly involved in the coding of the application and for reviewing the code of their programmers.

In addition to those more general skills, software developers need to have a grasp of programming languages. Which particular languages they need to know depends on the industry they work in and the software they develop, but in general they should know the following languages plus whatever language is standard within the industry:

  • Python
  • Java
  • C#
  • SQL
  • HTML

How Can I Become a Software Developer?

To become a software developer, you can benefit from earning a credential within the technology field. You can get started by pursuing an Undergraduate Certificate in Software Design and Solutions from DeVry University, or our Bachelor's Degree in Software Development.

Our Undergraduate Certificate in Software Design is centered around Tech-Empowered Learning, designed to help students get hands-on experience to help them on their academic journey. This program also teaches basic data analytic skills, management and organizational skills and helps you understand software design patterns.

Our Bachelor’s Degree in Software Development is customizable with three specializations, which are designed to help students focus their skills on the aspects of development that interest them.

Find out how an Undergraduate Certificate in Software Design and Solutions or Bachelor's Degree in Software Development can help you get started in your education.