A software developer draws on a creative background to design and execute computer programs. Some develop applications for computers, while others build underlying operating systems for entire websites. These computer programmers will take on different roles and responsibilities depending on position and experience in the field. So, when asking the question what do software developers do? We must consider the different positions under the umbrella term “software developer.”

There are Four Main Classifications in the Role of a Software Developer

Software developers include an applications software developer, a systems software developer, a web developer, and a test automation developer. Let’s break down these positions.

Applications Software Developer

Applications software developers focus on the design of, you guessed it, applications. Their work is centered around consumers: understanding what they need, coming up with software solutions and also tracking an application’s performance. And what do we mean by application? The applications I’m talking about are the ones on your phone, tablet, or watch. The Instagram, Urban Outfitters, and Venmo apps all have software developers behind them. Someone in this role would work closely with a client. They might discuss their client’s requirements, develop application programming interfaces (APIs: tools in an operating system to aid the developer in creating an application), and adapt existing web applications for apps.

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Systems Software Developers

Systems software developers, on the other hand, design solutions for enterprise organizations and businesses. They work on the backend of development, or the behind-the-scenes parts of software. Typical employers might be banks, financial services firms, law firms, or specialist software development companies. The main roles of this position are using tools to write and test code, fixing bugs, testing systems and writing documentation. The skills you’ll need for this range from programming language experience to data warehousing to using ETL tools.

Web Developers

Web developers take web designs and create websites. This position uses developmental tools and languages, such as Python, JavaScript, and HTML, to write lines of code. Unlike systems software developers, web developers can work in either backend, frontend, or full-stack development.

Frontend development involves working on the part of the website that users interact with. For example, understanding a client’s website design and writing code to get it on the web is part of frontend work. Some responsibilities as a frontend worker include making sure colors and headers are in the right place, formatting all links and buttons, and ensuring the content on the website is clear.

Backend development deals with the functions of the website, ultimately maneuvering the server-side. This involves writing code to power the website’s database, servers, and applications.

Full-stack developers do both front-end and back-end tasks. They must have an understanding of both roles since they often oversee large projects for big web development companies. Full-stack developers might even build the entire website.

Test Automation Developers

The main role of a test automation developer is to design and write test automation scripts. They write programs that run automated tests on both new and old software. This kind of software developer is essential for maintaining the cycle of software development because they build-on and improve existing software quality.

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What Skills Do I Need to be a Software Developer?

To be any kind of software developer, you need both hard and soft skills. 

A software developer must have knowledge of modern programming tools and languages. Python, Java, JavaScript, SQL, and Linux are a few technical skills that employers will seek from a software developer. Understanding Microsoft Excel, data structures and algorithms (knowing how data can be organized), databases, text editors, source control (managing code), testing, encryption (to prevent attacks), SDLC (software development life cycle, a process that ensures software quality), and cross-platform software creation (ensuring your product can run on as many platforms as possible) is also important. These are all technical skills, among others, that employers will want in a software developer.

Soft skills are important too. Communication and teamwork are necessary skills for developers since most work on teams. Another important skill is problem-solving. Developers oversee the entire process of developing software, and so they must be able to troubleshoot problems when they arise in the design process. Creativity is also important. Chip Childers cites in Forbes:

“There are…a thousand different ways to achieve the same outcome. That’s where creativity comes into play…good software is inherently a creative act.” 

Tech companies are looking for masterminds who can troubleshoot a problem with creative thinking.

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How Much Will I Make as a Software Developer?

The amount you make depends on your experience and position. CareerOneStop reports

The median annual wage for software developers in Texas was $107,000 in May 2019.

To clarify, the median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $66,360, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $157,380.

Not bad.

Will I Land a Job as a Software Developer?

The chances are high. Let’s take a look at the software developer job outlook. CareerOneStop cites

The employment of software developers is projected to grow 33 percent in Texas from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The number of products requiring software developers are increasing, and so is the demand for software developers.

Forbes also projects a boom in tech jobs in years to come. David Moise, a Forbes Council Member, writes:

There are many forces creating an increased demand for technical talent. The demand will only increase.

The Takeaway

A software developer is a title for many different roles and positions. However, in simplistic terms, a software developer is someone who creates computer software. There are many different types of software developers ranging from application developers to web developers. 

This article discusses four main classifications in the role of software developer, although these positions are not exhaustive. The world of software development is large, expanding, and projected to provide in-demand positions for those knowledgeable about the field. Learn more about a powered by WOZ Software Developer program.

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Julia Silverstein

Julia received a dual degree from Bucknell University in 2020. Currently, she is a writer living in Connecticut.