Last year, the median wage in the United States was $47,060 per year. For software developers, on the other hand, the median wage was more than double that amount—$105,590 per year.

In 2018, U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Jobs Rankings” named Software Developer as the top job in the United States. Not only was software developer ranked as the best job in STEM, but it also came in first place among all 100 jobs on the list.

Software Developer: the #1 Job in America

Software Developer are edging out prestigious and well-respected careers such as statistician, physician assistant, dentist, and orthodontist, respectively.

One of the most impressive aspects of these results is that software development ranked above trades that have been coveted for centuries. Modern software development, on the other hand, has only been around since the late 1940s and didn’t garner any attention until the beginning of Silicon Valley, which took off in the 80s. What, then, makes this relatively new career deserving of the #1 spot?

What Does a Software Developer Do?

Software developers write the code that makes our devices useful; they bring life to the hardware. Without software developers, the devices we carry in our pockets and our backpacks would be reduced to nothing more than expensive bricks of metal, glass, and plastic. Thanks to software developers, however, we can enjoy watching videos, listening to music, playing games, browsing the web, and much more on all of our electronic devices.

It’s also important to note that software developers aren’t just programmers who type away at a keyboard all day. They solve complex problems and express their creativity by designing new programs. And, while expected to sit down and concentrate for hours at a time, software developers interact frequently with clients, fellow developers, and designers when working on projects. Therefore, if you tend to think of yourself as both a right and left-brain user, you’ll likely find fulfillment in a software development job.

Why Become a Software Developer?

Benefits like low unemployment, high flexibility, relatively low stress, and a good work-life balance characterize this career path. Software developers also experience high job and career satisfaction. However, what really makes software development an incredible career choice is that it comes with all of this and a fantastic salary.

The latest research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median wage in the United States was $47,060 per year. For software developers, on the other hand, the median wage was more than double that amount—$105,590 per year.

On an annual basis, the difference in salary ($58,530) is already vast, but it will grow exponentially over a lifetime. Even if you were to graduate from university at the ripe age of 25 and work until retirement age (65), you would have a full 40-year career. When multiplying the difference between the median software developer wage and the national median wage by 40, you get a grand total of $2,341,200.

Imagine that. By choosing a career in software development you could live at the same economic level as the average American and still store up over $2.34 million for retirement—plus interest. Even at the bottom end of the spectrum, software developers make far more than the median wage. In 2018, 90% of software developers made at least $61,601, which is still $14,541 more per year than the national median wage.

How Do I Become a Software Developer?

If you’re looking for a challenging career that provides a stellar salary, high flexibility, great work-life balance, and allows you to strike a balance between creativity and science, software development might be right for you. Additionally, the need for software developers is rapidly outpacing the supply, meaning that you’ll have high job security for the foreseeable future.

The specific skills needed to become a software developer will largely depend on the hardware and operating systems you work with. Software developers who create programs for macOS will need to know Swift, while developers for Windows machines will need to know C# or C++. However, many of the fundamental skills and underlying knowledge you need to know before starting this career path will come from your formal education.

According to the 2019 Stack Overflow Survey, over three-fourths of professional developers have a bachelor’s degree or higher, with 62.4% having majored in Computer Science. This isn’t to say that you can’t become an accomplished software developer without a degree, but there seems to be a high correlation between a 4-year degree and a successful career in the field.

One of the best ways to begin your career in Software Development (or Data Science and Cyber Security) is by enrolling in a “Powered by Woz U” program, which gives you a whole host of benefits like lifetime access to updated coursework. Students who attend partnering “Powered by Woz U” universities not only receive a complete college education and the support of live teachers and staff but also cutting-edge tech curriculum.