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How to Become a Software Developer: A Comprehensive Approach

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In today’s world, technology is everything. We buy products through the internet, communicate with friends on chat apps, and find all types of entertainment online.

And the mastermind behind all of this? Apparently, It’s mainly software developers! They help the world by creating, maintaining, and developing various software systems.

Naturally, this left the business world with an unquenchable demand for developers and created a remarkably competitive field. After all, how can you compete with thousands of others vying for the same job?

Our five-step guide on how to become a software developer will help you answer this question.

An Overview of Software Developer: A Primer

The role of a software developer isn’t limited to only developing applications and programs.

Instead, a software developer, programmer, or coder is an individual who researches, designs, programs, implements, and maintains software using specific tools.

How software developers do the work differs from one job description to another. Most of the time, there are teams of developers collaborating under the watchful eye of a project manager. They brainstorm, plan, code, and test the program together.

Other times, it’s just one developer taking instructions directly from the client, doing all the work independently. This is perfect for individuals who can sometimes have anxiety, as they don’t have to interact with others.

As for the work environment, it also differs according to the company and project scale. Some clients leave software developers to work from wherever and whenever they like.

For instance, setting your own schedule isn’t an issue, so you’ll have the ability to work overnight if you’re a night owl or enjoy the quiet morning hours.

Regarding the responsibilities of a software developer, the tasks are much broader than some expect.

You can find yourself doing multiple things simultaneously, like programming, testing, and maintaining, or just specializing in a particular area.

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How Much Do Software Developers Make?

How much you’ll make as a software developer varies significantly from one company or client to the next. Also, your experience level, location, and education all come into play. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual salary of a software developer is around $132,930. A senior software developer could make around $125,868, while a junior developer earns $ 75,718 annually.

What You’ll Need to Become a Software Developer [& Associated Costs]

To become a full-fledged software developer, you’ll need to save up for the following costs:

  • Educational Degree: Even though many people work based on skills and not educational credentials, having a formal degree can make it easier. This means you’ll need a software engineering or computer science degree, costing around $30,000—$45,000.
  • Coding Certificates: Joining a coding bootcamp or workshop can help you boost your career. You can do this after earning the educational degree or as an alternative to it. Coding academies usually take around $7–$60 per hour.  
  • Computer: You can’t be a software developer without a proper computer or laptop. As you’ll need a powerful device to run your programming, it could cost you somewhere between $1,500—$10,000.
  • Software Development Tools: A side effect of being a programmer is that there’s no escape from the many tools you’ll need to use. The subscription fees between each tool can vary greatly, leaving you with fees that range between $5—$250 monthly.
  • High-speed Internet Connection: Imagine working on a project, only to lose all your data when the internet cuts off! Something like that could cause a real headache, so you’ll need a reliable internet connection, which costs $50–$100 monthly. 

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Software Developer?

If you combine all the previous fees, you’ll get approximately $60,000 in total. This includes an educational degree and coding training. If you skip the first step, it’ll go down to less than $15,000.

Is it Hard to Become a Software Developer?

Becoming a software developer can be pretty challenging, but it’s achievable with loads of effort and determination. The learning curve is among the first challenges you’ll face as a programmer. 

You see, software development isn’t like anything we deal with daily. Instead, coders and programmers build functioning, entertaining applications and platforms from different languages

We must also point out that the languages aren’t basic; they’re computer-oriented and awfully complex. Mix that with algorithms and other advanced concepts like machine learning, and you’ve got yourself a challenge. 

Another element you’ll have to factor in is constant problem-solving. After all, one of the fundamental skills of a software developer is testing and troubleshooting.

This means you’ll need a good knowledge base, analytical thinking, and creativity to overcome any issues you’ll face.

Committing to a career as a software developer will take effort, dedication, time, and, most importantly, patience.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Software Developer?

We all have different levels of commitment, motivation, and skill. Hence, the time you take to become a software developer can vary significantly from one person to the next. It can generally take as little as one year or as many as five.

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How to Become a Software Developer in Five Simple Steps

Though we did say that becoming a software developer can be challenging, the following steps can help make it a little easier:

Step 1: Choose a Path and a Language 

Do you know how many types of software developers there are? If you didn’t, there are more than 15 types out there!

There are front-end developers, back-end developers, full-stack developers, mobile developers, and desktop developers, to mention a few.

That’s why heading straight into software development with no clear goal can be confusing and overwhelming.

Also, do you know how many coding languages there are? Well, there are reports that 2,500 programming languages exist!

Thankfully, you don’t have to learn all of them to become a software developer. Still, you must learn the essentials to become a proficient programmer, such as:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Javascript
  • Python
  • C++
  • SQL
  • Perl

Step 2: Look for Educational Opportunities

After honing down your career path, it’s time to choose how you’ll pursue it. The safest option out there is usually a college education.

Even though you’ll hear that this is a skill-based career, it still requires a solid foundation.

Most colleges offer Bachelor’s degrees in computer science or software engineering. Both are excellent options for beginners and will give you a perfect start to learning data science.

Another way you can educate yourself is through coding bootcamps. Unlike college programs, these only take a few months, and you’re good to go!

Lastly, you can forgo college education and bootcamps and apt for self-learning.

You’ll find a surprising amount of free online courses that can help you with basic and advanced concepts. Be careful, though; self-learning requires loads of determination and time.

Step 3: Practice

Though it sounds like a cliché, practice does make perfect! This is especially true when it comes to programming. Why, you might wonder? 

It’s because software development focuses on troubleshooting, creating, and debugging codes. So doing it just once isn’t going to cut it! 

Also, don’t forget that you’ll be learning a programming language or two and need to understand its syntax. That’s why practicing and creating projects is necessary to develop your technical skills.

Besides, this can also help you create a diverse portfolio that’ll be a huge plus when you’re applying for jobs! You can try being a freelance software tester or finding a remote IT job to help you.

Step 4: Join Internships

Starting out in the programming field can be daunting with all the competition around. After all, the programming industry was valued at $154,68 billion in 2021 and is expected to double by 2029!

Hence, you need a way to stand out from the crowds in your beginnings. One of the best ways to do that is to join as many internships as possible.

Internships give you hands-on experience that’ll make you shine among other candidates.

You’ll also get a great chance to work with senior developers who know the ins and outs of software development. You can ask them all the questions you like and learn from the best.

Step 5:  Start Working

The good part about software development is that you can start working almost as soon as you finish your education or even before that. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to apply wherever you can. If your portfolio isn’t looking that good yet for big companies, you can learn about the basics of freelance development. This way, you can build and develop your portfolio while earning money!

Reasons to Consider Becoming a Software Developer

There are numerous reasons why pursuing a software developer career is an excellent idea, including the following:

  • High Demand: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software development jobs are expected to increase by %25 from 2021 to 2031. Learning the basics now will help you secure a career in the future!
  • Excellent pay: The annual salary of a junior software developer can go up to $75,000! By learning how to become one, you’ll get one of the top-paying gigs in the market.
  • Flexibility: Being a software developer can be ideal if you already have other commitments. It counts as an amazing second job since it allows you to work independently and from wherever you want.
  • Scalability: Being a software developer offers you two options—stay as you are or be your boss! With the constant demand for the job and potential for growth, leading your own software-development company is definitely a possibility.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you’ve reached the end of our guide, it’s time to discuss the most asked questions. Here’s what people ask most:

Is it Hard to Become a Software Developer?

Trying to become a software developer can be challenging. The job requires multiple skills, and all of them are rolled into one profession. 

You’ll need to learn coding, problem-solving skills, data science, and more. Still, all of these don’t make it impossible to understand, only tricky!

What Degree is Best for Software Development?

The best degree for a software developer is either software engineering or computer science. Both offer an excellent comprehensive foundation to help you understand critical concepts and learn the necessary skills.

We must point out that those degrees aren’t the only way to become a software developer, though. There are many coding bootcamps, free online courses, and educational degrees that can help you achieve this.

Wrapping Up

To conclude, learning how to become a software developer can be challenging, but it’s definitely worth it! The appeal lies behind the fact that this career is both in demand and one of the highest paid.

If you liked the guide, please feel free to share it with your friends who might be interested in software development.

Also, if you have any questions, ask away in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

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