Software Developer

Woman software developer sits at a computer and monitor comparing designs for a new app program she is developing
Career Clusters: Information Technology

What you need to know


Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

What is this career like?

Many software developers work for firms that deal in computer systems design and related services, manufacturing, or for software publishers.

Some of the things an software developer might do:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
  • Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
  • Design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together
  • Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that show programmers the software code needed for an application
  • Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
  • Document every aspect of an application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
  • Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Watch this video to learn about what our software developer role models do in their careers:

What skills are needed?
  • Analytical skills: Developers must analyze users’ needs and then design software to meet those needs.
  • Communication skills: Developers must be able to give clear instructions to others working on a project. They must also explain to their customers how the software works and answer any questions that arise.
  • Creativity: Developers are the creative minds behind new computer software.
  • Detail oriented: Developers often work on many parts of an application or system at the same time and must, therefore, be able to concentrate and pay attention to detail.
  • Interpersonal skills: Software developers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, developing, and programming successful software.
  • Problem-solving skills: Because developers are in charge of software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process.

Watch this video to learn more from our software developer role models:

What is the pay?

The average pay for software developers in the United States was $132,270 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A software developer’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 153,900 new job openings for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of software developers is projected to grow 25 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

The need for new applications on smartphones and tablets will help increase the demand for applications software developers.

Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are likely to see new opportunities because of an increase in the number of products that use software. For example, computer systems are routinely built into consumer electronics and other products, such as cell phones and appliances.

Concerns over threats to computer security could result in more investment in security software to protect computer networks and electronic infrastructure.

What education is required?

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics.

Students should focus on classes related to building software to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Computer Science.

Watch this video to learn more from our software developer role models: