A software developer helps a company by designing and updating existing software in order to improve productivity, sales and customer services. Usually working in a team along with analysts, designers and customer relations; a software developer tests software systems and helps staff in using new interfaces. After a new software system has been installed, a software developer will then help in maintaining the system and protecting it from bugs and viruses.
As the job requires a lot of in depth knowledge of programming language it is usual to have been trained to degree level. Software development or programming courses offer in-depth training in using programmes such as Java to ‘write’ and design software. As well as learning how to make programmes you will also learn about which type of programme is suitable to certain situations and how to implement a strategy for introducing it. Some courses offer a year in placement, usually taken in your second or third year, where you will be able to learn first-hand how the theory you are taught in lectures is used in a real business environment. You should research all the available courses thoroughly in order to choose which one is right for you.
Being able to write programmes requires a strong background in mathematics and IT. Having GCSEs in maths and IT is desirable as well as having at least three others graded A*-C. After that you should study A levels or a B-TEC national diploma in a related subject such as IT or Computer programming. Each institution has different entry requirements so you should check before applying.
It can often take many years to become fully proficient in writing programme script so getting experience as early as possible would be a great advantage. As well as this you could also try and gain work in an IT department as a part-time job in order to learn how IT is used in the business environment.
Career pathways after graduation
Software developers are employed across all industry sectors and there are many opportunities for graduates as almost all companies now rely on some kind of computer assistance. Some larger companies offer graduate schemes for which you can apply between your second and final year. These help graduates by offering employment while at the same time training graduates in the skills they will need to make a career out of software development