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What do Software Developers do? Job Description: Salary, Skills, & More

Written by Fariha
Last modified Mar. 06 2021

Software developers are the movers, shakers of the tech world. They identify user needs and build software and applications to meet those needs. Suppose you have a penchant for solving puzzles and coming up with innovative solutions to problems, along with an inclination for technology. In that case, you already possess a lot of characteristics similar to many successful software developers. If this is the first time you hear of software development as a career option, you must also be wondering what do software developers do?

This article is a deep dive into software development as a career option and covers pretty much all the basics you need to know about the career.

What do Software Developers do? Job Description: Salary, Skills, & More

What is a Software Developer?

From well-known social media applications like Snapchat and Facebook to applications that have transformed our lifestyles (like Zoom) to the very browser on which you are reading this article, software developers are behind the creation and smooth running of applications.

Software developers are creative masterminds with technical flair and expertise. They use various source debuggers and visual development environments to modify, write, and debug software for client applications.

Types of Software Developers

While some software developers like to focus and build their expertise on a specific program or app, others build giant networks or elementary systems that help the power and run other programs.

Based on this, there are two main types of software developers.

Application Software Developers

Application Software Developers are those who work with, well, mobile and computer applications. Their work mostly centers around catering to consumer needs and wants. Application Software Developers are usually given a set of instructions by their clients, following which they have to build software. Their work involves understanding user needs, monitoring performance, developing software solutions, and modifying programs as required.

System Software Developers

The work done by system software developers is a little more complicated than that done by application software developers. They focus on building operating systems and software on that level, along with compilers and network distribution software. This type of software development caters to designing innovative solutions for enterprise organizations. Examples include software for military, industrial, medical, aerospace, and scientific purposes.

They are responsible for the conception, maintenance, and sustaining of a business or organization’s computer systems. They coordinate each department’s demands, recommend technical direction, and set up networks that link up computers with the company.

What what do Software Developers do?

The entire process of creating, running, and maintaining software is long and involved. If you want to understand the details of the software development life-cycle steps, you can check out this article here. Software developers oversee and perform all these steps.

All software programs are created through codes, and software developers oversee the writing of this code.

Software developers usually sit down with clients and get an idea of what the client wants. They must ask the client to be as specific as possible. Based on client directions, developers design the required software. The software is designed to meet most clients’ and user needs, if not all. The software developers then have to communicate the needs expressed by the clients to the programmers. The programmers then write a code for software that meets the client’s requirements.

Software developers are usually also involved in the Quality assurance and testing phase. To learn more about Quality Assurance, check out this article. They also need to map out future enhancements and upgrades.

Software developers are responsible for ensuring the resulting software is of top-notch quality and functions seamlessly.

What does the workplace look like for a Software Developer?

Software developers can be in-house employees for individual companies, or they can work as contractors. Third-party clients hire software developers on a contractual basis to build their required applications.

Top industries to hire Software Developers are-

(for application Software Developers)

  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Finance and insurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Software publishers
  • Computer systems design and related services

(for system Software Developers)

  • Computer systems design and related services
  • Engineering services
  • Finance and insurance
  • Manufacturing
  • Software publishers

A team of people working together develops software, so you will be interacting and working with multiple people daily. Moreover, for top-notch software to be built, communication lines between team members must be free and open.

The perk of being a software developer is, while you do have to be in constant contact with the rest of your team members, you can do it remotely. This means when offices had shut down in 2020, and social distancing measures were put into place, software developers could effortlessly work from home.

Work Schedule

Hours can vary, depending on how much you procrastinate, when deadlines are and how complicated the project is. Software development is a full-time job. Though, it is not a typical 9-5 job. Overtime is very common in this career, and your work may sometimes bleed into your weekends and holidays.

What hard skills should a good Software Developer have?

Hard skills are learned abilities that are honed through practice, education, and reputation. These are the skills that one must possess to excel at a particular job. Surgeons must have excellent hand-eye coordination, while graphic designers must be well-versed in the different designing applications. Similarly, there are specific hard skills that you must master to become a successful software developer. These include-

  • Java®
  • SQL
  • Software engineering
  • JavaScript®
  • Python®
  • Microsoft® C#
  • Linux
  • Git
  • Oracle
  • DevOps


Java is a general-purpose programming language. Java applications follow the motto “write once, run anywhere.” Java has been designed to reduce implementation dependencies and features concurrent, subject-oriented, class-based functions.

Java is one of the most popularly used programming languages, especially when building client-server software applications.


Not to be confused with Java, JavaScript is a powerful, interpretive programming language the conforms to the ECMAScript specification. The language is dynamic and multi-paradigm. JavaScript and HTML, and CSS are considered one of the three core programming languages of the world wide web.


Python has recently gained widespread popularity amongst developers and is used to build complex software and applications.

Microsoft C#

Microsoft C# is also a multi-paradigm, general-purpose programming language. C# covers strong typing, imperative, declarative, functional, component-oriented, and object-oriented generic programming disciplines. ECMA and ISO have both provided their stamp of approval for this particular programming language.


SQL is a type of database that has been specially designed for web development and offers high performance and scalability. This database is the best option for heavily dependent apps on multi-row transactions, for example- a typical banking app.

The tech world is evolving rapidly, with new features and updates being introduced every year. A software developer must always stay up to date and brush up on old skills, and simultaneously learn any new skills required.

What are the top soft skills for Developers?

Software development is a lot more than writing simple code. Thus, software developers need to master specific soft skills besides the technical skills mentioned above.

Problem-solving ability

Software is developed to solve the user’s problems and make their lives easier. So if you have an innate ability to create innovative solutions to different issues, then software development is an ideal career path for you. To add to that, the coding or programming part of software development is also an exercise in problem-solving and trial and error. As a programmer, you have to patiently develop innovative fixes for various bugs and other code issues.


When people imagine software developers and programmers, they imagine a person sitting behind multiple screens in a darkened room all by themselves, furiously typing away. Contrary to this popular belief, software development is not solitary work. Multiple parts simultaneously work together to build software. Programmers, software developers, and clients must work together as teams with open communication lines to produce the best possible product.

Analytical Skills

Softwares are essentially just large puzzles. Programmers and software developers come up with innovative ways of putting together the small puzzle pieces to create the said big picture. If this is something that intrigues you, then you’ll enjoy software development. There is a lot of thoughtful consideration that goes into creating the perfect software.

Attention to detail

As mentioned above, software development is an intricate process with many moving parts and small details. Sometimes the slightest fault in the code can result in a colossal bug within the software. Therefore to be a successful software developer, you must have a keen eye for detail.

Innate Motivation

Software development comprises long hours and small details and can be tedious and tricky. So it is vital that you don’t feel discouraged or demotivated at any point in the process. You need to possess an innate sense of motivation and determination to finish what you start to be a successful software developer.

How much does a software developer typically make?

Before the pandemic changed our lives in 2020, technology was already an integral part of most industries. After the government imposed social distancing rules, technology became an integral part of our daily lives and routines. Software developers are the mover and shakers of the tech world. So it’s safe to say they are paid rather handsomely.

The national median salary is roughly $38,500. In contrast, the median salary for a software developer specializing in system software development is around $110,000 ($52.88/hour). Various manufacturing companies employed most of the top-earning system software developers.

Developers specializing in application software development earn a median salary of $103,620. Many of the top-earning application software developers worked at software publishing companies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10% of software developers annually make more than $166,960 ($80.27/hour). Conversely, the bottom 10% earn less than $66,740 ($32.09/hour) annually.

The states that pay software developers better than others include Washington, California, and New York. Most experienced software developers make about $30,000 more than newbies.

Education & training needed to become a Software Developer.

Do you want to become a software developer? You need to educate yourself on the subject matter and get hands-on training, but no certification is required.


Most software developers usually sport an undergraduate degree in computer science and a robust set of programming skills. If you are currently enrolled in a bachelor’s computer science program and want to become a software developer, focus on the classes related to software building.


Internships are the best way to get hands-on training, gain insight into various industries, and get subjected to different programming languages. Strong knowledge of industry best practices and developing trends in software development is imperative.

The next step to becoming a Software Developer

Now that you have in-depth knowledge of what being a software developer entails, you can focus on deciding what the next step will be. If you are about to start your undergraduate studies, sign up for computer science courses. If you are already in your undergraduate studies, then concentrate on classes that focus on software development. If you want to learn more about coding without leaving the comfort of your own home, you can check out some of the links below. Each site offers a great range of courses that will help you brush up on your coding skills.


Codecademy is an education company on a mission to build the best learning experience inside and out, making Codecademy the ideal place for our team to learn, teach, and create the online learning experience of the future. They have free and paid classes that teach web development, programming languages, data visualization, and many other topics.

Google Code

Students can access various open-source projects to help with their work through Google Code Archives’.


Udemy is one of the leading online education companies out there. They have countless courses (mostly paid) to teach you various features of software development and coding.


Coursera offers courses from various prestigious colleges across the world. Students can pick and choose from over 3,900 courses, including many on computer science and information technology.

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