How to Become a Software Developer

Digitisation has seen exponential growth in the past decade. With the onset of the global pandemic, digital transformation jumped ahead by 5 to 10 years in most industries. With the tech and data industries booming, there are more and more new jobs with exciting profiles and lucrative payouts. As a result, more and more people are making their way into the IT industry. 

Most of the people who are making their way to the higher positions in the technology workspace have a software development background or hold relevant degrees from IT colleges. However, a significant number of people are also starting from the bottom. These are people from various streams, not necessarily IT professionals, who enrol in professional training courses to become software developers. 

If you are one of the people making the jump to a software development career, there are several paths you can choose if you don’t have a full-time college degree.

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What is a Software Developer?

A software developer is the creative driver behind every type of computer program. Software developers write and design code that builds every virtual element you see from operating systems to web apps to video games. 

As a software developer, you will have a part to play in every step of the development process. From the conceptualisation stage to the user journey to the final app deployment, software developers play a pivotal role. You will also collaborate with programmers from time to time, but for the most part, you will work on your own. 

The daily tasks of a software developer include, but are not limited to:

  • Analysis of software user needs
  • Designing, building and testing software programs to adhere to user needs
  • Creation of diagrams and models outlining the code that will create the application or software
  • Testing and maintenance to ensure software functioning
  • Process documentation that provides information required for maintenance and upgrade

Busting the Biggest Myth Around Software Development:

Most blogs and career counsellors will tell you that getting a full-time degree is the most critical step toward a software development career. However, that is no longer the case. More professionals are increasingly moving towards the software development domain to ensure their skills are future-proof and their career remains stable. 

According to one Course Report, coding bootcamps and training courses provide almost equal returns on investments as compared to a full-time degree. They also require less money and take less time to complete. Hiring managers across top global technology companies also rank attitudes and skills higher than academic qualifications for the people they hire.

Whether you know it yet or not, a large section of developers within the IT industry are self-taught and have made their careers without a single formal degree. The truth is computer programming, coding and software development are trades that anyone can learn, similar to how people learn Illustrator or Photoshop.

There’s a difference between the skills of a qualified developer and a self-taught professional. When they start out, self-taught professionals usually don’t understand several fundamentals, but they know how the tool works, the different functions and possibilities with software development and code and the opportunities that are present. With a job in hand, they slowly build their portfolios, sharpen their skills and take their careers forward. 

Another option that self-taught professionals have is to get a certification. Several platforms, including Koenig, provide professional certification courses on software development that are recognised across global organisations. Having a certification to your name tells your employer that you have proven your skills as a developer and are ready to take on responsibilities in the workplace. 

The objective of a short-term or self-paced certification course is not to give you the skills of an expert software developer. Instead, it is supposed to hone your skills enough to get you started with a strong foundation. Once your base is strong, you can learn the rest on the job.

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How to Become a Software Developer:

If you are looking at software development as your next career path, there are several steps you can take to get there. 

1. Learn programming languages:

Software development careers need strong programming language foundations. The top ones to consider learning to take your career forward are Java, Python, C/C++ and Scala.

  • Java is useful for server-side app development. It works on several platforms like Android smartphone apps and the internet. 
  • Python is the easiest programming language to learn as it has a syntax similar to English. If you are just starting out, this is your best option.
  • C and C++ are popular system programming languages. They are common among game developers.
  • Scala combines object-oriented and functional programming consents. It has been created to address the areas of improvement in Java.

2. Understand your final objectives:

Software developers are in high demand across industries, companies and global markets. Before you start your career, make sure you know your career objectives and that you understand where you are headed. Some of the industries where software development is in high demand are finance companies, software publishers, computer system design companies and insurance carriers. With the changing workspace landscape, there are several hybrid and remote work opportunities as well. You can leverage them all to give your career a boost. 

3. Complete a degree or take courses online:

According to the Stack Overflow 2021 Developers Survey, over 65% of software developers today hold bachelor’s degrees. While getting a degree is not mandatory, it does lay a strong foundation for the rest of your career path. You also have the option of getting additional certifications while on the job so that you can stay ahead of market trends and your competitors. Some of the skills to train are computer science, information technology and software engineering. If you want to work in a specific industry, find a minor subject or short-term certification to understand more about it. 

4. Start practising within your developer niche:

The same training rules apply to both formally educated developers as well as self-taught skill-based certified developers. There is a fixed number of hours that candidates need to put in to work with programming languages and attempt development. This will help increase productivity, efficiency and accuracy.

If you are passionate about app design, you can sharpen your skills through mobile app development. If you are more curious about server or computer infrastructure, DevOps engineering would be a better fit for you. These are just a few examples of the wide range of domains where software development skills are in high demand. 

5. Create a strong portfolio of your work:

When you start practising programming and creating apps, make sure you create a portfolio of the work you have done. While resumes tell employers what you can do, portfolios show them live examples of work you have already done. This gives a more practical understanding of your skill set. Your portfolio should have:

  • A short bio
  • Your contact details
  • Relevant skills
  • Accolades or awards
  • Resume link
  • Personal projects, if any
  • Professional work done for clients or employers

You can upload your portfolio on GitLab or GitHub. 

6. Develop your technical skills:

Programming is just one of the many skills that software developers should have. While it is important, you should also focus on gaining experience with other tools as well that software developers require in their line of work. These are:

  • Tools like Mercurial SCM and Git, two source control systems that software development demands
  • SQL, a language that powers database engines
  • Integrated development environments that help you write, modify, run and debug code

Additional Read: Top Angular Interview Questions You Must Prepare This Year

7. Build and sharpen your soft, non-technical skills:

Software developers are responsible for giving instructions to others during ongoing projects. You also must explain how different components work, answer client questions and clarify doubts for supervisors. Additionally, you need to have excellent communication skills while being creative and detail-oriented and display problem-solving capabilities.  

8. Certify your critical skills:

A certification validates a software developer’s skills before present and potential employers. It demonstrates the proficiency they possess, which plays a huge role if there isn’t much work experience. For instance, the IT Fundamentals+ certification by CompTIA is a strong place to start to understand whether a software development career is good for you or not. After that, you can consider looking at other technology certifications that go along with software development, such as cloud computing, data security and data management. To understand which skills go best with software development, take a look at some of the job descriptions for software developers you will find online and compare the skills and requirements given there. 

9. Preparing for the interview:

Finally, make sure you market yourself as a top talent once you are done honing your skills. You need to have a proper resume, portfolio and cover letter that will tell your potential recruiter about your qualifications and skills.

Now that you know how to become a software developer, it’s time to put your plan into action. If you are looking for a software development certification , give your career the boost it deserves and enrol in a training course on Koenig today.

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Armin Vans
Sheyans is a Android Certified Developer and certified professional with rich experience in Application Development, Programming, and Corporate training. He delivered training on CEH, CPENT, ECSA, Security+, CNDV2, CISSP, CISM, Android, iOS, Java, Objective C, Swift, and Xamarin Mobile Framework.

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