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How To Become A Software Developer
How To Become A Software Developer

Across the Pacific Northwest tech scene and far beyond, jobs for software developers are everywhere.

Software developers don’t just write code — they deliver solutions to real-world problems. And because tech innovation never stops, it’s an exciting time to grow your career in the software world, says Sanjeev Qazi, a senior software development engineer for Microsoft.

“You’re not bound by physical dimensions,” he says. “The possibilities are endless.”

With the right set of skills, software developers can land a job in any industry. Read on to learn more about how to become a software developer.

WHAT DO SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS DO? 

Software developers use common object-oriented programming languages, such as Python or C#, to design and build software programs.

Sanjeev, who is also an instructor for the Certificate in Software Development & Design Essentials offered through UW Professional & Continuing Education, says all software developers share an end goal: to build error-free software that helps users quickly solve problems.

“As part of delivering the software solution, software developers must think about designing, interfacing, coding, testing, and making sure the software works,” Sanjeev says.

Software developers (sometimes also known as software engineers) may specialize in areas within the field. For example, web developers or front-end developers create online or visually appealing software, while back-end developers write the code that runs software behind the scenes.

Junior software developers may add new features to existing software, or use logs and tools to find and fix bugs. Principal or senior engineers, especially those with experience in a particular field or industry, usually contribute to software architecture or design and work with teams to build larger sub-systems, Sanjeev explains.

Software developers must have the skills to build a software product from scratch, he says. And, they must also know how to write robust and efficient code, so the software works reliably.

“Somebody who doesn't have that understanding may make a mistake,” Sanjeev says.

ARE SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS IN DEMAND?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 26% growth in the number of jobs for software developers nationally through 2031. In Washington state — where software developers earn $151,960 on average —  jobs could grow as much as 37% through 2030.

There are thousands of job openings for software developers and engineers at Seattle-area companies, including Adobe, Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Salesforce and more.

Fast-growing industries, such as healthcare and fintech, need software developers. So do big data companies, where data scientists rely on software engineers to help tame large amounts of data, Sanjeev says.

Plus, traditional industries, such as logistics and manufacturing, are adopting technologies and devices with embedded and real-time systems, known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sanjeev says these companies need software engineers to build and enable IoT elements, such as smart sensors and robotic devices.

“Whether it's in cars or warehouses or agriculture, IoT is a fast and upcoming domain because there are great business opportunities,” Sanjeev says.

HOW DO YOU BECOME A SOFTWARE DEVELOPER?

To become a software developer, you first need to know the basic structure of an object-oriented programming language, such as Python, C# or Java. UW PCE offers a wide variety of courses that can help you ramp up your programming skills.

Sanjeev teaches the Certificate in Software Development & Design Essentials, which helps students enhance their skill set and prepare for computer science or software development roles. Students learn the basics of algorithms, data structures, design patterns and system design, and practice using tools to program solutions to real-life software problems.

Students in the UW certificate program also work closely with instructors and peers to prep for common questions that come up in technical interviews, Sanjeev says.

People with a background in math have an advantage in the field, but it’s not necessary to have a math or computer science degree to become a software developer. Sanjeev says anyone can learn programming languages and concepts.

“Whether you’re an English major, journalism major or a music major, it doesn't matter,” Sanjeev says. “You can figure it out.”

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