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What Does a Software Developer Do? The Ultimate Guide

What Does a Software Developer Do? The Ultimate Guide

May 17, 2024



What Does a Software Developer Do? The Ultimate Guide

May 17, 2024



What is Software Development?

Software development is the process of creating, maintaining, and improving software applications or systems. Software development covers not only the programming and coding aspects, but also the broader system design, architecture, and problem-solving to meet user needs and ensure robust, efficient, and scalable software solutions.

The software itself is the set of instructions or programs that serve as the intermediary between users and hardware. It provides the functionality and capabilities that make digital devices useful. Broadly speaking, there are four basic types of software:

System Software: System software includes operating systems, device drivers, and utility programs that manage and control the computer's hardware and provide a platform for running application software. Operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux are examples of system software.

Application Software: Software designed for specific tasks or applications, such as word processors, web browsers, mobile applications, and video games. These programs are intended for end-users to perform various functions, from document editing to entertainment.

Programming Software: Tools and environments used by developers to create, edit, and debug software applications. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) and text editors are examples of programming software.

Embedded System Software: Found in devices not usually considered computers, such as microwave ovens, vehicles, washing machine, and more. While not visible to end-users, it’s responsible for making these devices work seamlessly.

What Do Software Developers Do?

A software developer’s duties typically include:

  • Analyze users’ needs and then design and develop software to meet those needs, considering scalability, efficiency and system integration

  • Evaluate existing systems and software recommending and implementing upgrades to enhance performance and compatibility

  • Develop the architecture for software systems, ensuring seamless integration and optimal functionality of all components

  • Create a variety of models and diagrams to represent system architecture and design, facilitating a clear understanding among team members

  • 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

What Skills Are Required in Software Development?

The specific skills required can vary based on the type of software development (e.g., web, mobile, desktop, embedded), the development methodology employed (e.g., Agile, Waterfall) and the industry. Software developers often specialize in certain areas (e.g., back-end, front-end, DevOps), so the skill set can be tailored to the specific role and project requirements.

Image by DCStudio

Here are some general skills a software developer could prioritize:

  • Proficiency in one or more programming languages (e.g., Java, Python, C++, JavaScript), focusing on writing clean, efficient and scalable code.

  • Understanding data structures and algorithms for efficient problem-solving and optimizing code.

  • Skills in designing and managing the high-level structure of software, ensuring that the architectural choices support the requirements and objectives of the project.

  • Ability to understand and design complex systems, including their interdependencies, lifecycle, and impacts.

  • Competence in both front-end and back-end development; ability to create comprehensive software solutions.

  • Understanding principles of user-centered design to ensure software is intuitive, accessible, and satisfying for the end-user.

  • Knowledge of software development methodologies such as Agile, Scrum, or DevOps to work effectively in team environments.

  • Proficiency in version control systems like Git for collaborative development and tracking code changes.

  • The ability to write and conduct unit tests and debug code for identifying and fixing issues.

  • A good understanding of operating systems for software to run efficiently on different platforms.

  • Communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and time management skills for collaborating effectively with team members and stakeholders.

Why Software Development?

The worldwide software market, valued at USD $589.6 billion in 2022, is on a trajectory to hit around USD $1,789.14 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 11.74% during the forecast period from 2023 to 2032. This exponential market growth is synonymous with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' projection of a 26.0% employment growth for software developers between 2021 and 2031, estimating an addition of 370,600 jobs in the sector. KnowledgeHunt underscores this upward trend, noting a near 17% uptick in demand for software developers across all industries. 

Vancouver is emerging as a global nexus for tech talent, now ranking seventh worldwide and surpassing any other city outside the US.

Job Trends

A deeper look into the job market shows a diverse demand for software development skills across various specializations in Canada, the USA, and globally. For instance, full-stack roles are highly sought after, with job postings reaching 3,404 in Canada, 51,975 in the USA, and 205,763 globally. Similarly, the demand for software developers remains robust with 7,479 job postings in Canada and an overwhelming 126,486 in the USA.

How Much Do Software Developers Get Paid?

In Canada, the average annual salary for a senior software developer is CAD $122,307. Factors that can influence a software developer's salary include industry, company, location, expertise, and experience level.

What are the Career Paths of a Software Developer?

Software development is a broad field with various specialized roles. Here are some different types of software developers:

  • Front-end Developer: Specializes in creating the user interface and user experience of web applications, typically using technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

  • Back-end Developer: Focuses on server-side development, dealing with databases, server logic, and application performance using languages like Python, Ruby, Java, or PHP.

  • Full-Stack Developer: Proficient in both front-end and back-end development, allowing them to work on the entire application stack.

  • Mobile App Developer: Specializes in creating mobile applications for platforms like iOS (using Swift or Objective-C) or Android (using Java or Kotlin).

  • Embedded Systems Developer: Works on software for embedded systems in devices like IoT devices, automotive control systems, and medical devices.

  • Game Developer: Creates video games, specializing in game engines, graphics, physics, and gameplay mechanics.

  • DevOps: Focuses on automating software development and deployment processes, ensuring efficient collaboration between development and operations teams.

  • AI/ML Developer: Specializes in developing software for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, using libraries like TensorFlow or PyTorch.

  • Cloud Developer: Works on applications and infrastructure deployed in cloud environments, such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.

  • Security Developer: Focuses on creating secure software by identifying and addressing vulnerabilities and implementing security measures.

  • Game Engine Developer: Works on creating and optimizing game engines, which are the core frameworks for video games.

  • Database Developer: Specializes in designing and optimizing database systems and working with database management systems (DBMS).

  • Scientific and Computational Developer: Develops software for scientific research and simulations, using languages like Python, MATLAB, or C++.

  • AR/VR Developer: Creates applications and experiences for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) platforms.

  • Automated Testing Developer: Specializes in creating automated test scripts and frameworks to ensure the quality and reliability of software products.

  • Enterprise Application Developer: Works on software solutions for large organizations, often involving complex, distributed systems and databases.

Software Development Bootcamp with Us

Want to get started on your career as a software developer, but getting a degree isn’t part of the plan? Earning a credential from a reputable institution can give you the boost you need to secure a job. You'll follow a well-defined educational path to acquire vital skills, benefit from the guidance of experienced software developers, and build a professional portfolio.

Enroll in the Software Development Bootcamp with Circuit Stream, in collaboration with McGill University School of Continuing Studies, and earn a Software Developer digital badge.