Many people think of software development generically as coding. But this is only the first part of the story. While the writing and manipulation of code is at the heart of developing software, there are a lot of related skills, technologies, and processes developers or software engineers need to master to achieve excellence in their field.


Types of Software

Before digging into what it is like to work as a software developer, it is helpful to understand a little about the types of software and systems that developers are usually tasked with creating.  Software applications can include products like: complex business applications, mobile apps, embedded software (inside hardware or equipment), computer operating systems, or even interactive websites. Developers or software engineers typically use a variety of programming languages combined with related servers, technologies, databases, and systems to create a user experience that solves a particular individual or business need.

Sometimes developers specialize in the languages and tools for “front-end development” which is user-facing.  Others specialize in “back-end development” which involves the servers, systems, and databases that support how the front end works. Developers skilled in working on both the front-end and back-end development are called Full Stack developers.


Becoming Agile

A lot of attention has been paid recently to the systems and processes developers use to create or maintain software.  Most companies and organizations have moved or are moving away from a project management approach called “waterfalling.” This approach begins with a full articulation of business and technical requirements, and then moves to design, development, testing, and release over the span of weeks, months, or even years.

Agile approaches, on the other hand, are typically organized around collaborative teams that work together to design, prototype, develop and release bundles of features iteratively in short one to two week “sprints.” Features are captured in user stories, and product owners work directly with developers to understand the desired user experience and the technical approach needed to deliver the user experience.


Are you Career Ready?

As a Minnesota State student you have access to a number of incredible resources. One of those resources is Careerwise Education, a Minnesota State program that allows you to explore careers, plan your education and find a job! You can also assess your current skills, investigate career pathways, explore educational options, explore job markets, and so much more. CareerWise is a one-stop shop that will help you determine your career path and goals!

Currently there are over 500 open software development positions open and waiting to be filled. That gives you a huge opportunity to not only get a job, but start a career!

Like most professions in the computing and information technology sector, software development is growing faster than average.  In addition to software engineering or development jobs, there are a lot of other technical or information technology positions that require applicants to have knowledge or experience in writing code.  To explore the up-to-date job outlook for software development or related positions, check out:

Students and professionals interested in building a career in software development or engineering are often first exposed to the possibilities by learning some basic web development, coding, or game design on their own.  Software development is one of those areas where individuals with little or no formal training can begin to learn and practice the skills it takes to master this vast and evolving field.

But how do you get started? Take several courses on a free learning website like Codeacademy. You can also open an account on an online coding community or platform like Github and see what other people are creating and which open source projects are looking for help. Explore. Engage. Learn. Try.  Begin building your portfolio of projects or ideas. Start small and follow your own interests. Design a webpage. Develop a basic mobile app. When you are ready, look for some more formalized learning opportunities like those listed below.

If you are looking to develop your coding and software development skills there are a lot of avenues you can take. However, if your goal is to get a job as a developer, you will want to invest some time and energy into getting a recognized credential or degree that will confirm your level of experience and differentiate you from other job-seekers.  Here are some degree options to consider.

Learn more about Software Development Pathways!