Getting started as a Software Developer

The current IT job market is rich with opportunities for Software Developers and Programmers – so how do you become one?

Getting started as a Software Developer

Entry requirements

It’s becoming more and more common that employers will look for a degree as a minimum requirement, whether it is a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND or regular degree. Degrees with an obvious relation to the IT jobs market are clearly preferred, so looking for courses in computer science, information technology, software development / engineering or business information systems can really help you kick start your career.

If you don’t have an IT specific degree though, don’t worry, there are other options. You could apply for graduate trainee schemes which aim to use your learning abilities to make the most of on the job experience. You could also look to convert your degree by undertaking a postgraduate qualification – this isn’t essential but can help you to stand out from the crowd and show you are serious about making IT your career.

Required skills

Software Developers, similar to Web Developer careers, rests heavily on programming and so a practical knowledge of programming skills such as Java and Visual basic are essential. You will also need to be happy using web based programs as these are now featuring more and more on employers’ skills wish lists.

Employers will also be looking for candidates with the following key skills:

  • Analytical and commercial experience
  • The ability to use at least one (if not more) development language
  • Up to date expertise and knowledge of current computer hardware and software
  • The ability to identify problems and a keen eye for detail
  • Business understanding
  • Strong communication skills

How to get and improve your key skills

The best way to develop key skills is through experience, and this is especially important in the IT industry. You should aim to get as much experience as possible through work placements, internships or a year in industry (a requisite with some university degrees).

Developing your career as a Software Developer

So you’ve got your first Software Developer job – what do you do now? Keep learning. To keep your career moving in the right direction you need to keep improving and there are a number of ways to do this.

Take initiative and look in to professional qualifications. There are several courses which could be of great benefit to you in progressing as a software developer.

Software development companies are also a great resource as the larger ones offer a range of accredited training courses. For example, Microsoft and Sun.

Something to remember

Whatever stage in your career you are at, there’s one thing that is vital to remember: You must be up to date.

The IT industry is one of the most dynamic and fast moving industries with updates, adaptations and new skills and programs being thought up and released every day. As a result it is essential that you keep on top of what’s going on – read industry press, get involved in forums, learn from your colleagues – do what it takes to show how much a potential employer needs you.

Find Software Developer jobs or Web Developer jobs