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Career Spotlights ~ Software Developer
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Basic Info
  • Hours: 30 - 40 per week
  • Starting Salary: £20,000 + per year

If you are keen on computing and enjoy design and development, this could be ideal for you.

You will normally need a degree, foundation degree or BTEC HNC/HND to become a software developer. If you do not have an IT-related degree, you may be able to find a place on a graduate trainee scheme.

To become a software developer, you will need to have a creative approach to problem-solving. You'll also need to be able to follow technical plans. Excellent communication and customer care skills are also important.

The Work

Software developers (also known as programmers) design and build computer programs that help organisations and equipment work effectively.

As a software designer, your work could involve:

  • Designing computer controls for industrial and manufacturing machinery
  • Building administrative and financial databases
  • Developing software for home entertainment equipment (known as embedded controls)

You would work closely with senior programmers and business analysts, and create technical plans to meet the need of the clients.

A typical project would include:

  • Programming a test version of a piece of software
  • Testing installation and compatibility issues
  • Checking test results and fixing technical problems (known as bugs)
  • Installing a full version and carrying out final checks before going 'live'
  • Maintaining and supporting systems once they are up and running

You may write computer programs from the beginning, or amend exisiting programs to meet the needs of the project. You could work with a range of web-based technologies, and you would need to understand how databases integrate with these systems


You would usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week. You may be required to do overtime and weekend work to meet deadlines or to minimise disruption to a client's business. You would mainly be based at an office but you may have to travel to meet clients. Some projects may involve overnight stays away from home.


Starting salaries for graduates can be between £20,000 and £26,000 a year. Experienced developers can earn between £28,000 and £40,000, and software developers with management responsibilities can earn over £50,000 a year.

Entry Requirements

You will normally need a degree, foundation degree or BTEC HNC/HND to become a software developer. You could choose from a variety of subjects, including:

  • Computer Science/Studies
  • Information Technology
  • Software Development
  • Software Engineering
  • Business Information Systems

If you do not have an IT-related degree, you may still be able to find a place on a graduate trainee scheme, as larger employers often accept graduates in any subject. You could study for a postgraduate IT conversion qualification, although this is not essential.

Several Universities are now offering the Information Technology Management for Business (ITMB) degree. The degree, which was developed by e-Skills UK and major employers, combines both IT and Business Skills, such as project management and business thinking.

Skills & Knowledge

To become an Software developers, you will need to have:

  • A good knowledge of hardware, software and programming languages
  • The ability to interpret and follow technical plans
  • A creative approach to problem-solving
  • An understanding of Computer Aided (Assisted) Software Engineering (CASE) tools
  • Excellent communication and customer care skills
  • The ability to work with people at all levels, including non-technical staff
  • Good project management skills
  • The ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Good teamwork skills
  • An appreciation of the client's business needs
  • An understanding of confidentiality and data protection issues

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