What is a Software Developer?
Simply put, software developers are tech experts who visualize, create, and design computer programs. Some of them build new applications for desktop computers or mobile devices. Others may develop underlying systems that power these programs. Regardless, they set out to create, test, and implement programs that answer users’ needs.
The role of a software developer will depend on the requirements of the organization or team they’re working for. Let’s move on to the next section to learn the different roles and tasks of a software developer.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Software Developer
A software developer can take on different roles in a development team. From planning to deployment, they are a key fixture in any development project. Let’s discuss their roles and responsibilities in detail.
Software Development Roles
Here are the possible roles that software developers take on.
1. Web or Application Developers
While the two may seem similar on the surface, they have stark differences that make them stand out. Basically, web developers create and design web pages such as websites or lead generation pages. Their role is to maintain the front-end (client-facing) and the back-end (servers and databases) of a website.
In contrast, an application developer creates, designs, and deploys or updates applications that run on a specific device or operating system. They may specialize in a particular platform or development, e.g., Android or iOS.
2. UI and UX Designer
Software developers with artistic backgrounds can also become UI or UX designers. It’s a great career path for them, especially if they have advanced coding chops to boot. These skills allow them to create appealing mockups in CSS or HTML and collaborate with other developers about the design.
3. Software Tester
Aside from coding and designing, software developers need to spot and fix bugs efficiently. It’s their job to check their code for any errors before the big launch. Moreover, they have to perform tests on pages to debug it. They’ll only go live when the website has been carefully assessed by the team and the client.
4. Systems Administrator and DevOps Engineers
Large companies usually have hundreds, if not thousands, of servers that must be upgraded and patched regularly. In recent years, however, the advent of cloud computing has significantly changed this task. Their job has evolved from physically plugging the servers to managing them using open-source tools like Kubernetes and Terraform.
Essentially, System Administrators are responsible for the upkeep and configuration of multi-user computers (servers). On the other hand, DevOps Engineers bridge both development and operations when building software. In practice, these roles tend to overlap as both need an understanding of system architecture and automation.
5. Sales Engineers
Think of Sales Engineers as salespeople with a certain level of technical expertise. This is perfect for developers who want to expand their skills beyond coding. Generally, they use their technical skills to sell scientific or technologically advanced products to businesses.
Hence, they must have in-depth knowledge of the parts and functions of the product. Since this is still a sales job, their income and tenure will rely on meeting and exceeding sales goals.
6. Product and Management Roles
Small companies may blend all product roles into one, but larger organizations can be flexible in defining responsibilities for specific roles. Here are a few that help facilitate the product development lifecycle:
- Business Analyst – a team member who acts as a bridge between business and product development teams. They use technology-oriented analysis to ensure business requirements are met. The role doesn’t involve heavy programming or coding skills.
- Project Manager – they have similar responsibilities as Business Analysts except that they focus on project goals and strategies. Their job entails defining the tasks and resources and monitoring the project’s progress.
- Scrum Master – as the name suggests, they are experts who promote the Scrum principles. They ensure teams follow best practices when creating a product.
Software Developer Responsibilities
The tasks of a software developer revolve around the entire software development cycle. They work with a team of programmers to build software programs for different devices or platforms. Here are the top responsibilities of a software developer:
- Discuss business requirements with clients
- Build clean and efficient code based on user needs
- Test software and debug for any issues
- Collaborate with other developers, managers, and UX designers in building software
- Identify and deploy software tools, systems, and components
- Monitor and upgrade existing systems
- Implement quality assurance standards
- Write and update technical documentation
- Train users and gather feedback
- Identify areas for operational improvements and implement necessary modifications
Software Developer Job Requirements
While it’s possible for one to become a software developer through self-study, some areas of the role are quite complex. Because of this, most people are better off earning a bachelor’s degree as it allows them to understand the role holistically and access all the tools to succeed.
While the software developer role requires various skills, most of these skills vary depending on the organization. Here are the fundamental skills that most employers look for in a software developer:
- Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering, Computer Science, or related field
- Proven experience in building applications and UX or UI design
- Solid expertise with coding languages (e.g., Java, Python, PHP, C++, etc.)
- Background in using software frameworks and systems (React Native, AngularJS, etc.)
- Familiarity with Agile development best practices
- Proficiency in open-source technology and cybersecurity
- Ability in identifying and debugging software errors and issues
- Good knowledge of managing Object-Relational Mapping (ORM) and databases
Additionally, software developers need these soft skills when working individually or with other team members:
- Communication skills – software developers often work closely with team members, stakeholders, and clients. This specific skill is crucial to understanding the requirements and communicating ideas and instructions clearly to other people.
- Analytical skills – Since developers are naturally inclined to solve everyday user problems, their analytical competence should support them in creating solutions that match users’ needs.
- Creativity – Find yourself a software developer who can find different ways to get things done, even when they seem impossible.