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If you are tech-savvy, have an analytical mind, like to problem solve and enjoy being creative, you could have a career as a software developer or engineer in your future.

What is a software developer?

A software developer is a technology professional who designs the software for computer applications and systems you might use in daily life. Games, social media apps and even your phone’s operating system are made by software developers and engineers.

As a software developer, you can explore different work environments with employment opportunities existing across all industries in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Around 1.6 million software developers were employed nationally in 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Companies in computer systems design and related services were the largest employers of software developers in 2022, BLS reports.

According to O*NET, software developer job titles may include application developer, software architect, software engineer, systems engineer, network engineer and infrastructure engineer. While these roles require similar technical skills and foundational knowledge, there are slight differences in the tasks they perform, according to BLS. For example, application software developers create computer applications. Systems software developers build the operating systems that help digital devices run in a way that meets the users’ needs.

To be a software engineer, you may need competencies in some or all of the following:

  • Information technology
  • Computer science
  • Software development
  • Software architecture
  • Application development
  • Applied mathematics
  • Python
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Casading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Algorithms
  • Troubleshooting
  • Web applications
  • SQL
  • Code Review
  • Programming
  • Scripting
  • Object-oriented programming (OOP)
  • Data security
  • Data structures
  • Big data

  • Relational databases
  • Legal and ethical principles
  • Operations
  • Information privacy
  • Network security
  • Computer networks
  • Wide area networks
  • Computational reasoning
  • Operating systems
  • Information systems
  • Software design
  • Software testing
  • Program development
  • Python programming
  • Unit testing
  • Algorithmic structures
  • Information management
  • Automation
  • Artificial intelligence

Soft skills

Regularly used on the job

Strong communication, attention to detail, complex problem solving and working well with others are important soft skills you may use on the job as a software developer, according to BLS.

Salary range $96 - 161K

25th to 75th percentile

Software developers within the 25th and 75th percentiles earned an annual salary between $96,790 and $161,480 in 2022, according to nationwide statistics by BLS.[1]

410,400 jobs

Projected growth (2022-2032)

Employment in this field is projected to grow by 26% nationally between 2022 and 2032, according to BLS. This is much faster than the average projected growth rate for all occupations, BLS notes.

[1] Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

Software developers may work under software engineers, who are involved in the larger planning and execution of developing, testing and managing software creation, according to BLS. As a developer, you could also advance into managerial roles as a project management specialist or computer and information system specialist, BLS reports.

Education and experience

Software developers design software for applications and games

A bachelor’s degree is usually required for job opportunities as a software developer or engineer, according to BLS. However, it is possible that some employers may want applicants with a graduate degree, BLS reports. If you are strongly considering this career path, you may want to choose an academic program in a related field, such as computer science or information technology.

Completing an undergraduate certificate program can also give you an advantage as an aspiring software developer or engineer. If you have already earned a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study, certificate programs can help you work towards a specialization.

University of Phoenix offers undergraduate programs relevant to this field. Our programs allow you to focus on one course at a time in 5-week intervals. Explore our programs designed to teach the skills and knowledge you need to become a software developer.

Advanced software developer certificate

This undergraduate certificate program can help prepare you for a career in information technology, providing an entry-level understanding of concepts related to software development and engineering.

Through this program, you can learn how to:

  • Design and implement software solutions in relation to project scope and stakeholder needs
  • Work in multiple programming languages and apply software architecture principles

This program is ten months long, and you will be required to complete all 24 credits to earn your certificate.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

This bachelor’s degree program can help students build a well-rounded foundation in concepts and skills needed to become a software developer.

Through this program, you can learn how to:

  • Analyze a complex computing problem to apply principles of computing and other relevant disciplines to identify solutions
  • Evaluate a computing-based solution to meet a given set of computing requirements in the context of the program’s discipline
  • Recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles
  • Apply computer science theory and software development fundamentals to produce computing-based solutions

The length of our bachelor’s programs is four years. To earn this degree, you will need to complete 120 credits through courses in general, core and elective topics.

Additional pathways

While our Bachelor of Science in Information Technology doesn’t independently prepare you for a career as a software developer, you can add the Advanced Software Developer certificate onto this degree. Students may find this path worthwhile as it will open them up not only to job opportunities related to the Advanced Software Developer certificate outcomes, but also careers aligned to our Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree.

Software developer working on a tablet in an office space

How can University of Phoenix support me in becoming a software developer?

Once you become a Phoenix, you'll gain access to our Career Navigator tools, which can help you evaluate career options, track career-relevant skills and discover job postings suited to your needs. From resumé building and interview preparation to networking and mentorship, University of Phoenix offers career services for life to all students and graduates. Dive deeper into our career services, resources and tools to find out how we can help you reach your goals.

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