Become a Software Developer

How Long Does It Take to Become a Software Developer?

Last Updated on January 19, 2023

If you’re looking for an exciting career that is in high demand, offers plenty of opportunity, and has the potential to be very lucrative, software development may be the right field for you. In the age of technology, software developers are in high demand. The demand doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the field of software development was projected to grow at a rate of 25 percent between 2021 and 2031. This is much faster than the average projected growth for any other field.

The median pay for a job as a software developer in 2021 was $109,020 per year, or $52.41 per hour, which is much higher than the average. Plus, there are ample opportunities to earn even more.

Moreover, while acquiring a college degree can be helpful in becoming a software developer, it isn’t necessary. There are plenty of professionals in this industry with highly successful careers who are completely self-taught.

Given the above-mentioned information, it’s easy to see why a career in software development is so appealing. If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, you might have some questions; namely, you might be wondering how long it will take to become a software developer.

To find out how long you can expect it to take, on average, to become a software developer – along with other valuable information, such as what a software developer does and the different types of software developers – keep on reading.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Software Developer?

There isn’t a definitive answer to this question, as there are several factors and variables that will affect the length of time. These factors and variables include the following:

  • The type of software developer you are interested in becoming
  • Whether you will be acquiring a college degree or teaching yourself
  • Whether or not you will be completing externships

With that said, on average, it will take four years to complete the formal college education that is necessary to become a software developer. Or, if you prefer, you can take an accelerated program, which will allow you to earn your degree faster and, in turn, secure a job faster.

Some software developer boot camps can take as little as 12 weeks. Self-teaching can take anywhere from three months to a couple of years.

If you know that you want to work as a software developer, starting on the path and doing what is necessary to acquire the knowledge and skills that this professional requires as soon as possible is highly recommended.

What Is a Software Developer?

Person Coding on a Macbook Pro

In the simplest terms, a software developer is a professional who creates a program that can be executed on websites and applications. In other words, these professionals are responsible for the form and function of a website or web-based application.

Initially, the term software referred to a desktop program; however, today, the term software can be all-encompassing, meaning that it can include several different things. For instance, websites and web-based apps are software.

Your smartphone is software. The programs that you run on your smartphone, smart TV, and even on your Alexa are all software. The list really does go on and on. From the apps that you interact with to the wearables you use, there are countless types of software you interact with on a daily basis.

Given the fact that technology is ever-advancing – and that it is advancing at such a rapid rate – new software is constantly being developed. As such, the need for software developers is certainly in-demand.

Types of Software Developers

There are several different types of software developers, and the following are among the most common.

Web App Developers

Web developers are among the most popular kinds of developers. They are responsible for creating websites and web-based applications like Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Netflix.

There are three different categories of web developers:

  • Front-end. Front-end developers are responsible for creating and implementing the parts of a website or an application that users see and interact with, such as fonts, colors, and drop-down menus.
  • Back-end. Back-end developers concentrate on the part of a website or web-based application that users don’t see, the stuff that goes on in the background yet makes software run. Back-end developers use algorithms to personalize websites individually for each user.
  • Full-stack. Full-stack developers specialize in both front-end and back-end development. In other words, they create and implement the parts of websites and applications that users see, as well as the parts that are in the background. Full-stack developers have the potential to design an entire website or application.

Front-, back, and full-stack developers utilize a variety of tools and programming languages, such as javascript, CSS, HTML, Java, C, C++, Ruby, Go, Python, and Apache Mesos (just to name a few).

Mobile App Developers

Mobile app developers are responsible for creating the applications that are used on smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices.

The apps that they create can be used for entertainment, communication, education, online shopping, and even directions. The applications that mobile app developers create and implement are primarily developed for two main operational systems: iOS and Android.

There are three main types of mobile developers:

  • Android app developers. These professionals create applications that are used on Android platforms.
  • iOS app developers. These professionals create applications for the iOS platform.
  • Cross-platform developers. These professionals create applications that can be used on different platforms.

Web application developers use a variety of tools and programming languages in their craft, such as Java, Android Studio, Objective-C, Swift, Reach Native, and Flutter.

Desktop/Console App Developers

Software developers design and implement desktop/console applications, such as Microsoft Word, Spotify, and Skype.

These professionals are similar to mobile developers in that there are desktop developers who work with just one type of operating system, such as Windows, PS4, or Linux, and there are professionals who develop applications that can be used on several platforms.

These professionals also use a variety of tools and programming languages to develop desktop/console applications, such as Swift, Objective-C, Cocoa, QT, Ruby, Vala, and JavaFX.

Video Game Developers

As the name suggests, video game developers are responsible for developing and implementing the games that are played on PCs, gaming consoles, and smartphones. These are the same web, mobile, and desktop/console developers that were outlined above; however, they specialize in games rather than standard applications.

Video game developers play a key role at almost every stage of the video game development process; for example, graphics creation, AI characteristics, and game mechanics. They also test and troubleshoot the programs that they develop.

Video game developers utilize a variety of tools and programming languages, such as Unity and Unreal Engine 4 engines, 3D modeling, pattern identification and application, C++, C#, JavaScript, Java, and Python.

How to Become a Software Developer

Software Developers

Because technology is becoming more and more integrated into our daily lives, more and more people are looking to find a career that advances the growth of these technologies.

If you’re interested in becoming a software developer, the following is a brief overview of what you will need to do in order to obtain the knowledge and skills that a career in this field requires:

College Education

In order to become a software developer, you can attend college to attain a bachelor’s (4-year) degree. Within the degree program, prospective software developers will learn about the fundamentals of computers and software development, a wide variety of programming languages, computer architecture, data structures, and software engineering.

After you have successfully completed a bachelor’s program and have earned a degree, you can pursue additional education and specialization in a particular field, such as an application manager or a systems developer, via the completion of a certification course.

Self-Teaching

While earning a degree is highly recommended, it is possible to become a software developer without a college degree. There are a lot of professionals in this field who have taught themselves all of the knowledge and skills that a career in this profession requires.

There are several programs available and online tutorials that walk you through the process of software development.

The downside of teaching yourself is that showing your credentials and what you can do to prospective employers can be challenging. The upside is that teaching yourself is more cost-effective than attending college. Self-teaching the basics can typically take between three and six months.

Job Training

Acquiring hands-on experience as a software developer can help you attain a job in this profession. Externships are an excellent way to gain that hands-on experience. There are several companies that offer externships, open-source projects, and coding boot camps.

By acquiring real-world, hands-on experience, you will increase your chances of acquiring a job, as you will be more appealing to prospective employers.

Hone Your Skills

After you have successfully acquired the foundational knowledge that is required as a software developer, you can hone your skillset and gather more tools. Once you reach this stage, you will need to be able to prove that you have the qualities that this career requires.

These skills include the following:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Troubleshooting
  • Patience
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Independence
  • Communication
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