Getting Started in Software Development

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Are you considering a career in software development? Our Software Development degree program at Coleman University can prepare you for an exciting career in a booming industry! Coleman University offers students the tools and foundational knowledge of programming languages, software architectures, and paradigms to create and manage software applications. With coursework in systems analysis, application design, website development, and e-commerce concepts, Coleman graduates are well prepared to enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to develop their very own software packages! Though Coleman can offer you the training and foundational knowledge to become a software developer, potential software developers may be unaware  of the various pathways into the industry.

With a wide array of potential career options for software developers, it behooves you to determine which path is right for you, based on your interests, skills, and abilities. From there, you must choose which coding language would best suit the job desired. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, different platforms necessitate different coding languages. The initial language that you choose should be based on your short- and long-term goals. For example, Java is the primary language used for Android applications. You would not learn Java if your goal is to develop iPhone applications. In that case, you would learn either Objective-C or Swift. Due to the small differences across platforms, you often cannot write one master code and expect it to work on every platform. You must understand the nuanced differences that affect how your software will run. Luckily, many of the major coding languages are primed to allow developers to port code to other platforms rather quickly. With that said, a developer still needs a thorough understanding of the impact that hardware has on software. Though falling under the software development umbrella, the distinct job destinations in your software development career all possess their own necessary skills and experiences. Like to play video games? A career in video game development may be for you. Are you a coding whiz? You may be on your way to become the next great software engineer! Let’s look at a few possible jobs within your career as a software developer  and explore what they look for in a candidate.

Game programmers take the outline provided by the game designer and bring it to life through code. Since video games are essentially self-contained software packages, game programmers must be familiar with various coding languages, such as C++ (the most popular), Java, and C#. Another option that game studios utilize when developing a new game is the use of game engines. Game engines are basically pre-built software templates that programmers use to expedite the development process. They generally contain the game studio’s preferred physics engines, rendering engine, and animation bundles, among other things. The Coleman University Gaming Development and Design program will prepare students to master arguably the two most popular game engines available today: Unity and Unreal. Though used to accomplish similar tasks, these game engines possess different attributes, strengths, and limitations that prospective employers expect applicants to navigate. With these tools at their disposal, game programmers can dictate how characters interact with the environment, with commands from the player, and with other characters.

Software Programmers or Developers are the backbone of computer science. They are involved in the development of many types of software, including operating systems, networking systems, and compilers (the software that converts code to executional commands on a computer). Though many software programmers and developers  spend a great deal of time writing code, their main priority can also include  system maintenance and optimization. With feedback from users and test groups, software programmers  frequently work to improve existing algorithms to make them more user-friendly.

Business Application Developers combine their knowledge of various coding languages with expertise in database management to help businesses build websites, mobile apps, and custom software packages. Due to the myriad of operating systems that can access certain apps, business application developers must have a strong understanding of multiple coding languages. Different projects will require different platforms, and a candidate that has a strong grasp on the necessary languages is very attractive. Companies would prefer to have one person with a diverse skillset rather than to hire multiple software developers to work on the project. Two of the most important abilities to possess in this position are the ability to safeguard software and the ability to make it user-friendly. Though network security professionals often step in and preserve sensitive information, companies rely on their software developers to build software packages that have an inherent defense. It is much easier to write code without exploitable holes than it is to find a hole and fix it later on. The other necessity is making sure that the software package is user-friendly. Software developers have to keep in mind that most end users are much less technologically adept and must be walked through new software packages.

Though education is important, experience is the most crucial requirement for a career in software development. In an effort to provide additional hands-on experience, Coleman University encourages students to work on independent projects, whether through collaborating on open source projects with other software developers across the world, by attending BarCamps, or by participating in coding dojos.

  • Open source projects are a great way to take the next step from fledgling coder to more advanced coding. There are hundreds of open source projects available at any given time that require software developers around the world to lend their time and energy to solve problems, build infrastructure, and give feedback. In return for contributing to these projects, you have the opportunity to learn from more experienced coders, gain exposure to a side of the industry that is hard to replicate in a classroom, and add it to your resume. As is the case for many creative roles, a portfolio of projects that you have contributed to can set you apart from other applicants.
  • Coding dojos are gatherings of programmers based around a common challenge. Though the event centers on a shared challenge, coding dojos are not meant to be competitive. Much like a game jam in video game development and design, coding dojos bring coders of all skill levels together to tackle a project in an attempt to glean new knowledge and skills in the process. The goal is to create an environment where people can collaborate and discuss approaches and techniques used when designing new software.
  • BarCamps are informal conferences put on by groups of individuals that wish to have an open forum to discuss the issues facing the industry. However, unlike most conferences, BarCamps do not have set speakers. Rather, everyone present must participate in some capacity – whether giving a demonstration, leading a workshop, or volunteering in a general capacity. The purpose of these events is to bring like-minded people together to learn in an open environment.

Due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, software developers must make continuous learning a priority to stay relevant. Through the use of industry periodicals, conferences, books, etc., programmers can learn the newest tips and trends that will shape the industry for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the technology that you spent countless hours mastering will eventually become outdated. When that happens, you have to evolve or risk becoming outdated yourself.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for programmers is projected to increase 17 percent from 2016 to 2024. With an average rate of job growth of 8 percent across all professions during that time frame, it is clear that qualified software developers are, and will continue to be, a hot commodity in the job market. This fact is supported by the average salary of a software developer, which, at just over $100,000 per year, is close to three times the average rate of pay across all professions at just over $36,000 per year. The cause for optimism surrounding the growth of software developers is the expectation that new technology will demand new applications. In the past, programmers would develop separate mobile apps for each platform (Apple, Android, Blackberry, and Windows). This would require multiple teams of software developers utilizing multiple programming languages to replicate the same app. Not only was this time-consuming and expensive, but each platform’s respective app store would tap into the profits made off of the app. However, programmers are starting to shift toward developing mobile web apps for convenience and cost-effectiveness. Rather than building the same app multiple times, software developers are able to build one HTML code and port it to a website. That way, when a user accesses the website from a mobile device, regardless of the operating system, he or she sees the same content.

With a degree in software development from Coleman University, you will have every opportunity to learn from industry leaders in the software development field. Due to the varied nature of the industry, a fledgling programmer has a multitude of opportunities to explore the myriad of paths before settling on one, based on his or her goals, interests, and talents. Though a degree from Coleman University can position you for an exciting career in software development, the onus falls squarely on you to continue learning and expanding your skills in an ever-evolving industry. But by developing a portfolio of completed work, building a network of fellow software developers, and possessing the right tools and knowledge, you will be well positioned to obtain a career in software development.

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