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The day-to-day work of software development means more than just sitting behind a keyboard. Tasked with building, testing, and maintaining software, software developers find creative ways to craft applications, programs, and systems that meet user needs.
A day in the life of a software developer involves working on applications, programs, and systems at various stages of development. Individuals who like solving problems, working with computers, and collaborating with fellow software professionals thrive as developers.
Software developers are creative, detail-oriented challenge-seekers. Explore a closer look at the job description of a software developer with this guide.
What Is a Software Developer?
Software developers create applications used on computers and mobile devices. By assessing the needs of clients and users, these developers design, build, test, and maintain functional, efficient software.
Software developers should have proficiency in programming languages, data structures, and cloud computing to thrive professionally. The path to software development typically involves earning a bachelor's degree in computer science, software development, or a related discipline.
Some software developers may find employment with associate degrees, certificates, or diplomas. Bootcamps can also build the knowledge and skills needed to work as software developers.
The bulk of software developers work in computer systems design and related services. Because software use transcends industries, these professionals can also pursue employment in finance, software publishing, and manufacturing.
Software developers work independently to create models and diagrams, write code, and test applications. They also collaborate with coders, software engineers, and graphic designers on software projects. Additional day-to-day software developing duties include recommending software updates and troubleshooting issues as they arise.
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What Does a Software Developer Do?
Software developers create and maintain software for electronic devices. They use models to construct software code to meet established specifications. Software developers find solutions to challenges, test software for functionality, and make corrections to errors.
A day in the life of a software developer involves working alone and with others. Blocks of time spent on a computer accompany brainstorming sessions, meetings, and collaborative activities with fellow software designers, programmers, engineers, and graphic designers.
Day-to-day software developer duties provide opportunities for creativity, innovation, and growth in the field. Find out more about the main responsibilities of software designers below.
A Software Developer's Main Responsibilities
Discuss Desired Software Outcomes and Needs With Clients: These developers meet with clients to learn about their software needs. They discuss appearance, user-friendliness, and desired outcomes to assess the overall project scope. Work With Coders To Create Efficient, Clean Code: After setting models and diagrams for software, developers collaborate to create the code. They interact with coders on different iterations as difficulties and challenges arise. Software developers may perform some or all of the coding on their own. Test Software To Determine Functionality: Software testing involves checking for errors, identifying gaps, and assessing overall performance. Along with considering scalability, portability, and useability, software developers verify and validate proper functionality. Maintain Software: After deploying applications, software developers can change, modify, and update code as needed. These professionals correct errors, prevent potential issues, streamline performance, and adjust software to meet evolving needs. Document The Software Development Process: Developers keep detailed records throughout the software development process. These reports require clear language understood by all potential audiences.
The Day to Day for a Software Developer
While the timeline of a software developer's day varies, the day to day of software development often features consistent core activities. Software developers attend meetings to discuss new projects with clients.
If meetings occur once a development project is underway, a software developer may brainstorm ideas with designers, coders, and engineers. Software developers may have to present written or visual updates about the development process to colleagues or managers.
Software developers spend time during the day coding new projects or improving existing applications. As part of this process, they test code to assess functionality and outcomes.
Working on projects for weeks or months may become frustrating, tedious, or boring, but software developers should remain persistent, determined problem-solvers among challenges.
Where Do Software Developers Work?
Software developers primarily work in the computer systems design, software publishing, and information services industries. These sectors are often located in urban areas and states like California, Texas, and Washington.
California and Texas employ the highest number of software developers in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California hosted nearly 230,000 software developers in 2021, while Texas featured over 103,000 software developers.
California also offers the highest annual mean wages to software developers. With average salaries approaching $147,000 in 2021, Washington and Maryland followed The Golden State at roughly $145,000 and $131,000, respectively.
The top-paying states match the locations of the metropolitan areas where software developers find high levels of employment and top wages. San Jose and San Francisco offer the highest annual mean wages, with Seattle and Baltimore close behind.
Professional Spotlight: Chris Staley, Senior Software Developer
What's a typical day like for you?
Is there a typical day?
Usually, I start out with answering emails. Especially today, with the prevalence of geographically distributed teams, you'll probably come in and have some messages that came through while you were sleeping. It's important to start out by getting caught up on the current state of things.
After that, there's usually a handful of morning meetings. I've noticed that with more seniority comes more meetings. After that, the main thing I try to do is figure out a plan for the actual work I need to get done: the stuff people really care about. Usually, this is in the afternoon. So to summarize my day, mornings are about catching up and being in meetings, while the afternoon is for writing code and testing stuff.
What other teams do you work with on a regular basis?
Since Slingshot is a development firm, it's a little different. While we don't work with an internal accounting or marketing team, we still have our own divisions: our UX/UI design team, our project management team, and our infrastructure team (shoutout, Steve!). And, of course, we also work very closely with our clients' development and/or leadership teams.
Is there a lot of collaboration in your role? Or is it mostly independent work?
The key to software is collaboration. Developers will work alongside everyone else who has an interest in the outcome of what you're building at some point in the process. This isn't just leadership but any role involved in helping make the product a reality.
Do you work in an office or from home (or a hybrid)?
When I started my career, remote work was very uncommon. I personally prefer to be in the office; I like the in-person interaction. That's what makes it fun. Virtual meeting tools are definitely important, but there's no replacement for being in the same room as your team.
What's your favorite part of being a software developer? The most challenging part?
Favorite: The most satisfaction for me comes from when you have something you've created that's being used to help tackle important problems. It's knowing that you created something that actually helps a company or person.
For example, one of our clients still uses a scheduling system that I wrote for them almost a decade ago, and it's a key driver of their business. It's fulfilling to know that your work is helping a business thrive.
Most challenging part? Estimates. Enough said.
Any other insights about your day to day as a software developer that may help people considering this career path?
I would say that if you're not passionate about it, don't do it. There are certainly frustrations and challenges; it's not all fun and games.
There's nothing day-to-day that makes or breaks being a software developer. There will always be challenges that will get the best of you, but that's with any job. But if you're passionate about it, you'll be motivated to push through it and thrive.
For whom do you think this career is a good fit? Why?
Software development is all about problem-solving. Programming is only a small part of what we do. It's the problems we have to solve that make up the bulk of the work.
It's also the first thing I look for when I'm conducting interviews. I always ask, "Why do you want to be a software developer?" I want to see if problem-solving is a part of their answer since it's so important.
With over two decades of experience, Chris is an expert full-stack developer with a recent focus on mobile apps. Chris leads the Xamarin efforts and views himself as a meticulous craftsman. When he leaves the office, he heads home to his family in his blue and white Ford Mustang.
FAQ About the Day to Day of Software Developing
What is the job description for a software developer?
Software developers create applications, programs, and systems used on electronic devices. They work with designers, coders, and engineers through the software development lifecycle, which includes building, testing, and deploying applications.
What does a software developer do day to day?
A day in the life of software developing includes coding, testing, and fixing applications. They collaborate with colleagues to determine how to create software that meets client and user needs. These professionals work independently and collaborate with others.
How many hours do software developers usually work?
Software developers who work in an office setting spend about eight hours a day working. Freelance, contracted, and part-time software developers may make their own hours and work more or less than a traditional eight-hour workday.
Is the daily life of a software developer stressful?
The daily lives of software developers include minimal stress in most instances. Software development can be frustrating when problems require difficult solutions. Looming deadlines can also bring stress to the job.
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