Software developer

Programmer

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Software developers design, build and test computer programs for business, education and leisure services.

Salary Range: £20,000 to £70,000

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How to become a software developer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • a graduate training scheme
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University

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or a degree in:

  • computer science
  • information technology
  • software development
  • financial technology
  • software engineering for business
  • maths

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You could do a college course, which may lead onto more advanced qualifications or a higher apprenticeship, or help you to get a trainee position with a company. Courses include:

  • A Level in Computing
  • Level 3 Certificate in Programming
  • T level in Digital Production, Design and Development
  • Higher National Certificate in Computing

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and computing
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T level
  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national certificate or higher national diploma

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Apprenticeship

You could do a software developer higher apprenticeship or degree apprenticeship in software engineering.

You could also complete a digital and technology solutions degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More information

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Other routes

You may be able to apply for a place on a graduate training scheme with a company if you have a degree. These are often open to non-IT graduates as well as those with a computing qualification.

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Career tips

You could build up your skills and knowledge using free online learning resources for programming languages, project management and software development methods.

Further information

You can find out more about working and training in computing from The Chartered Institute for IT and Tech Future Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • analytical thinking skills
  • maths knowledge for understanding programming
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills for sharing ideas
  • persistence and determination
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • talking through requirements with the client and the development team
  • taking part in technical design and progress meetings
  • writing or amending computer code
  • testing software and fixing problems
  • keeping accurate records of the development process, changes and results
  • carrying out trials and quality checks before release
  • maintaining and supporting systems once they’re up and running

Working environment

You could work at a client’s business or in an office.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a senior developer, with team, project management, planning or research responsibilities. You could move into related areas like systems design, IT architecture and business systems analysis.

You could also set up your own business or work as a consultant in most areas of the economy, for example business services, finance, cyber security, telecommunications and healthcare.

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