You can’t run from it. You can’t hide from it. You might as well go with it. How to embrace a technology-enabled future with a career path in software development.
What do you want to be when you are older?
This is the dreaded question feared and avoided by all teenagers approaching the turning point in their education journey, especially when having to choose what field to study in or what subjects to take.
The fear that comes with this almighty decision is very valid. Deciding on a career path is daunting, especially with the many long-term ramifications that come with deciding how a large majority of your time is going to be spent in the future. Are you destined for a life of challenge and intrigue, combining your passion with purpose? Or will you spend your days yawning at your desk, dreaming of weekends and alternative universes?
Gone are the days when a career choice was purely meant to be functional and fit for purpose. The youth are more and more driven to aim higher, finding a career that not only allows them to make a living, but also one that sparks their interest and ignites their passion. This is essentially finding the ‘career trifecta’:
Doing something that you love;
Doing something that you are good at; and
Doing something that pays you well.
The combination… #WINNING
How do I know what to choose?
Deciding on a career path at such a young age is difficult, especially if you don’t even know what these big job titles or intimidating careers actually mean. Without having a clearer idea of what it means to be a doctor or an accountant, it’s nearly impossible to make the decision that this is what you want to become. This is particularly true for the more obscure sounding career paths, especially those shrouded in mystery and intrigue.
And what ticks these boxes more than a career in Software Development? It is one of the fastest growing fields of employment, particularly with the rate of the technological revolution taking place around us. But what exactly is it?
A few questions you could ask might be:
- What is a software developer?
- What type of work will I end up doing?
- Is the work going to be boring?
- Am I well-suited for the job?
- Is it more confusing than Ancient Greek?
This article hopes to shed some light onto this somewhat intimidating field, and exactly what it means to pursue a career in software development. Hopefully, this introduction to Software Development will whet your appetite, provoking you to ask more questions and to do further research into whether this is the right career path for you.
Pursuing a career in software development
With our ever-changing world, the future is changing to be technology enabled. Sooner or later, most white-collar jobs will have some element of technology. Software is everywhere – it’s behind every program you use when you open your computer; it’s behind every app you use on your smartphone. Restaurants, shops, banking – any industry involving processes in general –
all are run by software.
And as software itself becomes more prolific, so does the demand for job-seekers who are the makers, creators and innovators of these platforms. What does it mean to pursue a career in this field and is it something suited to you?
What is software development?
According to our good friends at WikiPedia, “Software development is the process of conceiving, specifying, designing, programming, documenting, testing, and bug fixing involved in creating and maintaining applications, frameworks, or other software components. “
Not only is it the actual writing of code, but software development is also the full end-to-end, holistic process of building software, right from when an idea is created, all the way until it is used. This process is known as the SDLC (Systems Development Life Cycle), and it relies on the involvement of many different people, fulfilling many different roles, in order for it to come to life.
Do you have what it takes to be one of these team members? Let’s have a look at the SDLC, and some of the roles that are played at each stage. While reading this, ask yourself if you identify with any of the roles and which of them sounds like fun to you?
The Software Development Life Cycle
The following phases outline a typical software project, however this process is adapted and moulded from project to project, so that it is applied in a way that makes the most sense.
Planning > Product Owner / Project Manager
Planning is where the idea for a software product or feature comes to life. This is the conceptualisation stage, and involves strategic thinking, big-picture planning, and doing lots of research. This role extends to aligning the functions of the software to greater objectives of a business, as well as the day-to-day management of the project, to make sure it is completed on time, on budget and to the right standard.
Analysis > Business Analysis
Now that there is an idea in place, the role of the Business Analyst is to figure out what exactly needs to be done to make it happen. This is the first round of work which involves problem solving and logical thinking, and the writing of requirements and specification documents that detail how to solve the business problem in a realistic and achievable way.
Design > UX / UI Designer
Creativity, empathy, usability: the role of the designer is to bring the software to life, bringing colour and form to the software. A big part of this involves empathy with the end users of the software, allowing you to design a product that is usable and visually appealing.
Implementation > Software Engineer
Programmers, coders, software engineers: these are the mathematical wizards and creators of the code. Their role is to take the ideas and designs, and turn it into physical, working software.
Testing and Integration > Quality Assurance Engineers
Software is only as good as its weakest link. The role of Quality Assurance Analysts, otherwise known as Test Engineers, is to try to break the software before any end users do. They are responsible for the quality of the software, not only ensuring that it is working as it should be, but also checking that it meets the purpose it is intended for.
Maintenance > All
The software development cycle is an iterative process, which involves continuously refining and enhancing the code, allowing it to grow and expand, whether it be new features or fixes to what is already there.
Are these the right career paths for you?
One consideration to make when choosing your career path, is to look at your natural skill set and qualities, and to see if they align to characteristics needed for the job. Luckily all skills and characteristics can be learned and refined, the more you practise them.
- Analytical thinking: Can you solve problems in a logical and effective way?
- Problem solving: Do you enjoy breaking down complex issues into small and manageable pieces?
- Curiosity: Do you always ask questions and seek to learn new ways of doing things?
- Self-driven nature: Are you motivated to learn new things and to keep on top of your field of work?
- Communication: Do you have great interpersonal skills and enjoy working in groups and teams? Can you listen properly and easily communicate your ideas?
If these characteristics apply to you, then a career as a software developer might be for you!
Good reasons to go into software development
Apart from being passionate about what you do, here are a few other reasons why to consider software development as a career:
You will learn every day
Everyday poses new challenges to overcome and new problems to solve. This is what keeps the role interesting.
Opportunities to work remotely
If you fancy the idea of being able to work from an island in some tropical location, or have control around your hours, then this might be the career for you. With the advancement of technology, more and more teams are choosing to work remotely, or collaborate with team members around the world.
It’s a profession in high demand
Demand for jobs in software development is expected to increase drastically. Take the steps to upskill yourself with the skills that are needed for the future.
Job opportunities for software engineers are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of computer software developers is expected to increase by 30% percent from 2010 to 2020.
It is a creative outlet
Even though you may not think so, there is a big creative element to software development. Even though your product is behind a computer screen, you are still building and creating something that didn’t exist before. This involves creative thinking as you are conceptualising ideas, and then bringing them to life.
It is social, believe it or not!
Banish the stereotypes of a software team sitting in a basement and avoiding contact with the outside world. The community and support ecosystem for the software development field is thriving – both online and in person. This means that the job is no longer done in isolation but is increasingly becoming more and more dependent on human interaction.
It pays well
When it all comes down to it, we need a job to bring in an income. Working in the IT field has the potential to be lucrative.
How to get there?
A career in software development can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. In order to get there, you should look at studying further at a tertiary education once you have finished your A Levels.
Most software engineers have a Bachelor's or Master’s degree in Computer Science, Engineering, Information Technology or Mathematics, amongst others.
That’s not to say that a degree is required. Some employers might value your experience over a qualification, so if you have shown initiative and skill in your achievements, you might still be able to get the job.
What subjects do I need to take now?
To follow your dreams to become a software engineer, you should place a strong emphasis on mathematics and physics. The industry places a strong emphasis on mathematical ability, particularly on calculus and algebra – as these skills will be used on a daily basis when it comes to solving problems and applying logical thinking in your day-to-day work.
Good luck to all students as you take the first steps to embarking on an exciting career.
Remember, for further career advice or to learn more about your chosen field, contact one of CambriLearn’s Education Consultants today and discover whether CambriLearn can help make your dreams come true.