“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” - Stephen Hawking

According to a survey by Stack Overflow, over 45% of professional software developers have a degree and nearly 23% have a master’s degree. Less than 1% of developers have no formal education. While there’s no such thing as a typical software developer, they’ve likely studied software development.

That’s all well and good, but how do they find work? And how much can they expect to earn?

In this article, we'll be looking at the career prospects of developers, how you can get a job and start your career in information technology, where the jobs in software development are, whether or not developers should freelance, and how much money professional software developers tend to make.

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Career Prospects in Software Development

Software development is a broad field. You can work on programs, websites, video games, mobile apps, etc. More often than not, aspiring software developers will choose the kind of development they want to do during their studies.

What is a career as a software developer like?
There are a lot of interesting fields for software developers to work in. (Source: Olichel)

Here are some examples of the different fields you could work in:

  • Video games: programming games for video game consoles, smartphones, tablets, or computers.
  • AI: creating programs that use artificial intelligence. AI can in a lot of real-world and programming applications.
  • Machine learning: This uses AI to develop programs where the solution becomes more powerful as it gains more information.
  • Cybersecurity: Software can be developed to keep sensitive information safe. Developers will create these programs.
  • Virtual Reality: Developing programs for use with virtual reality. This may tie in with video-game development.
  • Augmented Reality: creating visuals for programs and applications that virtually add things to the real world, much like the Pokémon Go app.
  • Embedded Systems: programming computer systems for specific uses like washing machines, dishwashers, fridges, traffic lights, vehicles, etc.
  • Web Development: designing and programming websites using various programming languages.

In the latter category, there are specialisations like front-end development and UI development. A web designer will code the website and put all the necessary infrastructure in place. This can include the navigation on each page, which may be done using programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

A back-end developer will also work on the website but will focus on a lot of the things that the user doesn’t see like data storage, management, and security.

Then there’s integration, which, as you may have guessed, involves bringing it all together. This will involve bringing the site online and making sure everything works. They’ll want to check that all the navigation works. In some cases, the front-end developer may be in charge of all this, but with bigger projects, a specialist may be involved. They’ll need to be familiar with different browsers and web tools.

Those who work with both client and server software are known as full-stack developers. They will work on the site itself and also how it works behind the scenes. In partnership with a web designer, a full-stack developer can take a project from start to finish.

In larger companies, these tasks are split into front-end and back-end development as it’s a lot of work. For smaller companies and projects, a versatile full-stack developer will probably be used.

Find out more about software development

Who Hires Software Developers?

Software development is a broad field and there’s a lot of work in different areas. Despite this, there are fields with more work than others, especially when it comes to web development. Web development has grown a lot in the last 20 years and is now an essential part of most businesses even if you don’t count mobile apps.

Where can software developers find work?
As a software developer, you can find work through large tech companies, software development companies, agencies, and freelancing. (Source: StockSnap)

Software developers can work in the following fields:

  • IT for industries
  • Database management
  • Telecommunications
  • Banking and insurance
  • Digital industries
  • Marketing
  • Research
  • Content creation
  • E-commerce

Despite what some may think, it’s not always easy finding work in software development. You might want to increase your chances by specialising in a given field and a lot of young developers will need to think long and hard about the kind of field they want to specialise in.

Find out more about training and courses for software developers

Should You Freelance?

As a software developer, you can work for a company or yourself. There are plenty of ways to freelance and work for a variety of different customers. You can also work for larger companies or even do a bit of both if your main employer allows it.

Can software developers freelance?
Software developers can freelance and work from home. (Source: MarlyneArt)

As a freelancer, you’ll have to find clients. They could be smaller businesses needing software solutions like a website or an app. You can also work on various projects at once. This is one of the benefits of freelancing; you’ll have a lot of different projects and jobs so you’ll never be bored.

You can also work with agencies. In this case, you’ll work as a freelancer, but the agency will find work for you. However, this does mean they often take a cut of your earnings or require you to pay fees.

If you don’t feel like freelancing is for you, you can always just look for work as an employee somewhere. This will guarantee you a regular wage, unlike freelancers who mightn’t be able to guarantee a stable income. A developer might work on their own at a company or as part of a dedicated team focusing on software development, e-commerce, or website management, for example. It’ll completely depend on your specialisation and experience.

Working for a company or freelancing both require the same set of skills for the job, but each is suited to different types of people and the amount of control you want over your own software engineering business.

Check out what makes a good software developer

How Much Do Software Developers Earn?

As you’ll have understood, there are a lot of different ways to work as a software developer. As a result, it can be difficult to say exactly how much you’ll earn as your wages can be affected by your specialisation, your experience, and the projects themselves.

How much do software developers earn?
Software developers start on a decent wage and can earn more as they gain experience. (Source: PublicDomainPictures)

The average software engineer in the UK earns around £2,500 per month. Of course, newly-qualified software engineers tend to earn a bit less but once they’ve gained experience or been in the industry for a while, they can expect to earn more.

Your wage will also depend on your employer. If you work for yourself, you may need to negotiate your wage or fees. In this case, it’ll depend on the projects you have and who’s paying for them. As a freelancer, you can set your rates, but you’ll also want to ensure that they’re competitive so that people will want to hire you. The rarer your specialisation, the more you can typically charge for work.

Some experienced and specialised software developers can earn hundreds a day. Someone new to the industry will probably need to ask for less money, though.

As a freelancer, there are certain tax benefits you could look into, but you won’t get paid holidays. Since your earnings won’t be as stable as someone working for a company, you’ll also need to manage your money more carefully.

However, when done right, there’s less of a limit on how much you can earn.

Ready to give it a go?

Find out more about careers in software development

If you're interested in developing the technical skills needed for a career in software or web development, consider learning with courses from a private tutor on Superprof.

There are plenty of tutors around the UK and all over the world who can help you with face-to-face tutoring, online tutoring, or group tutorials. Each type of tutoring comes with pros and cons so think carefully about which will work for you and your budget.

Face-to-face tutorials are between you and your tutor and can be tailored to exactly what and how you want to learn. As the tutors often travel to their students and spend extra time planning and adapting the tutorials, they tend to charge more than the other types of tutorials. However, they're often the most cost-effective type of tutoring since every minute is spent teaching you.

Online tutorials are useful if you can't find any suitable tutors in your local area. They're also great because the tutors tend to charge less than face-to-face tutors as they have less travelling to do and spend less time and money getting to their tutorials. While they mightn't be great for certain hands-on subjects, for academic subjects and skills like programming, they're excellent.

Group tutorials are a great choice for those on a budget as you can share the cost of the tutoring with the other students in attendance. While this means you won't get as much one-on-one tuition from your tutor, you will have other students to support you and learn from.

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Joseph

Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.