Become a Software Developer: Qualifications, Skills, and More

Discover the path to becoming a software developer. Explore essential qualifications, skills, and tips for a successful career in software development.

Diana Kantor
December 19, 2023
Blog cover image


In today's digitally-driven world, software developers are the architects behind the apps we use, the websites we browse, and the systems that power our daily lives. If you're intrigued by the idea of crafting innovative solutions, solving complex problems, and building the future, then a career as a software developer might be your calling.

This blog explores the journey to becoming a software developer, from essential qualifications and skills to valuable tips for a successful career. Whether you're a coding enthusiast looking to break into the field or a seasoned programmer aiming to enhance your expertise, this guide is your roadmap to success in the world of software development.

1. Educational Background: Diverse Paths to Becoming a Software Developer

Becoming a software developer doesn't always require a formal computer science degree. Here are various educational paths, including cost-effective alternatives, that aspiring developers can take:

  • Formal Computer Science Degree: Pursuing a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science or a related field from a university or college is a traditional route. These programs provide comprehensive knowledge of computer science concepts, algorithms, and software development methodologies.
  • Coding Bootcamps: Coding bootcamps have gained popularity as a faster and more cost-effective way to learn coding skills. These intensive, short-term programs focus on practical coding skills and often have a specific technology or language specialisation. Bootcamps are an excellent choice for those looking to enter the job market quickly.
  • Self-Taught: Many successful software developers are self-taught. With abundant online resources, tutorials, and coding platforms, individuals can teach themselves programming languages and development frameworks. Self-learning requires dedication and discipline but can be a flexible and affordable option.
  • Alternative Degrees: Some developers come from non-traditional educational backgrounds, such as mathematics, engineering, or even the arts. Degrees in these fields can provide problem-solving and analytical skills that are valuable in software development. Transitioning from another field to software development is achievable with the right resources and commitment.
  • Online Courses and Certifications: Online courses and certifications, offered by platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udemy, provide focused training in specific programming languages and technologies. These courses are often more affordable than formal education and allow learners to acquire targeted skills.
  • Apprenticeships and Internships: Joining a software development team as an apprentice or intern is a practical way to gain real-world experience while learning on the job. Many tech companies offer internships, providing valuable hands-on experience and networking opportunities.

Choosing the right educational path depends on individual goals, circumstances, and preferences. While a formal computer science degree offers a comprehensive education, coding bootcamps, self-study, and alternative degrees provide flexible and cost-effective routes to a career in software development.

2. Programming Proficiency

  • Languages of the Trade: The choice of programming languages is a critical aspect of a developer's toolkit. Each language has its strengths and weaknesses. For example, Python is known for its readability and versatility, while Java is widely used in enterprise applications. Aspiring developers should focus on mastering at least one language thoroughly and be comfortable with others relevant to their career goals.

3. Problem-Solving Prowess

  • Critical Thinking: Software development is all about problem-solving. Developers must dissect complex problems, break them down into manageable components, and devise effective solutions. Critical thinking skills are essential for this process.
  • Debugging Skills: Bugs are an inherent part of coding. Debugging involves identifying and fixing errors in your code. Debugging skills are honed over time and with practice.

4. Web and App Development Skills (for Web and App Developers)

Web Development Skills:

  • HTML/CSS: If you're interested in web development, mastering HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is fundamental. HTML structures web content, while CSS styles it.
  • Frontend Frameworks: Modern web development often involves using frontend frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue.js. These frameworks simplify the development of dynamic and responsive web applications.
  • JavaScript: JavaScript is the backbone of web interactivity. Understanding JavaScript and libraries like jQuery is essential for creating interactive web applications.
  • Backend Development: Backend skills are necessary for building server-side logic, databases, and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). Common backend languages include Node.js, Python (with frameworks like Django or Flask), Ruby on Rails, and PHP.
  • Web Servers: Understanding web servers like Apache and Nginx, as well as server deployment and hosting, is important for web developers.

App Development Skills:

  • Mobile Platforms: For mobile app development, choose a platform: iOS or Android. iOS apps are developed using Swift or Objective-C, while Android apps are typically built with Java or Kotlin.
  • Cross-Platform Development: Cross-platform frameworks like React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin allow developers to write code once and deploy it on both iOS and Android, reducing development time.
  • User Interface (UI) Design: Creating intuitive and visually appealing user interfaces is vital for app success. Knowledge of UI/UX design principles and tools is valuable.
  • API Integration: Apps often need to communicate with external services and APIs. Understanding how to integrate APIs into your app is essential.
  • App Deployment: Knowledge of the app submission and deployment process for app stores like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store is necessary.
  • Performance Optimisation: Apps must be optimised for performance and responsiveness. Proficiency in profiling and optimising code is crucial.

In summary, web and app development requires a combination of frontend and backend skills. Web developers focus on building websites and web applications, while app developers create mobile applications for specific platforms. Both roles demand proficiency in specific programming languages, frameworks, and tools. Whether you choose web or app development, mastering these skills will be key to your success as a developer in the digital age.

5. Data Expertise (for Database Developers and Data Engineers)

  • Database Design: A solid understanding of database design principles is essential. Database developers and data engineers must know how to structure databases efficiently, including defining tables, relationships, and constraints. Effective database design ensures data integrity and performance.
  • SQL Language: SQL (Structured Query Language) is the standard language for interacting with relational databases. Proficiency in SQL is a must. Developers and engineers need to write SQL queries to retrieve, insert, update, and delete data in databases.
  • Relational Database Queries and Optimisation: For those working with relational databases, knowing how to write efficient queries is crucial. Optimisation techniques such as indexing, query planning, and execution are vital for enhancing database performance.
  • Transactions: Understanding database transactions is essential for maintaining data consistency. Developers and engineers should be familiar with concepts like ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) and how to use transactions to ensure data integrity.
  • Object-Relational Mapping (ORM): ORM tools like Hibernate (for Java) and Sequelize (for JavaScript/Node.js) bridge the gap between object-oriented programming and relational databases. Proficiency in ORM is valuable, as it simplifies database interactions by allowing developers to work with objects in code instead of writing raw SQL.

Database developers and data engineers play a critical role in managing and optimising data. They are responsible for designing databases, writing efficient SQL queries, and ensuring data consistency through transactions. Proficiency in these areas, along with knowledge of object-relational mapping tools, enables them to work with databases effectively and contribute to data-driven applications and systems.

6. Tools and Soft Skills

  • Version Control: Version control systems like Git help developers track changes to their code, collaborate with others, and maintain a history of their work. GitHub is a popular platform for hosting Git repositories.
  • Soft Skills: While technical skills are vital, soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management are equally important. Effective communication ensures that developers can collaborate with team members, stakeholders, and clients to deliver successful projects.

7. Continuous Learning and Certification

  • Never Stop Learning: Technology evolves rapidly, and successful developers embrace lifelong learning. Stay updated with the latest tools, languages, and trends in the industry.
  • Certifications (Optional): Certifications from organisations like CompTIA, Cisco, or AWS can enhance your credentials and demonstrate your expertise in specific areas. However, certifications are optional and not a substitute for practical skills and experience.

8. Building Your Portfolio

  • Projects That Shine: Building a portfolio of projects is essential for showcasing your skills to potential employers or clients. Start with simple projects and gradually take on more complex challenges. Consider contributing to open-source projects or participating in hackathons to gain experience.

9. Gaining Experience

  • Entry vs. Senior Roles: Entry-level roles often require foundational knowledge and skills, while senior positions demand deeper expertise and often involve leadership roles. Gain experience by working on real projects, either as an intern, a junior developer, or through freelance opportunities.


Becoming a software developer is a rewarding journey that blends technical expertise with creativity. Whether you're aiming to change careers or further your programming prowess, the world of software development welcomes diverse backgrounds and paths. With the right qualifications, skills, and a passion for problem-solving, you can embark on a fulfilling career as a software developer. Keep coding, keep innovating, and embrace the ever-evolving tech landscape. Your journey to becoming a software developer is just beginning. Remember, in the realm of software development, there's always room for innovation, improvement, and discovery. So, put your programming skills to the test, create groundbreaking applications, and shape the digital world—one code at a time.

As seen on FOX, Digital journal, NCN, Market Watch, Bezinga and more