How to Start a Software Development Career

Software development remains one of the most attractive and lucrative career paths available. It’s a stable, in-demand field with plenty of opportunities for future development. Depending on your skill level and experience, you can make a lot of money. And because software developers are needed for a wide range of tasks and projects, you’ll have the flexibility to grow your career as you see fit.

That said, getting started as a software developer can be challenging, even if you know some of the fundamentals. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of how to get started as a software developer.

Decide on a General Path

First, you’ll want to decide on a general path. There are several ways to build a career in the software development world, including:

Climbing a ladder within a firm. Some firms, like Dev.co, specialize in software development. If you’re interested in a path with one of these companies, you can get hired in an entry-level position, then gradually climb your way to a leadership position. There are likely many potential roles to aspire to, so you’ll have plenty of flexibility as you develop.

Freelancing. You may also want to freelance for additional flexibility. You can take on as many or as few clients and projects as you’d like. Income instability can be a problem, but there’s also no limit to the amount of money you can make.

Starting your own projects. You may also want to make money through your projects, like creating your own website or mobile app.

Starting your own firm. And of course, you could always start a full software development firm of your own – especially when you’re more experienced.

Choose an Area of Specialty

Next, you’ll want to choose an area of specialty. For most software developers, this means choosing a primary language to focus on. There are many viable options here; for example, JavaScript remains one of the most popular and commonly used languages in the world due to its versatility. More than 70 percent of developers use JavaScript on a regular basis.

But you may also be interested in learning a language like Python or Ruby; both of these are approachable for newcomers and can be used for a variety of different applications.

Consider the ease of learning the language, the versatility of the language for different projects, your future prospects, and the expected salary. It’s also a good idea to talk to a developer who already specializes in this language to get a sense for their feelings on it.

Get Your Education

After choosing an area of specialty, you’ll be ready to learn the basics. You can take a college-level course on software development or get private tutoring. But it may be more effective to learn online. These days, options like Codecademy make it easy to learn programming basics with step-by-step tutorials. It will take some time to master the fundamentals, but if you’re patient and persistent, it will pay off.

Practice

The importance of practice can’t be overstated. Before you can start making money with your programming skills, you’ll need to be familiar with using them in a live environment. Most of the time, that means developing small apps, working on bigger projects with a team of others, or solving problems. Only through experience will you become a competent developer.

Engage With the Community

Most programming languages have an active community of individuals looking to support each other. There, you can pick up on important tips and strategies, ask questions, and even collaborate on various projects. It’s a great opportunity to gain experience, troubleshoot your projects, and make new connections.

Pick Up Gigs

After a few weeks to a few months of experience, you’ll be ready to start picking up gigs. Work as a freelancer for a handful of small projects that put your skills to good use. It will be good experience, and you’ll make some good money at the same time.

Flesh Out Your Portfolio

While you’re working on gigs and developing some apps or projects of your own, pay attention to your budding portfolio. Your portfolio is a collection of work that shows off your expertise and past experience; it will be indispensable in helping you get hired or secure more clients, so it deserves to be a priority.

Take the Next Steps

At this point, your software development career will be well on its way. Your next steps will depend on your long-term goals. For example, you may want to try and get hired at a development firm, or you may be ready to try and start an agency of your own. No matter what, you’ll want to gradually gain more knowledge and experience and use your newfound wisdom to guide your career in new directions. 

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