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Software developer career growth

Learn how to maximize career growth as a software developer.

What is the prospective career growth of a software developer? And what should he/she keep in mind for maximum career growth?
Good question, complex answer! Let's split it into two…

What is the prospective career growth of a software developer?

Good; assuming that you are good. Most developers are, by definition, average. If you are just a bit better then you have the opportunity to rise -- and good developers are well paid. The trick is, of course, to be better than average.

And what should he/she keep in mind for maximum career growth?

One way to answer this is to look at the factors that win approval during an interview for software developer positions. In my book, all of the following are important:

 

  • Track record
  • Skill set
  • Education/certification/qualifications

These are not in any particular order of importance but, for example, if you don't have any qualifications and/or certification, then that is an area that could probably do with some attention.

If you have superb qualifications but no experience, then it doesn't matter too much what you do for your first job, just start with something, anything to gain some experience. For example, some of the first database applications I developed were for charitable organizations. They didn't pay well but their problems/issues were pretty much the same as those found in a large organization. I gained huge experience from those.

Apart from these obvious measurables, and possibly more important, I always look for a genuine love of problem-solving in the developers I interview. In the best of all possible worlds, all developers would show this trait but, in practice, not all do. So, if you don't do so already, try to learn to love solving problems for their own sake.

Another facet of the developers I truly admire (and those I have seen rise to the top of their profession) is that they actually like users. Yes, I know all the stereotypes; I've read (and hugely enjoy) Dilbert and I know that the popular view is that developers aren't supposed to like/rate/talk to users. This is because, according to stereotype, all users are stupid and all developers are very bright. My problem with this view is that many of my friends are not developers and some of them are actually quite intelligent.

So, for maximum career growth, I would council:

 

  • Learn to love the job for its own sake
  • Learn to actually like and appreciate the users

If you can do both of these you will stand out from the crowd which, all other things being equal, should help your career to grow.

More career and software developer resources

 

This was last published in July 2008

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