Want to be a software developer? Here are some tips to get you started

Shot of a young software developer using a digital tablet and computer at night


Explore the dynamic world of software development with Carla Stuthridge, Operations Manager at The S&A Academy. The industry is booming, with 25.6 million developers worldwide, and projected growth to 30 million by 2029. Break free from stereotypes, find diverse entry routes, and navigate rewarding career pathways.

As society becomes more reliant on digital technologies, the number of software developers worldwide is increasing.

At the end of October 2023, there were approximately 25.6 million software developers worldwide, which is an increase of more than 20% in the last five years.

This growth is expected to continue – the number of software developers worldwide is projected to increase to over 30 million by 2029, indicating a bright future for people with the skillset.

But what skills do you need to become a software developer and what would a career in this line of work look like? Carla Stuthridge, Operations manager at The S&A Academy takes a further look. Carla has a wealth of experience in supporting those at the beginning of their technology career.

Beyond stereotypes

There are a lot of stereotypes about the kind of people who make great coders. Often, software developers are seen as introverted, or even anti-social, and mostly male. However, the reality is somewhat different. Today’s software developer is more likely to be a team player who enjoys collaborating with others. Problem solving and writing code is a large part of the job, but working with others is equally important, and effective communications skills are vital.

Despite shifting perceptions of coders, there is still a gender gap, with fewer than 10% of software developers being female. However, as more women enter the space, the stereotypes will be shattered.

Finding your route

Traditionally, to become a software developer, an individual would choose an ICT-focused qualification at a further education (FE) college or at sixth form. They would then embark on a three-year course at university, where they would study a computer science, software engineering or information technology degree. This would often lead to an entry-level job as a junior developer, where an individual would start at the bottom and work their way up to different roles depending on their interests.

However, there has recently been an increased focus on practical skills, as a result of raised demand for skills due to growing interest in digital and other technologies. Many curriculums are only updated every few years, which just isn’t often enough to ensure that graduates have the skills that are needed in the modern workplace.

This has led to an increase in technology apprenticeships. As an alternative pathway, individuals would be recruited as a trainee software developer, learning relevant skills for their job, whilst learning from people with rich industry experience for a period of up to 18 months, depending on the provider.

As software developer roles become more popular, some individuals are opting for shorter ‘taster’ courses or online resources to develop their skills to increase their chances of getting a job. These types of courses can be extremely useful to discover whether coding is of interest or to refresh skills in an ever-changing landscape.

Navigating your pathway

Once an individual has started their career as a software developer, there are multiple directions they can take. For example, a junior software developer could work their way up to senior developer and then principal developer or architect. Salary-wise, they’re likely to start out with a salary of around £25,000 pa, increasing to around £35,000 pa after their first year. Senior developers earn around £65,000 pa, and for principal developers, salaries can reach £100,000 pa or more. If someone is interested in developing a career in coding, solving more complex problems and improving standards within a department, this career path could be an ideal choice.

Another pathway is to work as a developer for a few years before reaching a pivot point, when the individual might opt for line management. They might take a position as a team manager or department manager, and this route could lead all the way to CTO or CIO. This pathway can offer individuals greater flexibility in terms of progression, but it can also lead to high salaries, similar to those of a principal developer.

An evolving industry

As with many industries, the threat of AI for the future of the job market could bring changes for software developers too. As well as bringing lots of possibilities, AI can bring risks if it’s not understood properly. As the use of AI becomes more widespread, it will support individuals to do their job better. Regardless of whether the task involves building relationships or checking code that an AI system has created; skilled humans will be needed to ensure the correct code is built.

The pace of technological change and advancement is an opportunity to encourage greater diversity. This can be achieved in a number of ways, whether that’s through alternative career pathways into the industry or promoting technology courses for women. For anyone looking to get into the industry, some simple advice is to try tasks online to see if you enjoy them and not to be put off by the out-of-date stereotypes – just go for it.


Embark on an inspiring journey as we celebrate the powerful stories of Kia, Daphne, Melissa, and Chengcheng—four female engineering interns at Thought Machine whose diverse...
While women continue to remain under-represented within the tech industry, Katie Barnett, Director of Cyber Security at Toro Solutions, believes the industry to be a...
Darlene Engoglia, Vice President of Global Human Resources, Park Place Technologies, looks at how early exposure to STEM careers can prove pivotal in shaping future...
Alaa Hatata recently joined Sandsoft Games as a Game Programmer and once again found herself as the newest person on the team. Here she shares...