The IT industry needs skilled software development professionals.

Because websites, mobile apps, and custom-built software programs now power much of our world and daily lives, organizations depend on developers who can deliver the tools they need ASAP. Employment for software developers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations*.

What does it take to make a career in software development? Vincent Tran, faculty member at Capella’s School of Business and Technology, recently shared his thoughts on the top skills needed to be successful in the field.


Logic is the language of software.

Computer programs work because they’re based on logic. So people who are logical thinkers tend to succeed in the field, Tran says. Ask yourself this question: “Are you able to take a large problem and break it down into smaller chunks and identify all the pieces involved?” Being able to identify the components of a project and understand how they all fit together is an essential skill shared by many programmers.


Creativity is key.

Software development requires both logic and thinking “outside the box.” The best programmers find ways to work around thorny problems and find elegant solutions to challenging problems. Their programs run more efficiently and have better functionality. They find ways to deliver benefits to the client that weren’t even part of the program requirements.


True success depends on people skills.

“It’s no longer the case that software developers are just sitting in a cubicle coding away,” Tran says. “There’s a lot more interaction, a lot more working with other individuals,” Tran says. Good programmers, for example, know the importance of communicating with clients, managers, and other organizational staff. Keeping others in the loop ensures that software projects get the staffing and resources critical to their successful completion.


Hands-on experience is important.

Certifications used to be essential to getting ahead in the field—and they still play a role. About half of the job openings for network engineers, project managers and security engineers posted between August 2017 and January 2018 and tracked by Burning Glass Labor Insights preferred both a certification and a degree in information technology. But equally important these days is past experience. Have you previously worked with C++? What is your knowledge of Java? What apps have you built—and on what platform? “Having hands-on experience is increasingly important,” Tran says. “It’s good to know the theory, but you also have to be able to apply your knowledge.”


Careers in the field are rewarding.

“It’s always satisfying to see a program work, no matter how many years you’ve been in the field,” Tran says. “The work is all about finding solutions for an organizational problem, creating them, and then changing business process to improve the way that the task is done. It’s great to see how effective you can be within the organization.”

Learn more about an online degree in software development at Capella University.