High Paying Careers: Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers
Software developers create the computer applications that allow users to do specific tasks and the underlying systems that run the devices or control networks. Software quality assurance analysts and testers design and execute software tests to identify problems and learn how the software works.
Software developers typically do the following:
- Analyze users’ needs and then design and develop software to meet those needs
- Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
- Design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together
- Create a variety of models and diagrams showing programmers the software code needed for an application
- Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
- Document every aspect of an application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
Software quality assurance analysts and testers typically do the following:
- Create test plans, scenarios, and procedures for new software
- Identify project risks and recommend steps to minimize those risks
- Implement software testing, using either manual or automated programs and exploratory testing, and evaluate results
- Document and report defects or problems with software
- Provide feedback to software developers and stakeholders regarding usability and functionality
Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers are involved in the entire process of creating a software program. Developers may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software so that they can identify the core functionality the user needs. Software developers also determine other requirements, such as security. They design the program and then work closely with programmers, who write computer code. However, some developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to programmers.
Software quality assurance analysts and testers design and execute systems to check the software for problems. As part of their testing, these workers document and track the software’s potential defects or risks. They also assess its usability and functionality to identify difficulties a user might have. After completing testing, they report the results to software or web developers and review ways to solve any problems they found.
After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance. Quality assurance analysts and testers run manual and automated checks to look for errors and usability problems once the software is released and after any upgrades or maintenance.
The following are examples of types of software developers:
Applications software developers design computer applications, such as games, for consumers. They may create custom software for a specific customer or commercial software to be sold to the general public. Some applications software developers create databases or programs for use internally or online.
Software engineers take a broad view of a project’s system and software requirements, planning its scope and order of work. These workers may direct software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers.
Systems software developers create the operating systems for the public or specifically for an organization. These operating systems keep computers functioning and control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including those in cell phones and cars. Often, systems software developers also build the interface that allows users to interact with the computer.
Developers who supervise a software project from the planning stages through implementation sometimes are called information technology (IT) project managers. These workers monitor the project’s progress to ensure that it meets deadlines, standards, and cost targets. For information on IT project managers who plan and direct an organization’s IT department or IT policies, see the profile on computer and information systems (CIS) managers.
Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or a related field, such as engineering or mathematics. Computer and information technology degree programs cover a broad range of topics. Students may gain experience in software development by completing an internship, such as at a software company, while in college. For some software developer positions, employers may prefer that applicants have a master’s degree.
Although writing code is not their primary responsibility, developers must have a strong background in computer programming. They usually gain this experience in school. Throughout their career, developers must keep up to date on new tools and computer languages.
Software developers can advance to become project management specialists or computer and information systems managers, positions in which they oversee the software development process.
Analytical skills. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers must evaluate users’ needs and then design software to function properly and meet those needs.
Communication skills. These workers must be able to give clear instructions and explain problems that arise to other team members involved in development. They must also be able to explain to nontechnical users, such as customers, how the software works and answer any questions that arise.
Creativity. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers must be innovative in their approaches to designing, identifying problems with, and improving computer software.
Detail oriented. These workers often need to concentrate on many parts of an application or system at the same time, and they must pay attention to detail when looking for potential areas of user error.
Interpersonal skills. Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers must be able to work well with others who contribute to designing, programming, and testing successful software.
Problem-solving skills. Because these workers produce software from beginning to end, they must be able to solve problems that arise throughout the design process.
The median annual wage for software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers was $110,140 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $65,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $170,100.
Employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics