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Computer Software Designer: Job Description and Requirements

Computer software designers create and test software applications used for business, scientific, industrial and entertainment purposes. The job requires at least a bachelor's degree in a field related to computer science. However, a master's degree may be needed for more complex roles.

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Computer Software Designer Job Description

Computer software designers use principles of science and mathematics to develop applications for multiple purposes. They might make games, operating systems and software programs used in business transactions such as spreadsheets. They figure out what a program should do based on user needs, then create and test it to ensure its functionality.

Work Environment

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about one quarter of all software developers worked more than 40 hours per week in 2010 (www.bls.gov). Though many are employed in offices, telecommuting from home or a remote office is becoming more commonplace in the industry. In addition, the tasks of software designers rapidly change and evolve in tandem with technological growth, and they must be able to adapt to new challenges frequently.

Requirements for Computer Software Designers

Education

Computer software designer jobs often require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field like computer science, software engineering or mathematics. Computer science programs provide a balance of theoretical foundation and practical application. Courses typically address logic and algorithms. Software engineering provides a similar curriculum, but focuses more on specific aspects of developing applications, including validation and testing.

For more complex development jobs, employers may require software designers to hold a master's degree. Employees might earn a master's in computer science, which often emphasizes research in addition to software development skills. They can also get a master's in information science, which is concerned with the ways in which information is transmitted in a digital world.

Experience

Work experience is also important in the software design field. Software designers need to be familiar with a variety of computer systems and technologies. One can start to foster important job skills by interning with a software development company while in college or by undergoing an employer's company training. In addition, software designers have to keep informed of the latest technological developments, which require continuing education through either employers, vendors, professional seminars or universities.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

In May 2012, the BLS listed the average annual salary of application software developers at $93,280. Employment of application software developers was expected to grow 28% between 2010 and 2020, according to BLS reports. This faster-than-average job growth is due to the increasing demand for software applications for both computers and mobile devices.

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