Interested in becoming a software developer? Industry-insider provides top tips

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"What we have found is that individuals who are strong at languages and have a practised logical ability make the best coders". (Getty Images)
"What we have found is that individuals who are strong at languages and have a practised logical ability make the best coders". (Getty Images)

Software developers have been dubbed "the 21st century's most in-demand professionals". 

And according to a UK survey, the position has been ranked as one of the top ten trending jobs teens are interested in pursuing. 

Considering that South African software developers earn between R 390 000 and R 618 346 per year, earnings in the top range of the national average salary, it's a job well worth considering by local teens. 

"Software is entering every facet of daily life. Nowadays, software runs not only our personal devices and applications but also our cars, TVs, fridges and entire homes," says Jessica Hawkey, managing director at the redAcademy, a local organisation offering an experiential learnership programme in software development.

The academy is run by retail software developer redPanda Software. 

"We are creating and operating in an area where there is a dire skills shortage," Hawkey said. 

According to the MD, software development is among the "most sought-after skill sets globally". Below she shares some tips for pupils interested in pursuing the job. 

Also read: 'Employable across the world': CEO shares free resources and tips for finding the right qualification 

'The learning landscape is changing'

A keen interest in technology along with "an inquisitive mindset" are the ideal traits of a pupil who'd fair well in this field, Hawkey says, adding that software development can either be studied at a university or college. 

Whichever course or institution you settle on, the MD stresses the importance of choosing a programme that combines theoretical and practical teaching methods. 

This will be crucial since the position does require a certain level of "real-world experience," she notes. 

And if you're wondering whether you need to have excellent maths and science grades to be able to pursue a career in software development, Hawkey says not necessarily. 

"Traditional academic institutions demand maths and science. However, the learning landscape is changing to be more practical. What we have found is that individuals who are strong at languages and have a practised logical ability make the best coders."

Short courses in software development may also be helpful for school leavers interested in the field, Hawkey advises. 

"These can be taken outside the school curriculum. This also gives a school leaver excellent insight into what coding is all about".

Costs and other considerations  

In terms of cost, Hawkey says this differs according to institution and can range from R50 000 to R300 000, with traditional universities being the more expensive choice. 

"There are shorter courses online that can be taken, but whilst cost-effective, it is very difficult to study such a practical subject in isolation," she says. 

Before settling, Hawkey recommends doing a deep dive into the choice best suited for you.

"It is not hard to study if you have the right lecturers and mentors with the most relevant and focused materials who guide students through practical implementation".   


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