Software Developers
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Overview
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Research, design, and develop computer and network software or specialized utility programs. Analyze user needs and develop software solutions, applying principles and techniques of computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis. Update software or enhance existing software capabilities. May work with computer hardware engineers to integrate hardware and software systems, and develop specifications and performance requirements. May maintain databases within an application area, working individually or coordinating database development as part of a team.
Titles for this career often contain these words
EngineerSoftwareDeveloperSystemsApplicationsSpecialistComputerArchitectAnalystDesignerApplicationSystemProgrammerQualityInformationConsultantEngineeringTechnologyAssuranceITCertifiedNetworkGameInternetJavaIntegrationIntelligenceTesterBusinessCiscoDroneManagerDataDevelopmentEmbeddedEnterpriseInterfaceOperatingSupportTechnicalNETAndroidIntegratorArtificialAutomationBetaBioinformaticsNovellCNEInternetworkExpertCCIEProfessionalCCNPCommercialConfigurationModelerDatabaseDevOpsDevOpsElectronicProcessingEDPFirmwareGraphicImplementationInfrastructureSiteiOSKnowledgeManagementLotusNotesMainframeNetworkingPublishingSecureAssessorSeniorServerSharepointSimulationDesignSupervisorInstallerRequirementsWriterSolutionSolutionsSupplierTestingTestUsabilityUserWideAreaWANWindows
Education
About 85% of software developers have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by software developers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More software developers have bachelor's degrees than 89% of other careeers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most software developers and software quality assurance analysts and testers earn.
$108K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Gender
Women account for 17% of software developers -- that's a smaller percentage than 70% of other jobs.
Gender of software developers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For software developers, the median men's salary was 14% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 40% of software developers are minority, and 40% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of software developers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (40%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Software Developers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Worker concerns
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of software developers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Time Pressure (62%)
SOURCES:
Salary and diversity
What do software developers earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for software developers (BLS Salary Data)
$108K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$108K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for software developers (ACS Salary Data)
$100K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$100K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire software developers.
Employers of Software Developers (ACS)
Private for-profit (88.5%)
Private not-for-profit (3.2%)
Local government (0.8%)
State government (1.6%)
Federal government (3.0%)
Self-employed incorporated (1.7%)
Self-employed not incorporated (1.2%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of software developers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$100K$101K$95K$100K$74K$73K$82K$96K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of software developers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$108K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for software developers

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$92K$105K$79K$57K$112K$111K$111K$107K$109K$0$50K$100K$150K$200K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
050K100K150K200K250K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Software developers and gender

With 17% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 70% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
17%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Software developers
Men (83%)
Women (17%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

The median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%. The situation is a little better for software developers, with the median salary for men 14% higher than the median salary for women.

$89K$102K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary for all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men.

14%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of software developers

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a higher percentage of minority software developers than for 95% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of software developers
White (59% )
Asian (33% )
Black (4% )
Multiracial (3% )
Other (1% )
Hispanic (0% )
American Indian (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
40%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
40%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for software developers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$82K$85K$87K$89K$96K$100K$102K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KOtherBlackAmerican IndianHispanicMultiracialWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for software developers by nativity
$96K$103K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Software developers and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 3% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 89% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
3%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time software developers is shown following.

$26K$100K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
Education attained by software developers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), software developers typically hold a .

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as software developers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey.

Details: Education and training recommended for software developers

Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree, typically in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Computer science degree programs are the most common, because they tend to cover a broad range of topics. Students should focus on classes related to building software to better prepare themselves for work in the occupation. Many students gain experience in software development by completing an internship at a software company while in college. For some positions, employers may prefer that applicants have a master’s degree.

Although writing code is not their first priority, 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 also need skills related to the industry in which they work. Developers working in a bank, for example, should have knowledge of finance so that they can understand a bank’s computing needs.

Education attained by software developers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for software developers? Below we see the distribution of software developers salaries based on the education attained.

$85K$80K$89K$83K$96K$107K$102K$127K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KNone (0%)High School (2%)Some College (8%)Associate's/Cert. (4%)Bachelor's Degree (51%)Master's Degree (30%)Professional Degree (1%)Doctorate (3%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

College majors held by software developers

This table shows the college majors held by people working as software developers.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Percentage of Software developers with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate/Professional
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
The link between degrees and careers

With the following sankey diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as software developers, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. We hope this provides ideas for similar jobs and similar fields of study.

Software DevelopersComputer ProgrammersComputer and Information ...Specialized ManagersSpecialized Computer Occu...Computer Systems AnalystsComputer User Support Spe...Software Quality Assuranc...Management AnalystsNetwork and Computer Syst...Electrical and electronic...Specialized EngineersArchitectural and Enginee...Civil EngineersChief executives and legi...Aerospace EngineersComputer Hardware Enginee...Information Security Anal...Elementary and Middle Sch...Postsecondary TeachersSecondary School TeachersActuariesMechanical EngineersIndustrial and Health/Saf...Project Management Specia...Accountants and AuditorsFinancial ManagersFirst-Line Supervisors of...Wholesale and Manufacturi...Labor Relations Specialis...First-Line Supervisors of...Customer Service Represen...Retail SalespersonsSpecialized Physical Scie...PhysiciansAstronomers and physicist...Computer ScienceElectrical EngineeringComputer EngineeringGeneral Computer andInformation SystemsMathematicsGeneral EngineeringMechanical EngineeringBusiness Management andAdministrationGeneral BusinessPhysicsAll other degreesThis jobTop 10 majorsEach major's top ten jobs
What college major is your best entry?

About 85% of people working as software developers have at least a bachelor's degree. Each dot represents a college major leading to these jobs, with the dots to the right representing the majors sending the most of their grads into this career. The dots at the top are the majors who earn the most working in this career.

Darker colors have a larger percentage with graduate degreesOverall median salary0.0%5.0%10.0%15.0%20.0%25.0%30.0%Percentage with this major$60,000$70,000$80,000$90,000$100,000$110,000$120,000$130,000Median salary with this major
Variation by state
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most software developers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as software developers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Software Developers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.05.010.015.020.025.0
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where software developers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for software developers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for software developers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Software Developers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which software developers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
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$0$50K$100K$150K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

How should the career similarity be computed?

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
Environment
Knowledge
Physical Abilities
Jobs that are similar by Interests with
All education levels
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