Become a Software Development Manager

Find out what software development managers do. Get information about required education and training. See what the career prospects are to decide if this career field is right for you.

Career Definition

Software development managers lead teams of software developers working in industries ranging from medical research to finance. In addition to designing software, web applications, and web services, they also hire, train, and manage staff, create and oversee budgets, and make progress reports to senior management. They may work with various department heads to determine software requirements, meet with management to discuss how software applications can achieve business objectives, or train technical and non-technical end-users once the software has been developed.

Software development managers also test and debug applications, resolving performance issues and making revisions when necessary. The field of software development management is closely related to computer applications software engineering, which is predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to be a fast growing occupation over the next several years (www.bls.gov).

Become a Software Development Manager

Required Education

Software development managers generally need a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer engineering or a related technical field; however, some employers may require a Master of Science degree or MBA for senior-level positions. Many employers also require extensive experience in software design and development, a working knowledge of various platforms and languages such as Unix and Java, and experience leading projects and teams. Software development managers working in a specialized industry, such as medical research or finance, may also need education and experience specific to that industry.

Skills Required

Software development managers must have strong technical and analytical skills, with expert knowledge of computer software languages, platforms, and current methodologies. They must have strong budgeting, leadership, and managerial abilities, including the ability to hire, train, and evaluate staff through performance reviews. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential for collaborating with various levels of management, determining software requirements, and delivering effective solutions.

Economic and Career Outlook

The BLS predicts 22% job growth for careers in software development for the 2012-2022 period. In 2012, software applications developers made a median annual salary of $90,060. In that same year, systems software developers made a median annual salary of $99,000.

Alternate Career Options

Computer and Information Systems Manager

A computer and information systems manager leads all activity related a company or organization's computer systems. These workers, also called information technology or IT managers, determine what a company's computer hardware, software, and security needs are and how to meet those needs. They then carry out those plans, coordinating installations, upgrades, and related matters. Employment typically requires at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field and several years of work experience, although it's not uncommon for employers to prefer candidates who have a graduate degree. IT managers can expect faster-than-average employment growth from 2012-2022, a rate of 15%, according to the BLS. This job paid a median rate of $120,950 in 2012.

Computer User Support Specialist

A computer user support specialist is also commonly known as a help-desk technician. He or she responds to inquires from computer users who have questions about computer software, hardware, or operating systems. A computer user support specialist asks the user questions to identify the source of the problem and provides step-by-step instructions for resolving the problem over the phone, by email, and sometimes in person. Computer user support specialists can also help with computer hardware and software set-up and training. Education requirements can range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field. On-the-job training is typical. Jobs in this field are expected to increase 20% from 2012-2022, a rate that's better than average, according to the BLS. Median pay for this occupation was $46,420 in 2012.

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