Pros and Cons of Becoming a Windows Application Developer
As a Windows developer, you'll program applications and troubleshoot any problems you encounter. Here are the pros and cons of becoming a Windows application developer:
|Pros of Working as a Windows Application Developer|
|Potentially lucrative career (software applications developers earned a median salary of around $96,000 in 2014)*|
|Fast-growing field (Projected employment increase of 19% from 2014-2024)*|
|Variety of industries need application developers (finance, computer manufacturing, software publishing)*|
|May be able to telecommute*|
|Cons of Working as a Windows Application Developer|
|May have to work long hours*|
|Minimum of a bachelor's degree is usually required*|
|May need training and skills specifically related to Windows programming languages and software programs**|
|Risk of backache, eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome***|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Multiple Job Posts from 2012, ***O*NET Online.
Essential Career Info
Windows application developers create, design and update software programs that run on a Windows platform. Developers usually report to directors and project managers and are needed by companies in several industries. One of the first actions you typically take when developing an application is to figure out what users need. You may be in charge of making sure that deadlines are met and budgets are adhered to. The types of applications you could create could range from a basic word processor to a complex game. You may also keep working on an application after it is released in order to provide updates and patches.
Job Prospects and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that nearly 144,000 new software application development jobs would be created between 2010 and 2020, which would be a 28% increase in employment for this period. The industries that have the highest levels of employment for applications developers include computer systems design and software publishing.
According to the BLS, software applications developers earned a median annual income of approximately $96,000 in 2014. The BLS found that the top 10% of applications developers earned more than $149,000 in 2014, while the bottom 10% of these workers earned less than about $56,000.
What Are the Requirements?
Most software applications developers have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in computer science or software engineering, although a few employers may not require you to have a degree. You should also be able to work as part of a team, be flexible and display strong analytical and problem solving skills. Regardless of your education, you'll need to have experience working with Windows-related platforms and programming languages, such as C#, Microsoft SQL and Microsoft .NET framework.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Employers tend to look for applicants who have experience using Windows services and programming languages. A bachelor's degree is often preferred by employers, but it can be substituted for experience in some cases. Here are some job postings for Windows application developers that were live in March 2012:
- A tile company in Kentucky is seeking a results-oriented, self-starter with analysis and programming skills. The company would prefer a developer with Visual Studio, Web development and database application experience. A bachelor's degree or equivalent experience is required.
- An employer in Washington D.C. is looking for a candidate that has software development and testing experience, excellent communication skills and customer service skills. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience; candidates with a degree in a development-related field were preferred.
- A company in New York advertised for a Windows developer who has experience in the investment banking industry and can work with Microsoft MSI and App V technology. Great communication skills are also required.
- An engineering company in Massachusetts wants to hire a Windows application developer who has at least 5 years of experience creating real-world applications. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree and be proficient with .NET frameworks and Windows Presentation Foundation.
- A technology company in Arizona is seeking a senior C# Windows application developer who has a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience. Candidates should have experience with .NET frameworks, SQL, C# and Windows services.
How to Stand Out in the Field
Windows application development is a highly specialized branch of software development. In addition to a degree in computer science and professional experience, you may want to look into ways that you can separate yourself from other job candidates.
Microsoft offers a professional certification to prospective Windows application developers. The Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) credential is designed to validate your ability to work within the Microsoft .NET architecture and to utilize Microsoft Visual Studio. In order to obtain this credential, you will need to pass an exam administered by Microsoft and have professional experience working as a Microsoft developer.
You don't have to have a job to start getting experience with Windows-related application development. Creating your own programs using a Windows programming language can demonstrate to potential employers that you know what you're doing. If you're in school, you can look for an internship that gives you exposure to Windows programming languages and services.
Other Careers to Consider
If you decide that working as a Windows application developer is not a perfect fit for you, there are some other occupations you may be interested in investigating.
Computer Database Administrator
As a database administrator, you'd work with software and develop ways to archive, access and secure data for an organization. In order to pursue this career path, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in information science. According to the BLS, database administrators earned a yearly median income of about $75,000 in 2011. The BLS also projected that job opportunities for database administrators would increase by 31% between 2010 and 2020.
Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts use information technology to determine whether or not an organization's information system is sufficient to accomplish its goals. Sometimes analysts will help develop a new system or update an existing system to accommodate a company's needs. Many computer systems analysts have a bachelor's degree, but this degree level is not a requirement; you should still be qualified for most jobs if you have IT expertise and programming knowledge. The BLS predicted that computer systems analysts would experience a 22% increase in jobs between 2010 and 2020. These professionals made a median salary of around $79,000 in 2011, according to the BLS.