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Software Developer

Kaihanga Pūmanawa Rorohiko

Alternative titles for this job

Software developers create and maintain computer software, websites and software applications (apps).

Pay

Software developers usually earn

$110K- $160K per year

Source: Absolute IT, 2023.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a software developer are good due to a shortage of workers.

Pay

Pay for software developers varies depending on skills, experience and where you work.

  • Software developers usually earn $110,000 to $160,000 a year.
  • Source: Absolute IT, ’IT Job Market and Salary Report 2023.' 

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Software developers who specialise in developing or maintaining computer programs may:

  • discuss clients' computer program requirements
  • work out design specifications for programs
  • write programs
  • run tests to ensure programs and computer systems are working properly
  • maintain and upgrade programs. 

Software developers who specialise in developing websites may:

  • develop a technical plan for the website and ways to promote it online
  • suggest production methods and necessary equipment, and investigate costs for the website
  • liaise with designers and other staff to help design and maintain the website
  • integrate the technical, visual, and content aspects of the site to produce the finished product.

Skills and knowledge

Software developers need to have knowledge of:

  • computer software and systems
  • programming languages and techniques
  • the impact of programs on computer hardware (such as monitors, keyboards and printers) and other software (computer programs)
  • software development processes such as Agile
  • confidentiality, data security and data protection issues.

Working conditions

Software developers:

  • usually work full time and often work evenings and weekends, or might be on call
  • work in offices in conditions that may be stressful because they sometimes work to strict deadlines
  • may travel locally or overseas to meet clients.

What's the job really like?

Nick Hill

Nick Hill

Analyst Programmer

"There's always some hard work involved in getting a programming project together," says programmer Nick Hill.

"But once you've completed the background development and learning, it's a lot of fun seeing a new or enhanced program benefit users. It's something I enjoy doing – and it's great to get paid for doing it."

A balance between working on programs and with people

Working for a nationwide organisation, Nick writes, develops and maintains a number of database-focused programs. "There's a nice balance between working alone on applications, and working with users and others in the team."

Getting some real-world experience to learn the main skills

Nick has been learning about computers since he was at primary school, but says he found formal training helpful in gaining an appreciation of what was required of professional programmers. "In my final year, I worked on real-world projects and it was this work experience that got me started in the industry."

Nick says that one of the main skills of the job is to convert a customer’s often vague requirements into a program. "You need to do some research to find out what the options are, pick the best one and put a program together that meets the project's requirements."

Keeping up with changes in the industry is key

Learning is important in this job too. "Because technology is changing so fast I’m always going to be learning so I won’t get the chance to be bored."

Web developer video

Chelcie Prasad talks about life as a web developer – 2.08 mins.

It's a very loud keyboard, but it makes me feel like I'm doing official work.
My name is Chelcie Prasad and I am a developer. The three main things that I do
in my job are building and editing websites, designing websites,
tagging websites so that we can get data from it to see who's been visiting it.
So this is my desk. This is where I do my work every day.
I'm what you call a full stack developer.
That means that I work on both front end and the back end. There's what you see,
which is all the pretty pictures, and that's the front end.
And then you have a back end,
which is the logic and how the website actually runs.
So the back end looks like this. It's a whole bunch of code.
It'll help you go from page to page when you click on a button if something pops
up, that's what that does,
and you need to make the stuff that looks pretty and the stuff that makes it run
kind of work together. The coding here might look quite scary,
but it's not as scary as it seems.
A lot of it is repeated and most of it is given to you through documentation of
whatever project you're working on. I have to design another page for this
website, and so I like to go through a brainstorming process first.
So what I do is I get a massive piece of paper and I fold it and I'll just
brainstorm, um,
4 different kinds of designs just to see like what comes off the top of my
head. I chose this career because I like problem solving,
and this provides me a way to do that as well as I think the creative aspect of
it. When you're done,
you have a sheet of paper that looks like this with 4 very roughly drawn designs.
I'll take pieces that I like from each of the designs and then put it together in one final design.
I initially started off just doing a business degree.
Two years into that, I realized I liked coding and computer science,
so I also picked up a computer science degree and decided to go more fully down that path.
After uni, I had a job being a junior developer,
and then now I'm here being a developer. I think with the industry that I'm in,
everything is constantly changing all the time,
and it's important to not beat yourself up if you feel like you don't know
everything about everything, but nobody does.
Everybody's always constantly learning, and yeah, as long as you know that,
then you should be fine.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a software developer. However, you usually need:

  • a tertiary qualification in computing, software engineering, information systems or business computing
  • or a relevant industry-based certification with well-known companies such as Microsoft or Oracle
  • or on-the-job training through internships and graduate recruitment programmes
  • or experience in related entry-level IT roles such as IT helpdesk/support technician.

You can also learn through online courses and tutorials, and work on your own projects.

Secondary education

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include digital technologies, maths, physics and English.

For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience.

Personal requirements

Software developers need to be:

  • methodical, accurate and patient
  • able to work well under pressure, and meet deadlines
  • able to work well as part of a team, and with minimal supervision
  • skilled at problem solving and decision making
  • skilled at verbal and written communication.

You can't be frustrated by challenges. If you get too frustrated with a programming problem, your chance to solve it will disappear.


Photo: Nick Hill

Nick Hill

Analyst Programmer

Useful experience

Useful experience for software developers includes:

  • creating websites or games, and computer programming
  • fixing computer hardware or software problems
  • graphic design and desktop publishing
  • client or project management
  • doing software development-related study and projects
  • volunteer work involving software development, and creating websites.

Physical requirements

Software developers spend a lot of time using computers, so they need to know how to use computer equipment properly to avoid occupational overuse syndrome (OOS).

Registration

Software developers may choose to become certified through associations such as the Institute of IT Professionals.

Find out more about training

Game Developers Association
info@nzgda.com - www.nzgda.com
IT Professionals NZ
0800 252 255 - info@itp.nz - www.itp.nz
NZTech
(09) 475 0204 - www.nztech.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Software developers in demand

Software developers are in high demand due to:

  • organisations shifting services and systems online
  • the need for user-friendly websites and apps
  • more use of mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

Shortage of experienced software developers

There are not enough experienced software developers to meet demand. Nearly two thirds of IT employers report skills shortages, and there aren't enough information technology (IT) trainees.

As a result, web developer, analyst programmer, developer programmer, other software and applications programmers and software engineer, (all software developers or related jobs), appear on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled software developers from overseas to work in New Zealand.

According to the Census, 15,174 software developers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

How to get your first IT job

You can improve your chances of getting a job through:

  • internships like Summer of Tech
  • graduate programmes offered by IT companies
  • mentoring programmes.

Types of employers varied

Software developers can work for a wide range of organisations, including:

  • private companies 
  • specialised website development companies
  • software and web development companies that work with film, games and animation
  • large retailers or marketing and advertising companies
  • government departments and educational institutions.

Fifteen percent of software developers are self-employed. 

Sources

  • Hays, 'IT Salary Guide and Recruiting Trends', accessed November 2021, (www.hays.net.nz).
  • Recruit I.T., 'Technology and Digital Salary Update Auckland', Recruit I.T., 'Technology and Digital Salary Update Wellington', July 2021, (www.recruitit.co.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Long Term Skill Shortage List', 19 February 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Software developers may progress to become senior developers, software architects or IT managers.

Software developers may specialise in the development, maintenance or enhancement of certain programs and software.

They may also specialise in a particular area such as:

  • website development
  • computer games
  • film and animation.
Two software developers, one with blue hair and a pink sweatshirt and the other with pink hair and a green sweatshirt, both with coffee, sit at a desk looking at code on a computer screen

Software developers may work together to review code

Last updated 6 November 2023