Career glance: Software developers are today’s new pioneers

02.26.2014 | By Andrea Vasquez

HOUSTON – Richard Brodie, Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger, and Mark Zuckerberg - ring any bells? Aside from the social media king of Facebook, like most people, you may be more familiar with their brainchildren: Microsoft Word and Instagram. Brodie, and Systrom and Krieger, are the masterminds behind these applications most of us use daily. Today’s new frontiers have a new set of pioneers - software developers.

Recently, U.S. News & World Report named “software developer” as number one in its “Best Jobs in 2014” list. Software developers design, install, test, and maintain software systems. They may also be required to create a product from scratch or modify existing software according to a client's specifications. Today, software developers can be found in almost any industry, especially in computer systems design, electronic product manufacturing, and finance.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 22.8 percent employment growth for software developers between 2012 and 2022, much faster than average for all other occupations. Nationally, the average annual salary for a software developer in 2012 was $90,000 and according to the Texas Workforce Commission, software developers in the Gulf Coast region earned an average of $95,000 annually.

With an estimated 139,900 job openings expected within the decade, and still so few qualified applicants to fill current openings, San Jacinto College computer science professor Pamela Betts says that it all comes down to education and experience. “Most of the people applying for these jobs lack team programming experience and are only trained in one programming language,” said Betts. “They do not understand basic program design, problem solving, project documentation or how to work effectively as part of a team. They only know how to code, so they can’t get the job to get the necessary job experience.” 

Almost all software developers are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, and San Jacinto College’s computer simulation and gaming technology program gives students a greater advantage and easier transition into the software development industry and university baccalaureate programs. According to Betts, faculty actively looks for internship opportunities for students prior to completing their associate degrees or certificates.

Alumnus Forrest Porter was hired as an intern for Tietronix Software, Inc., a Houston-based company that designs software for the aerospace, defense, medical, and renewable energy industries. “If it wasn't for San Jacinto College, I would have never gotten the internship in the first place,” said Porter. “It was the first job I had, and it required learning a new computer language, new platform, and new development tools rather quickly. Overall it was a great experience. A few months after my internship ended, they hired me back, and now I’m one of the lead software developers.”

Through Tietronix, Porter has been recognized by NASA, numerous Houston-area hospitals, and other companies worldwide for software he has developed. He also serves on the San Jacinto College computer simulation and gaming technology program advisory committee and gives guest lectures on game development. Recently, he has started as a capstone mentor for the University of Houston - Clear Lake’s medical image analytics program. Porter, along with another San Jacinto College student, developed an independent game company, Gameware Studio, to design computer games and help promote the gaming and software development industries.

Like Porter, 19-year-old alumnus David Levy took programming classes at the College when he was just 11 years old. Now, Levy is working as a software programmer at Bloomberg LP in New York City. At 13, Levy was beginning to write his own cell phone apps in his spare time, perhaps foreshadowing his future career with the global financial enterprise.

Along with the computer simulation and gaming technology program, San Jacinto College offers more diverse avenues to the software development industry. With an associate of science through the College’s computer science program, students can easily transfer to four-year university computer science programs with a strong foundation in programming language, problem solving, and advanced math skills. An associate of applied science degree through the applications programming specialty program can also transfer easily to universities and may lead to entry-level software development positions. An associate of applied science degree in the Web application development program provides students with crucial software design skills. Since most new programs are either Web or mobile based, this degree can also lead to entry-level Web page software developing positions.

For more information on San Jacinto College’s computer information technology programs, visit sanjac.edu/program/science-technology-engineering-math-stem.

 

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SanJacintoCollege.