What Does a Software Development Manager Do and How To Become One?

FT Contributor  | 

A software development manager leads a team of software developers. The team designs, tests, and creates new software or applications, or improves and updates existing programs. Someone in this position is a senior staff member who has both technical experience and management skills.

Job Description

A software development manager coordinates the people and resources necessary to produce, improve, or update software. In addition to having a leadership role in the development team, someone in this position also helps with project planning. They liaise with executives and decision-makers within a company or software producer to ensure that the software meets the organization’s needs and requirements.

In some cases, a software development manager also works with sales, marketing, and distribution teams on the timing of the software release.

A software development manager has programming skills. In some cases, a development manager may handle some of the coding and programming duties themselves. However, even if they do not, they need to understand and be able to assess the coding of others and provide technical guidance when necessary.

To gain programming knowledge, many software development managers start their careers as developers and rise to management-level positions after gaining experience.

Even if you perform coding, testing, and debugging during a software development project, your primary duties revolve around managing the development process. You direct team members and check their work to ensure that it meets quality standards.

A software development manager works with other management-level employees or executives to plan the project and design the development process. In this position, you often need to create a timeline, set goals, define benchmarks, and come up with a deadline for delivery of the completed product. Your responsibilities in this position involve keeping stakeholders, executives, and clients up to date during development.

Managers handle selecting or hiring developers for each project. This aspect of the job requires understanding the strengths and skills of each team member and ensuring that the team includes developers and other professionals who have the knowledge to handle each task.

You are also ultimately responsible for ensuring that the team meets deadlines, adheres to quality standards, and abides by development methodologies. Some development teams use development frameworks such as Agile or Scrum to ensure that each phase gets complete. The manager assures that the different testing, debugging, and coding steps occur when they are supposed to so that the project does not get delayed.

In addition to personnel, a software development manager ensures that the project team has all the necessary resources. This part of the job could include working with contractors or outside vendors to guarantee that the team has everything they need. Development managers may need to create a budget for the project and adhere to that financial plan throughout the development process.

Median Salary and Job Growth

Management-level development jobs are relatively high paying. The average salary for software development managers in the United States is $137,830. Salaries vary based on several factors, including education, skills, and experience, but the range typically falls between $125,060 and $154,190.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for qualified software developers will increase by 21% between 2018 and 2028. The overall growth rate for all professions will be approximately 5% during that same period.

Job Requirements

Software development jobs require a degree in computer science or a related subject. Some employers hire developers with experience or training equivalent to a degree. Computer science or software engineering degrees exist at the associate and bachelor’s degree levels. Those with aspirations for a management-level position can pursue a master’s degree, though this may not be a requirement for all employers.

Alternatives to a degree include attending a coding boot camp or earning professional certification. Some developers take these steps even if they have a degree to learn a broader range of skills.

Software developers need to know computer coding systems. The types of languages that they should learn vary depending on the kind of software on which they wish to work. Common languages include Java, Python, JavaScript, or C++.

Though language requirements may differ, all software development managers need to be familiar with development methodologies. These include Agile and Scrum. These methodologies help with planning projects, laying out timelines, ensuring proper documentation, and meeting benchmarks. The Project Management Institute offers certification as an Agile Certified Practitioner accreditation, while you can take an exam from the Scrum Alliance to become a Certified Scrum Master.

Software Development Manager Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects demand for qualified developers to grow four times faster than the average profession over the next decade. Developers who can work on applications will be in even higher demand.

BLS projects a 26% increase in the app developer job market over the next decade. Applications developers for mobile devices and embedded systems will be sought after, as will those who can work on specialized software systems for healthcare providers or those in need of computer security software.

Should I Become a Software Development Manager?

If you have an interest in programming, computer languages, and developing technical skills, you may enjoy a career as a software development manager. Technical knowledge is a requirement. In addition to these hard skills, you also need soft skills related to management and personnel development. Therefore, you need to be able to assume a leadership role to thrive in this career.

As a manager, you work closely with team members, and you may provide training or assume a mentorship role. So, in addition to management abilities, you need interpersonal skills.

Finally, you need problem-solving skills. As a software development manager, the task of solving any issues that arise during a project will fall to you. You need to be able to thrive in this role and deal with trouble when it arises.


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