Software Design and Development as a Recession-Proof Career

In a challenged economy, job prospects drop across the board—employers in all industries are looking to cut costs, and one of the first places where they tighten belts is their payrolls.

But some jobs are less likely to be downsized than others. Software designers and developers are in high demand, even in a challenged economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts enormous growth—approximately 38% and over 300,000 new jobs produced between 2006 and 2016. New software is being developed in all industries to streamline operations and make computers more efficient—and as systems become more complex, so will the demand for innovative designers to make progress possible.

Software engineers work in a variety of roles and environments. Employers may be dynamic start-ups or industry-leading companies whose products reach millions. Engineers may work full-time, part-time, or on a contract basis. Some freelance software engineers develop software independently and consult on its use and development with large companies.

If you want a career in software engineering, you’ll have to demonstrate above-average skills in problem-solving and analysis. But you’ll also have to be able to work effectively on a team. Software designers often work in tandem with other IT team members as well as cross-divisional personnel in sales, business development, and other areas of company operations. They may also interact with customers in developing products and conducting needs analyses. Because of this, software engineers need to be able to function equally well as independent workers and as part of a team.

Most employers favor employees who have a Bachelor’s degree in an IT-related subject, with experience in a variety of programs, IT skills and programming languages. The most common Bachelor’s degrees in the field include computer science, computer systems, and software engineering.

If you want to keep your credentials competitive, you’ll need to keep abreast of the latest technological advancements. This is why certification is so important in the IT field—there are dozens of certifications available, and earning one can demonstrate your proficiency in a software engineering area where you don’t already have proven work-related experience.

Luckily for working professionals, the IT industry is extremely tolerant of online degrees, and you can earn a wide range of technical certifications online—as well as Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate’s degrees in IT-related subjects.

Online programs are ideal for working professionals looking to make the move to software engineering, primarily because of their flexibility. As a working student, you won’t have to make extra time to go to scheduled classes—you can study anywhere and at any time, and study time doesn’t have to affect your job. Employers even prefer online education because of this flexibility. Many employers have tuition reimbursement programs to encourage workers to increase their skills in software-related fields.

Some larger companies are willing to hire new graduates and give them on-the-job training, but for most firms, hands-on work experience is often key to landing a job. Demonstrating experience in one language is sometimes enough to get an employer convinced that you can learn other languages quickly. But what’s more important is experience in the basics of software development methodology.

If you don’t have any formal job experience in software development, it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. You can generate experience by developing software on your own for the Open Source community or landing an internship with a development firm during or directly after you earn your degree.

Getting into software engineering is likely to be worth your while. The highest-paid software engineers can earn over $100,000 per year, and those earning middle-income wages typically make between $62,830 and $98,470. Software development is a lucrative field, and as good software designers become in higher demand, wages are likely to go up.

A degree in software development is likely to take you far—and certification in various languages and subskills can make your resume stand out from the crowd. As a dynamic career with high demand in a wide variety of industries, software development offers opportunities to workers with a range of interests. Whether you aim to work full-time at a Fortune-500 company, help a startup succeed, or start your own freelance consulting business, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in this growing field.