Software developer

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Robert Shaw works for a national bank as a software developer. After gaining a degree in maths he didn't want to go into accountancy, so worked on the computer helpdesk for an internet-based banking operation. He is now involved in programming business software for companies.

What do you do?

I am part of a team of developers which customises a standard business accounting computer system for companies. The software is broken down into modules or objects so firms can personalise systems, building them much like Lego. My job is to put these together in a form to fit the company's specific needs.

How did you get into IT?

From a very early age! My uncle was a teacher in maths and computer sciences and I had access to computers from a child. I began to write programs when at school – simple things like a random number selector to help my mum choose different football matches for the weekly pools entry.

I took maths at A level and a degree course at university.The course was a mix of maths and computing that involved database and spreadsheet tools, which I use widely in my current job.

And to your present job?

I got my first job working on a PC helpdesk for a bank that offers internet services. I worked there previously during a work experience gap year and I must have made an impression because I was offered a job with them once I graduated.

The bank offers a development path and I trained in various program languages before joining the team as a trainee programmer.

Is your job totally office-based?

It is at present as I carry out tasks given to me from the team leader who is involved in project meetings with the client. As I get more involved I may accompany him to client meetings to get the brief direct.

What is the working environment like?

It is very good. The offices are in a recently built block with air-conditioning and a gym in the basement! We work in a team unit with our desks together. I work a flexitime 36-hour week which means I can vary my start and finish time to suit as long as I am at my desk between 10.30am and 4pm.

What do you like about your job?

Helping businesses by providing them with the right software is quite motivating and pleasing. It is nice to see when you are using your skills to help others. It is good that I can use my maths skills and accountancy knowledge to re-engineer the business processes for specific customers.

Robert's route to his job as a software developer

  • A levels including maths.
  • Degree in computer sciences.
  • IT helpdesk for bank.
  • Software developer.

Robert's tip

  • Get some work experience. A really good way is to take an internship with a company you think you would like to work for. This usually means working over the summer for 8-12 weeks between the second and third year of your degree.

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Salary of a software developer

  • Starting salaries for trainee software developers is usually between £17,000 and £25,000, rising to £40,000 with experience.
  • As an IT helpdesk professional, salaries generally start at around £17,000.

How to become a software developer

  • A growing number of companies now choose graduates with a degree or college course in IT.
  • Another route is by taking a recognised qualification such as a BTEC National diploma or NVQ/SVQ.
  • Foundation and Modern Apprenticeships (Skillseekers in Scotland) may be available, enabling you to work and train straight from school. To do this you need good GCSE passes in English, maths, IT or a science.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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