Software Designers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in computer science, you should take as many computer, math, and science courses as possible; they provide fundamental math and computer knowledge and teach analytical thinking skills. Classes that focus on schematic drawing and flowcharts are also very valuable. English and speech courses will help you improve your communication skills, which are very important to software designers who must make formal presentations to management and clients. Also, many technical/vocational schools offer programs in software programming and design. The qualities developed by these classes, plus imagination and an ability to work well under pressure, are key to success in software design.

Postsecondary Training

A bachelor's degree in computer science, plus one year's experience with a programming language, are required for most software designers; however, a master's degree is preferred for some positions.

In the past, the computer industry has tended to be pretty flexible about official credentials; demonstrated computer proficiency and work experience have often been enough to obtain a good position. However, as more people enter the field, competition has increased, and job requirements have become more stringent. Technical knowledge alone does not suffice in the field of software design anymore. In order to be a successful software designer, you should have at least a peripheral knowledge of the field for which you intend to design software, such as business, education, or science. Individuals with degrees in education and subsequent teaching experience are much sought after as designers for educational software. Those with bachelor's degrees in computer science with a minor in business or accounting have an excellent chance for employment in designing business or accounting software.

Students also complete an internship or other on-the-job experience as part of their training. A master’s degree in software engineering or a related field may be required for some positions. Large computer and consulting firms may offer specialized training in proprietary programs. 

Other Education or Training

The Association for Computing Machinery, International Game Developers Association, Association for Women in Computing, IEEE Computer Society, and the International Web Association offer webinars, on-site classes, workshops, and other continuing education opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Certification in software development is offered by companies such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Novell, Microsoft, and Oracle. While not required, certification tells employers that your skills meet industry education and training standards.

The IEEE Computer Society offers the professional software developer certification to individuals who meet education and experience requirements and pass an examination.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Several years’ programming experience, plus a college internship or other on-the-job experience, are recommended for aspiring software engineers. 

Software design is project- and detail-oriented, and therefore, you must be patient and diligent. You must also enjoy problem-solving challenges and be able to work under a deadline with minimal supervision. As a software designer, you should also possess good communication skills for consulting both with management and with clients who will have varying levels of technical expertise.

Software companies are looking for individuals with vision and imagination to help them create new and exciting programs to sell in the ever-competitive software market. Superior technical skills and knowledge combined with motivation, imagination, and exuberance will make you an attractive candidate.