Starting your software lifecycle journey

Today, if you’ve got a degree (or even a general aptitude) relevant to the field of software development, you could have a long and rewarding career ahead of you. The IT job market came out of the recent financial crisis in good shape, and has only gone from strength to strength since the recovery. Currently, there is a nationwide shortage of STEM skills in UK industry, making computer science, maths, engineering, and science graduates especially coveted – but options are certainly available for students from other disciplines.

If you’re interested in a career in software development, but aren’t sure what your options are, we’ve prepared the following flowchart to give you an idea of the lifecycle’s typical career trajectories. Click it to zoom in.

Software development careers flowchart

Of course, these should be taken as examples – or jumping-off points, if you prefer. It’s worth remembering that no two career arcs are precisely the same, and your first job in software development certainly doesn’t lock you into a predetermined path or wage bracket.

Job descriptions are far more malleable in the modern environment (in startups in particular) and there’s far more opportunity to make whatever entry-level role you assume your own. Each of the roles above has skills and lessons applicable to other areas of software development – and the industry will always have room for those who show initiative and a drive to succeed.

Jeff Cunliffe is a director at Automation Consultants, a company that provides IT solutions and consultancy. AC has successfully managed software development and data centre migration projects for clients such as EE, Vodafone, HSBC, Network Rail, BT and Sky.