It’s no secret that software development careers are lucrative and in demand. Check out these web developer salaries. But where should you position yourself in this field, and what pays favourably? Below we present 8 different career prospects in software development. Salary figures are sourced from PayScale showing aggregated minimum-maximum figures for South Africans who have reported being in each respective career.
1. Software development careers: Front-end developer
Salary prospects: R119 460 – R358 848 per annum
2. Software development careers: Back-end developer
While the front-end developers are often applauded for successful software projects, the sweating engine-room programmers deserve just as much credit. Back-end development involves the design and implementation of databases, APIs and frameworks, server hosting, cloud setup, content management system implementation, and a whole host of further ‘behind the scenes’ tasks needed to maintain the uptime and successful operation of an application or website. Great examples include designing algorithms, installing Content Management Systems (CMS), configuration of server software such as Amazon EC2 instances. The irony is that if a back-end developer does his job correctly, a user will never notice. For a closer look at the difference between front-end and back-end web development, both important software development careers, check out this article.
Salary Prospects: ~R308 872 per annum (Source – “database developer” benchmark)
3. Software development careers: Full-Stack Developer
Salary Prospects: upwards of R480 000 per annum (Source – “Senior full-stack” position)
4. Software development careers: Site Reliability Engineers/DevOps
A SRE ensures that the work of a back-end and front-end developer doesn’t result in a tangled mess of 404 and 500 server errors. SREs ensure everything works over a long period, and if any piece of website or software goes down, they can get it back up as quickly as possibly. SREs are incredibly valued at companies such as Google where YouTube being down for just minutes means millions of dollars in lost revenues. This essential role means a career in DevOps/SRE is popular: big names like Uber, Facebook, MathWorks and HBO are all looking for people in this field.
Salary Prospects: R408,402 – R881,777 per annum
5. Software development careers: Data Scientist
“Big data” is all the rage these days, and whilst consumer-side tech is racing to have anything with a processor in it connect to the internet, that data still has to be mined and interpreted, or else it remains useless. That’s where you as a data scientist come in; you’d assign meaning and order to the chaos of billions of data packets sailing through their networks.
Data scientists span a wide field, because the data you’d analyse spans mathematical computations, physics, statistics, signal processing, biological data, and even climate. It would even include artificial intelligence and cluster computing. From there, it’s all about designing and implementing systems and models which can learn, draw conclusions and perform inference on the data sets. Given say a billion pictures of people’s faces, you could design models to infer the expression, emotion, ages and so on. This career is exciting because just about every type of company needs you – from banks to intelligence agencies. To find out more about whether your job is safe from automation, read this.
Salary Prospects: R120 000 – R320 000 per annum (locally, significantly higher overseas)
6. Software development careers: Embedded Software Developer
Whilst not part of the mainstream software development careers, this is very popular with makerspace movements and the “hobbyist hacker” hardware community. It’s exactly for this reason that start-ups have risen out of this passion and have turned this into a viable career option that’s lucrative. As an embedded developer, you’ll work with embedded ‘low level languages’. These languages run closer to the ‘bare-metal’ of embedded systems (such as the Raspberry Pi, Intel Galileo, Arduino) as it were, with the ability to directly write binary values to I/O pins connected to the CPU. This means that you’re flipping bits, modifying individual memory locations and pretty much deciding everything with a ‘first-principles’ instruction approach.
Salary Prospects: R168,000 – R443,248 per annum
7. Software development careers: Mobile Developer
This type of development is all the rage since smartphones dawned into the public consciousness several years ago. As a mobile developer, you’ll be involved in designing a variety of apps – think mobile games, communication software such as a WhatsApp, and even mobile developers. You’ll also work to set up frameworks that support those apps, and design tools that work with the APIs that the platform offers. Mobile developers often specialise in one particular platform such as iOS, Windows Phone or Android, but there’s increasing scope for designing cross-platform software to make apps work across mobile, desktop, and different smartphone platforms. Check out HyperionDev’s Introduction to Mobile Development course, as well as their Advanced Mobile Developer course, both excellent software development careers.
Salary Prospects: R124 109 – R655 573 per annum
8. Software development careers: Security Developer
As a security developer, you’ll probably end up as a hacker. Wait, what? That’s a type of software development career? Certainly, and it’s a critical field. Penetration testers (“white-hat” ethical hackers that try to find security flaws in systems) and cyber-security experts work together for the good of companies and their systems and data. You’ll develop software to keep important company assets safe from theft, viruses and other malicious attacks, and as a pentester you’ll try to “hack” into the system to find where the vulnerabilities are. In this way, there’s less chance your “black-hat” malicious friends will get into your important data.
Salary Prospects: R156,000 – R533,249 per annum
Looking to get into one of these careers? Hyperion offers part-time, online certifications in many of these areas using the most in-demand programming languages in Southern Africa. Comment below on which career in software development you find most exciting!