What Educational Requirements are Necessary for Software Developers in Virginia?

Virginia Software Development Idustry Outlook:

As a Virginia resident interested in pursuing a career as a software developer, you are probably very curious about what type of education you must have in order to get hired. The truth is, there is no one, simple answer to this question. While the vast majority of Virginia software development professionals will have at least a bachelor's degree, there are many others who have only associate's degrees. It really all depends on the exact job you want to have in the field and on your own preferences and ambitions.

virginia software development schools

If you don't mind starting at a very entry level position, one in which you probably won't even be referred to as an actual software developer, and working your way up from there, then an associate's degree will likely suit you just fine. These degrees can be earned from community colleges or from online colleges or universities; just make sure that the school you attend is fully accredited. You can choose to major in computer science, computer programming, or another related area. As you are earning your degree, you will take classes that go over the basics of the field, such as terminology and programs commonly used in software development. However, associate's degrees are meant to be very general in nature, so you may end up having to earn a specialized certification before you will be hired at a particular job. The good news is that the credits you earn while pursuing an associate's degree can be easily transferred to a bachelor's degree program later down the road. Also, if you can secure a job in the field, your employer may pay or you to further your education, which is definitely something to think about if you're short on cash but want to get an education.

Most of the time, those who are successful software developers in Virginia simply went to a traditional college or university and obtained a bachelor's degree in four years. The time it takes to earn a bachelor's degree can be shortened significantly if you choose to take summer classes or to take a heavier course load than the average amount. Bachelor's degree programs are designed to provide you with all of the very general information learned in an associate's degree program, as well as more in depth courses. Also, you will learn in a variety of different ways. For example, some classes may be traditional lecture courses, while others will be group discussion based, and still others will be practicum style, where you do more hands on, experiential type learning.

After earning a bachelor's degree, you will have the option of furthering your education and earning a master's degree. These degree programs vary in length, depending on where you go and on what exact area you are studying. However, once completed, they are basically a guarantee of a high salary and opportunities for promotions at work. Another thing to keep in mind, especially for those who come to this career choice later in life, is that you can enroll in master's degree programs even if your undergraduate major was in an unrelated subject. In fact, many programs actively recruit students from diverse backgrounds, feeling that they add an interesting perspective and dynamic to the group. So, if you have a bachelor's degree in English or something else entirely unrelated, you don't have to start all over from scratch to become a software developer.

You can also choose to earn a doctoral degree in the field. However, for most jobs, this really isn't necessary. While it can lead to an increased salary, most people feel that PhD programs are a bit extreme for this field, and some even believe they are a waste of time and money. If further education is important to you, however, and you feel you can benefit from such a program, then you should, by all means, pursue your goals. Finding PhD programs in related topics in Virginia can be a bit difficult, so it might be a good idea to look for online programs from accredited colleges or universities.

When you have completed your education or even while you're still getting your education, you should make time for an internship as a final part of the learning process. If you are still in school when you complete your internship, you may be able to gain credit toward graduation. If you are not, some internships are actually paid, so it's a good chance to earn a little money. However, money should not be your focus when completing an internship. The purpose of an internship is to help you to gain experience in the field and to build up your resume, making it more likely that you will obtain a job in the field.

Schools offering online and campus-based education programs in Virginia: