If technology is the vehicle by which we increasingly achieve higher standards of living, software development is the engine that drives that vehicle forward. Software development managers work in nearly every industry and are essential to ensuring the fluid creation, maintenance and overall success of computer programs and applications. They are responsible for overseeing multiple projects through all phases of development, from initiation and planning to execution, to monitoring, control and closure.
You must collaborate with the lead architect, developers, business analysts and company executives in order to determine the software's technical direction, system design and implementation plan. You will manage day-to-day activities of the software team to ensure each project remains on schedule and on budget. You must create, maintain and track project plans and schedules, cost estimates and problem logs throughout the life of the project. Providing routine status reports to clients and management is crucial. You must also offer leadership, guidance and motivation to developers and programmers while resolving internal conflicts. Other common tasks include allocating company resources, conducting software team meetings, troubleshooting technical issues, and facilitating the deployment of software upgrades.
Proficiency with industry-standard software programs and applications is essential. Some of the most common include Java, SQL, Linux and Microsoft Office. You have to balance the completion of independent work assignments with the management of a diverse staff. You should possess superior communication skills, both verbal and written, as well as an aptitude for math and accounting. You must be highly self-motivated in order to drive projects forward, have strong organizational skills, and be able to operate under tight deadlines. You also must use critical and analytical thinking to effectively solve problems. In addition, bilingual managers are often in demand due to the international nature of many software projects.
Training & Education
Most employers require you to have at least a B.A. or B.S. in a related field such as computer science, engineering, project management or business administration. Depending on the scope and sensitivity of the work, some may also want to see a postgraduate degree or at least two to three years of practical project-management experience. Many software development project managers secure the requisite experience by starting as a developer, and then gradually assume more responsibilities on each project. Others seek outside certification in programming and management through PMP, HTML and Scrum methodology courses in order to broaden their resumes.
Salary & Economic Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information systems managers with four-year degrees and at least five years of work experience will make an average median salary of $115,780 per year, or $55.67 per hour. Approximately 307,900 such jobs existed in May of 2010, with the expected creation of 55,800 new jobs between 2010 and 2020. This represents a projected growth rate of 18 percent, which is just above the 14 percent increase expected for all U.S. jobs. Moreover, those working specifically in software development have an especially rosy outlook, with a projected growth rate of 30 percent over the same period.