Detailed Guide forSoftware Developers, Systems Software in California
May also be called: Business Systems Analysts; Computer Consultants; Programmer Analysts; Software Developers; Software Engineers; and Systems Engineers
What Would I Do?
Software Developers, Systems Software apply the principles and techniques of computer science and mathematical analysis to create, test, and evaluate the systems that enable computers to perform various applications. As technology changes, the tasks performed by Systems Software Developers evolve quickly. First, they analyze users' needs. Then they design, test, and develop software for operating systems, network control systems, and middleware to meet those needs. They develop operating systems-level software for medical, industrial, military, communications, aerospace, business, scientific, and general computing applications.
Systems Software Developers coordinate the construction, maintenance, and expansion of a company's computer systems. They coordinate each department's computer needs within a company and make recommendations on technical matters. They also might set up the company's intranet system (networks that link computers within the organization). They often design and implement system security as well. Many Software Developers work for companies that configure, implement, and install complete computer systems. In addition, they often work as part of a team that designs new hardware, software, and systems. They may also oversee the work of computer programmers.
Tools and Technology
Systems Software Developers use computers, high-end servers, central processing units, integrated circuit testers, and may also use tablets or smart phones. They use a wide array of software such as database management systems, development environment, object or component-oriented development, operating systems, program testing, and Web platform development.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Modify existing software to correct errors, to adapt it to new hardware, or to upgrade interfaces and improve performance.||Complex Problem Solving|
|Advise customer about or perform maintenance of software system.||Oral Expression|
|Analyze information to determine, recommend, and plan installation of a new system or modification of an existing system.||Critical Thinking|
|Consult with engineering staff to evaluate interface between hardware and software, develop specifications and performance requirements, or resolve customer problems.||Computers and Electronics|
|Direct software programming and development of documentation.||Programming|
|Store, retrieve, and manipulate data for analysis of system capabilities and requirements.||Operations Analysis|
|Confer with data processing or project managers to obtain information on limitations or capabilities for data processing projects.||Oral Comprehension|
|Consult with customers or other departments on project status, proposals, or technical issues, such as software system design or maintenance.||Written Comprehension|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Complex Problem Solving||Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.|
|Oral Expression||The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Computers and Electronics||Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.|
|Programming||Writing computer programs for various purposes.|
|Operations Analysis||Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.|
|Oral Comprehension||The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.|
|Written Comprehension||The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.|
Systems Software Developers work in well-lit and comfortable offices or computer laboratories. They often work in teams and regularly interact with team members and other staff, as well as customers. They frequently work more than 40 hours a week due to the project-oriented nature of their work. Systems Software Developers may work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or solve technical problems.
Without following precautions, some may experience eye strain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Those who are employed by software vendors or consulting firms spend much of their time away from their offices, frequently traveling overnight to meet with customers. Telecommuting is becoming more common, allowing Systems Software Developers to work away from their main office or in remote locations.
Although most Systems Software Developers are not represented by unions, those working in the public sector may join the Service Employees International Union.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Systems Software Developer may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve working with ideas, require an extensive amount of thinking, and searching for facts and figuring out problems. This occupation satisfies those who value achievement since it is results oriented and allows workers to use their individual abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Employers seek computer professionals with strong programming, systems analysis, interpersonal, and business skills. In addition, the ability to work with abstract concepts and do technical analysis is very important.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Software Developers, Systems Software in California is $125,949 annually, or $60.56 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Systems Software Developers generally receive medical, dental, and life insurance, as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans from their employers. Some employers also offer stock options.
What is the Job Outlook?
Job opportunities for Systems Software Developers should be very good as businesses, organizations, and individuals continue to adopt new technologies and seek to maximize the efficiency of their computer systems. Competition among businesses creates an incentive for increasingly sophisticated technological innovations; therefore, more Systems Software Developers will be needed to implement these new technological changes.
Demand for Systems Software Developers is expected to increase as computer networking continues to grow. Increased use of the Internet, the rise in the number of websites, and the use of mobile technology such as the wireless Internet are driving the demand for a variety of new products that Systems Software Developers will need to create. At the same time, handheld computers create demand for new mobile software systems. As these devices become a larger part of the business and personal environment, it will be necessary to integrate current computer systems with the new, more mobile technology.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Software Developers, Systems Software is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Software Developers, Systems Software are expected to increase by 24.0 percent, or 19,000 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Software Developers, Systems Software
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 1,900 new job openings per year is expected for Software Developers, Systems Software, plus an additional 1,020 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 2,920 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Software Developers, Systems Software
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Employers usually prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree in computer science or computer information systems. Degrees in engineering disciplines, such as electrical/electronic or computer engineering, are also desirable. Jobs that are more complex and require a high degree of technical knowledge may require candidates with a master's degree.
Systems Software Developers should have a broad knowledge of, and experience with, computer systems and technologies. They should be knowledgeable about current practices and different operating systems used by the industry. They must have the ability to solve problems, configure operating systems to work with all kinds of hardware, and adapt the systems to meet the needs of the organization.
Many students seeking software development jobs enhance their employment opportunities by participating in internships offered through their schools. Internships provide students with broad knowledge and valuable hands-on experience, making them attractive candidates to employers. In many firms, mentoring has become part of the evaluation process for new hires.
Early Career Planning
High school students interested in this kind of work should take courses in math, computer science, engineering technology, science, and language arts. Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) are available for computer programming, computer science, information technology, computer applications, software design, and computer information systems. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
Employers demand new skills as technology continually evolves and advances in the computer field. Systems Software Developers must acquire these new skills if they wish to remain in this extremely competitive, dynamic field. To help keep up with changing technology, continuing education and professional development seminars are offered by employers, software vendors, colleges and universities, and private training institutions.
Certification is generally not required to work as a Systems Software Developer; however, some product vendors or software firms require Software Developers who work with their products to be certified. In addition, voluntary certification can be obtained through professional computing associations and is a good way to demonstrate competence and gain a competitive edge. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
- Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Computer Engineering, Computer Programming, Computer Science, Computer Software, Computer Systems, and Information Science.
- Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Software Developers, Systems Software are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Computer Systems Design and Rel Services ||32.9%|
|Computers and Peripheral Equipment ||10.8%|
|Electronic Instrument Manufacturing ||6.8%|
|Scientific Research and Development Svc ||5.3%|
|Management & Technical Consulting Svc ||4.2%|
Finding a Job
Networking is important in this occupation, since many Systems Software Developers find work through referrals. Jobs can also be found through direct application to employers, newspaper classified advertisements, online job boards, and professional organizations. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Software Developers, Systems Software.
- Computer Network Design & Systems
- Computer - Wholesale & Manufacturers
- Computers - System Designers & Consultants
- Electronic Control Manufacturers
- Electronics Research & Development
- Technology - Research & Development
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
A career path for Systems Software Developers might lead to supervisory or managerial positions within a firm, particularly for those who have high levels of communication and project management skills. Those with several years of experience or expertise can find lucrative opportunities working as systems designers or independent consultants.
Below is a list of occupations related to Software Developers, Systems Software with links to more information.
|Computer Science Teachers, Postsecondary||Profile|
|Computer Systems Analysts||Guide|
|Electrical and Electronics Drafters||Profile|
|Software Developers, Applications||Guide|
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals
- Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Computing Society
- National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.