What Is an Application Developer?

An application developer creates or writes programs for a particular operating system (i.e, Windows, Mac OS X or UNIX), the Web or a device. These professionals usually possess a bachelor's degree and knowledge of programming languages. Read on to learn more about application developer job duties, education requirements and career prospects. Schools offering Application Development degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

An application developer goes by many names, such as computer programmer, systems analyst, software engineer, software developer or web developer. Regardless of the title, this type of computer professional writes programs for the Web, an operating system or a device. An application developer starts a project by outlining the specifications (defining what the program does, input and what the output will be along with any interfaces). The developer then creates a program or system, taking into consideration all the specifications.

The application developer then codes the application, runs tests and adds finishing touches. Along with creating applications, these professionals also maintain and troubleshoot programs, which can include making updates and modifications to existing programs. These professionals may also create documentation and make databases.

Work Environment

An application developer works with many other individuals (other programmers, management personnel, users) in the course of his or her day. Interaction may take the form of face-to-face or electronic meetings, phone conversations or email. Therefore, an application developer needs good interpersonal, written and verbal communication skills, along with excellent computer skills, in order to be successful in their job.


A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in a field, such as software engineering or computer science, is generally recommended. Application developers often need a computer programming background and might also need knowledge related to the industry in which they plan to work, such as banking or healthcare.

Job Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that application developer employment will increase 23% over the 2012-2022 decade, which represents faster-than-average growth. These professionals will be needed to make computer software for mobile devices, security and healthcare systems. The BLS expects that outsourcing will only have a limited effect on employment.

As of May 2013, application developers earned $96,260 on average, according to the BLS. The lowest 10% of earners made $55,770 or less annually, while the top 10% of earners made $143,540 or more.

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