GUEST BLOG: Software lifecycle career options

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by: Jeff Cunliffe, Director, Automation Consultants

Career opportunities in computer science are good. The economic recovery is boosting job prospects, and coupled with the nationwide skills shortage in STEM subjects, there’s now plenty of demand for high-quality graduates.

It’s wise to get an idea of the roles available and what each one demands. This will help you target both ideal internship opportunities, and ideal roles once you’ve got some relevant experience on your CV. Here’s an introduction to a few of the key entry-level positions in the software lifecycle (in logical lifecycle order), and what you’ll need to get your foot in the door. 

Junior business analyst 

Junior business analysts form part of the requirements team, which outlines the demands and expectations of senior stakeholders and attempts to establish the features a system will need to meet them. Graduates need a high 2.1 in a relevant field and can expect to earn a £20k salary – rising to £30-40k with experience.

As an interdepartmental role that requires liaising with several different teams, it’s necessary to have excellent written and verbal skills: individuals in different departments throughout a business won’t necessarily be able to articulate their specific IT needs, so being able to communicate specialist information in layman’s terms – and understand what different stakeholders are after – is a vital part of the role.

Junior architect 

A junior architect is part of the design team, which devises technical solutions to achieve an organisation’s IT and business objectives. It collaborates with the requirements team to determine the kind of system that needs to be developed – and work out the necessary network architecture.

Because the position involves juggling the demands of various stakeholders with the realities of design, a junior architect has to have excellent communicative abilities alongside software development know-how. And because these demands are sometimes complex and unintuitive, a level of creativity is an absolute must.

The formal requirement is usually a high 2.1 in computer science or a related field. With a £25,000 annual salary, it is at the upper end of the graduate pay scale.

Junior developer 

Implementation consults with design to put its plan into action. Using these blueprints, it will attempt to create a system that meets the criteria outlined by requirements. A standard entry point for graduates is a junior developer role, which comes with a £22-25k salary.

Succeeding in this position requires a mixture of technical ability and ‘soft’ skills, as well as a high 2.1 degree. You need to understand programming languages such as Java and C#, and being able to effectively collaborate with colleagues in other teams is a prerequisite.  

Junior tester 

An essential element of the verification team, junior testers ensure that systems are functioning as intended and meet the organisation’s requirements. It usually pays between £18-20k per year.

While many elements of the verification process are becoming automated, human testers are still a necessary part of development: even the most sophisticated program will miss some flaws and anyone who can identify these is invaluable.

While a 2.1 degree classification is the standard barrier to entry, the role requires a versatile skillset. Again, communication skills are essential; the ability to write with clarity and attention to detail is necessary for good reporting. It’s also much harder to recognise asymmetries if you don’t understand the needs of requirements and design, so being able to work well with these teams is fundamental to the role.

Junior operations engineer 

Implementation will do what it can to minimise any bugs, and verification will do what it can to identify any that slip through the net. But problems still arise post-delivery, and that’s where operations engineers come in. Not only do they guarantee the software’s continuing health, they look for opportunities to improve functionality and performance wherever possible.

To become a junior operations engineer, you’ll need a 2.1 in a relevant degree. To do the job well, you’ll need an awareness of how to monitor software infrastructure and its various constituent parts in order to give your systems the appropriate care. The role usually commands a salary of around £20k.

Automation Consultants is an application lifecycle integrator.

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