Systems Software Developer

Average Salary (US)


Projected 5-Year Job Growth


Source: JobsEQ®, a labor market data provider developed by economists and data scientists. Data as of 2020Q1 except wages which are as of 2019

Table of Contents

What do Systems Software Developers do?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), the U.S. Department of Labor’s principal fact- finding agency for the federal government in the field of labor, economics, and statistics that provides data on employment and wages, Systems Software Developers create the systems that keep computers functioning properly. These could be operating systems for computers that the general public buys or systems built specifically for an organization. Often, Systems Software Developers also build the system’s interface, which is what allows users to interact with the computer. Systems Software Developers create the operating systems that control most of the consumer electronics in use today, including those used by cell phones and cars.


Systems Software Developers typically do the following:

• Analyze users’ needs and then design, test, and develop software to meet those needs
• Recommend software upgrades for customers’ existing programs and systems
• Design each piece of an application or system and plan how the pieces will work together
• Create a variety of models and diagrams (such as flowcharts) that show programmers the software code needed for an application
• Ensure that a program continues to function normally through software maintenance and testing
• Document every aspect of an application or system as a reference for future maintenance and upgrades
• Collaborate with other computer specialists to create optimum software

Systems Software Developers are in charge of the entire development process for a software program. They may begin by asking how the customer plans to use the software. They must identify the core functionality that users need from software programs. Systems Software Developers must also determine user requirements that are unrelated to the functions of the software, such as the level of security and performance needs. They design the program and then give instructions to programmers, who write computer code and test it.

If the program does not work as expected or if testers find it too difficult to use, Systems Software Developers go back to the design process to fix the problems or improve the program. After the program is released to the customer, a developer may perform upgrades and maintenance.

Developers usually work closely with computer programmers. However, in some companies, developers write code themselves instead of giving instructions to programmers.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Software Developers,

How much does a Systems Software Developer get paid?*

According to JobsEQ, a labor market data provider developed by economists and data scientists, Systems Software Developers made an annual average salary of $111,600 in 2019.

The top 25% of earners made an annual average salary of $136,300 while the bottom 25% of Systems Software Developers earned an annual average salary of $82,400 in 2019. Individuals who started out as an entry-level Systems Software Developer in 2019 made an annual average salary of $69,700.

These numbers may vary based on geography and labor market.

Entry Level Mean Bottom 25% Top 25%

*Source: JobsEQ®. Wage data are as of 2019 and represent the average for all Covered Employment

Best-paying states for Systems Software Developers**

According to BLS, the states and districts that pay Applications Software Developers the highest annual average salary are Washington ($135,470), California ($130,440), the District of Columbia ($117,130), New York ($115,010) and Massachusetts ($112,720).

**Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”). Data as of May 2019

Interested in becoming an Systems Software Developer?

Visit Meritize Connect to Find Training Programs in Your Area

Systems Software Developer Job Outlook***

The need for new System Software Developers is constantly growing. Many people in this industry work for computer systems design firms, but some may also work in industries as diverse as healthcare, banking, and finance. There is a need for professionals with a skill set in systems analysis and development .

The job market in this field is projected to grow 7.6 percent over the next five years, according to JobsEQ. This means an increase of 92,102 jobs in the U.S. by 2025.

***Source: JobsEQ, Data as of 2020Q1, The shaded areas of the graph represent national recessions.

Applications Software Developer Job Skills and Knowledge

According to O*NET Resource Center, people in this career often have these skills:

• Data base management system software — Apache Hadoop ; Distributed database management software; Microsoft transact-structural query language T-SQL; Teradata Database
• Development environment software — Advanced business application programming ABAP ; C; Microsoft Visual Basic ; XML Path Language XPATH
• Object or component oriented development software — C++ ; Document Object Model DOM Scripting; Python ; Simple API for XML SAX
• Program testing software — Fault testing software; Hewlett Packard LoadRunner; JUnit; Usability testing software
• Web platform development software — Allaire ColdFusion; Extensible stylesheet language transformations XSLT; Hypertext markup language HTML ; JavaScript

People in this career often know a lot about:

• Computers and Electronics – Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
• Engineering and Technology – Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
• Mathematics – Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
• Telecommunications – Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
• Design – Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principals involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

Source: O*NET Resource Center

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