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What is a C++ Developer Doing?

A C++ developer uses C++ to create computer systems or applications. As a C++ developer, you may work in embedded systems, financial systems, or even gaming. There are a variety of roles beyond programmer that you can move into; these include lead developer or architect. Developers in lead positions do far more than code. They may determine requirements, write algorithms, and oversee deployment. They often work as part of large teams.

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As a C++ developer, you are first and foremost a software engineer – you may utilize a number of languages over the course of your career. The software engineering role comes with some expectation of financial advantages and job security. It also comes with the expectation that you’ll continue to learn and develop new technological skills across a lifetime. Although software development is not a physically demanding job, some industries, like gaming, are known for long hours.

So how in-demand are C++ skills? TIOBE Community Index is one indicator of how hot a language is -- and how current a developer's skills are. As of October 2012, C++ is at position 12. (It was in position 3 in October of 2011 but has been passed by Objective-C.) A 2012 Mashable article puts C++ as one of the top languages for research and academic projects where there will be heavy processing demands.

Job growth for C++ developers ranges from 28%-32%, depending on the area of development, over the next decade. ~ BLS


The typical entry point for a computer developer is a bachelor's degree in a technical field like computer science, software engineering or computer engineering. Most programs can be written in multiple languages. Writing code is not the main focus of education at the bachelor's level; a developer should already have some background in coding.

Your ideal training has less to do with what computer language you'll be using than what industry you plan on working in and what your desired role is. If you are interested in embedded systems, you'll likely want some type of engineering degree (software engineering or computer and electrical engineering). Otherwise, computer science may suffice.

Your program can give you industry-specific training and experience. Some programs place you in teams for a senior design project. You may be matched with a corporation or nonprofit in your own community.

You should be prepared to answer a lot of technical questions at a job interview. You may be explaining declarations, identifying errors in code, or writing code from scratch. You may also be asked when you would choose C++ and when you would choose a different language. You can find sample interview questions on multiple sites. Tech Interviews has a set of questions geared specifically toward the C++ game developer. DevBistro has three short sets: one set of code examples, one set of questions for object oriented programming, and one for game development.

A C++ developer should have some familiarity with languages that may be used in concert with C++; this would include database languages like SQL. Some positions favor those with experience in a particular sector – for example, finance.

While there is no industry standard certification, some developers pursue Brainbench certifications. A developer may also want to pursue certifications related to job role. (Learn more about C++ programming)

Job Outlook and Salary

A C++ developer may be either a software systems engineer or a software application engineer. Systems engineering would include embedded systems. Salaries in this occupation group average a little higher. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported $100,420 as the mean annual wage for software systems engineers in 2011. Jobs are expected to grow 32% between 2010 and 2020.

The average salary for applications engineers was $92,080 during the same time period. Jobs for applications engineers have been projected to grow 28% in the 2010 to 2020 decade.

$100,420 is reported as the mean annual wage for software systems engineers and a $92,080 average salary for applications engineers. ~ BLS

Again it's not the language that determines salary so much as it is the industry and the job role. For computer systems engineers, the accounting, payroll, and tax preparation industry is one of the highest paying.

Some tech organizations and magazines collect industry-specific salary information. Gamasutra and Game Developer release an annual salary report for game developers. According to the 2012 report, entry level programmers (those with less than three years' experience) earn an average $65,441 while those with more than six years’ experience earn $103,746. Lead developers with over six years' experience average $110,187.

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