Systems developer: job description

Last updated: 21 Jun 2023, 15:39

Systems developers build the behind-the-scenes software for a wide range of business and organisational functions.


What does a systems developer do? Salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Skills

Systems developers (also known as backend developers) develop and implement applications and programs for parts of IT systems that are hidden from users but that keep organisations running smoothly.

Typical duties include:

  • discussing clients’ and colleagues’ requirements
  • proposing solutions, often in collaboration with colleagues
  • designing and building web applications using a range of frameworks and scripting languages
  • testing projects and responding to any problems or bugs revealed
  • managing projects through their lifecycle
  • developing documentation and training to support new applications
  • reporting on functionality of web applications and devising plans for improvements.

Working hours are likely to be standard office hours (nine-to-five), although you may not need to be based in an office all the time. You’re likely to have work longer hours when deadline are due.

Graduate salaries

According to technojobs, starting salaries for systems developers typically range between £21,000 and £28,000 depending on location. Earnings will increase as you gain experience, particularly if you specialise in particular languages or sectors – experienced software developers can earn around £64,000.

Typical employers of systems developers

  • Specialist software development companies.
  • Financial services firms.
  • Banks.
  • Technology consultancies.
  • Telecommunications companies.
  • Utility providers.
  • Public sector organisations.
  • Law firms.
  • Professional services firms.
  • Educational institutions.
  • Health organisations.
  • Large charities.

View our graduate IT and technology vacancies.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this career for graduates and school leavers.

Graduates tend to need a degree related to computer science or software development. However, some employers now take on graduates from different subject backgrounds if they show the right aptitude for coding.

This is a competitive field, so work experience will help your job applications stand out. If your degree doesn’t include a placement year, look for internships and holiday placements in software development and similar roles.

Apprenticeships in software development (which could open the door to a systems developer career once you have gained experience) are on the increase. To find out more about getting into IT and technology via a school leaver route, see targetapprenticeships.

Key skills for systems developers

  • Mathematical aptitude and strong problem-solving skills.
  • Programming languages such as C# and HTML.
  • Excellent organisational and time management skills.
  • Accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Teamwork skills, because most projects require input from individuals in different roles.
  • Self-development skills to keep up to date with fast-changing trends.

Make sure to sign up to targetjobs to get all the benefits of our graduate job-hunting platform including tailored advice and job opportunities.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

Related careers advice

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.