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Software Development
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Eligibility and Course Duration Industry Size Industry Growth Individual Growth Best Colleges
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The phenomenal growth of computers in all fields has opened jobs at different levels, including software. Since computers need software, there is a great demand for people who can write error-free software. Indian software engineers have made a mark and it is for this reason that the software industry has been registering a growth of 40% a year. Software professionals are in great demand abroad too and many Indians are employed in the world's biggest software companies.

Software exports were valued at Rs 6375 crore in 1995-96 and with companies like Motorola, IBM, Texas Instruments, Siemens and Sun Microsystems setting up facilities in Bangalore, the demand for software professionals has increased manifold. It is estimated that 2 lakh new jobs will be created in the country in the next 5 years, while India produces about 20,000 computer science graduates every year. The high demand and limited supply has caused salaries to riseearnings increase by 20% every year in the industry. A software professional, thus, can bargain and has a high mobility.

A good person is often tracked by recruiters who persuade him to give up his job and work with someone else. Staff turnover in companies is, therefore, high. Since salaries are higher abroad, people prefer to leave the country. Others prefer to set up their own software unit after working with a company for some years.

Jobs have also multiplied by better communication systems. Satellite links enable much of the work to be done in India itself: clients in America may e-mail their requirements to Bangalore while leaving their office in the evening. As they sleep, engineers in India work on their problems and e-mail back the solutions as the offices open in America the next day. An Indian software engineer is cheaper than an American one so the country is preferred for software development jobs. Bangalore has become the centre for such operations.

 
How to get in

One needs to be a M.Tech, BE or an MCA to get into the software industry. Engineers are sought after, but if you are a science or commerce graduate, a career in software could still be pursued. There is an entrance test for MCA but it is important to do it from a good institute. Many universities have opened MCA courses without adequate facilities or trained teachersgood software professionals prefer to join the industry rather than teach. Similar is the case with private institutes which offer software courses.

One also has to be wary of the high pressure marketing gimmicks employed by private institutes. While all of them claim that wonderful jobs can be found after doing their course, the claims are often not true. It is important, therefore, to look at the kind of jobs that ex-students have got before committing oneself to an expensive course.

Software courses are offered by engineering colleges and universities. Among the private institutes that offer software courses are: NIIT, Aptech, Tata Unisys and First Computers. A host of smaller institutes have mushroomed in neighbourhoods. One indication that can be used is the accreditation of the Department of Electronics (DOE-ACC) through which 'O' and 'A' level courses can be done. The government has not publicised the scheme or its benefits very well and even courses without the accreditation also reportedly do well.

Aptitude

Before joining, it is important to assess one's aptitude. For, if the salaries are high, the industry does expect a very high quality of work. The sky is the limit for a good programmer, but an average one or someone who makes frequent mistakes will be thrown out. One must, therefore, make sure that one understands the machine and the nature of programs. A client will not pay for a program that encounters frequent glitches. In exports, the need for programs that do not create problems is all the more essential.

Usually, people get drawn in by the promise of high salaries without recognising their own limitations. The ability to think logically is absolutely essential. A quick way to assess one's aptitude is to see whether one can make flow charts and write small computer programs. Many people simply do not have this knack. For them, a career in computer software would not be a perfect choice. Software requires patience too and the ability to sit for long hours at a computer terminal. Unless it is a job of selling, a software job is not for the extrovert.

Choosing a course

If software be your calling, start thinking about it in school itself. Appear in the B.E. or B.Tech entrance exams after Class 12 and specialise in software. If you are a graduate in any stream, start preparing for the MCA entrance exam. Maths upto class 12, logical reasoning questions and a bit of English is asked in these exams. Some correspondence courses are available which will help you prepare for the entrance test.

Alternately, one can join a private institute while one is doing graduation and learn programming. Crash courses must be avoided as they merely teach basics of computers. Unfortunately, many institutes churn out semi-literates and the only jobs that can be found after such courses are those of data entry operators, which is nothing but a typist.

It is also important to do the course when you absolutely require it. This is because one becomes outdated and out of touch in no time at all, since technology is changing so fast. Many students take courses as a time-pass or as something to be done in summer holidays, which is an utter waste. It is, therefore, important to have one's career objectives clear before joining a course and the course should also be chosen with care.

Finally, it may be said that software has grown tremendously and is poised to grow still further. The quality of Indian software engineers is being recognised the world over. With multinational companies showing an interest in India, the field is growing as never before. Shortage of personnel is also likely to exist for some years to come. Software is, thus, a viable career option for those who have the talent and the aptitude.

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