Top Skills for a Lead Applications Developer

Man holding a mobile device with a laptop computer in the background.

The desire for top-notch developer talent isn’t slowing, so it’s no surprise that lead applications developers are in demand.

“Business needs have caused many organizations to increase their internal development staff, and this, in turn, is leading to more hiring and the promotion of senior developers to lead applications developer positions,” says Nick Chlam, recruiting manager for Permanent Placement Services at Robert Half Technology in Cincinnati. “The bottom line is that these organizations need strong leadership for their growing development teams.”

Lead applications developer salary on the rise

Robert Half Technology’s Salary Guide reports that the average starting salary for a lead applications developer in the United States is expected to increase 6.7 percent this year — ranging from $110,750 to $160,750.

Use the Robert Half Technology Salary Calculator to find specific salary information for your city.

What it takes to be a lead applications developer

Here are a few qualifications for a lead applications developer:

  • At least three years of experience in technologies such as Visual Basic .NET, PHP, C#/C++ and Microsoft .NET framework development
  • A solid background in applications programming
  • A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field
  • Several years of proven success as a technical team leader

As a lead applications developer, you would be responsible for directing the development team in the design, development, coding, testing and debugging of applications. You would also coordinate the development staff’s schedule and ensure effective communication between team members and other IT functional areas. Additionally, you will be expected to provide feedback and suggestions for process and product improvement and act as a technical mentor and adviser.

Is a college degree necessary for an IT career? Find out.

Aspiring lead applications developer: prove you’re more than a team player

A lead applications developer doesn’t just excel at creating, testing and programming applications software for computers and handheld devices. Technology professionals in this role also work closely with other managers and prioritize resource needs while simultaneously directing and motivating staff. “You do not become a lead applications developer overnight,” Chlam says. “It requires proven talent and experience and the ability to teach, motivate and mentor others.”

These qualities are a direct result of strong communication skills that help the lead application developer translate the ideas of business leaders and end users into technical requirements that the development team understands and implements.

The best lead applications developers even go a step further with their nontechnical skills, using good communication and other leadership qualities to help boost team morale. In all, being a lead applications developer is about more than showing off your creative expertise when it comes to developing applications. It’s about acting as an example for the other developers to follow. This role is creator, leader and mentor rolled into one. It’s obvious why the position is in such high demand. Who wouldn’t want that kind of expert leadership on board?

Look to Robert Half Technology's latest Salary Guide for job descriptions and starting salaries for a wide range of IT jobs — including lead applications developer:

Get the Salary Guide



More Resources:

Note: This post has been updated. It originally appeared on 5/19/14.