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Report Developer Career Guide

What is a report developer?

A report developer designs, creates, and maintains company reports. They transform raw data into compelling visual narratives that enable organizations to gain insights, identify trends, and make informed decisions. In an era where data drives strategy, the expertise of a report developer becomes paramount. Their work transcends mere numbers, crafting stories that influence business trajectories.

While data is abundant, understanding it is a challenge. The developer’s ability to distill complex data into simple yet accessible and actionable content provides great business value. They support decision-makers in planning, evaluating operational efficiency, assessing performance, and identifying strategic opportunities.

Duties and responsibilities

A report developer is responsible for understanding business needs and translating them into comprehensive reports. These reports are often tailored to specific departments or operational areas. The developer interacts with data analysts and other database team members to gather requirements, identify relevant data sources, and devise the best approach to presenting the information.

They also control the full development cycle of a report, from data extraction and transformation (ETL processes) to the design and deployment of report dashboards. A big part of their role involves ensuring accuracy and reliability in the data presented. Beyond creating the reports, they also maintain and update existing reports to accommodate evolving business needs.

Work environment

Primarily operating within the digital realms of an organization’s IT department, report developers immerse themselves in software platforms and databases. Their workspace is typically an office setting, characterized by software-driven tasks. While much of their role is autonomous, collaboration with other teams or departments is essential for gathering requirements and feedback.

Typical work hours

Generally, report developers adhere to the standard business hours of the organization they work for. However, tight deadlines or critical report generation can sometimes necessitate extended hours. Periodic maintenance or system upgrades might also require them to work during off-peak hours when system usage is minimal.

How to become a report developer

This career guide section outlines how to become a report developer. Qualificants include a series of educational, experiential, and certification steps.

Step 1: Obtain high school diploma

It all begins with graduating high school or acquiring a GED. During these years, focusing on courses such as mathematics and computer science can establish a good foundation.

Step 2: Pursue a bachelor’s degree

Next, enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in a field such as computer science, information systems, or a related discipline. During this time, gain a solid foundation in programming, databases, and systems analysis.

Step 3: Gain practical experience

Secure an internship or part-time job in a tech or data-focused role to begin building your practical skills. Real-world exposure to programming, data analytics, and report-generation tools will be essential to your career.

Step 4: Learn popular report development tools

Build expertise in SQL, Crystal Reports, and Excel tools. Proficiency in these will be expected in any report developer position.

Step 5: Seek a relevant entry-level job

After graduation, apply for entry-level jobs in data analysis, database management, or software development. These jobs will allow you to gain experience manipulating and reporting data.

Step 6: Obtain certifications

Certification can help to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers. Consider certifications like Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate or Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate. These are not mandatory but can help boost your resume.

Step 7: Apply for jobs

Once you have industry experience and certifications, start applying for report developer positions. Document any projects you’ve worked on and tools you’ve used to showcase your expertise.

How much do report developers make?

Report developer salaries will vary by experience, industry, education, location, and organization size. The complexity of the reports developed, the tools and technologies used, and the developer’s proficiency in data analysis and interpretation can significantly impact earning potential.

Highest paying industries

  • Finance and Insurance – $101,245
  • Information Services – $98,670
  • Manufacturing – $96,430
  • Educational Services – $94,833
  • Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services – $92,880

Highest paying states

  • California – $108,375
  • Washington – $106,950
  • New York – $104,530
  • New Jersey – $103,144
  • Massachusetts – $99,745

Browse report developer salary data by market

Types of report developers

This career guide section highlights the various career types and areas of specialization for report developers. Below, we highlight the unique attributes and responsibilities of each job title.

Database report developer

Database report developers are typically skilled in SQL and are responsible for creating, testing, and maintaining complex data reports from a database. They typically work closely with database administrators and data scientists to ensure accurate data representation and to meet business requirements.

BI report developer

The BI report developer role primarily centers around developing and executing procedures to extract, transform, and load data to generate business intelligence reports. They use diverse tools like Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, or QlikView, focusing on designing solutions to facilitate decision-making for business executives.

Crystal report developer

Crystal report developers specialize in Crystal Reports, a business intelligence application. They work to create legible, dynamic, and detailed reports from multiple data sources. It’s a role that requires a strong understanding of report editing and database management.

SSRS report developer

SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) report developers are proficient in Microsoft’s reporting platform. Their work includes developing, testing, and deploying reports using tools within the SQL server. They effectively cater to business reporting needs with interactive, tabular, graphical, or free-form reports from relational, multidimensional, or XML-based data sources.

Top skills for report developers

This section outlines the primary skills and traits needed for career success as a report developer. The role includes a blend of technical abilities with business knowledge in a uniquely balanced skill set, and mastery in these areas offers opportunities for growth and professional advancement.

Technical competence

Command over various reporting tools and programming languages is integral. Proficiency in SQL or other database query languages, familiarity with data visualization tools, knowledge of report writing software, web development skills, and the ability to manipulate and manage large data sets typically forms the backbone of a report developer’s technical landscape.

Analytical skills

The ability to scrutinize complex databases and deduce meaningful insights is highly valued in this profession. Analyzing disparate data, creating forecasts and projections, and spotting trends or patterns require strong analytical skills.

Data interpretation

Besides collecting and organizing data, a report developer should have an aptitude for interpreting and presenting the information in an understandable format to the target audience. They must contextualize the data, derive the right insights, and create engaging, easy-to-understand visualizations and reports.

Communication skills

Effectively communicating with team members, management, and clients is critical for a report developer. This role often requires explaining complex information to non-technical colleagues or stakeholders, so being able to do so clearly and concisely is essential.

Business understanding

Understanding the business’s needs, objectives, and operations is imperative. With a firm grasp of the business environment, a report developer can create relevant, actionable, and valuable reports to decision-makers within the organization.

Report developer career path

Numerous options are available for those with experience and demonstrated success. While it may seem that they have already reached a specialized area, gaining hands-on expertise in report development paves the way for career advancement and transition.

One common progression is to a senior report developer, overseeing larger and more complex projects and contributing to decisions about reporting strategies and methodologies. Gaining experience in a senior role typically leads to lead developer positions, where responsibilities might extend to supervising a team of junior and senior developers alike.

Another viable career option lies in transitioning toward business intelligence (BI) roles. These encompass BI developer, BI analyst, or even BI architect, all of which value the data management and manipulation skills inherent in the specialist work performed by report developers. Equipped with the ability to understand data from a business perspective, report developers often make this leap to expand and apply their already well-honed data skills differently.

A more leadership-focused path may lead to IT project manager or IT manager positions. These roles rely heavily on the technical acumen of a report developer but marry it with requirements for leadership and management skills. In larger organizations, a move into roles like director or vice president of IT could become feasible due to the strategic decision-making capabilities provided by their report developer background.

Finally, some report developers follow a more entrepreneurial path and leverage their skills to start their own consulting firm, providing services like ad-hoc report development, BI implementation support, or teaching others how to maximize their data usage. Each of these paths is feasible due to the specialized skill set and unique perspective on data a report developer possesses.

There’s increasing demand for advanced reporting tools that provide robust, easily understandable data for enhanced business decision-making. The rise of big data analytics, digital transformation, and collaborative BI tools has largely influenced the direction of this profession. This revolution digitizes reports, creating interactive dashboards that allow end-users to analyze and visualize complex data efficiently. Adopting these dynamic reporting tools replaces traditional static reports, emphasizing customization and real-time data adjustment capabilities.

There’s also a significant shift toward multidisciplinary expertise. Beyond technical programming and database management skills, there is a growing requirement for business intelligence, statistical analysis, machine learning capabilities, and familiarization with a wider range of reporting tools to empower intuitive, user-friendly dashboard development. Soft skills like communication and problem-solving abilities are increasingly important, enabling the translation of complex data into comprehensible business insights.

Employment projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes report developers under the broader category of “Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers.” According to the BLS, employment in this field is projected to grow 25 percent through 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by businesses needs to stay competitive in a data driven environment.

Report developer career tips

Master the tools of the trade

To excel as a report developer, it is important to be proficient in the tools commonly used in this field – primarily SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Crystal Reports, or Business Objects. Familiarity with development languages like SQL and knowledge about database structures are also essential. Stay current with the latest versions of these tools and adjust your knowledge and skills as needed.

Understand the business

Report developers need to produce meaningful and valuable reports, and understanding the business or industry plays a big part. Knowledge about business functions, products, services, and customers will deeply influence how you organize, present, and analyze data. Staying informed about industry trends will also keep your reports relevant and useful.

Practice clear communication

Clarifying requirements, expediently resolving issues, and presenting complex data in a digestible way often require precise communication. Communication skills are essential in gathering and confirming report requirements, explaining the data narrative, and working effectively with team members or stakeholders. Practice presenting data findings to different audiences to improve this skill over time.

Build a professional network

Networking is pivotal for your progression as a report developer. It provides opportunities for learning, mentorship, and finding future career opportunities. Here are some relevant professional associations and networks:

  • Association for Information Systems (AIS)
  • Data Management Association International (DAMA)
  • The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS)
  • International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA)

Recommend continuous learning

The field of report development is constantly changing and evolving, so ongoing learning can help you stay ahead and keep your skillset relevant. Some suggestions for continuous learning might include:

  • Courses or workshops on new tools or software
  • Webinars or online talks about the latest data analysis or visualization trends
  • Industry publications about data management
  • Certifications like Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate, SAS Certified Data Scientist, or Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite 11g Certified Implementation Specialist

Where the report developer jobs are

Top employers

  • IBM
  • Oracle
  • SAS Institute Inc
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • SAP America, Inc.

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Illinois
  • Florida

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster
  • SimplyHired


What kind of skills does a report developer need?

A report developer requires a solid understanding of databases and scripting languages. They need to be proficient in SQL, along with applicable report-writing tools like Crystal Reports or SSRS. An understanding of business intelligence principles is a plus in this profession. They also need good analytical skills to turn raw data into informative reports.

Is programming required for a report developer?

Yes, programming forms a key part of a report developer’s responsibilities. They usually work with programming languages specific to databases, such as SQL. Additionally, familiarity with Python, JavaScript, and R can be beneficial, along with knowing how to use reporting tools that often have their own scripting languages.

What does a typical workday for a report developer look like?

A typical day for a report developer usually starts by checking for any system reports that failed or encountered issues overnight. They then work to debug and resolve these errors. A large part of their day is spent writing new report scripts or modifying existing ones to suit varying business needs. They also interact with other departments to understand their reporting needs, testing reports for accuracy before deployment.

What are the main responsibilities of a report developer?

Primary responsibilities of a report developer include designing and creating reports, ensuring data accuracy, debugging and fixing report errors, collaborating with different departments to assess their needs, managing multiple reports, optimizing the performance of reports, ensuring data security, and maintaining documentation for future reference.

What is the difference between a data analyst and a report developer?

Both these roles work with data but have different responsibilities. Report developers focus on designing and scripting the data retrieval and presentation methods. They create template reports that allow non-technical users to generate custom reports. Data analysts, on the other hand, primarily interpret data to help the business make informed decisions. They use the reports generated by report developers to conduct their analyses.

How much interaction does a report developer have with other departments?

Report developers often interact substantially with other teams and departments. Regular communication with team leaders or department heads is necessary to understand their reporting needs. Report developers may also work closely with Data Analysts, Business Intelligence Analysts, and database administrators to create accurate, insightful reports.

How important are communication skills for a report developer?

Good communication skills are vital for report developers. They must effectively communicate technical information to non-technical team members and often collaborate with various stakeholders to understand their reporting needs and receive feedback.

How does a report developer ensure the accuracy of their reports?

A report developer ensures accuracy by carefully writing their scripts and rigorously testing their reports. They check their reports against the raw data to confirm accuracy. Maintaining a good understanding of the company’s data structure and how the data is entered helps them to catch any inconsistencies or errors in the reports. They can also employ checksum techniques to verify the integrity of the data.