Essential Skills for Developers
Updated 26 February 2021
A software developer is tasked with crafting various types of tools or software programs.
They are responsible for mastering operating systems, network control and a wide range of applications.
As a software developer, you might even be hired to build business apps, so an analytical mind and technical knowledge are important.
However, there is a lot more to software engineering, or developing, than meets the eye.
Within this article, we will discuss essential skills for software developers and engineers.
Why Are Soft Skills Necessary for Software Engineers?
If you have majored in computer science in college or want to explore software courses, then there are various personal attributes you will need to pursue this career, but why are such skills necessary in an area that is so technical?
Here is why:
Software engineers must navigate several modern technologies and usually work in a team of other developers/engineers, so they must have interpersonal abilities to collaborate with others.
You might also need to translate technical jargon to associates who are not as technically savvy as you are, so not only will you need to ensure you have a good amount of patience you will need to have the ability to connect and engage.
Here are the soft skills you need to become a software engineer:
A software developer needs to juggle a vast number of different projects at once. You will also have various tools, languages and platforms you will need to work with daily, so a good ability to multitask is imperative.
Your multitasking abilities will increase with time, try to accept your limits, and prioritize.
As mentioned above, software developers need to be able to work individually and as part of a wider team.
If you are used to working on projects solely, then you will need to brush up on your teamwork skills – as the saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one'.
Many software developers work within a team from the start of their career so might be used to teamwork; however, if you have always worked alone, this can take some getting used to.
Previously in this article, we discussed how you will need to have good communication skills to be a successful developer.
This is because not only might you have to work in a team, but you will also need to communicate and engage with clients and other colleagues from around the business.
You must know how to communicate concisely, so you are understood.
Communication is not just verbal, you must have good written communication skills, especially if you are producing model documents and processes for junior developers.
Whether you studied computer science or majored in math, you will know a thing or two about problem solving.
This could be in an analytical sense or an everyday sense.
For instance, you might know how to problem-solve everyday technical problems, but problem solving is a soft skill too in the personal sense.
You will need to stay calm and collected when working out any issues. You will also need to seek assistance from colleagues if/when it is needed.
If you are naturally inquisitive and enjoy investigative tasks, then a career in software might be for you.
A software engineer might need to combine both creativity and critical thinking when having to solve a problem. You will need to analyze data, isolate software models and explore any invalidities that may arise in programs to understand an underlying issue.
Therefore problem solving is one of the most essential skills needed to become a successful software developer.
Attention to Detail
This should go without saying for any job. However, if you are a software engineer, your attention to detail needs to be top-notch.
Not only are you working with in-depth codes, technical programs and various models daily, but you might also have to solve tricky problems too, which will no doubt need all your focus.
Later in your developer career, you might wish to progress to a more senior level and manage a whole team of engineers. Homing in on your leadership skills is a good idea.
If you are new to leadership, then it might be worth pursuing a leadership course.
What Technical Skills Do You Need to Become a Software Developer?
We have discovered a few of the key soft skills you will need to be a software developer, but what about the technical side of the industry?
What knowledge do you need to have and what skills must you learn to thrive within this exciting industry?
There is a huge amount of technical experience required to carry out your day-to-day tasks as a software developer, whether it be excelling at algorithms and data structures, or learning program languages and text editors, the list below will show you the main technical skills you need to become a developer.
This is by no means the complete list; as the engineering world grows, so do the skills you need to know, there are always new programs and models being developed which you will need to learn.
Programming and Coding
As a developer or engineer, most of your days will be filled with creating new programs and writing code, amongst other things, so you must skill up within these areas.
So, if you can excel in a programming language, then you are already one step ahead.
These are some of the most popular languages you will come across.
Which language you learn will depend on the area of software that interests you the most; for example, you might prefer solving problems using Java than any other language – this can be your specialty.
However, it is good to be confident using most programs if you can.
Cloud computing is a must-know in 2021 and you will find a lot of companies have, or are currently, moving their domains to Cloud.
But what does it entail?
Cloud computing provides more computing power than other platforms, which is helpful in areas such as AI and data science.
If you want to get one step ahead of the game when it comes to learning, we recommend using tools such as Google Cloud Platform, Azure (Microsoft) and AWS (Amazon Web Service).
Even if you learn from just one of these platforms, you should acquire a sufficient amount of knowledge and understanding about others.
Find out if your current employer will enroll you in a course to better your software development whilst in your role. This will help you grow within the company and for future endeavors; if not, these platforms are very explanative if you want to self-teach.
Data Structure and Algorithms
For any programmer starting their software journey, analyzing data structure and navigating algorithms will play a prominent part in their day-to-day tasks.
Knowing your stuff when it comes to these two is one of the most important things you can demonstrate during the interview process.
You will not be able to build an application without knowledge of simple data structures like linked list, array, set and map.
You must put a lot of effort into acquiring all the skills you need regarding data structure and algorithms during college or any computer science course.
If you want to gain further insight, there are many programming courses, boot camps and deep dives you can delve into.
In a nutshell, source control enables software developers to store code.
You will need to be proficient in source control so you can work with other developers and collaborate on various projects – this is also a key skill employers like to see.
Different versions of source control include Git and GitHub – which are quite popular versions – SVN and Mercurial.
Software developers use various containers to contain the contents of an app – think all the code, libraries and other important data.
They can then use the app in one installation as all the data you need for the application is already in one package.
One of the most popular containers developers use is Docker.
Docker can help developers test their apps in one fell swoop – it is a simple process that you can use to ship all your dependencies in one package.
This is going to be an important skill for the future, so learning all about containers can help you within the employment process – it is an impressive skill that every developer will need to learn at some point.
There are several courses you can undertake to learn all about Docker and other containers you might be interested in learning about.
Understanding databases is what we would call a key skill for software developers. You will be working with databases on a day-to-day basis, so ensuring your proficiency right at the start of your career is a must.
A database is used to update, create and store records – you can also use it if you need to remove any records.
To summarize, you cannot create an application without a database.
Databases also help keep files secure, so if you are working on serious accounts within an organization, you need to ensure all information is backed-up securely on a database.
Some of the most popular databases you can use are Redis, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Oracle – to name but a few. Again, there are various courses you can use to brush up on skills or explore new databases.
As with databases, you will need to use operating systems daily as a software developer.
One of the main projects a developer works on is problems and issues relating to an operating system – this could be down to blocks, broken tools, slow programs, memory and more.
A programmer might write the incorrect code on a conflicting operating system. This could take time and a lot of effort to fix so it is easier for all developers to know the fundamentals of each operating system they are working with.
The most popular operating systems developers like to work with range from Windows, Mac and Linux – and operating systems such as Android for tablet and cell devices, if working on applications.
The list of skills you need to become a software developer is endless, and there are a few technical accolades not listed above that are good to know, object orientated design and more in-depth knowledge of version control tools are good examples.
All of the above can be obtained over time, during college or with interactive courses that you can take before employment, or if you want to brush up on your skills later on.
There are many resources out there to help you on your journey, make the most of them.