Successful software developers have a wide variety of skills and technical abilities. From knowing how to operate different tools to mastering various programming languages, software developers are no strangers to multitasking. In fact, companies expect engineers to handle multiple tasks. That’s why the best developers have many different skills. However, with so many things they could learn, how to decide which are the ones they need to focus on? That’s what I’ll try to elucidate in this article. So, if you have decided to become a software developer, keep reading.
What are software developer skills?
Before diving into the list of the five must-have practical skills to become a software developer, decision-makers must understand what software developer skills are and what they’re used for.
Software developer skills are technical abilities that allow professionals to create and develop all sorts of programs and applications from scratch. There are many different skills to learn, depending on the type of work a software developer wants to pursue or technologies they would like to specialize in.
However, a few of these skills are necessary regardless of the field since they work as a foundation for all software development work.
Being a software developer also requires mathematical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking. Along with the technical expertise and additional knowledge, they must also have the soft skills required to work within an internal development team and teams across their company.
The 5 must-have skills to become a software developer
The five must-have practical skills to become a software developer include programming languages, database and operating systems, testing, text editing, and encryption/ cryptography.
There are several other skills that beginner software developers could and probably should learn. However, these five provide a good foundation for all development work and prove beneficial regardless of the industry and field of interest.
1. Knowledge of programming languages
To become a software developer, it’s important to be comfortable with at least one programming language. Knowing how to code is the core foundation of this profession. Programming languages are the source code behind every feature of a software program. They determine everything from how a program looks to how it runs.
There are several programming languages to choose from. Some of the most popular ones include:
Choosing the right programming language to start with ultimately depends on the individual’s preferences and areas of interest. Knowing the type of projects or the industry you’d want to work in is key in determining which languages to learn.
Maybe it would be best to begin with Python. It is, after all, one of the easiest languages to learn. It’s extremely user-friendly, and its code is close to regular English, so beginners don’t have to worry about learning many different symbols or expressions. What’s more, you can use it to build multiple solutions, from web platforms to AI algorithms.
But that’s just a suggestion. The more coding languages a software developer knows, the more sought-after they typically are on the job market, so it’s always a good idea to invest in learning a couple from the beginning.
2. Understanding database and operating systems
Database knowledge is essential for software developers. These systems allow devs to save, insert, update and delete data, which is necessary for creating any programs or applications.
Some of the most popular database software include MySQL, MariaDB, and MongoDB. It’s also necessary for developers to know how to secure databases, especially when working on more significant, critical projects.
Aside from that, developers need to know operating systems inside out. Since different companies might work with different operating systems, it might be a good idea to learn a bit about each. The main ones include Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux. Software developers who prefer developing programs, applications, and video games for mobile devices should also learn how to operate within Android and iOS.
3. Testing know-how
Testing software is one of the most integral parts of being a developer. Before releasing a program to consumers, software developers must test it thoroughly. By doing that, developers look for any issue that might surface and test their product across all kinds of available devices and operating systems.
Testing procedures are divided into three categories. Unit testing involves analyzing separate code areas and inspecting each class and module. Integration testing determines whether it’s possible to merge different areas of the program’s code without errors.
Finally, software developers move on to software testing. After integration testing, developers test the program to see if it meets user expectations. This type of testing doesn’t involve any coding knowledge, but it’s still a very important step that determines whether the program needs any final changes.
4. Text editing
Text editing skills are necessary for every software developer, from beginners to experts. Naturally, I’m not talking about using Google Docs here but rather text editing software, which allows developers to become more familiar with their code.
With it, developers can write down specific text and symbols they might require, making it easier to copy and paste whenever needed. Some common text editing software examples include Atom, TextMate, Notepad++, Brackets, Visual Code, and Sublime Text.
5. Encryption and cryptography
Encryption and cryptography involve finding ways to obscure confidential data through code or keys. Software developers use these techniques to prevent external individuals from laying their hands on any information about the program they’re developing and the data that software uses.
This skill is particularly useful when a software developer creates an application that holds the user’s sensitive information. Through encryption and cryptography, they can create secure systems and databases that transmit secure output through different networks.
Become a software developer: more skills, more opportunities
Software developers must have various technical skills to succeed and increase their chances of getting better opportunities. However, beginners only need to focus on acquiring five must-have practical skills to become software developers.
Gathering enough knowledge and expertise in programming languages, databases, and operating systems, testing, text editing, and encryption/cryptography will put any beginner on their way to becoming an expert software developer. When devs combine their technical and soft office skills, they become invaluable team members.
As technology continues to evolve, software developers, too, need to work on updating their knowledge. Luckily, these basic skills are essential to any developer, regardless of their fields of interest, and they will help them quickly reach their goals.