Learn more about the essential software engineering skills– OOPS, Data Structures and Algorithms, SDLC, Database technologies, Testing & Debugging, among others.
Software engineers are like magicians who turn a dream into a reality. They can turn ideas into tangible products. That’s why the demand for software engineers is increasing exponentially and will only rise in the coming years. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for software engineers are projected to increase by 25% between 2021 and 2030.
One of the most prominent reasons behind this surge in demand for software engineers is their role in the digital growth of businesses. It makes them the most valuable assets across all industries. Regardless of the business type, almost every industry needs a software engineer, as having a robust digital footprint is vital. For the same reason, the need to hire software developers is rapidly increasing across industries.
If you are also considering hiring a software engineer for your business or want to become a software engineer, you are in the right place. This article will list the essential software engineering skills a talented developer must have.
So without further ado, let’s start.
Top software engineering skills
A general assumption about software engineers is that they write code day and night, and their profession does not involve anything else. However, contrary to popular belief, software engineering involves much more than coding. It is a multifaceted profession. Besides just developing applications, software engineers have many other responsibilities like planning, documentation, testing and debugging applications, providing knowledge transfer sessions to different teams, and giving product presentations, among others.
Hence, apart from technical skills, soft skills are also necessary to be an excellent software engineer. Let’s cover both of them one by one.
Hard skills (Technical expertise)
Command in at least one programming language (Java, C++, Python)
Simply put, programming is nothing but telling the computer to do something in a language it understands. Computers don’t understand the languages humans use to interact with each other.
Here are the top 10 programming languages with the percentage of developers using them according to a Stack Overflow survey:
Source – Stackoverflow 2022 Survey
Knowledge of object-oriented programming systems
An object-oriented programming system (OOPS) is a software development approach to create robust, reusable, and effective software that can pass the test of time. It is based on four fundamental principles: inheritance, encapsulation, abstraction, and polymorphism.
Knowing object-oriented programming concepts is crucial because software engineering is about solving real-world problems. Objects in object-oriented programming are real-world entities with specific properties and functions. Therefore, knowing OOPS is an essential software engineering skill.
Understanding data structures & algorithms (DSA)
Software engineering is all about effectively writing programs to solve real-world problems in the least possible time. Knowing data structures and algorithms is a tool to achieve that. Understanding data structures helps streamline data storage by organizing it effectively, and algorithms help choose the most efficient solution to any given problem.
That’s why a basic understanding of all data structures and algorithms helps write scalable code, optimizes the software development process, and minimizes the storage and time required for execution.
Testing & debugging
Testing is crucial in determining whether or not the software is ready to be released. It is unlikely that a software engineer can write an errorless program and pass all the test cases in one go. That is why testing and debugging are among the most crucial software engineering skills.
Although every organization has dedicated testers to test the code, knowing at least the most crucial testing methods is essential for software engineers, i.e., unit testing, system testing, and integration testing,
Basic knowledge of SDLC
Software Development Life Cycle, abbreviated SDLC, refers to the systematic process of developing software. SDLC includes all the stages of developing software from its inception to when the software is discontinued. Basic knowledge of SDLC helps the software engineer write the code, keeping in mind the larger picture and purpose of software development. It enables the developer to take the necessary precautions at a preliminary phase before any issues arise in the following step.
There are mainly 6 phases in SDLC:
- Requirement gathering and analysis
- Implementation and coding
Familiarity with development tools (Code editors and Github are a must)
Software engineering uses tools to manage tasks effectively, like any other profession. And having familiarity with these tools is a vital software engineering skill.
There are many tools, but knowing code editors like VS code and version control tools like GitHub is a must. Code editors help write, debug, compile, and run the code, and version controllers allow developers to manage and store the code on the cloud.
Databases (SQL, MySQL, Oracle)
There is hardly any software or application that does not store data. Therefore, a software engineer can’t avoid working with databases, and knowledge of database technologies like MySQL, Oracle, or SQL is another essential software engineering skill for developers.
Effective written and verbal communication
As already discussed, software engineering is a multifaceted profession. Besides developing software, software engineers have many other responsibilities like documentation, providing KTs to different teams, giving product presentations, and many more. And all these tasks need effective written and verbal communication skills. Hence, communication plays a vital role in ensuring that everyone involved in the project is on the same page regarding deadlines, project requirements, and expectations.
Knowing how to work as part of a team is crucial when working on a project with several team members. And software engineers never work alone; they always collaborate with designers, project managers, and others.
That is why software development is a collaborative endeavor. To deliver a software product or service that meets the objectives, software engineers must collaborate closely with other team members and stakeholders. And to accomplish this, software engineers must know how to work in teams.
Time management is a critical soft skill when it comes to software development. Developing software involves multiple stakeholders. They are not only responsible for working and deploying multiple features at the same time but also for delivering an acceptable product on time. Thus, time management is one of the top software engineering skills.
I have listed almost all the essential skills that a software engineer should possess in 2023. You must be wondering why I have mentioned the year; it is because software engineering is a dynamic and ever-changing profession. Technologies change very rapidly in this field. Today’s relevant skills may only be relevant for a few years. Hence, the only software engineering skills that can pass the test of time include the ability to adapt to new technologies and never stop learning.
Mohit is an Engineer turned tech blogger. He loves diving deep into the tech space and has been doing it for the last three years. He calls himself a cinephile and plays badminton in his free time. For more information, you can connect with him on Linkedin or Instagram.