15 Software Developer Skills and How To Develop Them

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Professional software developers require technical skills to excel in their workplace. They use their technical skills to develop and debug software products, programs or applications. Learning about different skills required for this profession and how to use them in the workplace can help you become a successful software developer. In this article, we explore what software developer skills are, understand their importance and explore the 15 top skills required to excel in this profession.

Related: What Is a Software Developer? Definition and Skills

What Are Software Developer Skills?

Software developer skills are the technical capabilities of an individual that help them develop error-free computer programs and applications. As software developers create software, they employ science, engineering, math and design techniques to build these systems. So, to become a successful developer, you require mastery over several technical skills like writing codes, designing user interfaces and using databases. Including these skills in your CV can make you a suitable candidate and increase your probability of getting hired for the desired job.

Why Are Software Skills Important?

Skills for software developers are essential because of they:

  • Make you more confident: Having the right technical skill makes you feel confident about accomplishing your day-to-day software developer's responsibilities and help you work efficiently.

  • Make you more employable: Having job-related software development skills listed on your CV can make you a much more well-rounded employee. It helps you stand out among other candidates.

  • Help you become a valuable asset: For those with limited software development skills, striving in a technological world is complex. Having proficiency in software development technology, tools and platforms is desirable.

15 Software Developer Skills

Here are 15 software skills to master to become a successful software developer:

1. Programming language

Coding or programming languages are source code a developer uses to create a software program or product. Proficiency in at least one programming language is essential to increase job opportunities. While it is likely that an employer does not expect you to be fluent in all coding languages, knowing the fundamentals of widely used programming languages can make you a suitable candidate. Some common coding languages to learn are:

  • Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

  • Python

  • C#

  • C++

  • PHP

  • Java

  • JavaScript

  • Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

Related: What Is JavaScript?

2. Proficiency in databases

An essential skill for developers is understanding databases. A database is a collection and storage of data. Developers use a database to search for information, add new information and update the existing information. They also know how to secure a database and perform a backup of a company's data during unforeseen circumstances. For creating any software program or product, developers require a database. Employers prefer candidates who can create data and also store, update and delete it. Some commonly used databases are:

  • SQL

  • MongoDB

  • Redis

  • Cassandra

  • MariaDB

  • IBM Db2

3. Cloud computing

Companies prefer candidates with cloud computing skills to improve security, save time and minimise the storage size. Software developers are typically responsible for configuring this platform and they require proficiency in server management and coding languages. As many companies rely on cloud technology, it may be beneficial to learn about applications that use cloud-based technology.

4. Testing procedures

Every software program undergoes a series of testing procedures before a company releases it to the market. Using different digital tools, software developers ensure a program functions as per requirement. This involves checking the program's ability to function on different hardware devices. So, having proficiency in these three testing procedures can help developers create error-free programs:

  • Integration testing

  • Unit testing

  • System testing

5. Data structure and algorithms

Data structure refers to methods used by organisations to store information in a database, whereas algorithms refer to completing a task. Proficiency in both is essential for optimising information in a program's code. It's impossible to write a real-world application without knowledge of data structures like arrays, linked lists and maps.

6. Operating systems

Employers prefer hiring candidates with considerable proficiency in different operating systems. It ensures a developer can solve issues like blocking, memory problems, slow programs and conflicting tools. Depending upon the job requirement and your preference, you can specialise in any of the following operating systems:

  • Linux

  • Unix

  • Windows

  • Mac

  • iOS

7. Networking basic

Often, software developers work on client-server models, where a request can go to a client who can access the application from anywhere in the world. This requires an understanding of basic networking topics like VPN, DNS, IP, CDN and HTTPS. Companies prefer using client-server models to develop online games, web-based applications, cloud computing and business automation.

8. Software framework

Software frameworks are platforms a developer uses for creating software applications. A software framework aims to ease the development environment and prevent them from creating applications from scratch. Often, a framework includes a compiler, code of libraries and other helpful programs in the development process. Some widely used software frameworks are:

  • .NET and ActiveX for Windows

  • Cocoa for Mac OS

  • Cocoa Touch for iOS

  • Android Application Framework for Android

9. Proficiency in debugging

Debugging refers to the process of removing errors from the programming code. It primarily involves running a program through a compiler and analysing the errors to ensure the application or software works as per design requirements. Often, developers debug their code while writing to ensure that the code is functional during the testing stage.

10. Ability to use text editors

Text editing software allows developers to create and edit plain text. Proficiency in a text editor is essential for removing formatting used in different word processors. Using text editing software, developers write text and symbols required for a programming language. Text editor removes formatting and allows you to transfer code into one system. Proficiency in one or more text editors on your CV makes you a desirable candidate for a software development job. Some commonly used text editors are:

  • TextMate

  • Notepad++

  • Brackets

  • Atom

11. Integrated development environment (IDE)

IDEs help a developer write, modify, compile and debug code of lines. Knowing how to use IDEs to optimise your work and improve performance is a key skill for a software developer. Some commonly used IDEs are:

  • Visual Studio for C, C++ and C#

  • Sypder or PyCharm for Python

  • Eclipse and NetBeans for Java

12. Encryption

Encryption is the process of securing confidential data using a secure and encrypted key to prevent the software or application from cyberattacks. It involves writing algorithms to develop a decryption code to allow the original data users to access the information. Software developers use two types of encryptions, namely symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

13. Spreadsheet

Using different spreadsheet software allows developers to organise data sets and make calculations. Also, developers may require software developers to track their progress and data. Apart from helping with data analysis, a spreadsheet helps in data quality check and maintenance of data. You can also use a spreadsheet to insert bulk data in databases.

14. Object-oriented design

A basic understanding of the four fundamental principles of object design is essential for a successful career in software development. The four key principles are encapsulation, abstraction, inheritance and polymorphism. Object-oriented design is using an object-oriented method for designing a computer application or system.

15. Cross-platform software

Products that a software developer creates should run on multiple platforms like Mac, Windows and Linux. Knowledge of writing codes that can run on a maximum number of platforms is desirable. This is because you are then able to work with whichever tools are already part of your workplace.

How To Develop The Skills Of A Software Developer

To strengthen your skills for a software developer job, use the following steps:

  1. Identify areas of improvement. Reflect on your workplace performance and enlist all technical skills you want to enhance. Knowing the specific skill to develop can help you channelise your energy in the right area.

  2. Attend workshops or training. Enrol in online or offline courses to develop your technical skills. For example, if you want to use Python to write codes, attend workshops and courses that teach Python.

  3. Hire a mentor. Find someone more experienced in the software development field to mentor you. This can help you understand and improve upon essential skills required for a successful career.

  4. Ask for feedback. An impartial perspective from your mentor, manager or colleague can help you assess the level of a particular skill. Constructive and honest criticism on areas of improvement can make you a better software developer.

  5. Collaborate with others. Collaborate and take help from colleagues who know other programming languages and development tools. This can help in exchanging skills with each other.

Related: How To Develop Your Skill Set: A Complete Guide

What Are The Qualities Of A Good Software Developer?

A good software developer is an asset to any organisation because they help develop a solution to solve key business problems. Software developer jobs today require various qualities that combine coding with non-programming qualities, knowledge and habits. Some qualities of a good software developer are:

  • Ability to learn, adapt and grow

  • Positive attitude

  • Ability to communicate

  • Technical proficiency

  • Business acumen

  • Time management

  • Problem-solving

What Is The Work Of A Software Developer?

A software developer designs and develops software products, programs and applications that help businesses perform specific tasks. Some software developers may create specific software applications as building a spreadsheet or software for storing passwords. Others may focus on creating large networks or systems that manage devices and control networks.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.


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