Due to society’s increased reliance on mobile-based technology, 2021 sees an increased need for software engineers. With tech fields booming, high investments in software engineering companies, and developer jobs in high demand, software engineers are needed in a plethora of industries such as healthcare, retail, research and development, business, IT services, and more. Below is a list of 2021’s top software engineer jobs in demand for the future.

1. Machine Learning Engineer

What is a Machine Learning Engineer?

A machine learning engineer programs machines to perform specific tasks. Machine learning is a branch of AI in which data-driven algorithms enable software applications to predict outcomes.

Machine Learning Engineer Job Description:

The goal of a machine learning engineer is to develop algorithms so machines can receive data and predict outputs. This position involves predictive modeling and data mining. Other tasks may include collecting and processing image data and optimizing models. A background in machine learning programming languages such as Java, Hadoop, and Python is important.

Why is this one of the top software engineer jobs and how is it changing the game in 2021?

As companies invest in artificial intelligence, machine learning engineers are needed globally. In a recent study, Microsoft reports:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming an ever more important part of life—from reshaping our everyday experiences to transforming industries.

They continue on to explain,

Organizations that have already begun their AI journey are doing 5 percent better on factors like productivity, performance, and business outcomes than those that have not.

 The world is investing in AI, and as AI becomes more relevant to our lives, the need for machine engineering jobs continues to rise. This makes machine learning engineering one of the top tech jobs for the future.

Image via Unsplash / @markuswinkler

2. AR/VR Engineering

What are AV (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality)?

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) engineering are among the most in-demand software engineering careers. AR alters reality by creating an interface that augments or enhances real surroundings. VR, on the other hand, uses computer technology to create an interactive virtual world for users.

AR/VR Engineering Job Description:

In developing AR and VR products, the process involves designing, testing, and debugging a prototype. As an AR/VR engineer, companies are looking for problem solvers and inventors with experience in programming languages (such as C++), virtual reality, 3D development, software design, UX design, gaming design, modeling and animation, and graphic design among others.

While Pokémon Go may be the first thing to come to mind when discussing augmented reality, and an oculus may be the first thing to come to mind when discussing virtual reality, AR and VR can be implemented in several different fields including retail, medical, and education industries.

Why is this one of the top software engineer jobs and how is it changing the game in 2021?

Companies are on a hiring rampage for software engineers who know how to build augmented and virtual reality. Shirin Ghaffary and Rani Molla shared on Vox media:

In the past few years, major tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple have been investing in virtual reality (VR) and its sibling technology, augmented reality (AR).

Although AR and VR have not been seamlessly integrated into our lives yet, technology trends in 2021 are heading that way as companies invest in altered realities. Keep an eye out for these positions this year because companies are hiring.

Image via Unsplash / @sorkin

3. Gaming Engineering

What is a Gaming Engineer?

Gaming engineers are software engineers that design and program video games.

Gaming Engineer Job Description:

In order to make new video games, gaming engineers collaborate with illustrators and testers. They are sometimes tasked to oversee the entire development process, and their duties can range from constructing the first prototype to testing the product before it hits the market. Skills necessary for the position involve writing clean code using programming languages, having knowledge of data structures and algorithms, software development platforms, 3D math, and common development tools such as Visual Studio, Git, Jira, and Perforce among others depending on the hiring company.

Why is this one of the top software engineer jobs and how is it changing the game in 2021?

We don’t know how gaming will be impacted when the world starts to open up after the coronavirus pandemic, but we do know Kellen Browning, a technology reported, wrote in the New York Times:

The video game industry has notched record spending and profit in 2020.

 And as Eric Lempel, the Senior Vice President at Playstation remarks,

“Future advances will keep gamers coming back.” 

With this being said, gaming engineers are in high demand, putting them on the list for top software engineering jobs in 2021.

4. Computer Vision Engineer

What is a Computer Vision Engineer?

Computer vision engineers work in a branch of AI to solve real-world problems through computer vision research. Computer vision, or CV, is a field of study that aims to help computers “see” or understand digital images and photos so that the computers can gauge distances and movements.

Computer Vision Engineer Job Description:

A computer vision engineer has responsibilities that may include research, programming, user interface design, and data analysis. This is the world of self-driving cars, mobile devices, medicine, and other innovative social advancements. These engineers must have knowledge in a wide variety of systems such as segmentation, machine learning, and image recognition. Necessary hard skills include database management, an understanding of algorithms, scientific computing frameworks, machine learning fundamentals, algebra, a background in AR or VR, CPU/GPU programming, and debugging, among other skills depending on the hiring company.

Why is this one of the top software engineer jobs and how is it changing the game in 2021?

Computer vision engineering will be applied to a wide variety of industries in the future, making it a top tech job in 2021.

Benard Marr, a contributor to Forbes, says 

Computer vision engineering may impact farming, healthcare, and retail in surprising ways in the future.” 

He goes on to explain, 

“The entire market for computer vision is predicted to reach $14 billion by 2024 (up from $9.9 billion in 2019). We can, therefore, expect to see greater use of computer vision across an even wider selection of industries in the very near future.”

Computer vision is a technology trend that will transform society, bringing computer vision engineers onto this list of five software engineering jobs that will change the future of tech.

mage via Instagram / @bernard.marr

5. Data Engineer

What is a Data Engineer?

A data engineer finds trends in data and develops algorithms in order to make the data useful for their enterprise. They must understand their client’s objective in order to do this.

Data Engineer Job Description:

Data engineers collect data so that data scientists can use it. They analyze data, develop data architecture, and forecast trends for businesses. In their position, data engineers design, build, and install the data systems for their client. In order to do this, they need knowledge of programming languages, relational databases such as Postgres or MySQL, cloud-based data-warehouses such as Redshift and Snowflake, knowledge of operating systems, and data science among other experience.

Why is this one of the top software engineer jobs and how is it changing the game in 2021?

Data engineer positions have only grown since data engineering took off in the mid-2000s.

In 2019 a contributor to O’Reilly, DJ Patil, wrote:

This increase in the demand for data scientists has been driven by the success of the major Internet companies. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Amazon have all made their marks by using data creatively.

A recent 2020 article by Forbes Councils Member, Itamar Ben Hemo, also gives three reasons why DevOps are going to boom in 2021. He writes, 

* There is a ridiculous amount of data,
* There’s an urgency to end wasteful and ineffective processes, and
* Companies are looking to close the gap between data and insights.

Data engineering positions will be hot in 2021 as companies seek to increase the efficiency of their data. Only with efficient data will companies be able to pull ahead of the tech curve.

Image via Unsplash / @franki

The Takeaways

AV/VR engineer, gaming engineer, computer vision engineer, machine learning engineer, and data engineer jobs will all take center stage in 2021. These are the top five jobs to look out for as our reliance on technology increases, and the need for these software engineer jobs grow. The future of tech is right now.

Julia Silverstein

Julia received a dual degree from Bucknell University in 2020. Currently, she is a writer living in Connecticut.