Categories: Blog
2 June, 2018
by Nicole Nelson
Content Marketing Manager
If you're looking to become a software developer, you'll need to develop a particular set of skills. Learn about the software developer skills you really need to enter the tech field in this handy guide!

Software Developer Skills You Need to Have

Training up your software developer skills?

Did you know the median pay for software developers in the U.S. is $103,560 per year? If you’re thinking of starting a career in the field, this is a perfect time. The job market and future growth for this career are both ranked 10 out of 10 by U.S. News.

Many new candidates are jumping into the field without college classes. Does a software developer need a degree? Big names like Google, Apple, and Facebook certainly don’t think so.

They say what you need are skill and experience. Those are two things anyone can gain with enough determination. The trick is in knowing what to study and how to study it.

If you’re new to the field and wondering where to start, this article was built for you. Inside, we paint the broad strokes for turning your novice skills into expert abilities. If you want to learn what it takes to become a top-ranked, first-hired candidate, read on.

Getting Started with Software Developer Skills

If you haven’t already begun the journey, you need to figure out which language(s) to begin with. To do that, you must first know which type of programming you want to be involved with.

Is it your dream to build complex databases? Would you instead like to focus on mobile applications? What about PC games?

Each programming area involves one or more languages. PC games, for instance, may require you to master C++. To make matters more complicated, experts recommend you start with simple languages and work your way up to complex languages, like C++.

That would mean you’d want to begin by learning a comparatively simple language, like Python or PHP. Only afterward should you move to C++.

Take a long, hard look into your field. See what experienced professionals say. Then decide which languages you should learn first.

Code Structure

One of the most noticeable traits which set veteran programmers apart is their ability to write clean code. The reason that programmers structure code isn’t to help your computer. You could write an entire app on a single line of code that stretches a gazillion letters long; it would read it just the same.

The reason structure was introduced to coding is to help the programmer. It makes the code easier to read and parse. It’s less critical in little programs, but it’s imperative in huge programs with long shelf lives.

That code must be upgraded regularly to keep up with technological growth. You or someone else will have to go back through those lines and fix them. If you don’t structure your code, the job may take years rather than months.

The best resource available on the topic is a book by Robert C. Martin, called “The Clean Coder.”

Learn Object Oriented

Object-oriented design is a type of design that breaks complex programs into constituent parts, called objects. Each has a dedicated role and specific responsibilities.

Note that all languages are not object-oriented. Unfortunately, if you plan to pursue a job as a software developer, you’ll be working with other programmers and other languages. In other words, your non-object-oriented language will have to interact with object-oriented languages.

Some beginners shy away from learning this skill. Don’t. Consider it part of your education.

Algorithms and Data Structures

Learning a computer language is about more than just rote memorization. Yes, you’ll need to know the syntax and keywords. You’ll also need to learn to think and solve problems like a programmer.

That’s what set’s veterans apart: the elegance of their solution.

Algorithms are the method by which coders solve their problems. Data structures are the tools they use in their algorithms. If you want to conquer your interview at Google, these will be your weapons of choice.

Connected Pieces

Programs must interact with outside resources. If nothing else, they must run on an operating system and interact with databases. That means you’d better have a firm grasp on platforms and databases too.

To make matters more interesting, popular programs also have frameworks. They’re offshoots of the program which make specific processes easier. For instance, one of Ruby’s frameworks is “Ruby on the Rails,” often referred to as simply “Rails.”

If you want to be a Ruby developer, you’d better know Rails. Companies expect you to know at least one framework of popular languages.

Nowadays, tech companies also expect you to know your stack. A stack refers to the group of coding languages which often work well together in the real world.

For instance, the MEAN stack stands for MongoDB, Express, Angular, and Node. With this set of languages, you can code everything you need for a fully functioning application. That means from user-side to server-side and everything in between.

Running the Full Race

Producing a program requires many steps. It’s not only about throwing together algorithms. Modern employers expect you to have a firm grasp on the entire process.

When you develop a piece of software, they expect you to use source control. It allows you to keep a history of changes made to the files in the software. It also gives multiple developers a chance to work on the same code at the same time.

Understanding how to build, test, and deployment is also expected. Sure, you have to know how to create the darn thing. You must also know how to test your software and get your code to a production machine or test environment.

You’ve also got to know how to fix the broken parts or debug the program. We think you can figure out why for yourself.

Final Notes

A few software developer skills don’t fit nicely with the rest. These are usually referred to as soft skills. They cover a wide variety of behaviors, from interpersonal relationships to avoiding burnout.

It’s difficult to tell which soft skills will be pertinent to you. After you land a job, keep your eyes peeled and ask for feedback often during the first year. Their responses should clue you in on the areas on which you should focus.

If you found this article helpful, take five minutes to check out our selection of other great articles.

So long and good luck!


Nicole Nelson

Nicole is Woz U’s social media and content manager who loves to build communities and break though barriers to find common ground. After graduating college, Nicole joined Woz U as an intern and quickly rose up in the ranks to become the voice of the brand on social. When she’s not documenting Woz U’s Demo Day, you can find her cheering on her local soccer team or getting her ‘zen' on practicing yoga.

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