Discover the necessary skills to become a successful Software Engineer and learn about the different career paths within the industry. From understanding the major programming paradigms to honing your problem-solving abilities, this article offers a comprehensive overview of this challenging field.

Key Insights

  • Software engineering is a broad field with a variety of specializations. To succeed, one must master a multitude of programming languages and understand different programming paradigms.
  • Engineers can focus on front end, back end, or full-stack development, each requiring proficiency in different programming languages.
  • Testing and debugging are crucial skills for Software Engineers, helping to ensure that software products run as effectively and efficiently as possible.
  • An understanding of Object-Oriented Design (OOD) and knowledge of data structures and algorithms can significantly improve a Software Engineer's coding efficiency and problem-solving capabilities.
  • Successful Software Engineers are not only technical experts but also collaborative problem solvers with strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Noble Desktop offers a Software Engineering Certificate and a Full-Stack Web Development Certificate to help aspiring Software Engineers acquire the necessary skills for the industry.

Software Engineer Skills: What You Need to Become a Software Engineer

Software Engineers build applications and solve problems that can impact millions of people. If you’re interested in this rewarding career, there are a number of skills you will need to become a Software Engineer. Software engineering is a broad field with a variety of specializations, there are some common soft and hard skills that every Software Engineer needs to know to succeed in their work. This article will deep dive into the seven key skills you should know if you want to be a Software Engineer.

Skill #1: Coding and Programming Experience

Software Engineers use a multitude of programming languages to develop software. The programming languages you will need to learn will vary on what type of developer you’re interested in being and what your organization is using. There are five major programming paradigms:

  • Procedural Programming relies on using code in a step-by-step procedure to tell the computer what to do. Procedural programming languages include C, BASIC, and Pascal.
  • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) uses objects, which contain data, as building blocks for creating software solutions. OOP languages include C++, Java, and Python
  • Functional Programming (FP) aims to construct software by using pure mathematical functions, avoiding mutable data, shared states, and external variables. FP languages include JavaScript, Scala, and Haskell. 
  • Parallel Programming condenses a problem into smaller tasks that are run at the same time using multiple compute options. Parallel programming languages include C, C++, and MPI.
  • Logic Programming is based on formal logic rules. Programmers use facts and rules about a problem to teach the computer to make logical decisions based on different circumstances.

Additionally, your interest can dictate what coding languages you will learn early in your journey to becoming a Software Engineer. The three types of development areas include: 

  • Front End: Front End Engineer specializes in the area users experience when they visit websites, also called the “front end”. These engineers make websites more functional, user-friendly, fast, and pleasing to the eye. Programming languages, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, React, Vue, Angular, Elm, and jQuery, are what front end developers use.
  • Back End: Back End Engineers focus on the server-side of the website, ensuring that the site runs without any issues. Developers on this end of development may use C#, Go, Java, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and SQL.
  • Full-Stack: Full-stack engineers are efficient in both the front end and back-end of websites. These engineers are knowledgeable in Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, SQL, Rust, Java, and more. 

Skill #2: Testing and Debugging 

As a Software Engineer, you will be tasked with ensuring that software products run as effectively and efficiently as possible. Software engineers do this through two processes: testing and debugging. Testing aims to identify errors in the code, ensuring that the products are meeting standards. Debugging is the process of correcting these issues.

Skill #3: Object-Oriented Design 

OOD is a software development approach that uses objects, which contain data, as building blocks for creating software solutions. OOD has been a popular design principle for years and is taught as a way to write robust, reusable, and clean code in object-oriented programming (OOP) languages, such as Java, C++, and Python. 

Skill #5: Data Structure and Algorithms 

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Many Software Engineers glaze over the lessons about data structures and algorithms in their coding bootcamps or computer science courses. However, in-depth knowledge of data structure and algorithms can make you a better engineer. An understanding of data structures and algorithms can help you more efficiently manipulate and store data in various situations. This is an important skill to have as Software Engineers will need to be able to solve increasingly more difficult problems as they progress through their careers. 

Skill #6: Problem Solving 

Problem-solving is part of a Software Engineers' daily routine. This skill can show up in a multitude of ways, including finding problems to solve, figuring out how to code solutions to problems, testing and debugging, or working across cross-functional teams. Software Engineers must be creative problem solvers.

Skill #7: Collaboration

Televisions and movies have depicted programmers as people coding alone in dark rooms to help save the world from doom. However, the websites and applications we use every day were a collaborative effort, and Software Engineering is a collaborative role. Engineers typically work with cross-functional teams to develop and execute projects and develop technical solutions. Good Software Engineers should be able to effectively communicate with both technical and non-technical roles and should be strong in both verbal and written communication.

Related Skills

While the seven skills listed above at the primary skills needed to be a Software Engineer, there are a few additional skills that can help a developer be more effective. These include: 

  • Patience: Patience is a skill that is crucial to have as a Software Engineer. According to Merriam-Webster, it is the ability and willingness to remain calm when dealing with difficult situations. And let’s face it — there are a number of situations that might require a developer to practice patience. For one, this field requires developers to be lifelong learners as technology changes. Software Engineers must be patient with themselves as they learn new programming languages or applications. Additionally, writing, testing, and debugging code can take a lot of patience as you work to create clean, reusable code and anticipate any issues in the code to prevent them. As a Software Engineer, it is imperative to be patient with oneself and with others.
  • Time Management: Software Engineers frequently work on multiple projects at a time, so being able to effectively manage their time to accomplish each task is critical. Additionally, it can be expected that each project will also require developers to work within cross-functional teams or balance different stakeholders. Being able to set deadlines and manage other people’s time toward a project will be an important skill to have. 
  • Adaptability: Technology continues to change every day, and it is imperative that Software Engineers stay up to date on the latest trends to help build better tech solutions. Additionally, user needs change as well, and developers must be responsive to those changes to deliver quality products. A great example of this was the COVID-19 pandemic, which required many companies and industries to move to virtual channels. Developers had to respond quickly to the demand by creating or adapting their products to meet customers' needs during this time. 

Where Can You Learn Skills to Become a Software Engineer?

If you are interested in learning the hard and soft skills necessary to be a Software Engineer, look no further than Noble Desktop’s Software Engineering Certificate. This 5-month immersive online course will teach you Front End development, React development, and Python development with Django. Noble also offers a Full-Stack Web Development Certificate that will teach you to be proficient in both the front end and back end languages and frameworks so you can work on all parts of web applications. This course is offered online in both a part-time (10 months) and full-time (17 weeks) format.