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The Top 6 Skills You Need to Become a Software Developer

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A study of 728 software development and coding job descriptions and 31 technical skills from MentorWorks Insights to help you land a well-paying job as a software developer

Reading time: 5 minutes

Landing a job as a software developer or software engineer requires specific skills that often vary from company to company, position to position, and even project to project within a given role.

A job as a software developer is typically open-ended when it comes to specific duties, expectations, and goals thus securing a career in software development and engineering means understanding what universal skills are most often necessary, independent of individual job requirements.

 

So, what are the required skills that most employers are seeking in their software developer candidates most of the time?

Based on a study of 728 software development and coding job descriptions and 31 technical skills by MentorWorks Insights, we have identified the top skills needed to pursue or advance a career as a coder. .

Whether you are considering a career change and want to become a junior developer or want to become a senior developer and are trying to decide which programming language to learn next, MentorWorks has identified these six (6) coding skills as the front-runners based on how often they appear in the group of software development job descriptions:

  • SQL
  • Java
  • .NET
  • Javascript
  • CSS
  • C#

The table below shows the frequency with which these and other specific skills appeared in job descriptions. NOTE: we restricted the data to job descriptions where the required work experience was less than 2 years – entry-level in many cases. Also, of the 31 skills analyzed, the table only includes skills that appear in at least 1 percent of job descriptions.

Table 1 – Percentage of job descriptions where a particular skill is desired

Skill % of Job Descriptions Skill Occurs in
SQL 38%
Java 22%
.Net 19%
Javascript 19%
CSS 13%
C# 13%
Python 8%
AWS 8%
Linux 7%
API 7%
Angular 6%
C++ 6%
Rest 5%
Html 5%
React 4%
Azure 4%
Docker 4%
Unix 3%
XML 3%
JSON 3%
NoSQL 2%
Soap 2%
Github 1%
PHP 1%
J2ee 1%
Node 1%
Hadoop 1%

 

Our data allows us to ask some interesting and helpful questions. Below are some that caught our eye.

Q: Which of these software development skills are listed alongside job descriptions where a different primary skill is the key requirement, say Python?

Since employers want a portfolio of skills, we have compiled the data in a way that we can provide more actionable information to candidates for these software developer jobs.

For background, Python is a high-level programming language commonly used for developing websites and software, task automation, data analysis, and data visualization. Since it’s easier to learn, Python is the programming language of choice for many new and existing developers, even popular among accountants and scientists, and can be used for a variety of everyday tasks.

Meanwhile, the table below shows the occurrence of specific skills listed in job descriptions that also list Python. It turns out that SQL and Javascript are the two most frequently sought after skills along with Python – suggesting that these three skills can be very useful together. NOTE: of the 31 skills analyzed, the table only includes skills that appear in at least 1 percent of job descriptions.

Table 2 – Percentage of job descriptions where a particular skill is listed along with SQL

Skill % of Job Descriptions Skill Occurs in
SQL 33%
Javascript 29%
Java 22%
AWS 22%
C++ 11%
Linux 11%
React 11%
.Net 10%
Docker 10%
C# 7%
NoSQL 7%
XML 7%
API 7%
Hadoop 5%
Rest 5%
Github 5%
PHP 5%
HTML 4%
Angular 3%
Azure 3%
Soap 3%
CSS 1%
JSON 1%
ASP 1%
J2ee 1%

 

Q: If you have a combination of certain programming skills, will the percentage of job software developer descriptions including all those skills increase?

Obviously, the bigger your skill set the better, but the more important question is what specific combinations of skills make you the most hirable. Our analysis, indicates that – for certain combinations – there is a significant increase in job description matches:

  • If you know both Python and SQL, your skill set would be listed in 57% of software development-related job descriptions.
  • If you have skills in Python, SQL, and Javascript, your skill set would be listed in 60% of software development-related job descriptions.
  • Furthermore, If you have skills in Python, SQL, Javascript, AWS, and API your skill set would be listed in 66% of software development-related job descriptions.

 

Q: Where can I learn the most in-demand software development skills?

Many education programs exist that are job-specific and train students in all the skills above. However, a popular option for ramping up fast in full stack software development is coding bootcamp.

One example is Code Fellows, ranked by Switch Up last year as the top coding bootcamp for getting a job at the ‘Big 5’ technology companies – Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook. This online bootcamp and certificate program offers education in Python, SQL, Javascript, AWS, Java, and API. Learn more about Code Fellows.

These skills – specifically Python and SQL are also highly applicable in data analyst and data scientist roles. See MentorWorks’ recent article highlighting the top 2 skills needed to become a data analyst to compare and contrast another career path to break into the technology industry.