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If you’re a software engineer looking to get hired in 2024, you might be wondering what it takes to stand out in today’s complex labor market. 

After all, tech layoffs are very real and still happening — but as our Job Market OverviewThe TripleTen Job Market Overview: Launching 2024 called out, there’s more good news than bad. In fact, software engineering remains one of the industry’s safest professions, with 153,900 openings projected every year over the next decade.

To help boost your hireability in the year ahead, here’s a list of the programmer skills needed to get hired in 2024 and why they matter to employers.

The 9 in-demand hard skills for 2024: Programming must-haves

Hard skills are the bread and butter of software engineering, letting you write the code that powers a business’s digital solutions or services. The following nine capabilities reflect what it takes to be a technically experienced programmer in 2024.

1. Programming languages

Last year brought big changes to the world of software development, from artificial intelligenceWhy AI Is Your Friend Not Foe, to open-source licensing updates and developer experience initiatives. But it’s safe to say that programming languages and coding skills will always rank high in a software engineer’s skill set.

Mastery in at least one language relevant to your area of focusWhat Skills Do You Need to Become a Software Engineer is required by employers, as well as fluency in two more. Bonus points if you also have one of 2024’s trending coding languages:

  • JavaScript — one of the most widely used programming languages for building websites. A must-have for web development (alongside the markup language HTML and the style sheet language CSS).
  • Python — a powerful and easy-to-learn object-oriented language that’s used for data science, data analytics, and machine learning.
  • SQL — a specialized tool used to manage data stored in relational databases, including querying, updating, and deleting data.
  • Ruby — an open-source programming language used for text processing, scripting, and prototyping new software.
  • Rusta fast, efficient language mostly known for its security strengths. It’s harder for humans to learn, but easier for machines to understand.
  • C++a high-performance language used for complex software solutions that care about performance and security.

2. Data structures and algorithms

Data structures are different ways of organizing and storing data, while algorithms are a set of step-by-step instructions for solving a specific problem.

Together, they help software engineers optimize code and prioritize efficiency throughout the software development lifecycle.

Many employers now ask data structure and algorithm questions in programming interviews because they want to know how a candidate approaches problem solving. So while these computer science concepts are complex, they’re definitely worth mastering in 2024.

3. Testing and debugging

After code is written, it must be tested for errors and debugged before being released to users. While AI and other tools facilitate this process, a strong foundation in testing and debugging is useful because it helps you understand why errors happen in the first place.

Another reason employers like to see testing and debugging skills? Software development is expensive!

Reliable, high quality code helps businesses save money over time by improving the stability and performance of their products.

4. Databases and SQL

Relational databases (e.g. PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle) are the foundation of today’s technology landscapeHow Long Does It Take to Learn SQL?, including many online applications and services. To communicate with these databases, IT specialists use SQL (Structured Query Language).

There are many ways to learn SQL, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t call out our beginner-friendly course that teaches the foundations for free. Comprising 15 hours of education, it’s a great way to learn the basic commands for selecting and manipulating data from a database.

5. Application programming interfaces (APIs)

Familiarity with APIs has long been a valuable skill for software engineers, since they’re the perfect tool for automating and scaling tasks. Recent years have also brought an explosion of API tooling offerings, making them even more important.

Since 93.4% of API developers use a REST (Representational State Transfer) approach, this paradigm (or style) of developing APIs is a safe bet. REST APIs follow five specific rulesREST API: What Is It And Why Do Software Engineers Use It? and are popular because they’re versatile, consistent, and compatible with a wide range of formats.

6. Source control management (SCM)

This important software development practice is how programmers track and manage changes made to code.

Also known as a version control system (VCS), SCM allows software engineers to see a complete historical record of every change and who made it to a code base.

Having a record protects source code from irreparable harm, so developers can experiment and iterate freely. Different teams will use a different VCS tool based on their specific needs and development process, but the most popular ones are GitLab, Subversion, and Mercurial.

7. Cloud computing

Cloud services provide a flexible and affordable alternative to buying expensive servers for companies, letting startups and corporations alike create and scale up necessary infrastructure in just a few clicks. Software deployed in the cloud is often cheaper, more efficient, and more versatile as well, making familiarity with cloud platforms a valuable skill for programmers.

While there are many cloud providers, you can start with one of the big three: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google CloudWhat’s Behind Google Cloud. Building up skills in one of these cloud platforms helps you create virtual desktops, develop software, and manage big data analytics.

Worldwide market share of leading cloud infrastructure service providers
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS), 31%
  • Microsoft Azure, 24%
  • Google Cloud, 11%
  • Alibaba Cloud, 4%
  • IBM Cloud, 2%
  • Oracle Cloud, 2%
  • Tencent Cloud, 2%

Source: Statista

8. AI and machine learning

Across industries, 94% of business leaders say AI is critical to success over the next five years.

Whether that’s incorporating AI and machine learning solutions into products or utilizing AI tools to improve productivity, there’s no escaping AI in the workplace as a software engineerWhy AI Is Your Friend Not Foe.

Here are some of the ways you can take advantage of this powerful technology in 2024:

  • Use AI-powered coding tools to reduce development time. Popular tools like OpenAI Codex, GitHub Copilot, ChatGPT, and AlphaCode generate and automate tedious coding tasks, provide intelligent code snippets, and offer up helpful suggestions.
  • Specialize in a career in AI development. AI is a fast-growing career path for programmers that involves working with machine learning algorithms, AI modeling, neural networks, and related technologies to build artificial intelligence.

  • Employ machine learning model frameworks. These interfaces allow data scientists and developers to build and deploy machine learning models faster. Some of the most popular ones include TensorFlow, PyTorch, Sci-Kit Learn, and H2O.

9. Cybersecurity

Even if you don’t work for a cybersecurity company, having some expertise in this area helps protect the apps and tools you’re building from cyberthreats. This includes secure authentication and protocols (SSH, OAuth, etc.), as well as a cybersecurity certification, such as CompTIA Security+ (ISC), Security Certified Practitioner, and Certified Ethical Hack (CEH).

Why else do employers care about cybersecurity skills? Data breaches are expensive, costing on average $4.45 million per breach. Fixing vulnerabilities early on in the software development lifecycle can help boost prevention and minimize losses.

The 7 soft skills programmers need

In addition to technical skills, software engineers need soft skillsWhy are soft skills important? like collaboration and good time management. Being a well-rounded candidate for any programmer position means cultivating the following seven capabilities.

1. Time management

Effective time management skills and familiarity with preferred project management methodologies such as Agile and Scrum are essential for programmers.

Employers want to see effective use of work hours and attention to detail, especially since software engineers often deal with competing deadlines and high volumes of tasks.

2. Communication and collaboration

Knowing how to communicate clearly with colleagues is a strong start, but you also need to know how to build relationships with stakeholders and senior leadership. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of practice, you can develop these muscles by working on your active listening skills, familiarizing yourself with best practices for talking to different audiences, and staying curious.

3. Emotional intelligence

Employers are placing increasing value on emotional intelligence in hiring decisions because it’s a skill that benefits everyone in an organization. Being able to understand and manage emotions leads to less stress, stronger relationships with colleagues, improved communication and conflict resolution skills, more engagement at work, and higher job performance.

4. Continuous learning

A growth mindset is an incredible asset in the tech industry because it lets you see each failure as a learning opportunity and helps you stay curious in the face of technological advancementFour Reasons Why Junior Developers Will Find Work in the U.S.. Employers want to see ongoing personal and professional development of any kind (e.g. courses, certifications, books, events, etc.) as evidence of a commitment to continuous learning.

5. Critical thinking and problem-solving

Software engineering requires a high tolerance for frustration and the ability to find joy in problem-solving.

Unexpected issues will almost always occur, and it’s important to set aside assumptions that could blind you to the answer. Staying open-minded, addressing bias, and even taking a course on critical thinking skills can help you strengthen these capabilities.

6. Ownership

In a highly collaborative field like software engineering, most tasks are dependent on other people’s work. That’s great because it creates an environment where everyone wins together. But it can also lead to an eroding sense of ownership at the individual level. That’s why it’s so important to maintain a high standard for yourself and your work, regardless of seniority level.

7. Remote work

While 2023 saw many companies roll back remote work policies, it saw others go all in on working from home. Whether your dream job is fully remote or in-person, expertise in remote workingWork From Home. It’s Good for You. can be an advantage as a candidate because it shows employers that you have strong communication skills, empathy, and self-discipline.

Gain programming skills

If you’re ready to give your hireability a boost in 2024, TripleTen can help. Whether you’ve set your sights on data science, software engineering, business intelligence analytics, or quality assurance, we’ve got a part-time bootcamp that can give you the education, mentoring, resume support, and more to help you realize your career goals! We’ve helped over 1,000 students make the switch to tech and are proud to say 87% of our graduates get hired within 180 days.

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The tech scoop

Sign up for our newsletter to get the inside info on getting a career in tech - straight from our industry experts.

Stay in touch

What’s the tech career for you?

You’re looking to upgrade your job, but the options seem overwhelming. Don’t worry - take our free two-minute quiz to find out which of our bootcamps will help you achieve your goals.

Take the quiz