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There’s a good reason why Software Engineer remains a top ten in-demand tech job, with overall employment projected to grow 25% by 2032. This role is essential to delivering the tools that make everything digital possible!

If you’re considering Software Engineer as a career path, it’s helpful to know what skills will set you up for success. Here’s a breakdown, plus some extra info on areas of specialization.

What software engineering skills are needed to succeed?

Top of the list for any software developer or engineer is coding and computer programming. Expertise in at least one language (such as JavaWhy Learning JavaScript Will Ensure You Stay In Demand For Years to Come, PythonThe Python Odyssey: How Long to Master Python?, HTML/CSSBecoming an HTML/CSS Developer) is necessary to write the code that builds software, but it’s common practice to learn more than one.

Which languages you choose depends on the software engineering role you plan on specializing in.

A close second is data structures and algorithms, since they help software engineers optimize code. Data structures are the building blocks of any software program, while algorithms are the methods used to access and manipulate that stored data. A foundation in math, logical thinking, and computer architecture is helpful here, but don’t worry if that’s not you. Most bootcamps will help you get up to speed and the rest is practice, practice, practice.

Last, but not least, testing and debugging. Just like a restaurant wouldn’t add a new dish to its menu without testing it multiple times, software engineers must perform quality assurance checks before releasing new software or updates to consumers. They need to know how to test code to find errors and how to debug code to fix them. While AI and other tools facilitate this process, it’s still important to have a solid foundation in testing for any software engineer role.

Types of software engineers: Different coding skills for different roles

When it comes to career paths as a software engineer, you’ve got options. Knowing your destination will help you stay focused on acquiring the right skills along the way. Here are seven examples of different types of software engineering roles and their related skills.

1) Front-end engineer

Front-end engineers build the parts of websites and applications that users see and interact with, e.g. the interface. A basic front-end technical skill setAll about Front End: What is It, How It Works, and Why It Worth Your Time includes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as well as familiarity with front-end concepts and terminology. Soft skills such as organization, attention to detail, and customer service are also key.

2) Back-end engineer

Back-end engineers build the hidden parts of websites and applications, facilitating users’ interactions with internal data. Their contributions complement the work front-end engineers perform. A basic back-end technical skill setThe Back End: Where the Heavy Lifting of the Web Happens includes JavaScript, Python, and Java. Soft skills such as humility, teamwork, listening, and clear communication are also key.

3) Full-stack engineer

Full-stack engineers combine the responsibilities of back-end and front-end engineers in one holistic role. A basic full-stack technical skill setFull-Stack Developer vs. Software Engineer: Unraveling the Differences includes JavaScript and HTML/CSS, as well as frameworks like React. Soft skills such as collaboration, adaptability, and time management are also important.

4) DevOps engineer

DevOps engineers integrate development and operations to streamline software deployment and management. A basic DevOps technical skill setUnveiling the World of Software Engineers: Job Types, Training, and Salary includes C++ or Java, as well as network optimization and security. Soft skills such as communication and team management are also key.

5) UI/UX engineer

A UI/UX engineer focuses on user interaction (UI) and/or user experience (UX), planning user pathways, information architecture, visual design and typography, and other aesthetics. A basic UI/UX engineer technical skill setDemystifying UX/UI Design: The Power of User Experience includes HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, as well as wireframes, prototypes, and design tools. Soft skills such as collaboration and client services are also key.

6) Security engineer

A security engineer builds and maintains security systems for companies. They also develop software that defends against cyber attacks. A basic security engineer technical skill set11 Types of Software Engineers and Programmers: See Who You Can Become includes C++, Ruby, Python, and Java, as well as cryptography, some data science and analytics, and networks and information systems. Soft skills such as communication and attention to detail are also important.

7) Game developer

A game developer creates new game ideas and translates them into code as well as prototype and iterate gameplay. A basic game developer technical skill setYour Ultimate Guide to Breaking into the Game Development Industry includes C# or C++, game platforms like Unity and Unreal Engine, as well as animation techniques, game theory, and user interface design. Soft skills such as critical thinking, resilience, and creativity are also key.

Top software engineer soft skills

In addition to technical capabilities like coding, software engineers need to nurture a wide variety of soft skills that help them thrive in their role. We already mentioned many of them in the section above, but here are the non-negotiables and why they are important.

  • Collaboration and communication
    Software engineers work on teams that prioritize collaboration because it’s the best way to accomplish complex projects on demanding schedules. Knowing how to communicate clearly and work efficiently with others, such as stakeholders, fellow developers, and clients, will serve you well as a software engineer.
  • Time management
    Being able to prioritize workloads while tracking statuses of many moving pieces is a must for software engineers. Fast-paced environments require attention to detail as well as good time management skills, which is why it’s important for software engineers to learn project management methodologies such as Agile development.
  • Problem-solving
    Things often do not go according to plan in software development. To help cultivate a flexible mindset when overcoming challenges and navigating setbacks, aspiring software engineers need to lean into their curiosity and creativity. Some ways to practice these include seeking feedback, experimenting with new tools, reading widely, and joining communities. 
  • Continuous learning
    Technology changes quickly, and best practices are always evolving. To ensure software engineers are able to stay on top of the latest trends and solutions, they must invest in continuous learning. Online communities, industry conferences, webinars, and courses are all helpful resources to keep your skills sharp and your ideas fresh.

Tips for improving your skills

Whether you’re new to coding or have some prior experience, acquiring new skills involves learning of some kind. The good news is there are plenty of effective ways to improve what you know without going back to college (unless that’s your jam), both free and paid.

Online courses

If you’re looking to uplevel your skills in a certain area, an online course from a trusted provider can be an efficient way to achieve your goals. Unlike bootcamps, which tend to be more comprehensive and wide-ranging, these courses focus on a specific topic or skill and are often shorter time investments. Certifications are also helpful for showing ongoing professional development.


Coding bootcamps have become popular over the last decade as a way for people to transition into software engineering without the financial overhead of a college degree. The quality and legitimacy of a bootcamp can significantly impact the learning experience and future career prospects, though, so it’s important to verify the authenticity of a programUnveiling Legitimacy: How to Verify the Authenticity of a Bootcamp before investing. Things like alumni testimonials, accreditation, and job placement support are deciding factors.

Conferences and communities

Attending industry events and joining online communities like GitHub or Stack Overflow are all important ways to grow software engineering skills through collaboration and networking. Connecting with other developers and sharing failures and successes demonstrates a commitment to knowledge sharing and shows off your collaboration skills.

Books and white papers

Last, but not least, reading up on best practices is a smart way to supplement existing knowledge. And since books are long-form by design, they can dive into details that other ways of learning might not have space for. Mainstay titles include “The Programmatic Programmer” by Andew Hunt and David Thomas and Robert C. Martin’s “Clean Code.” Here are four other coding book titlesThe 4 Best Coding Books Every Beginner Should Own that we think are great for beginners.

Where to highlight software engineer skills

After working hard to acquire relevant skills, it’s important to show them off! The following suggestions are where you’ll find the most value in displaying your skills. Remember to keep them updated as you progress in your career, so they reflect your latest achievements.

  • Resume
    The first place to highlight software engineer skills is your resume, specifically in the “Skills” section (which should be on the first page). This is a separate area where you list coding languages, technical capabilities, and soft skills relevant to a job application. It can be helpful to add proficiency in each skill and to list your strongest skills first.
  • LinkedIn
    Another important place to highlight software engineering skills is your LinkedIn profile. Be sure to highlight technical skills and specializations, showcase projects and contributions, and collect endorsements and recommendations. LinkedIn can also be a great way to participate in conversations, grow your network, and showcase your problem-solving methodology.
  • Portfolio
    A strong portfolioSoftware Engineering Portfolios: How to Make Them Shine (With Examples!) where you can showcase your projects, highlight your software engineering skills, and celebrate achievements is valuable because it lets potential employers understand your expertise. Essential components include a clear, attractive design, succinct “About Me” section, best projects, and even technical writing samples.
  • GitHub
    Last, but not least, a GitHub profile can help you catch the attention of your favorite developers and potential employers. Be it a personal project, open-source contribution, or collaboration, each repository you make adds value to your profile and helps your collaboration shine.

Start your software engineer career today

You don’t need a tech background to work in tech. Whether you’re interested in becoming a web developer or a full-stack engineer, our Software Engineering Bootcamp is a great place to start. With over 1,000 graduates (89% of whom find a tech job within six months), it’s a verified way to learn part-time in a work-simulated environment and build the skills you need to succeed.

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