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The 13 developer skills you need to master now

Paul Heltzel | March 1, 2016
From JavaScript to big data to devops, we break down your best bets for bolstering your career this year.

Heavy weighs the crown of the developer king.

Yes, as software eats the world, demand for skilled developers remains high. But software’s pervasiveness -- from the server to the cloud to the coming onslaught of wearable and IoT devices -- means far greater responsibilities for software engineers and the need to constantly expand your skills.

Companies are now frequently looking for someone who is comfortable with every layer of the development stack, has the ability to extract insights from massive data sets, and can think strategically about devices to come, all while reconsidering old systems using the latest languages and frameworks. It’s enough to have no idea where to start.

To find out the most sought-after developer skills this year, we reached out to a mix of recruiters, CTOs, CEOs, and other executives who offered their must-have technologies to try, strategies to consider, and soft skills to master.

If you’re looking to dust off your resume or update your current skill set (you should be), let our breakdown of the most desirable skills and trending technology needs be your guide.

Brush up on JavaScript

These days, developers who have mastered JavaScript can’t go wrong, say those we surveyed. JavaScript proficiency is by far the most frequently sought skill named by executives and recruiters.

“Most developers already have an impression of the top keywords employers are searching for, having pored over job boards and comparative salary reports, while preparing for a job interview,” says Sherif Abushadi, an instructor at Dev Bootcamp. “JavaScript is the talk of the town, as are dozens of related frameworks and libraries built by the JavaScript community.”

Regardless of whether you’re building for the desktop, the Web, or mobile, “JavaScript has proven to be a highly portable and valuable skill set in today’s market,” says Todd Anglin, chief evangelist at Progress Software.

Engineers with solid computer science fundamentals and knowledge of a modern stack won’t go looking for work, says Mark Stagno, principal consultant for the software technology practice at WinterWyman Search. “This could be full-stack engineers or UI-focused developers who know JavaScript and a modern library such as AngularJS or React,” he says.

Abushadi adds that, while JavaScript is king, other popular languages and approaches worth dipping your toes into these days include Ruby, in concert with the Ruby on Rails framework, and Python, in conjunction with Django; both technology stacks have proved themselves vital to building scalable Web applications.

Go big with data

Big data projects continued to get, well, bigger last year, and there’s no sign of that slowing down in the years to come.

“While big data has been around for years, it’s a trend that’s here to stay,” says Andrey Akselrod, co-founder and CTO of Smartling. “Developers must have in-depth knowledge of [business intelligence] and analytics products, machine learning tools, and other solutions that transfer, store, and aggregate large amounts of data. Only then can they help their organizations store, interact, and analyze big data to make better business decisions.”

 

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