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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.

The pace of data creation is dizzying, says John Piekos, vice president of engineering at VoltDB. But so are the opportunities.

“Mobile and Internet of things devices are becoming ubiquitous worldwide,” Piekos says. “Applications being developed today are harnessing amazing amounts of data and analyzing and reacting in real time. Technologies that capture and act on data the moment it arrives, such as streaming solutions and in-memory data stores, are becoming must-have skills to master. And technology that can store, manage, and historically analyze massive amounts of data -- petabytes and up -- will be skills that serve developers well for the next decade.”

For developers looking to add data wrangling to their arsenals, technologies such as Hadoop, Spark, R, and the variety of machine learning frameworks currently emerging are great places to start.

Master the full stack

Many top firms are now seeking full-stack developers who comfortably move between a variety of technologies and platforms.

These engineers “understand the implications of technical decisions from core layers of the software onto the presentation layer,” says Hossein Rahnama, founder and chief product officer of startup Flybits. “These are great assets as they make the job much easier for their peers and will prevent the startup from developing silos by following a classical hierarchical technical decision-making. They enable the teams to remain small and effective. Leveraging platforms such as Top Coder and Amazon Mechanical Turks are also great ways to engage in cool projects.”

Bryan Reinero, developer advocate at MongoDB, says going forward, engineers will need a broader range of skills to be effective: “Fortunately, increasing the scope of expertise is both healthy for the engineer as well as for the company in which she works.”

Buy into devops

Some tech gurus think devops will fall by the wayside as the use of cloud computing continues to grow inside corporations. Not so, says MongoDB’s Reinero.

“Devops skills are a clear stand-out,” Reinero says, “often expressed by the dicta ‘Engineers responsible for writing an application are the same engineers who maintain the application in production.’ This includes the need to break down engineering silos such that engineers understand how their code operates in production and are mindful of performance and stability during the development phase.”

Greater access to hot job prospects isn’t the only reason to look into adding devops to your resume; devops practices simply make you a better developer and a more invaluable collaborator, Reinero argues.

“Engineers who think in these terms will release better code faster and with greater confidence,” Reinero says. “Devops practices also improve team cohesion and operational agility. This is the kind of edge that allows a company to accelerate ahead of the pack.”


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