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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.

To the cloud

Unsurprisingly there’s a steady demand for developers familiar with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. “In cloud providers, Amazon is still the biggest player by far, so keep up to date with their more advanced offerings like the API Gateway, Lambda, and the Container Service,” says Nic Benders, chief architect at New Relic.

But it’s not all about tools, when it comes to developing career opportunities in the cloud. In part of an ongoing trend, companies are looking for developers with business skills, including project management and the ability to negotiate with vendors, says TEKsystems’ Hayman. “Additionally, there’s a need for more ‘move the business forward’-type skills, but less of a need for tactical work, as cloud providers are now increasingly responsible for that,” he says.

“Success in the cloud means having deployed infrastructure that is secure, properly monitored, and properly managed,” says MongoDB’s Reinero. “IaaS and cloud platforms offer terrific opportunities, but improper management of a distributed cloud infrastructure can evaporate any advantage if failures exhaust a team’s time and budget, and lead to unnecessary loss of business availability.”

IoT: Making connections

The long-heralded concept of the Internet of things is now showing up both as a hiring demand and as a skill talented engineers want to explore themselves. And it’s not only for embedded systems engineers anymore.

“You can do it even as a JavaScript developer,” says Flybits’ Hossein Rahnama. “The advent of protocols such as Wi-Fi Halo and wearable and IoT devices opening lightweight SDKs, will open many opportunities for developers to go beyond displays and build things for their surroundings and environments. We will also see many hardware/software co-designs due to the advent of these tools.”

MongoDB’s Reinero sees new opportunities where medical devices and the cloud converge: “This includes more wearable devices used for outpatient treatment and care, and smaller devices used in diagnostics,” he says. “These devices will enable us to learn more about ourselves and vexing disorders. Data aggregation and analysis will be a critical part of how these devices are used. The availability of scalable and robust nonrelational databases used in conjunction with analytics systems will allow professionals to analyze medical data at a scale not previously possible.”

Be persuasive

What about soft skills? Our experts frequently raised the idea that the ability to reach across divisions is a top demand for new hires.

“Client management skills are important, particularly the ability to push back tactfully but convincingly when there are alternatives that deliver more value,” says PromptWorks’ Sterndale. “Also being able to educate clients about the nature of software, guiding them toward practices that will serve them best in the long run.”


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