The Top 10 Software Developer Skills for 2024

June 7, 2024 | What's Hot | 14 min read

The skills IT pros need to succeed in the software development field are constantly evolving. Learn about the most necessary skills for developers today.

Due to the highly accelerated changes of the tech-driven workforce that have occurred over the past few years, the software development landscape has dramatically shifted. Today, IT decision-makers at companies all around the world are on the look-out for more specialized talent. 

Specifically, they are searching for professionals equipped with the right set of skills that fit into the innovative software development sphere who can keep up with the fast-paced changes occurring in the industry. But skills gaps are threatening to throw a wrench in their efforts.

According to Skillsoft’s 2023 IT Skills and Salary Report, 66% of IT decision-makers are dealing with skills gaps on their teams, and software development is one of the top skills areas that IT decision-makers are investing in right now. 

One of the leading reasons why tech leaders continue battling with a skills gap on their teams is because they can’t hire the candidates they need. That’s why tech decision-makers should devote to committing to the development of their employees on an organization-wide level. 

Investing in talent development and skills training is a win for both organizations and individuals. 

How so?  Well, the benefits for organizations are obvious: They cultivate the skills they need to stay competitive in the era of digital transformation. Additionally, professional development opportunities improve talent recruitment and retention, two of the other top issues plaguing IT leaders today

On the other hand, employees benefit because building the skills needed to become a software developer offers them a path towards career mobility.

That’s why skilling, upskilling, and reskilling through training is vital for workforce transformation and career development, ultimately leading to happier and more successful employees and organizations.

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What Are the Top Skills for Software Developers?

When IT leaders invest in software developer skills, organizations and their employees grow together. But, as the tech landscape continues to evolve at such a rapid speed, it raises the question: what are the best skills for software developers to have?

The answer depends on many factors, including what kind of software the company develops, the tools the company uses, and the particular software engineering roles that an individual is interested in.

That being said, by using data from the IT Skills and Salary Report, along with broader trends in the IT industry, we can pinpoint some of the most universally useful hard and power skills for software developers today

  1. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  2. Infrastructure as code
  3. Secure coding practices
  4. Programming and scripting languages
  5. Data structures and algorithms
  6. Git and GitHub
  7. Database and SQL knowledge
  8. Communication and collaboration
  9. Agile practices
  10. Problem-solving and critical thinking

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Hard Skills for Software Developers

1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms reach new levels of sophistication, more organizations are looking to incorporate these features into their products and services. This has revolutionized how businesses make decisions, understand consumer behavior, and enhance overall efficiency, making them highly sought-after skills in the 2024 job market. 

According to this year’s IT Skills and Salary Report, “AI and machine learning” is the top focus for 38% of IT decision-makers. However, a lack of knowledge and skills related to AI is a major contributor to skills gaps at organizations today, making it imperative that developers understand not only what the technology is, but also how to work with it. 

Interested in learning more about Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

2. Infrastructure as Code

The rise of the cloud is the hallmark of the digital transformation era—the technology that separates IT of today from the IT of the past. In last year’s report, 41% of IT decision-makers reported investing in cloud computing skills. Fast forward to today, and 82% of decision-makers say the demand for cloud computing skills is increasing within their organizations. That statistic, coupled with the fact that cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS) certifications took up the majority of spots in the list of Top Paying Certifications Worldwide from the IT Skills and Salary Report, underscores the importance of developing these skills. 

Platform-specific certification is likely the best way for new and experienced software developers to learn cloud computing skills. The cloud isn’t so much a singular technology as it is a whole new infrastructure with new ways of developing, hosting, and delivering apps. To comprehensively understand cloud computing, software developers must thoroughly engage with the specific structures their organizations use. 

Interested in learning more about cloud computing? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

3. Secure Coding Practices

The world of cybersecurity is extremely dynamic. Today, cyberattacks look very different than they did just a few years ago, requiring proactive controls. That’s why cybersecurity is top of mind for many IT decision-makers, with 29% of them naming it as a key focus area this year, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report

While cybersecurity and software development are separate fields, developers do have a role to play in keeping their organizations and customers safe by ensuring the software they build follows secure coding practices

Software developers can take a few different approaches to strengthen their skills in secure coding practices. Earning cloud security certifications can help them build more secure apps for cloud environments. Learning about cryptography can help them protect sensitive data. A secure software lifecycle certification, like the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP), can help developers build cybersecurity into their products.

Interested in learning more about secure coding practices? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

4. Programming and Scripting Languages

While writing code is a fundamental skill required for software developers, there are a lot of languages a person can learn. Understanding which ones developers and their organizations should focus on depends on the kinds of developers the organization needs.

Front-end developers create and maintain the user-facing parts of apps and websites, like dynamic visuals and interactive fields. The most useful languages for front-end developers include HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and JavaScript.

Back-end developers focus on the server side of the site or application—that is, the under-the-hood elements that power the service. Organizations can use many different languages for back-end development. Some of the most common include Java, Python, and the C family of languages (C, C++, and C# in particular).

Full-stack developers do both front- and back-end development, so IT professionals in this field typically learn a blend of both front-and back-end languages. Many full-stack developers also use Nod.js, and open-source runtime environment that allows them to use JavaScript for both front-and back-end development.

Mobile developers build apps for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Accordingly, they specialize in mobile-focused programming languages like Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android.

Interested in learning more about programming and scripting languages? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

5. Data Structures and Algorithms

Data structures are different organizational methods for strong information in a database, while algorithms describe the process required to complete tasks. To determine which combination can help optimize information in a program’s code, software developers often know many data structures and algorithms. 

Data structures and algorithms paired with machine learning are massive topics with broad applications in most of the latest cutting-edge technological innovations, which can make learning these important tech skills feel daunting. To learn different data structures, it’s extremely helpful to take courses that teach you how to build and implement them in a program.

Learning Python is one of the best ways to get started. This language is simple and flexible, and it’s used as the foundation for many of the most sophisticated machine learning, data analytics, and data visualization algorithms.

Interested in learning more about data structures and algorithms? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

6. Git and GitHub

“Version control” refers to the processes developers use to track changes to software code over time. It’s an invaluable skill for software developers because it allows them to collaborate on projects, quickly find and fix bugs, and avoid major derailments. 

Most software engineers use two tools for version controls: Git, a version control application, and GitHub, a web-based platform for Git repositories. For that reason, familiarity with Git and GitHub is practically a required skill for software developers.

Additionally, using Git and GitHub can help developers learn to read and understand code, making them better at identifying issues, fixing problems, and communicating with others, which are also vital power skills for engineers.

Interested in learning more about Git and GitHub? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

7. Database and SQL Knowledge

Databases are fundamental parts of how so many apps and websites function today. For that reason, software developers need to know how to work with these databases, including how to search for information, add and update data, and keep databases secure. 

Many of the most popular database management systems today, like Oracle, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server, use a programming language called Structured Query Language (SQL) to perform functions. Learning SQL is a great place for software engineers to start with database management.

There are, however, other database management systems that don’t use SQL, like MongoDB. Software developers need to keep in mind specific databases their organizations use. 

Interested in learning more about database technologies? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

Power Skills for Software Developers

While technical skills remain vital for software developers, professionals in this line of work must not ignore the value of soft skills—or as we like to call them: power skills

Today we are seeing skills like communication, teamwork, creativity, and resilience rise in importance as those in tech take on increasingly influential roles in their organizations. Let’s take a look at the top power skills for software developers.

1. Communication and Collaboration

Software development is a collaborative process that requires the ability to effectively communicate with others in a cross-culture setting. In order to properly execute their duties, developers need to be able to explain their code to team members, clearly document their code, and understand the code that other people are writing. They must also communicate with clients and customers to understand what they need from a product and incorporate their feedback into the build. It’s also essential to understand how to effectively communicate advancements on projects or specific needs with high-level employees, such as stakeholders or company executives, who may not understand all the technology-specific terms that other software developers are acquainted with.

Evidently, effective communication involves more than just listening and saying what is on your mind. That’s why learning the fundamentals of effective communication can go a long way.

Interested in learning more about communication and collaboration? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

2. Agile Practices

Whether Scrum, Agile, DevOps, or some combination thereof, every software development cycle follows some methodology. Today, we are seeing many team structures evolving to be more agile, organized, and team-based, therefore influencing the methodologies that team leaders use. The better a developer knows that methodology, the more efficiently they can work inside it. Different organizations use different methodologies, so software engineers and IT decision-makers should focus on whichever one forms the basis of their particular process. 

On a broader level, developers may also pursue generalized project management certifications like Project Management Professional (PMP). These can equip them with skills they can use in nearly any software development cycle. Plus, PMP certification can increase a developer’s salary, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report.

Interested in learning more about project management and software development lifecycles? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

3. Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

At its core, software development is about solving problems. Software engineers must design and build apps and services to help customers solve their pain points. Furthermore, developers will inevitably run into bugs, broken code, and other challenges when making software. 

Problem-solving and critical thinking, then, are two of the most critical skills for software developers. Developers must learn how to think creatively and critically, invite and use feedback, and analyze their code to fix the issues that arise.

Interested in learning more about problem-solving and critical thinking? Check out these resources from Skillsoft:

How do You Gain the Top Developer Skills?

In a world where the only constant is change, the ability to learn, adapt, and grow has never been more critical. Top performers are always looking to prepare for career mobility and it’s evident that software developers need a broad set of skills to succeed in their roles, yet cultivating those skills can seem daunting. 

The good news is that there are plenty of resources that are available to help. Whether you’re an IT decision-maker looking to close team-wide skills gaps or a first-time manager who wants to level up, the ability to track and measure skilling capabilities is indispensable for anyone seeking to thrive in today’s dynamic environment. 

Choosing the Right Software Developer Training

Here are a few software developer training resources to explore: 

Online Training Programs

Online training programs are particularly popular among IT pros. According to the IT Skills and Salary Report, 77% of respondents report that their company offers some type of formal training, and an impressive 97% believe that certified staff add value to their organization. Additionally, the most popular training programs are online, with 59% of survey respondents reporting that online, on-demand training sessions were their preferred method of training. 

What makes a great online training program for software developer skills? The IT Skills and Salary Report can offer some insight here. According to the IT pros surveyed, the most important factors are content quality, hands-on learning, and updated content. 

Attending Webinars

Webinars can be another effective tool for learning the skills needed to be a software developer. While webinars don’t offer the same kind of comprehensive instruction as full training courses, they can provide deep dives into specific topics. Plus, webinars are often free and relatively brief, making them easier to fit into a busy schedule. 

Learning From Peers

Research shows that peer-to-peer learning can be an effective way of building new skills. It can also help build camaraderie among teams, which in turn helps software developers learn vital communication and collaboration skills. 

According to the IT Skills and Salary Report, many IT pros already embrace peer-to-peer learning: In the past year, around 30% of IT pros surveyed worldwide have attended an informal training session at work that includes unorganized, impromptu, or peer-to-peer training. 

IT leaders can support peer-to-peer learning by establishing formal opportunities like mentorship programs, weekly lunch-and-learns, or setting aside time during meetings for shareouts. 


Choosing the Right Software Developer Training

Money put into skilling, reskilling, and developing IT people pays off. Employees not only want to learn, but they’re also actively seeking ways to advance their skills. 

In order to know what’s working and what’s not, talent development teams seek clarity and a means to measure their efforts. They are ready to close their skills gaps and driven to prepare for what’s next, but they need a clear way to measure and index skills so they have insight into what’s working, the efficacy of learning programs, and more. 

Interactive Skill Benchmarks answer this call. As the software development industry continues to evolve, keeping up with the latest trends and technologies can be a challenge for both individuals and organizations. However, with the right professional development opportunities consisting of training solutions tailored to their unique needs, employees and employers can close their skills gaps and grow together. That’s where Codecademy for Enterprise comes in.

Codecademy for Enterprise is an online training solution that has helped many businesses and individuals build the software developer skills they need. Featuring interactive practice opportunities, personalized learning, and peer-to-peer communities, Codecademy for Enterprise can level up your organization’s tech skills with hands-on, immersive training. 

Learn more about Codecademy for Enterprise.