What skills does a Software Engineer need to have?

The best Software Engineers will have extensive experience across several different types of projects requiring knowledge of different coding languages. Working knowledge of source control systems is also essential, along with navigating the software development cycle. 

To be employed as a Software Engineer, you will need to develop various hard and soft skills. 

Hard skills required include: 

  • Ability to use computer programming languages (e.g. Java, C++, C#)
  • Knowledge of operating systems (e.g. Windows, Unix/Linux)
  • Knowledge of software development tools (e.g. Microsoft Visual Studio, Eclipse)
  • Familiarity with relational databases and SQL
  • Ability to produce technical documentation and diagrams as required 

Soft skills include: 

  • Analytical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Initiative and the ability to manage projects from beginning to end
  • Good communication skills to explain complex topics to non-technical stakeholders 

How can someone learn essential Software Engineer skills?

There are many ways to learn essential Software Engineer skills.

Some of the most common include: 

  • University degrees in computer science, information technology or related fields
  • Short courses in coding languages, operating systems and development tools
  • Online tutorial videos covering everyday Software Engineering tasks (e.g. Google Code University) 
For the best Software Engineers, it's less about what you know than what you can do with it. As technology is constantly changing, the most sought-after employees are those who can adapt quickly. 

The best way to get started is to get as much technical experience as possible and apply those skills to real-life projects. 

Do you need to go to university to become a Software Engineer? While you don't need a university education to get a job (some employers will accept a robust portfolio), it's typically the path most professionals take. 

Looking to upskill? Hays Learning for IT professionals offers free tech courses online across a wide array of topics which can be completed at your own pace. 

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What qualifications does a Software Engineer need?

Most Software Engineers will have a degree in computer science, information technology or a related field. Several post-graduate study options, such as Master of Engineering (Software), can help you gain increased knowledge and skills that make it easier for you to find a job. 

The most important Software Engineer qualifications are certifications in the programming languages, tools and processes that the employer uses. Microsoft offers certification in their Visual Studio, .NET and Azure development tools. Having these certifications is crucial when an employer requests them or when you want to advance your career to a more senior level. 

How can a Software Engineer upskill throughout their career?

As technology is always changing, keeping up with the latest trends will ensure that you remain relevant. The best way to upskill throughout your career is to: 

  • Learn new programming languages and development tools as required by your work 
  • Take short courses on topics that can help you advance your career or move into a different type of role (e.g. web design, coding for mobile devices) 
  • Research which Software Engineering certifications will be beneficial as you work towards professional advancement (and the associated career benefits it brings) 
  • Spend time continuing to learn about new technologies in industry publications 
For IT professionals, upskilling throughout your career can be expensive and take a lot of time. In partnership with Go1, Hays Learning makes upskilling easy with free e-learning for all. We are always adding more courses to cover the most in-demand skills. Sign up now for free

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