20 must-skills for software developers in 2021


Whether you are already an experienced developer or just starting out, if you want to become really good in this industry, you need to constantly hone your skills to stay relevant. Here are some of the most valuable skills for developers to tackle this year.

Of course, you don't need them all and this list is not exhaustive. But it should give you a good idea of what you need to learn or improve now.

Published: 28 April 2021
20 must-skills for software developers in 2021

1. Practice coding every day

Practice coding every day - even if only for 30 minutes. This will help you learn best development practices and develop your skills. It will also help you stay in top shape and master new technologies.

2. Learn to communicate well (both in writing and orally).

You don't have to speak English as a native language, but you do need to be communicative enough to help clients understand what you're saying. Whether in meetings, emails, or even on the phone, you don't want to lose a customer because they couldn't understand what you were saying. Writing clean code is also an essential skill that will help you stand out from other developers.

3. Practice Object-Oriented design principles

Even if you just started programming, learning OOP will benefit you greatly over time. It will also make it much easier for you to read someone else's code, which is essential when collaborating with other developers and your team members.

4. Learn how to use version control (e.g., Git) effectively.

Version control is essential for any developer working on multiple projects simultaneously or collaborating with other developers on projects.

5. Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills

Software development is a complex field. You’ll be exposed to many different problems and tasks during your career. Make sure you can solve them effectively by learning how to think like a developer.

6. Learn How To Use Design Tools Such As Photoshop, Sketch, and Illustrator

Good-looking websites and apps are essential if you want to create high-quality products that users love. While it’s possible to learn how to design using tutorials and YouTube videos, most of the time, you will need some formal training in this area when you start working on real projects.

7. Keep Learning New Technologies and Languages

Don’t get stuck on one stack! Learning new languages and frameworks will help you stay employable in this industry. If you have had the same stack for a long time, then there is a good chance that your skills will become obsolete over time. Always try to stay up to date with the newest technologies used by top developers around the world.

8. Learn at Least One Scripting Language (e.g. Python)

Scripting languages are useful for automating repetitive tasks. Even if you don’t want to become a full-time developer, scripting can make your life easier as a software engineer.

9. Learn How To Write Clean and Maintainable Code

You will have to spend lots of time reading other people’s code. If the code is not clean, then it will be very hard for you to understand what’s going on. So you must write clean and readable code yourself. One way to improve your coding skills is by writing unit tests (e.g. by using JUnit). This will help you catch bugs early in the development process. Also, try to keep your methods short so it will be easier to read them later when you need to come back and fix something in the project that you wrote months ago.

10. Be Able To Think Ahead and Plan Out How a Feature Should Work Before You Start Developing It

It takes time to go from writing an initial idea for a feature/product/bugfix to having that feature ready on the market. You need to be able to think ahead and make sure that everything fits together properly during this whole process (and also after). This includes planning with your team members, asking users what they want, talking with stakeholders about their requirements, etc. Don’t just start coding things without thinking first!

11. Learn How To Implement Security Measures Properly

There is a lot of information out there about security, and it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed. Make sure that you don’t just focus on the obvious things like “make sure your password is strong enough” and learn more about security threats and how to fix them.

12. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

Asking questions is a great way to learn. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that you know everything. Many developers tend to think that asking for help is a sign of weakness, but it’s actually a sign of strength. If you don’t understand something, ask someone who does and then try to figure it out yourself as well. This will help you gain a deeper understanding of the topic in question.

13. Learn How To Work With Different Environments (Mac, Linux, Windows)

You don’t have to become an expert in all platforms, but you should know how they work and what their pros and cons are. Also, knowing how different development environments work will allow you to save time when switching between them. For example, developing an Android app on Windows or Mac will force you to change your workflow since the process is quite different from using Linux or Ubuntu.

14. Practice Pair Programming Regularly With Your Team Members (or Others)

Pair programming means two people working together on one computer at the same time — one person sitting behind the keyboard writing code while the other person observes and gives feedback/suggestions/code reviews, etc.

Pair programming has many benefits, including a better understanding of the problem domain, sharing knowledge and ideas between team members, faster debugging, etc. It also allows developers to get comfortable with each other through regular communication and helps team members build trust towards each other, which greatly improves teamwork.

15. Understand Design Patterns (SOLID Principles and Object-Oriented Design Patterns)

You don’t have to know every single pattern by heart, but understanding what they are will help you a lot as a software developer. Object-oriented design patterns are used repeatedly in different frameworks and technologies, so understanding them will be extremely useful for your job as a software developer.

The SOLID principles guide us when writing code:

  • Single-responsibility principle
  • Open/closed principle
  • Liskov substitution principle
  • Interface segregation principle
  • Dependency inversion principle

16. Learn How To Deal With Change as a Software Developer

When working on new projects or even when working with existing code bases, things change from time to time (and not always because we want them to). You need to constantly adapt to these changes if you’re going to continue being productive in this business. If you cannot handle change well, you will eventually get stuck with outdated skills that won’t help you much anymore.

17. Learn How To Put Yourself in Other People’s Shoes

This is a beneficial skill in the software development industry. You need to learn how to see things through your client’s eyes and try to understand what they want or need. You need to communicate with them and make sure you deliver what they want.

18. Learn About Business Processes and Soft Skills

It doesn’t matter if you work for yourself or for another company. You must understand business processes and soft skills like communication, time management, problem-solving, and more. These are all crucial skills that will make you stand out from other developers who don’t know anything about this stuff.

19. Learn How To Deal With Deadlines

Everybody knows that projects sometimes run late and deadlines are not met. As a developer, you need to learn how to meet deadlines by setting smaller checkpoints in your projects that you can check off as you go. This will help you be more efficient and get the job done on time.

20. Learn How To Learn New Technologies Fast

As mentioned before, developers need to stay relevant and learn new technologies quickly. This means learning new languages and learning about new frameworks or libraries that can help you solve problems more efficiently. It’s not only important that you know about the technology but also why it’s better than the others.

If you don’t understand something or there is something that isn’t clear to you, ask questions! Don’t be afraid of looking stupid because if someone doesn’t understand something, they will never fully master it!

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