Looking Ahead, What Skills Should Coders Be Investing In?

Every coder looks for the next big thing. Today, our guest blogger, Kayleigh Alexandra, explains the skills developers should invest in for future growth

Last Updated: • Develop •
Clear whiteboard reading Skills

[image credit: Max Pixel]

This is certainly a very interesting time for professional programmers. Every piece of good news seems to be shadowed by a comparable piece of bad news, leaving the industry in a strange position of expanding and contracting simultaneously.

For instance, there’s the ever-increasing demand for digital content and development, which ensures a steady flow of work — but it’s tempered by the threat of automation, and the prospect of machine learning giving rise to self-improving software.

It’s easy to understand, then, why a forward-thinking coder might develop some confusion about how best to further their ambitions. What should their time be going towards? Which skills are worth pursuing, and which can safely be overlooked? Here are my suggestions for the skills that smart coders should be investing in:

JavaScript

There are many reasons why JavaScript in particular remains vitally important, but the main one is the role it continues to play in general internet browsing. While many websites still have non-JavaScript fallbacks, advanced functionality often demands it, and it runs on any platform you care to mention. Because of this, it’s the most in-demand language around.

Even though the first release of JavaScript was created in just 10 days way back in 1995, iterative improvement has kept it viable. Today, so much of the internet relies on it that it’s tough to see JavaScript being toppled from its perch in the near future. Instead, expect development to continue for many years to come — ensuring that skilled JavaScript coders have options.

Python

While JavaScript is the language of the web, Python is a much broader language, so it’s an exceptional investment for anyone who wants the flexibility of being able to approach wildly-differing projects. It’s well-documented, backed by a strong community, and considered a top choice for beginners due to its minimally-awkward syntax.

Due to its popularity and diverse set of libraries, Python is also the language of choice for most AI projects. While the AI field will undoubtedly render some positions obsolete, it will create new ones, and developers adept with Python will suit those fresh roles well. Ultimately, that makes Python about as future-proof of JavaScript — and someone who knows both will have no shortage of opportunities.

Formal logic

As much as programming languages can wildly differ, they all rely on the same logical principles, making formal logic a worthwhile area of study for anyone wanting to improve their general development skills. However, while it’s something you’d encounter while studying computer science (or even philosophy), there are plenty of coders that learned on the job and never studied logic in any formal capacity.

Anyone who’s interested in learning more about logic can hunt down a viable online course: for instance, here’s one from Coursera via Stanford. Having a better understanding of the fundamental building blocks of logical arguments will make coding somewhat easier, so if you’re not wholly confident on logic, give it a try.

Ecommerce development

Ecommerce is a hugely-profitable industry, and in today’s competitive online landscape, brands are investing more and more heavily in UX design and website improvements. One option that holds a lot of promise for a developer is learning a proprietary theme language used by a leading CMS provider — it should be much faster to learn than a generic language, and open up a new range of employment options.

For instance, while most platforms run on standard coding fare (e.g. both Shopify and Magento run on non-proprietary languages, with the former running on Ruby and the latter being PHP), Shopify has Liquid, a template language written in Ruby but presenting fresh challenges. If you learn how to use Liquid, you can set yourself apart from other developers when brands running on Shopify need bespoke themes created.

Interpersonal communication

Coding hasn’t traditionally been something that has required a lot of interaction. Programmers can get by working completely alone (aside from when they need help), submitting their work on time but otherwise being fully independent. Looking ahead, though, the future is one of integration (distinct systems being connected to serve greater purposes) — and this is likely to lead to closer collaboration and developers having more varied roles.

In truth, though, this would be a skill worth investing in even if the industry weren’t changing at all, because it isn’t always enough to produce excellent work. Sometimes projects need to be justified, personal conflicts need to be overcome, and pitches need to be delivered. Getting better at working alongside (and dealing with) others is something that all coders should be targeting ahead of an uncertain future — it’s one of the key non-programming skills that every programmer should possess.

Varied as they may be in nature, I consider each of these skills to be a safe bet for the coming years. Anyone who invests in the entire set will come away with a greatly-expanded set of career possibilities.

Are there any other skills you think a developer should acquire to further their career? Marketing? SEO? Post your comments below and let's discuss.

Did you like this content? Show your support by buying me a coffee.

Buy me a coffee  Buy me a coffee
Picture of Kayleigh Alexandra

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted

comments powered by Disqus