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
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:
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 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.
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.