IT Employment optimize

Five skills that can help software engineers stand out from the pack

Here are five core skills that can help you build critical competencies as a software engineer and help you stand out from the pack.

Last week I blogged about a CareerCast report that said Software Engineer was the hottest job for 2011. Many readers chose to blast me and TR for associating this job with low stress and I'd just like to say that it's not like CareerCast came to me and asked me about the stress level. I was merely reporting what they stated as the credentials for the determination. But if CareerCast ever DOES ask me, I'll tell them that they're wrong. Judging by the reaction that blog got, I'd have to say that software engineers are fairly overwrought.

But back to business. If you read that blog and would still like to pursue a career as a software engineer or if you're a software engineer who would like to know how to stand out from the pack, here are some tips.

Bruce Douglass, Chief Evangelist from IBM Rational suggests these five core skills to help build critical

competencies:

Electric Vehicle Mechanics: According to SBI Energy and J.D. Power & Associates, the electric vehicle market in the U.S. will double by 2020. As automakers upgrade the features in electric, so will the amount of software code in each vehicle. Students with knowledge and fundamentals on electric vehicles will be in better position to create complex battery systems, electric drive units and cabin electronics. Probability and Statistics: Collecting, processing, analyzing and interpreting numerical data is key. These skills can be used to calculate the average downtime of a computer, evaluating the effectiveness of commercial products, predicting the reliability of a rocket or studying the vibrations of airplane wings. Environmental Engineering: The green movement will remain a hot button issue for future engineers. Finding new ways to improve the environment, provide healthy water, air, and land for human habitation, and to remediate polluted sites are all important areas of expertise for students. Engineering Economics: This skill is for any student with aspirations of one day managing a project. It is used to answer many likely scenarios, like: Which engineering projects are worthwhile? Which engineering projects should have a higher priority? How should the engineering project be designed? Etc. Ethics: This skill goes along with well established fields such as medical, business and legal ethics. Amid pressure from recent events like the levies failing in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, universities are putting a higher emphasis for students to have a better understanding of ethical and quantitative concepts, as opposed to solely focusing on data and numbers.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

7 comments
TMark.Bosley
TMark.Bosley

A lot of programmers ignore the business of business--to their detriment

thiankloppers
thiankloppers

I really think you are more prone to stand out if you have knowledge of other areas besides SD. And then again, SD incorporates a lot of other fields of study, for example, the genetic algorithm (genetics and/or biology), gui and sound design(art and music), velocity(physics) and even the syntax of the language you develop your software in (linguistics)! I don't say you should mention you had art as a subject in primary school on your CV, but if you are artistic or you like to read a physics whitepaper every now and again, you should definitely state it under hobbies, because businesses actually quite often rather give the job to someone that has other fields of interest as well :-)

clertem
clertem

I think software development is a job by itself , and coders should not be asked to learn/know other domains but their own; Managers think they can make savings on the simple fact that coders would play both roles, the functional and the technical... Why should a software developer learn Environmental Engineering and not a Environmental Engineer learn software development (silly question btw) ?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

and there's me thinking that this would be five skills related to software engineering.... I'm not knocking domain knowledge which is always valuable, within it, but if you want to earn your corn as an engineer of software you need to be able to apply it to many domains, and you can when you stop confusing it with external constraints....

toodevastate
toodevastate

I suppose the most valuable of these professionals will be those who are able to identify the most pertinent areas of concern and design the most effective solutions for them.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

how much domain knowledge they need versus the input of a domain expert, is open to interpretation, but short of writing assembly for specific hardware the day of 'just a coder' disappaeared over the horizon a loooong time ago.