The skills required for software engineers

Being a software engineer is something that requires skill and specific knowledge. What skills are those, exactly? Let’s discuss that very topic in this blog.


Programming and coding

First things first, it is vital that all software engineers have ample knowledge and skills in programming and coding. This is the bread and butter of any software development or engineering project. 

It is usually essential to have knowledge of more than one language too, as each programming language has its own unique benefits and sometimes more than one will be appropriate for a given project. 

Common programming languages used include: 

  • Java
  • Python
  • C#/.Net
  • Mean
  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • PHP

Some of these will be learnt via a software engineer’s initial education, which can be gained from university, an apprenticeship, or self-taught options. However, it will be appropriate for software engineers to continue their learning of coding languages going forward throughout their careers and so others might be added to their repertoire at any given point.

Software development

Software engineers are primarily involved with software development projects. As such, they must be proficient in the entire software development life cycle and the stages within. These stages include: 

  • Stage 1: Planning
  • 2: Systems analysis and requirements
  • 3: Systems design
  • 4: Development 
  • 5: Integration and testing
  • 6: Implementation 
  • 7: Operations and maintenance 

A software engineer will be heavily involved in each and every one of these stages, not simply programming and coding. It is a multi-faceted role that requires skill in each stage. The best way to learn these skills is generally from experience and building up a personal portfolio.

There are different methodologies used throughout software development in order to complete these life cycles, and those will often be dependent on the preference of the larger team or software development company for which the engineer works. A good engineer will have a grasp on most or all of the common development methodologies in order to be able to quickly get to work on any project headed their way. 

Software testing and debugging

Testing is an integral stage in any software development project’s life cycle. As such, a software engineer will need to put particular attention to learning and developing skills in software testing. 

On some software development projects, there will be dedicated testers and QA workers. However, on others, it will be the role of the software engineer or developer to design and test all of their own work. So, a software engineer skilled in testing is much more valuable to any project or software development company.



Many software engineers will take on a specialism within engineering. This will help them to add particular value to a project or company, and stand out from the crowd. Undertaking a specialism tends to include further education, shadowing, and learning on the job. 

Some common specialisms within software engineering include: 

  • Networking
  • App development 
  • Cybersecurity
  • Embedded software
  • Video game development 
  • Data engineering
  • Automation 

As well as these technical skills and knowledge, software engineers are also required to have certain soft skills to be successful within their field. Software engineers always work within a team and how they navigate this aspect of their work is essential to how they advance and proceed throughout their careers. 

Some essential soft skills for software engineers can include…


Software work requires consistent communication between teams and individuals. Without communication, work through a development life cycle cannot advance smoothly and coherently. All elements of the life cycle are essential and so all members of any software development company’s team must be in constant communication with each other to seamlessly bring each part together.

Without good communication, a software engineer would really struggle in their career. 



On a similar note, software engineers need to develop the skill of teamwork. Software development is a team sport and it requires less solo work than many people might think. 

To be successful as a software engineer, you need to learn how to play as a team. It takes a team to make any project work and to be part of that team, you need to know how to work effectively with others. 


Passion and interest

One of the most important things to have in the life of any software role is passion and interest in the field. It can be a difficult and time-consuming job and so you need to love it in order to stick around. 

A love for the industry and sector also leads to having the desire to be the best you can be and to submit high-quality work.

It also leads to…


Continued learning and development 

All good software engineers need to engage with continued learning and development throughout their entire careers. You never stop learning as someone who works in the world of tech, as the industry never stops changing or growing. 

To keep up the pace, you need to stay engaged with learning and development from now until you retire. Whatever learning and development that is will be up to personal interest or company need.

There is a whole world of software out there, it takes a lot of effort to become an expert.

Ready to accelerate your technology project?

Chat to our team of experts and let's see how we can help you.