Important Job Skills for Software Engineers

A room of software engineers working on laptops
Cultura RM Exclusive/Stefano Gilera

Also known as software developers, software engineers have one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. Most experienced software engineers make over six figures and enjoy great perks, such as being able to work remotely from home or while traveling.

While these engineers do require a certain set of skills, taking the time to hone these skills is worthwhile.

Not all software engineers/developers have a college degree, but many of them acquire a degree in computer science or machine learning.

The demand for software engineers exists in nearly every industry.

The Skills Software Engineers Need

Software engineers create software and systems for computers. They employ math, science, engineering, and design techniques to build these systems. Additionally, they must be able to test and evaluate their own systems of software built by other engineers.

Software engineers usually have a degree in computer science. They should have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. A software engineer has a thirst for new technologies, as well for maintaining strong communication and interpersonal skills. Software engineers must be highly motivated and experienced in various programming languages.

Types of Software Engineer Skills

Software engineers must have a variety of hard and soft skills, including:


As a software engineer, you will be required to manage multiple projects in a deadline-driven environment. Whether you work remotely as a freelancer or as a full-time employee in an office, you’ll need to manage multiple projects at once, each with their own urgent timeline. A successful software engineer will be able to prioritize, triage, and manage all of the various milestones of all the various projects on their plate at a given time.

Along with managing timelines, a software engineer will need to be able to thrive in an environment where deadlines occur regularly. You’ll have to manage other people’s priorities and balance them with your own, along with the needs of your other clients or projects.

  • Organization
  • Prioritization
  • Deadlines
  • Managing Expectations


Building software systems is generally a solitary endeavor, but a software engineer must still be able to communicate regularly with other people and teams. As an engineer, you should be able to articulate project needs, as well as be able to discuss any challenges or problems that arise. Software engineers will routinely work with a number of other teams and departments at once, while also managing a team of their own.

You may be required to work with people whose ideas and philosophies you don’t agree with. Other times, misunderstandings arise and can threaten you and your team’s deadline. A successful engineer should be comfortable working closely with others, compromising and innovating as needed.

  • Collaboration
  • Compromising
  • Active Listening
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Oral Communication
  • Written Communication

Attention to Detail

There are certain practices and standards in the industry that a successful software engineer must master. These include the basics, like utilizing version control systems so that you don’t lose old work, or employing a robust and thorough testing protocol. They also include more complex details such as analyzing and maintaining older code, or developing strategic methodologies upon which you build a coding framework.

  • Analytical Skills
  • Troubleshooting
  • Technical Documentation
  • Formulas
  • Data Analytics
  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Computer Coding Languages

Many software engineers are fluent in one (or two) coding languages, and this becomes their primary area of expertise. While this is typical, the best engineers are familiar with all of the relevant coding languages on a basic level. An employer may not expect you to be fluent in all the coding languages of the day, but you will be more attractive to an employer if you’re able to learn languages with analogous qualities (structured versus functional, for example), or by knowing a bit about different types of languages.

  • JavaScript
  • SQL
  • Java
  • Ruby
  • PHP
  • Python
  • C
  • C++
  • C#
  • HTML
  • CSS

More Software Engineer Skills

  • Database Architecture
  • Product Enhancement
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Linux/Unix
  • Perl
  • Shell
  • Optimization
  • Strategic Planning
  • Design Reviews
  • Agile Scrum Team
  • Computer Architecture
  • Operating Systems
  • Data Structures
  • Stress Tolerance
  • SaaS
  • Web Services
  • Source Code
  • Version Repository
  • UI Toolkits and Frameworks
  • Microsoft ASP.NET MVC
  • Web API
  • js
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Inductive Reasoning
  • Process Analysis
  • Project Management

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

ADD RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: Use the skills mentioned here to help you in your job search. You can put them to use in your resume, especially in the descriptions of your work history.

HIGHLIGHT SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: You can also use them in your cover letter to describe prior work experience. As an engineer, having a letter of recommendation from an instructor or previous employer is also a good idea.

USE SKILL WORDS IN YOUR JOB INTERVIEW: During your interview, consider mentioning a few of these traits in order to give examples of how you’ve demonstrated them in prior work.