Top 10 Technical Skills Needed for Software Engineer in 2021 [Updated]

As a software engineer what skills should I pursue to be successful in 2020?

What are the trending software technologies in 2020? What opportunities should I explore?

Is there any certification that I should go for, to boost my software engineering career?

If you have any of the above questions, most likely you are a software engineer or an aspiring software engineer. Software Engineering is one of the most sought after careers. Most of the professionals get attracted to it because of its handsome remuneration. However, software engineering being a very dynamic field, needs its professionals to keep themselves constantly updated with changing tools and technologies. This is precisely the reason, some professionals are most sought after in this industry and some are not. Keeping track of all such changes and pursuing all of them as they change is impossible. 

Here we list out top 10 skills required for software engineers to be successful in this year.

#1- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

skills required for software engineers

AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) are the buzzwords in the market. The hype is justified, given its possibilities and applications. It is still in its nascent stage, yet, has shown promise and students with a degree in AI and ML are hired at a very handsome package.

AI and ML opens up possibilities not only for greater remunerations but also the satisfaction of building something unique. There have been some amazing implementations using this. Your software engineer skills will get thoroughly tested and challenged to bring out unique solutions to the problem at hand. 

An AI and ML professional is widely respected in the software engineer community for his/her software developer skills. There are many online courses, distance learning opportunities, and on campus curriculum providing AI and ML related courses.

#2- Cloud Computing Literacy

skills required for software engineers
With the rise of IoT (Internet of Things), having computing and storage capability on the go has become a great necessity. To cater to this rising demand, software giants like Amazon, Microsoft and Google have come up with their respective services. Getting expertise in any of these platforms promise employability and a decent income.

Software engineer skills, like staying open to fresh things, adoption of distinct software languages, tools and techniques go a long way. The major cloud offerings are proprietary and thus get governed by their own set of tools and methodologies. However, a generic idea of how things operate and expertise in at least one of such platforms open scope for one to work comfortably in most cloud environments. 

Training, courseware and certification are provided by respective cloud service providers. For Google Cloud you get certified by Google, For AWS(Amazon Web Services) you get certified from Amazon and for Azure you get certified by Microsoft.

#3- Security expertiseskills required for software engineers

With an increase in solutions getting online, for wider availability and acceptance, most data which used to reside on stand-alone databases or servers, are now on the move over the internet. This not only increases accessibility, ease of use and convenience but also risks to that data during transit. 

Software and data security is a vast field. You can make an entire career out of it. There are a variety of fields of application, a multitude of tools to use and management processes. There are many certifications available for this field of software engineering. Your software engineer skills are put to test in this field almost everyday due to evolution of threats very frequently.

Remuneration wise this skill is valuable as software security specialists are highly sought after professionals in the industry. With certifications like CEH, CISSP, ECSA, CISM etc the value increases even more.

#4- Software Testing Basics

Software Testing

When I mention software testing basics as an in-demand skill, some who are familiar with the industry may disapprove. However, truth be told, earlier dedicated software testing roles are getting mutated into automation testing or into coders for maintaining existing software codes. 

Then why am I saying software testing is an essential skill? Because, since the dedicated tester roles are getting obliterated, every software developer has to be a tester besides his development profile. They have to understand software testing principles, techniques and methods to be effective in testing their own piece of code. They have to integrate testing as a quality assurance trait into their software developer skills.

In an organisation where they follow latest trends, processes for software development, they would not hire dedicated full-time testers; instead they will groom their engineers to develop software engineer skills which should definitely have a decent amount of software testing fundamentals covered.

#5- Docker and Kubernetes

software skills

With the increase in usage of cloud based environments, a hunt for a convenient software shipping solution began. Docker was the answer. Docker allows all your configuration to be saved easily in images and shipped for further usage. Without the need of any major setups that span across multiple softwares or dependencies, one can directly start using the docker images. Not only convenience, docker also provides optimal usage of underlying hardware in your hosting environment. 

Kubernetes is the orchestration tool for Docker that significantly adds to the capabilities of Docker. With Kubernetes, Docker’s true potential of being a very dependable and convenient containerization solution can be exploited.

This is definitely one of the skills required for software engineers this year and many more years to come to be successful. Being a relatively new technology, this also has tremendous earning potential if one becomes an expert in using this platform.

#6- DevOps

 software engineering skillsDevOps originated for streamlining customer experience and reducing time to market by bridging the gap between the development team and the operations team. While the Development team, engineers, develops and tests the software product, Operations team configures, deploys and maintains such software product for end customers. 

DevOps includes a large Tool-chain to achieve the primary goal of enriching customer experience and reducing time to market all the while adding more quality to the software product. This is achieved by continuous integration of improvements on the live software. One can learn and be a master of some tools from the various aspects of Devops like Coding, Building, Testing, Packaging, Releasing, Configuring and Monitoring to add to the overall progress of the software. Getting familiar with this new mode of execution, all in the meantime adding to his/her software engineer skills will ensure the professional never goes out of demand.

#7- Professional Networking

Professional Networking

This is the age of collaboration, to leverage market opportunities and maximize profits. For example, you may have something excellent that addresses some important use case of the customer, but you may not have the means to reach out to the customer at their convenience or in a specific market. Here, you can find a suitable business partner and collaborate with them to use their solution or market presence to increase your business gains. In exchange, the partner can also gain some from your expertise, products, a share of your revenue and increase credibility in the market for future collaborations.

Not only business gains but also you can get lessons, best practices from peers in other companies to improve your competencies, processes and knowledge of new tools and technologies. The more you collaborate, more chances are there for your software developer skills to get exposure and recognition. If you are recognized in a professional circle, then chances of landing a desired job balloons up significantly.

This is one of the trending, and important skills required for software engineers in this era of professional interdependence.

#8- Angular

trending software technologies

With the increase in computer literacy, availability of mobile computing devices (including your mobile phone) to the masses, it becomes important for you to make your software as presentable as possible. There are few web frameworks that make lucid user interfaces that fit both on the Desktop Web and mobile Web with ease. Angular is at the forefront of such technologies. It becomes extremely important to have a neat, accurate, attractive and efficient website to stay relevant in this changing market. 

You can significantly boost your demand in the industry by including Angular expertise in your software developer skills list. Most companies adopting Angular are now looking for professionals adept in this technology. However, this technology being relatively new, has less practicing professionals. This has led to hiring such professionals at a higher pay package. It can definitely be considered as one of the skills required for software engineers in this year to be successful.

#9- Internet of Things

skills required for software engineer

The Internet of Things can be best imagined by taking the example of a smart home solution. Elaborating, it is the inter-operation of various electronic devices, primarily interfaced via sensors over a network to carry out intended functionalities; mostly driven and orchestrated remotely. 

A lot of technologies like machine learning, real-time analysis, commodity sensors and embedded systems go into achieving the complete use cases of IoT. Your software engineer skills will need to be innovative enough to fit useful code in smaller form factor hardware, limited bandwidth internet connection and adopt wireless technology protocols. If you are dealing with Realtime devices that have critical functionalities like medical implementations then you need to make them extra resilient to failure.

To be successful in this domain, in addition to your component, it is advisable to have an idea of the complete picture. This will help you grow into a solutions consultant role. As a solutions consultant, you will need to see use cases that others cannot and thus be successful in this field. Because of unavailability of common standard till now, we can say IOT still has a lot of scope to grow and open its wings. Solution consultants being some reference point, are in high demand in companies that provide IoT solutions.

#10- Management and Certifications

Management and Certifications

One of the most underrated software engineer skills is to mature from being an individual technical contributor to handling higher roles by growing into a manager without a formal degree. With a lot of technologies changing overnight, it is important to adapt to such changes in your management style. 

Besides, new process certifications like Agile Certification and its derivatives you can rely on some old but industry proven certifications like Six Sigma that help you grow into a thorough management professional. Besides, your technical background, such management skills will add even more value to your profile and distinguish you over your peers.


Software Engineer Skills being very dynamic because of the rate at which technology changes, by the time you go through this blog, it is possible that the technologies mentioned here have become obsolete. Still the takeaway from this blog should be to stay open to fresh things and keep upgrading your skills instead of taking this blog as a cornerstone of your career. 


1. Now that I have an overview of trending skills required for software engineers, what should I do?

Once you have decided to pursue some items listed here, you can go for a certification in the respective field or attend various available courses in the market. Some of them are provided online at a very minimal cost, allow you to afford them easily and also learn at your own pace.

2. I am too busy with my day job. How do I find time to learn more?

Gone are the days where you had to pay a big amount to learn something new while rescheduling a lot of planned activities. You can easily go for online training available and learn things at your own pace. The courses are also relatively affordable.

Spread the love

I am an experienced software engineering professional, who has recently discovered his flair for writing. I take interest in short story writing, blog writing, and writing online research pieces. I have realized that many times, I express better by writing than speaking. I try to keep my approach simplistic enough for all my readers to enjoy my pieces instead of looking up words in dictionaries. I appreciate any constructive feedback on my online articles.

Write A Comment


Interested in Henry Harvin Blog?
Get Course Membership Worth Rs 6000/-
For Free

Our Career Advisor will give you a call shortly

Someone from India

Just purchased a course

1 minutes ago