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Are You a Software Engineer? If so, it’s a Great Time for Your Career!

The market demand for software engineers is still hot as we head into the summer. Here are the software areas I predict will dominate through the remainder of 2015:

Mobile—The growth of mobile development is strong. With the pervasiveness of smartphones and tablets, the number of technology companies building out a “mobile team” to focus on iOS and/or Android development is steadily increasing. Part of this is due to the number of non-consumer focused companies that are now adopting a model where mobile is an integral part of their strategy. The demand for engineers focused on iOS versus Android is comparable. While most companies prefer to hire those with professional mobile development experience, the market will continue to open up to engineers with side and hobby projects in iOS or Android.

Big Data—As companies have more access to structured and unstructured data, compiling, organizing and analyzing that info has become big business. This data can change the way companies operate by allowing them to leverage enormous amounts of information in insightful ways and to optimize efficiency, mitigate risk, ensure scalability and make better-informed decisions. Every tech company in a vertical market is looking at ways to make better use of the data they create and/or have access to. As such, roles of this type are also critical to many other industries like biotech, pharma and manufacturing. This is one of the most competitive and growing areas of software development.

Cloud—Cloud technology is widely pervasive, and Amazon remains the giant in the field. An interesting trend to watch, though, will be the use of OpenStack. It’s too early to tell how competitive and widely used OpenStack will be, but I’m hearing it discussed with far greater regularity than just six to nine months ago.  Engineers with experience in AWS and the associated tools and framework will continue to be in high demand in 2015. In fact, in an informal survey of chief technology officers and vice president-level tech leaders who I spoke with, all said that if they were starting a company today, they would utilize AWS and the Amazon stack until it became cost-prohibitive. Engineers with experience building and using cloud-based services and technology are highly sought after.

Being Multilingual—While Java is still very popular, it’s no longer the clear-cut dominant language that it was. Five years ago, 60 percent of the market was Java-based. Now, the number alternatives as well as some of the speed-to-market and productivity advantages, have led to incredible diversity. Companies are increasingly using Ruby, Python, Scala, Node.js (and Java) or some combination of these languages. Instead of looking to hire a skill set, hiring managers are looking more for a profile — good engineers who have proven they can learn and have solved similar problems. Software engineers with a modern skillset will have the option of learning and using a new language without any prior experience. Many companies that use Ruby, Python, Scala, Node.js or something similar will look at a variety of backgrounds, and while professional experience in their stack is always desired, it is no longer required.

This has really opened up the job market for engineers, providing more options than the traditional linear language path. However, there are lines of demarcation. Companies that primarily use Ruby, Python or Node seem willing to look at engineers with a range of languages in their backgrounds. Java shops, however, still want people with Java experience. Java is one of the most transferable skills, while .NET is one of the least. The number of .NET roles has decreased by 50 percent during the past five years according to our internal data. The Microsoft stack isn’t dying, but it’s not one of the dominant players in the market any more; I don’t see this changing anytime soon.  

DevOps Engineers—With Cloud tools and technology becoming ubiquitous (see above) the need for DevOps Engineers remains hot. This experience is one of the most difficult for companies to hire due to the discrepancy between a traditional systems, network or Linux administrator and this more technical role. One of WinterWyman’s engineering contractors has this unique take on DevOps. 

UI Engineers—The demand for UI engineers is reaching a fever pitch as candidates with these skills remain elusive. Because there is such a big jump in skill level between a simple website developer and a UI engineer, the demand for those with experience building the front-end of a multifaceted, scalable, mobile web application will continue. Experience with the latest JavaScript MVC framework has been, and will continue to be, the most desirable. High-tech companies are eager to hire engineers with Angular.js, Ember.js, Backbone.js or related language skills. Facebook’s React.js is the “new” framework that I’m hearing the most about, and this year we will determine if it supplants Angular.js as the king of the JavaScript castle. 

There has never been a better time to be in the market for a software job and the explosive growth experienced by the tech sector in 2014 is continuing.

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