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10 soft and hard skills you need to be a good developer

Every profession has special requirements; for example, to be a doctor, you have to know biology, finish medical university, but besides the hard skills, as a doctor, you have to be emphatic. As a teacher, you need to have qualifications to work with kids, but you also have to be caring.

The same is when you decide to become a programmer, besides the main technology you’ve learned there are some common hard and soft skills every developer should have. In this article, I would like to share with you a set of five soft and hard skills I think are crucial in programmers' work.

Let’s start!

5 soft skills every programmer should have

1. Communication and teamwork

According to the stereotypes programmer is a person sitting in the basement, doing some magic with a computer, and don’t talk to anyone for ages. It’s a very comic way of thinking about developers because communication is a very important part of our work.

First of all, to understand the project and the solutions which we are going to implement, we have to communicate with other people from the team. Every one hates situations when something was done wrong because of misunderstanding. That’s why good communication skills are required in the developer’s work.

Besides communication skills, teamwork is important, as well. As a team, you can do much more and much better quality solutions. When you have a feature to implement, it’s always good to discuss it with your colleagues from the team, especially if it’s something you didn’t do before. Someone probably already did this kind of solution and had an experience which can share, and you can learn something new by the way.

2. Problem-solving

Programmer work is mainly solving a problem. Every time I have a different thing to create, I have to find the best possible solution, taking into consideration business requirements and app performance.

If you start your career as a junior programmer or if you even begin to learn programming, you will find out about how important solving problems ability is very fast. And it’s essential to know about it before, and not get discouraged.

I think, it’s solving problems every day is a great advantage of this job, because you never get bored and every day you have to work on something different, or if you work on similar things, you can always find a better way to solve it or use a different solution.

Even if you give up easily at the beginning, it's possible to learn how to solve issues and progress with tasks. In case you think something is impossible to solve, remember that there is at least one solution to every problem.

3. Curiosity

Now, you probably are curious why curiosity is so important in a programmer job. That’s good because you are already curious. But seriously, a good programmer learns a lot and is interested in technology, new solutions, etc.

If you are curious about how new technology works and you want to learn a new framework as soon as possible to try it and find out if its better than something else, that’s great news.

Learning will become a big part of your life as a programmer, so it’s really important to make programming your hobby as well. Then you won’t feel bad and angry seeing new technology came up to learn.

Also, curiosity may lead you to join the programmers' community, where you will be able to learn even more and share your knowledge as well.

4. Adaptability

As I mentioned before, in programming, a lot of things change. New frameworks, libraries, technologies, and methodologies of working appear all the time. Almost every project has a different setup, and you have to adapt to new situations and new environments very quickly.

If you are the type of person who is happy seeing changes, and get bored easily when things are still the same, you will probably find yourself as a programmer and be able to get a lot of fun from this work.

Also, different frameworks are getting more and less popular all the time, so it will also help you to be noticed on the market if it doesn’t make an issue for you, and you are able to adapt to a new technology which company works with easily.

5. Time management

In every job, work-life balance is very important. While you are a developer, you often have flexible working time, and in this case, it’s very important to be able to manage your time correctly.

If you know how to plan your work and can estimate how much time do you need to a particular task, it’s a really useful skill. Otherwise, you may lead to a situation when you have tones of underestimated things to do in a queue and start working all days.

Besides, you need to find time to learn, so it’s important to remember that sometimes you need to have an hour or two in your private time to stay updated with technology.

5 hard skills every programmer should have

1. Programming language and frameworks

It’s not a surprising point that programmers need to know programming languages and frameworks. But to be a good programmer, it’s important to know at least one programming language in depth.

It would be pretty good if you have every try to learn another programming language to have a common sense of what are differences as well.

Which programming language you will choose to make your main one depends on you and the issues you want to solve. You can take a look at the ranking of programming languages worth to learn and see if you can select anything that is in your interest.

2. Databases

In developer work, it’s very important to understand how the database works. It’s the main part of the application where collected data is kept.

As a programmer, you should have a basic knowledge like how to create, delete, update, insert a record. And even better if you know how to organize a database, which one will be better to use in a particular project and why.

Also, you should be able to take care of the security of the data saved in the database.

3. Data structures and algorithms

Algorithms are the sets of instructions that should be executed in a proper order to get the output. Algorithms are not connected directly to any programming language; they are methods of solving certain issues like sorting or search.

Taking into consideration that data structures and algorithms are the most important and most checked thing in programmer knowledge, it should be crucial for every programmer to master these skills.

4. Source Control

As I mentioned in the previous section, teamwork is a very important part of software developer work. Thinking of cooperations, developers need a way to work on one code together at the same time and not destroy others' work. That’s why source control is a very important and needed skill for every programmer.

Source control allows us to work on different branches of the same code and merge it into one working project after each developer's work is done. It’s a necessary skill in almost every job offer but no worries, because there are already graphic interfaces for source control so, if you don’t feel very comfortable with using source control by command line, you can use a graphic UI and achieve the same. But you have to understand the basic terms and actions.

5. Testing

To make sure the code works in different situations, developers create unit tests. To be sure that everything is fine, most companies hire testers, but it’s also important to check if the code works fine and doesn’t break anything else before passing the feature for testing. This is why testing knowledge is important.

Every developer should have some tasing knowledge to be able to ensure that the work done is proper quality.


As you can see, being a programmer is not only about learning the basics of programming language. To become a good developer and have the ability to become even better, you need a certain set of soft and hard skills, as well. The good information is that you are able to train hard skills easily, especially if you are interested in technical topics, but improving soft skills set may take a little more work and time. But of course, it’s possible. I personally managed to improve many of the soft skills which are necessary for this job.

This article is a listing of skills that are needed according to my opinion. If you feel like something is missing, or maybe something is not needed, please let me know in comments, I would like to know your opinion as well.

Good luck with improving your skills!

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Top comments (4)

emmabostian profile image
Emma Bostian ✨

Nice article! I wouldn't explicitly state that you need to know databases to be a good developer. The skills you may want to have will change depending upon the domain i.e. frontend, backend, full stack, ux engineering.

And I personally don't like to say "you HAVE to have these skills to be considered a good developer" because while you may WANT to have certain skills, as they may help you excel more quickly, everyone has different skills and that's okay!

I do appreciate, however, that you stated these are your opinions, I would just be more mindful that not all developers NEED to have these skills to be good :)

supunkavinda profile image
Supun Kavinda

I wouldn't explicitly state that you need to know databases to be a good developer.

My opinion contradicts this. Learning how to do queries is not essential for everyone. But, how the data is stored in databases in the cloud is something that a developer (especially web developer) should know, in my opinion.

shogogan profile image
Victor Homem Heck

Nice article!
The soft skills should be more visible as important on the programming community, because there is a tendency to think: if I am good enough, I don't need to go through these troubles.

But in reality, as you progress on your programming career, you probably go from solving programming problems with programming, to solving business problems with programming.

I personally had some terrible headaches because I had that mindset, went to interviews poorly dressed, was pretty bad at communication, and it took me a long time to land a job, even though I was considered good/great between my peers.

And in my opinion database is important to know, but not as in-depth as you wrote, because you can be a frontend developer, and you will need to understand how to use a database, but will not need a deep knowledge as you mention.

And the most important aspect anyone need to know is.
Learn to and when to say no, don't burn yourself working so hard, take good care of your head, enjoy programming.

Don't get sick because of your job, maybe you are overburning yourself and it may cost your career, or at least your passion on programming.

murrayvarey profile image

Great answer! Communication -- including such things as appearance -- is crucial. It took me far too long to realise this.

But in reality, as you progress on your programming career, you probably go from solving programming problems with programming, to solving business problems with programming.

... or, if you're really lucky, solving business problems without having to program at all. Any code that you write is code that you will have to maintain.