15 Characteristics of a Good Software Engineer

Everything nowadays is managed by computers and because of this one of the most emerging professions in the world is software engineering. Every aspect of life now relies on some kind of software. Even machines which were totally mechanical are now mostly software controlled. The software industry is one of the very few fields that didn’t slow down even during the recent global economic recession and software related jobs remained gettable throughout the period. From freelancing projects to software houses and multinational giants, there is always a demand for a capable software engineers. Let us see what traits put you ahead of so many others in this field and what are the real characteristics of a good software engineer after all:

1. Passionate

The most important thing for a good software engineer is his passion for the field. This holds true for any field in life. The most vital ingredient for the success of any profession is the passion for it as underdogs have always been traced back to passionate individuals.

People have set up empires because of their passion, soldiers have won wars and teams have won matches just because of their passion and it’s no different in the software industry.

Usually an early years interest in computer science is a good indicator about the commitment level of a software engineer in the long term.

2. Determined

Developing and keeping check of softwares and programs is not an easy task. Developing a database or even an algorithm can take quite a lot of time and more often than not, detecting complex bugs is nerve wrecking. A competent software programmer therefore needs sound determination to cope up with routine tasks efficiently.

3. Team Player

There are seldom one man shows in software industry and most professional software engineers have got to work in a team. You may have to join one at your workplace or you may work with several distributed teams situated throughout the globe. No matter what the case, you should know how to blend in with the rest of the team.

A good software engineer is not only well aware about general office etiquettes but also keeps team work in mind while coding (writes useful comments in the code, writes proper documentation, religiously follows coding conventions etc).

4. Confident

“How is your morale?” “High, sir” “Up to?” “Sky, sir”. Keep up this sort of confidence in yourself. It is obvious that the nature of work in the world of software is arduous, mind boggling, tiring, and may at times dishearten you a lot but good software professionals keep motivating themselves from time to time by asking themselves questions like; how many people in the world could do it?, how would society get benefited once the problem is solved?, Wouldn’t I be a smarter version of myself once done with this?, Isn’t there a smarter way around this problem?, Isn’t there an algorithm for this? Who would be smarter enough other than me to solve this? etc.

5. Up-to-date

The world of software is continuously progressing at a rapid pace. There are new softwares, tools, languages, frameworks, modules and programs being released every day. When you’re working for international clients and conglomerates, you have to be to up-to-date with the latest trending technologies that are being worked upon.

This may sound like a piece of cake thing but in reality it’s not an easy thing to do because of the complexity of the latest technology and time required to master it. Good software engineers however are known to spend their holidays with headphones plugged in, multiple screens attached to laptops, and exploring latest available trends. So, keep your skill set be up-to-date if you want to be among the best.

6. Efficient Time Management

We live in a fast paced world. Everyone is working on the watch. Software engineers are no exceptions. They are given big projects and are kept on a tight time leash.

So a very important attribute of good software engineers is that they should know that they’re on a clock and therefore need to manage their time wisely. You don’t need to bother about trivial details when you’re on a deadline to say set up a whole database. As the cliché goes “time is of the essence”.

7. Coolheaded and Open Minded

Software engineers ought to have a cool head with an open mind. In a software related problem mostly there are multiple solutions available. In the heat of the battle, a short tempered software engineer might make a blunder due to poor emotional judgement which can cost the entire team dearly in the long run.

A software engineer therefore should have a calm personality which can help it in juggling optimal solutions. Further, one shouldn’t hesitate from adapting an approach that may not be what was originally thought. Such mentality and open mindedness puts you over the top of other developers.

8. Competitive

With the number of software engineers passing out each year, it’s a tough race and a very crowded one. According to recent reports, the number of software professionals in the world would top a whopping number of 26.4 million. With such huge numbers, comes great competition. Will everyone of those 26.4 million professional get a job? Unfortunately, the true but harsh answer is, a big NO.

However, healthy competition within itself isn’t a bad thing as it ensures quality of work and promotes learning.

9. Creative

Mostly overlooked, but creativity is a vital skill that a soft engineer should posses. Why? … Ever heard about the ‘programming is an art vs programming is a science debate’?

Creativity allows programmers to think out of the box. It allows them to work in smarter ways and explore areas which aren’t usually explored by people who like to follow hard and fast rules. It is past that time when people stuck with traditional methods for ages and most employers now seek creativity.

Creativity is also something that sets apart a software engineer from other off the mill engineers. It is a hard earned skill that allows to stand out of the crowd quite easily.

10. Strategist

This traits is an important attribute of any sound engineer. When you’re working on a product you need to have a clear vision about it and you need to set goals till the very final stages of the product.

Planning and vision is what drives an entire software development cycle. Remember, great software engineers always plan while an average Joe just codes!

11. Original

Good software engineers are always original and don’t come by the dozens. There are millions of skilled programmers out there but 99% are working on a set format (which is usually dictated by institutions they graduate from). What is bound to impress an employer or a client is the originality of your skill set.

Originality is what defines good software engineers. Your ability to stand apart from the rest of the graduates is all that matters in these vying times.

12. Industrious

Software industry is a game of capturing the market share. Any good software engineer has to be industrious. He ought to know what sells and a business oriented mindset.

At the end of the day, it the final product that defines you, your aptitude and your organization. No matter how architecturally perfect a software may be, unless it attracts users with its features and price, it is just another rubbish piece of program that’s destined to join the failure club where hundreds and thousands of similar softwares lay in dust.

13. Realist

It is very important in any field to be realistic. Software engineers may get carried away in the course of their work or with a brilliant idea but it is their ability to conduct an accurate feasibility check that allows them to determine the learning curve, real cost, return of value and future of their products.

Above all they need to be practical. There is no use in working on something that cannot be realistically achieved within a reasonable time frame. Time to market is the mother of all aspects when it comes to software development as it alone can determine the fate of a product.

14. Independent

A good software engineer needs to be an independent person. There may be times when your team may not be able to keep pace with you or you may be working on something that they may not be familiar with.

Any average software engineer would lag behind schedule. But the independence of a good software engineer enables him to work personally and achieve it himself. This is what makes them successful.

15. Nerves of Steel

One of the most praised and probably the most difficult of virtues, a good software engineer is always patient. Software development requires patience, a lot of patience, really a huge lot of patience. Things get really bumpy when there are dozens of new features to add, unexpected bugs to fix, compatibility issues to resolve, deadlines to meet, team members to mentor, seniors to be reported, clients to be briefed, quality assurance guidelines to be followed, market standards to be set and cost to be minimized.

This is what software professionals do throughout their careers, this is what defines software engineers, this is why software development is not a pie for everyone, this is why software engineers have above average IQ, this is why software professionals get paid high and this is why software engineers are so cool.

There is a price to pay for everything, patience is what you have to give in return for getting the life of a software engineer.

This concludes our list for some of the common attributes and characteristics of a good software engineer. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below!