Why Keeping Skills In Tune And Up To Date Is Important For Developers

Silicon Valley is facing a dilemma due to a high number of mega companies that have dominated the landscape for the past few years. For the majority of aspiring and veteran developers alike, the dilemma comes in the form of fierce competition to get one step ahead of the others in the capacity to adapt to changes in the way that programming is done.

Years ago, when C++ was the most prominent language and it still wasn’t necessarily “cool” to be a programmer, getting noticed was a bit simpler. You would only need to know how to work around a couple of frameworks and you could have any gig you wanted. Now, it’s not a foreign concept for large-scale projects to be composed of modules written in various different languages, all of them working together to perform the work that millions of people rely on to get going with their daily lives. Things are not simple anymore because we have become much more dependent on technology. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does imply that companies will have to compete more intensely to retain their hold on the market. This is especially tough news to swallow for small businesses, aspiring startups, and independent programmers, all of whom need to work on the same stage to make sure that they gain some sort of relevance.

While it’s good news that IT jobs will grow 22 percent through 2020, there are some things that these studies fail to mention, among them the fact that there are certain caveats out there for veteran developers where new blood will actually have an advantage. Aside from the fact that it is rather difficult to keep a developer happy, retraining developers to help them acquire new skills is a very expensive process on the company’s end. This means that it will cost less to let someone go in favor of someone familiar with the latest frameworks than it does to keep veterans and train them in-house. This leaves the onus on developers to consistently keep up with what is in demand and learn it as soon as humanly possible. Retaining relevance isn’t only a problem that businesses have; it’s a problem that extends all the way down to the people working in the trenches.

Here are some ways in which developers and engineers can take the initiative and become more up-to-date in their own respective fields:

Get New Certifications

In the programming world, the degree you have matters little in comparison to the certifications you have acquired and the skills you can demonstrate. The world of programming is constantly changing and you can thank the heavy emphasis on fast-paced IDEs and object-oriented programming (OOP) for that. This means that the certification you may have gotten in 2010 isn’t really worth squat anymore. For the year 2016, the most relevant certifications include Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), Adobe Certified Expert (ACE), Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP), Google Apps, and the C++ Institute’s International C/C++ Certification. Yes, knowing C/C++ is still an extremely relevant thing despite the heavy emphasis on web programming and app development, since a large amount of programming lexicons are derived from C.

Online Training

This may sound like a “read a tutorial” kind of thing, which is a bit demeaning to a programmer who has been practicing this craft for years, but there’s no shame in reviewing the basics and getting some programming help with online experts once in a while. If you want to take some courses, have a look at some of the material that’s put up on Alison. You may ace everything quickly, but taking the time to recapitulate might help renew your proficiency and “can do” attitude with the language you are best trained in. Learning an unfamiliar language can also help break some barriers for you!

Getting Some “Me” Time

If you’re an employer, this is especially important. You need to encourage your team to build their own pet projects in their own time. By doing this, they will be constantly training themselves on their own without wasting the resources or time of your company.

As a programmer, chances are you’re not the kind of person who stops thinking about coding once the clock hits 5. When you develop your own personal projects, it gives you an outlet to expand your knowledge and discover new ways to approach the daily problems that your “work” coding presents. Doing this helps you grow not only as a programmer, but also as a member of the team you work with on a daily basis.


Being up to date on your certifications and keeping up your proficiency, especially as a veteran coder, will ensure that you remain relevant in a market that’s constantly trying to find elbow room and pushing out people who slip even slightly from public demand. You not only become more attractive to potential and current employers, but also become more of an authority in your own.

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