Skills for Everyone in Tech

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Today we have a guest editorial as Steve is on holiday.

Most technical professionals have specialized skillsets. If you are a database administrator, you need to be proficient in security, performance tuning, and high-availability, for example. You may know a bit about C#, but probably not enough to just switch to development without some training. There are, however, certain basic skills that are beneficial for everyone in tech regardless of the role. 

All technical professionals should have a grasp of programming logic. No matter what area you end up working in, you will probably write code from time to time. On the operations side, it probably means scripting to automate everything, with tools like bash or PowerShell. On the development side, well, coding is the job. The cool thing about programming logic is that it is the same from language to language. Of course, there are syntax and capability differences, but every language has Boolean logic, looping, and nesting. Once you become proficient in one language, it’s typically easier to master the next one.

Most applications are worthless without data. Typically, data will be stored in relational databases, big data stores such as Hadoop, or NoSQL databases. Regardless of the role, all techies will probably find themselves querying data from one or more of these sources. Traditional databases like SQL Server and Oracle use the SQL language. Even the newer places to store data support SQL-like languages, HiveQL for Hadoop for example.  Understanding the basics of the SQL language is important, and that skill will transfer from platform to platform.

Technologists should have a good background in mathematics. Unfortunately, the requirements and courses offered to students vary throughout the world and even within a country. Mathematics is involved with every aspect of computing from creating algorithms to writing SQL to artificial intelligence. At a minimum, technologists should be able to understand basic algebra, for example, understanding expressions and formulas, and “solving for x”. Depending on the profession, statistics and calculus may also be required.  

Soft skills are the most difficult skills for technologists to learn. Gone are the days when a coder could sit alone in a dark corner all day with a headset, pizza, and a highly caffeinated beverage. The ability to communicate with teams, managers, and stake-holders is required in today’s world and for Agile and DevOps methodologies. Technologist are intelligent folks but knowing how to act professionally and respectfully at work (i.e., emotional intelligence) requires effort, but it is possible to learn and improve.

The final skill that all technology workers need is the ability to keep abreast of advancements in their chosen field. For database professionals, that might mean learning about big data, running SQL Server in containers, and machine learning as well as understanding what’s coming up with the next version of SQL Server. Developers might need to understand IoT, serverless computing, and artificial intelligence as well as the new capabilities of their chosen language.

It’s a wonderful time to work in technology. Do you have what it takes?

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