The job of software development engineer: what do they do?

By Robert Half on 21 February 2024

With the continuous advancement of technological innovation, software development has become the driving force for China's economy to achieve digital transformation and is one of the emerging industries with the largest commercial scale and the most promising prospects. In the modern economy, software development companies have become an indispensable part of all kinds of businesses and industries. Organizations such as Internet companies, financial institutions, medical institutions, government departments and educational institutions need software development companies to help them develop software. According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, in 2022, the scale of the software and information technology service industry in China steadily increased, with over 35,000 enterprises above the designated size. The cumulative software business revenue reached RMB10 trillion, a year-on-year increase of 11.2%. 

Software development engineers will be in great demand in the future. Over the past five years, China's digital economy has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 13.8%. The 14th Five-Year Plan proposes that the "scale of the software and information technology service industry" will increase from RMB8.16 trillion in 2020 to RMB14 trillion in 2025, and the penetration rate of IIOT platform applications will increase from 14.7% to 45%. China is facing a huge shortage of software developers in a market which grows by trillions of RMB each year. 

Job responsibilities of a software development engineer 

There are many positions for software development engineers, including software designers, software architects, software engineering managers and programmers, and their jobs are related to software development and production. In general, software development engineers play a key role in the entire software development lifecycle. They transform user requirements into software applications through technical means and ensure the quality, performance and stability of the software, while promoting the successful completion of software development projects. The responsibilities of software development engineers can be summarized as follows: project demand analysis in the early stage of software development, project risk assessment, software development and writing programming code, system testing and troubleshooting. 

  • Understanding requirements in the early stage: Translating customer requirements into specifications for software functions and features based on customer or project team collaboration. 
  • Implementing the design in the mid-term stage: Designing the architecture, modules and components of the software system and determining the overall structure of the system and the interaction between the various parts. Coding with programming languages and development tools according to design specifications to implement various functions. Writing test cases, conducting unit tests, integration tests and system tests to ensure the quality and stability of the software. Maintaining and upgrading existing software, fixing defects and vulnerabilities, and improving software performance and the user experience. Writing software development documentation, including requirements specifications, design documents, and user manuals for other team members to use.
  • Project follow-up in the later stage: Working closely with project managers, product managers, test engineers and other team members to ensure the smooth progress of software development projects. 

Necessary skills for software development engineers 

A bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in computer science or software engineering is a basic requirement to become a software development engineer, as the job requires a solid knowledge of computer science. In addition, software development engineers also need to master comprehensive technical skills, including programming, database management, and many cutting-edge development tools, such as JavaScript, AJAX, Hibernate, and Spring. However, project experience and learning ability, as well as the ability to apply software engineering expertise to solve problems, are also essential. The requirements for software engineers vary from job to job. 

Professional program skills: 

  • Programming skills: Mastering at least one basic programming language, such as Java, Python, and C++. 
  • Database management skills: Mastering basic knowledge of SQL and NoSQL databases and common database management systems (such as MySQL and Oracle). 
  • Web development skills: Familiar with web development techniques such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 
  • Operating system and network knowledge: Mastering the basic knowledge of operating systems and networks, such as Linux and TCP/IP. 
  • Software development procedure: Familiar with software development procedures and common development methodology, such as agile development and Scrum. 

Comprehensive capabilities: 

  • Problem-solving capability: Software development engineers need to have good problem analysis and solving ability, the ability to quickly locate and solve the problems and difficulties encountered in the software development process and carry out tasks independently. 
  • Team collaboration capability: Software development often requires multiple people to work together, which requires software development engineers to be able to work effectively with other developers, testers, and project managers. 
  • Continuous learning capability: Due to the rapid pace of technological change, software development engineers need to constantly learn and update their knowledge to keep up with industry trends. 
  • System design capability: Capable of designing scalable, efficient and secure software systems. 

Professional qualifications to enhance competitiveness 

Becoming an outstanding software development engineer requires solid professional knowledge and skills, as well as relevant professional qualifications that can enhance competitiveness in the workplace. The following are some common professional qualification certifications in software development: 

  • Programming language certification: For specific programming languages, such as Java, Python, and C++, there are relevant certification tests, such as Oracle's Java certification and Python Institute's Python certification. 
  • Software development framework certification: For commonly used software development frameworks, such as the Spring framework and .NET framework, there are relevant certification tests that can demonstrate proficiency in the use of the framework. 
  • Project management certification: Project management certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional) are helpful for software development engineers in project management. 
  • Software testing certification: Software testing certifications such as ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) can demonstrate the professional skills of software testing engineers. 
  • Cloud computing certification: There are related cloud computing certifications for cloud computing platforms, such as AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure, suitable for engineers engaged in cloud computing development. 
  • Safety certification: Security certifications such as CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) are helpful for engineers engaged in software security-related work. 
  • Continuous integration and continuous delivery certification: For the DevOps field, there are related certifications such as Jenkins. 

Software development engineers can work in a variety of fields and industries. With the continuous emergence of new technologies such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, software engineers will have more opportunities to participate in the research and development and application of cutting-edge technologies. In the context of the rapid development of technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing, software development engineers will play an important role in driving social progress and creating the digital world. If you are interested in the responsibilities and skill requirements of software development engineers, we invite you to visit our website: We will provide you with professional consulting and recruitment services to help you achieve your career goals and dreams.



1. Software and information technology services annual statistics 2022

2. Unleashing stronger kinetic energy for the digital economy engine

3. PRC 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives through the year 2035

More From the Blog...