Some of South Africa’s top developers don’t have degrees – what it takes to land a job


MyBroadband asked South African software and technology development companies what qualifications are needed to get a job as a developer.

While many South African software companies prefer degrees, not all employers seek a tertiary qualification in the field.

“Some of the best developers don’t have degrees,” Paul Gray, director of technology consulting at DVT, told MyBroadband.

“We believe jobs should be awarded to those who are most likely to create impactful and intelligent solutions, despite their circumstances which may or may not have allowed them to embark on higher education,” said Deborah Miller, Head of Education. talent at Synthesis.

Sybrin’s chief operating officer, Henry Button, explained that they have seen many people without degrees who have performed as well as, or even surpassed, their peers in the workplace.

Dieter Botha, Chief Technology and Operations Officer of TymeBank

Dieter Botha, TymeBank’s chief technology and operations officer, said that although many of the company’s developers don’t have college degrees, they still have to convince senior engineers in interviews that they have a deep understanding. of the domain.

“As a growing digital bank, TymeBank is not yet at the mature stage where we can hire inexperienced people. We need developers who can ramp up quickly,” he said.

However, specific qualifications benefit some job seekers more than others.

Miller from Synthesis said that today’s software development positions still require candidates to be fully proficient in the fundamentals, including traditional languages ​​such as Java, JavaScript, C# and C++.

Skills in cloud, data streaming, containerization, cryptography, blockchain, and Terraform are also increasingly in demand.

Python, Scala, and R are popular choices in the disciplines of data analytics, data science, machine learning, and data engineering,” Miller added.

Deborah Miller, Head of Talent Synthesis

Other languages ​​new developers should consider include Typescript, Kotlin, and Swift, according to Christopher Leigh, head of software engineering at Rain.

Leigh cited telecommunications, e-commerce, banking and healthcare as some of the industries most in need of skilled developers.

Sybrin Button noted that some languages ​​that are becoming obsolete include Ruby,, ColdFusion, Perl, and Delphi.

“Looking at the silver lining, some of these languages ​​are running in production environments without any plans for change, which potentially represents a limited opportunity,” he added.

However, Gray from DVT explained that the focus of modern software development spaces has shifted from languages ​​to technology stacks.

“An example of this would be…the Microsoft Tech stack. [Developers] Incredibly familiar with Microsoft tools, including the application of cloud technology in the form of Azure, would be required.

Gray said this change reduced the roles of software developers to be much more specialized compared to the historical focus on full-stack development.

He said front-end work, like UI and design elements, is very different from the endless integrations, databases, and API gateways characteristic of back-end development.

Paul Gray, Director of DVT Technology Consulting

Prospective programmers should also note that development acumen isn’t the only skill they’ll need to thrive in the industry.

Gray explained that most development environments operate in an agile fashion, which means soft skills such as communication and adaptability are becoming increasingly essential for developers.

Miller of Synthesis said the value of effective communication skills cannot be overemphasized for consulting-based development companies.

“Having these skills tends to differentiate a few individuals from hundreds of hopeful candidates,” she said.

It would seem that many of these candidates are trying their best to get into the fintech industry.

“In South Africa, fintech has a huge backlog of developers and the statistics are staggering,” Gray said.

On the other hand, most other sectors in South Africa are experiencing a general shortage of good developers.

While potentially good news for job seekers looking to work outside of fintech, Gray said this imbalance is bad news for the industry.

“It’s an important attribute for mature developers to have worked in multiple industries. Learning the best features of many industries and projects is an important way for developers to grow.”

Now Read: Software Developer Salaries in South Africa – The Highest Paying Programming Languages


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