Chicago skyline


If you’re new to coding and are hoping to break into tech, you probably have a lot of questions. You may be wondering where the right place is to start your tech journey. If you’re looking to make a career change, you may be wondering how the skills you possess for your current job would translate into Chicago’s booming tech world. Regardless of your current position in life or your reason for getting into tech in the first place, it all comes down to one question. What skills do I need to make it in the tech industry? 


With that question in mind, we’ve compiled a ton of information to help you not only answer that question but also get started on the right path to achieve your tech goals. If you’re ready to learn the skills you need to survive in the tech industry, stick around for the breakdown of the most in-demand skills in Chicago. 


Types of Skills


Person welding.
Do you have the skills necessary to snag a job in tech?


When you think of the types of skills out there, what do you think of? Maybe you’re a master chef or you have a killer golf swing, whatever your skills are, it’s important to realize that almost anything can be a skill. 


There are many things that we do daily that we don’t actually consider skills, but are improved and practiced the same way traditional skills are. The tech community is a perfect example of this scenario. There are typically two types of skills in the tech industry, technical skills and soft skills. Let’s break these down! 


Technical Skills 


Technical skills are the traditional kind of skills someone might think of when they imagine the skills needed to excel in the tech industry. Many technical skills are taught at a variety of institutions and technical classes. Technical skills are often tested during tech job interviews with special tests and timed assignments. Knowing the level of technical skills expected of you before applying for a certain position at a company is absolutely vital to the success of your interview. 


1. Coding Languages 


Coding Languages are diverse and plentiful. They span a variety of subjects and each one exists to do many different things. Some programming languages are classified as either front end or backend or even somewhere in between. 


Whichever coding language(s) you know, they could actually end up determining where you work when you go on to look for a job in tech. In fact, some companies are almost exclusively dedicated to a handful of programming languages. 


  • Google: Java, C++, and Python
  • Apple: Objective-C and Swift
  • Microsoft: C#

Keep in mind these are just three of the numerous tech companies in the world and that these favorite programming languages are subject to change. Coding languages don’t only dictate who you work for, they sometimes also dictate the kind of work you do. For example…

  • All IOS Mobile Apps run on Objective C. 
  • All Android Mobile Apps run on Java. 
  • Games are usually built in C++. 
  • Blogs and major text-based Web apps use JavaScript. 
  • PHP, Ruby, and Python can be used to create a variety of Web Applications. 

The ways in which coding languages can be used are endless. Familiarizing yourself with the Chicago tech Industry’s most popular and in-demand coding languages will save you a ton of hassle in the long run. It’s always important to keep your technical skills up to date with the changing times. 


2. A Solid Technical Portfolio 


To get hired at a tech company, you almost always have to have some form of previous work to show your employers. A resume may get you in the door, but a portfolio is almost always needed to close the deal. Even if your projects aren’t finished or aren’t as complex as other applications, showing that you have the drive to put thoughts into action and actually produce real ideas can lead to an actual job offer. 


It’s always a good idea to put both finished projects and unfinished projects in a portfolio. Pick 2 to 3 of your best works that you would be able to explain and talk passionately about. Being able to breakdown the entire creative and technical process of your portfolio projects is an absolute must for interviews. 


3. Previous Experience (not always required, but definitely a plus!)


If you’re fresh out of a coding bootcamp or are a recent new transitioner to the coding industry, don’t let that headline freak you out. When I say previous experience, I don’t necessarily mean traditional work experience. Much like having a portfolio, any learning opportunity or achievement that you’ve experienced can absolutely make the difference with employers come hiring time. 


If you’ve gotten apprenticed under some pretty cool mentors or if you’ve helped a friend code a cool project, own it! Letting your employer know that you’ve been in previous coding situations before, will help showcase you as someone who is comfortable coding and working towards set goals. 


Soft Skills 


If you haven’t heard the term “soft skills” before, you’re not alone. Soft skills aren’t something many people actually talk about or think of, but the truth is that soft skills are actually pretty vital to a person’s career success. 


Soft skills are all the things that aren’t technical about a job. They’re the kinds of things that are usually just expected of us, so many people don’t actually recognize them as real, tangible, skills. If we stop looking at these things as “things we’re supposed to do” and look at them as skills that can be trained and practiced, people across the industry will go on to accomplish even greater things. 


Soft skills may end up being the difference between a rigorous job search and a cushy office with a six-figure salary. Can soft skills really take your job searching game to the next level? Let’s dive in. 


1. Working with Others


You may have heard of the industry term “pair programming”. This is essentially the tech industry’s term for “working well with others.” A variety of coding and technical education programs actually prioritize pair programming in their programs. 


The fact is that the tech industry is a bustling place full of collaboration and many ideas. Knowing how to work well with others and collaborate through ideation and execution can lead to a wonderful and cohesive work environment. If you’re able to show that you’re a team player who is willing to work with others, you’ll absolutely make a lasting impression on your potential employer. 


2. Punctuality and Dedication


Arriving on time and ready for work can speak wonders to your boss. Arriving early, staying later, and offering to help with tasks that you weren’t explicitly assigned are great ways to make a lasting impression on your company. 


Additionally, showing that you’re a dedicated and hard-working employee is a great way to move yourself up the ranks of a company. You never know who might be paying attention to your good work! 


3. Be a Leader


In the tech industry, leadership is always changing. People are constantly working their way through the ranks of a company and then moving onto bigger and better things. You may actually one day find yourself in a leadership position as well. 


You need to be able to delegate, bounce from project to project, and help handle any problems that arise in a project. Regardless of your current role in a company, embodying the good qualities of a leader will definitely get you far! 


The Most in Demand Skills in Chicago


Person using a smartphone.
Which tech industry trends do you think will stick around?


Now that we’ve covered what skills are actually considered skills, let’s take a look at the most in demand skills in the Chicago area. 


Programming languages


The most in-demand programming languages of 2019 are as follows: 

  1. JavaScript
  2. Python
  3. Java
  4. Go
  5. Ruby

Keep in mind these are only the top five most popular coding languages of 2019. These coding languages vary greatly depending on your desired sector of tech or your dream company. What’s in demand in one aspect of the tech world, may be obsolete in another.




Again this reiterates the importance of soft skills! Chicago’s tech scene is constantly changing. Companies want employees who are comfortable shifting through a variety of roles within the company. 




Companies are desperate for good ideas and, more specifically, your good ideas. Companies are willing to pay up for some of the brightest minds in tech. Prove yourself to be more than just a code copying machine and you could find some of your ideas being used by millions of people. 


Keep in mind…


Chicago’s tech scene is highly interesting in the fact that it spans across multiple industries. “Fintech” which is the merging of the financial and technology sectors, has taken Chicago’s economy by storm. New companies dedicated to improving financial technology are popping up around the Windy City almost daily. 


Don’t be afraid to step outside the “norm” of the tech industry. Just because a company isn’t exclusively a tech company, doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be a good fit. As industries continue to merge and shift with the changing times, your ability to change and adapt will be absolutely vital to your career success. 


What’s the Takeaway?


Financial chart on a computer.
Ready to embark on your own coding journey?


Chicago’s tech scene is booming. That’s good news for techies looking to get in on the action and make a place for themselves amongst the big players of the Windy City’s tech scene. 


Fintech, the merging of finance and technology, is continuing to grow amongst economists and programmers alike. Embracing this change could lead to big opportunities for those willing to get on board the Fintech train. 


A variety of skills are needed in the Chicago tech industry. Including both technical and soft skills as a part of your skill toolbox will be necessary for your career. As the tech industry in Chicago and across the globe continues to change at lightning speed, staying up to date on the latest information is absolutely vital for your career success!

Leave a Reply