on February 19, 2019
The IT sector in Hong Kong has seen several ups and downs. For many years, Hong Kong lagged behind in the development of a robust tech industry even as nearby cities like Singapore, Beijing, and Shenzhen raced ahead.
However, in the past few years, the Hong Kong government has taken several rigorous initiatives to push the growth of tech startups in Hong Kong. As technology in Hong Kong flourishes, there is a huge spurt in demand for software engineers
Earlier, software engineers in Hong Kong were absorbed mainly by the banking and finance sectors. With the growth of Hong Kong’s own startup and technology scene, there is a demand for software engineers in a wide variety of roles. There is no better time than the present to be a software engineer in Hong Kong.
A software engineer is someone who can combine analytical skills with an intuitive problem-solving ability. A software engineer builds, designs, tests and improves software programs. These software programs drive all technology products and services.
Of course, the greatest skill a software engineer possesses is their knowledge of programming languages and their ability to write code. However good software engineering also encompasses other essential aspects include software architecture, algorithms and data structures, software debugging testing, and analysis of data.
Technology has evolved by leaps and bounds. Today, innovation in most industries, whether it’s hospitality, healthcare, or finance, is being driven by tech startups. Software engineers no longer simply provide a supporting function for they have become the drivers of innovation across the world.
As a result, the demand for software engineers is on the rise throughout the world. This is especially true in Hong Kong thanks to the Government’s recent push and the subsequent proliferation of startups.
According to Kevin Lau at the Transactional IT&T Division, Robert Walters Hong Kong,
“More jobs mean more competition amongst companies to hire the best and brightest, therefore software development jobs are paying better and often come with great benefits.”
From the educational qualifications you need to the technical skills that are important, here is a step by step guide to becoming a software engineer in Hong Kong.
It is true that most software engineers today have at least a bachelors degree if not a Masters or even a Ph.D. However, the good news is that software development relies to a large extent on technical skills and problem-solving ability. If you possess those, the results are there for all to see. And as long as you’re able to write good code, nobody thinks twice about your educational qualifications. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs are all great examples of this.
Much more important than a formal degree is your talent, work experience, temperament, and your ability to critically think through problems. Moreover, with so much quality information available at hand, all you need is the right coding course and a lot of dedication to become a software engineer. In fact, many self-taught programmers have emerged in recent years. They have moved from other disciplines like marketing and operations to software development by teaching themselves to code through online and offline courses.
There are many online/offline courses in Hong Kong for a software engineer. The course that is right for you depends on your current skill base. If you have never written code in your life, you would need to start with a coding course for beginners. If you already have knowledge of some computer language but would like to upgrade your skills and pick up newer technologies, other courses will be more appropriate. Reaching entry-level expertise can take anywhere between 4 months to 1 year.
Every software engineer specializes in a particular domain based on their strengths. Well-rounded software teams are then built around these strengths. Here are some of the major roles out there for software engineers.
These engineers write the code that allows the website/app to interact with the servers and display meaningful information. These engineers need to be well-versed with a programming language like Python, Node.js, PHP, etc.
They can perform the job of both the front-end and the back-end developer. In other words, most full stack developers can create simple technology products from scratch. Full stack developers are always valued highly by companies.
It’s important to make sure that a software program is working as planned and that there are no bugs or glitches. This ensures that the product works seamlessly when the customer uses it. This is the job of the tester.
The architect is “ a software expert who makes high-level design choices and dictates technical standards, including software coding standards, tools, and platforms.” The architecture is the foundation of the entire software and ensures that the technology is robust and scalable. Developers with the right experience and expertise can graduate towards becoming architects.
These developers focus mainly on mobile apps and mobile-optimized websites. In 2017, February 2017, 49.7% of web views worldwide were on mobile devices. This number will only increase as people get more hooked to their smartphones. As a result, there is a huge demand for mobile developers.
There are a vast variety of software engineering jobs in Hong Kong. While it’s true that Hong Kong still lags behind major Asian cities when it comes to the technology sector, software jobs are seeing a huge surge. Here are some of the major areas where software engineers are being hired.
Until recently, Hong Kong was far behind cities like Beijing, Singapore, and Shenzhen as a hub for tech startups. However, Between 2015 and 2016, startups in Hong Kong increased by as much as 23.6%. The number of employees in such startups increased by 41% the same year.
Hong Kong is naturally attractive to tech entrepreneurs due to its high-tech machinery, transport systems, and excellent infrastructure. With the Government now pushing technology initiatives in its budget, the startup scene in Hong Kong is going to improve by leaps and bounds.
Unicorns like BitMEX, GoGoVan, and Klook have created the startup culture in Hong Kong. Moreover, upcoming startups like Welab, Accompany, and Pymetrics are set to expand rapidly in the next couple of years. These developments will all lead to a rapid demand for software engineers in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has traditionally been known as the hub for banking and finance. As the traditional banking industry started moving towards a digital paradigm, the demand for software engineers increased drastically. Even today, the investment and retail banking, finance, and insurance sectors hire many software developers. Banks like UBS, Morgan McKinley and Deutsche all have big IT departments in Hong Kong.
Starting salaries for software engineers are in the range of HK$15000 to HK$18000 a month. For instance, Hong Kong-based logistics unicorn GoGoVan pays their entry-level software engineers HK$18000 per month while web development company Oursky pays HK$17000 per month. As skills and experience increase, salaries can go up to even HK$45000- HK$50000 per month. GoGoVan pays HK$47000 per month to a principal software engineer.
The Hong Kong government has set aside HK$50 billion in this year’s budget for innovations and technology initiatives. Moreover, the Government has also set up the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute Company Limited. This is the largest R&D lab in Hong Kong and attracts world-class talent. More tech companies from the United States and other parts of the world are choosing to collaborate with the government and set up facilities in Hong Kong. Moreover, the finance and banking sector continues to see robust growth in tech needs as they continue to up their digital game.
Given this scenario, software engineering is already seeing a huge demand-supply gap which is set to grow in the future. Thus, there is a massive opportunity for the youth in Hong Kong to find great careers in software development.