questionswhat are the best computer programming skills to…

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I find VBA (if that is what it is still called) to be quite useful. Visual Basic for Applications allows you to write macros for programs like Word or Excel. That was the most useful programming class I took. I think it may now be incorporated into the VB.net.

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Right now, I see and am hiring web and app (iphone & android) people. Specific to web, Ruby is big now.

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I'm currently employed as a .NET developer. I work primarily in C# and winforms, but my .NET knowledge will allow me to do any number of other things ranging from web to xbox to windows 7 phone.

In short, learn some .NET. It will help directly and will be a good thing to have on a resume as it is based on other languages like Java.

@first2summit has a valid point though. I imagine the tablet/smartphone crowd is in super high demand and will be for a while

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Troubleshooting/debugging skills.

Doesn't really matter what language (about 90% of most languages is basically the same with only minor syntactic or semantic differences).

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It's been a while since I paid much attention to what was current in C++, so you should take this with a grain of salt. The most significant thing you can do to improve your C++ background is to completely master the STL. I liked Scott Meyers' book on this, but I note that it was published in 2001.

http://www.amazon.com/Effective-STL-Specific-Standard-Template/dp/0201749629/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_c

That's a long time ago. Then again, C++ is a mature language, and that's a very well-written book.

Of course, our estimable colleague, @baqui63 has already named the most significant thing, which is learning how to debut. There are a number of good debuggers out there, and learning how to use one (instead of just using print statements or guessing) is the best skill you can have.

Just be glad that pseudocode is out of fashion (cryptic reference that will make some old farts shudder with misery and horror). :-D

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I have been seeing a rise in the demand for test automation.

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I think a lot of it depends on what you want to do. Where I work, my group would be lost without my cubemate. He does most of our programming in Matlab. It may not be the most popular program among programmers but it's used extensively by engineers. And being able to speak engineer and build tools and applications that make engineers more efficient (and happier) is a skill that is always going to be in demand.

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Here's a list of the most popular languages, etc. from a mid-sized technology company (a Microsoft Certified Partner): C#, VB.Net, ASP.Net, Java, XML, VB Script, Python, SQL, SSIS packages, SSRS reports, T-SQL (Functions, Stored Procedures, Views). Knowledge of Change Management software (Rational, etc.) is always needed. You can use your IDE for debugging (Visual Studio, Eclipse, etc.). Also, earning Microsoft certifications is usually beneficial.

Edit: Also creating custom apps in Sharepoint has become a hot ticket.

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@skinundone: I agree with your comments and have seen C# become the language of choice over the last year.

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iOS and Android development are hot right now. If you can design web page apps in HTML5 you will do well.

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I think it is more important to have a good handle on how to structure/design your code than it is to know a specific language. A new syntax is relatively easy to pick up, but if you can't write a program that runs efficiently it doesn't do you any good.