How to Become an IoT Developer
IBM & Northeastern University 226 Times 160 People

The lack of skilled IT workers is hurting the deployment of emerging technology, according to a new survey from Gartner. In areas from cloud to cybersecurity, this crisis is expected to last for years to come.

What Does an IoT Developer Do?

IoT work is carried out by three types of professionals: 

  • The network specialists that manage connectivity.
  • The data analysts that gather data from the devices and interpret it.
  • The engineers who create the platforms, software, hardware, and systems that allow these devices to function.

IoT developers fall into this third category; these individuals oversee the creation of the devices or sensors themselves, including most prominently, programming software that allows the device at hand to both connect with other systems and function properly on its own.

Though responsibilities will vary greatly depending on the industry, other duties may include designing, coding, and testing features of products meant to connect to other devices.

Certain projects may also involve creating embedded software that’s cloud-compatible, which enables products to integrate properly with one another.

Average salary in US is $164,235 per year.

Skills Required

Developers who want to make the most of the opportunities of IoT should foster skills across a range of key topic areas including:

  • Hardware
  • Networking
  • Application design
  • Application development
  • Security
  • Data and artificial intelligence (AI)


The devices, with their sensors and properties, involve knowing a bit about hardware design. IoT device design may be prototyped using platforms such as Arduino or single-board-computers like the Raspberry Pi, with custom printed circuit boards (PCBs) developed at a later stage.

Prototyping with these platforms requires circuit design skills, as well as micro-controller programming, and an understanding of hardware communication protocols like serial, I2C, or SPI that are commonly used to establish communication between the micro-controller and the connected sensors and actuators.

The embedded programs are often developed using C++ or C, however Python and JavaScript are becoming more popular for prototyping IoT devices.


Connectivity is another key aspect of IoT, which enables devices to communicate with other devices as well as communicate with applications and services that are running in the cloud. Network design and management are essential skills within IoT.

In addition to network design, developers should have a working knowledge of network standards, protocols, and technologies.

These include Wi-Fi, Low Energy Bluetooth, Zigbee, cellular, RFID technologies that are used in consumer applications, and Low Power Wide-Area Network (LPWAN) technologies like LoRa. LPWAN also includes SigFox and NB-IoT (narrow band IoT) that offer lower cost, low-power long-range wireless connectivity, which are better suited to large-scale and industrial IoT applications.

Application design and development

Web and mobile applications provide user interfaces for interacting with and consuming data from IoT devices. IoT devices, however, may have their own user interfaces (UIs). UI and UX design skills are some of the hottest skills in IoT right now.

Web and mobile applications are developed using high-level languages, with Java, Swift, and Node.js among the top languages for IoT app development. GPS programming skills are in particular demand, as many IoT applications, including wearables and smart vehicles, are location-aware.


Cybersecurity is paramount in any IoT discussion. IoT devices are quite vulnerable to security compromises. IoT security considerations should include, at a minimum:

  • Endpoint access
  • Data encryption where necessary
  • Appropriate authentication

As millions of new devices enter the IoT landscape each day, the gateways of attack grows. IoT devices have been used to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), as well as other severe and damaging attacks.

With so much at stake, security engineering skills are highly regarded within IoT. These include threat assessment, ethical hacking, encryption to ensure data integrity, securing network architectures and applications, as well as event monitoring, activity logging, and threat intelligence.

Data and AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an intrinsic part of IoT networks. Intelligent big data analytics involves applying cognitive computing techniques drawn from data mining, modeling, statistics, machine learning, and AI.

Many IoT devices generate latency or time-sensitive data, so it is necessary to filter or discard irrelevant data. Key technologies and platforms for data analytics that IoT developers should develop skills in include Hadoop, Spark, and NoSQL databases.

IoT developers, now and into the future, will require greater machine learning and AI skills. Developers should be prepared to cultivate a diverse set of skills, and be agile and willing to adapt to new processes, platforms and tools.


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