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Guide to Hiring C++ Developers

  • What is C++, and how is it used?
  • Why is C++ popular, and how will it benefit your business?
  • Roles and responsibilities of a C++ developer
  • What skills should a C++ developer have?

What is C++, and how is it used?

C++ is one programming language that is old enough to be found in almost every legacy software project but still relevant enough to be indispensable for newer ones. It’s an extension of the original C programming script, developed less than a decade later in 1979. C++ is a middle-level language, offering enough low-level access without sacrificing high-level functions.

Like C and C#, C++ is an object-oriented, general-purpose, static-typed programming script. Developers use it to build some of the same things as the other two languages, including operating systems, browsers, GUI-based software, and embedded systems for internet-of-things gadgets. However, if these are what you intend to build, C# and C can handle them well enough; most businesses hire C++ developers for large-scale software infrastructure and resource-constrained applications. This is because the language was essentially created to give programmers greater control of system resources, as we will discuss shortly.

Despite the entrance of newer and higher-level programming languages into the market since the 80s, most major and upcoming companies still hire C++ engineers for projects. The programming language is still so widely used that the July 2023 TIOBE index ranks it as the third most used, with 10.67% ratings. Given that it has maintained similar popularity levels for at least a decade, its relevance in software development remains beyond question.

Why is C++ popular, and how will it benefit your business?

Many popular companies across several industries use C++ to one degree or another. Tech firms like Microsoft and Apple, whose operating systems are written wholly or partly in C++, are massive cases in point. It is also preferred by fintech companies such as Bloomberg, whose distributed relational database system is programmed with C++,  and EdgeVerve, which has its backend written in C. This programming language is practically everywhere.

So why has C++ remained so competitive in the developer ecosystem, and why might you need to hire a dedicated C++ developer?

  • Close to Hardware: Consider higher-level languages like Python; these are known as interpreted languages, because they must be interpreted before execution. Working with such languages has the advantage that much of what goes on under the hood is managed for you while you focus on building programs quickly. However, this comes at the cost of being able to directly control the hardware. A middle-level language like C++, on the other hand, allows developers to work more directly with the hardware. You can manage and allocate memory as needed with no background memory manager handling unused variables or dangling pointers. And since there are no already-made practical data types like dictionaries, you can build and manage your own. C++ is thus very useful where software and hardware are intertwined, and low-level access is necessary at the software level.
  • Versatile: There is a truly remarkable array of things you can develop with C++, a programming script that is as general-purpose as it gets. Aside from databases, IoT embedded systems, and arguably every operating system software you’ve ever used, there are other uses for C++. For example, it works well for developing browser backends, machine learning tools like TensorFlow, scientific research technologies,  and  fintech infrastructure. Even in virtual and augmented reality technology, C++ is a major part of the machine; it’s the programming script for many VR and AR engines, such as Unreal.

    However, where C++ is really in its element and finds the most widespread use is in game development. Games often have surreal graphics and are very demanding on computer hardware and software resources. C++ allows the developer to optimize resource use in the target gaming consoles or computers, controlling the use of data structures and allocation of memory. This is why gaming companies always hire C++ developers for their development teams.
  • Pointer-enabled: In the spirit of giving developers greater control over core resources like computer memory, C++ also allows the use of pointers. These are basically objects within C++ that store dynamically allocated memory blocks and allow developers to manage them effectively. While you can perform some tasks without pointers in C++, those tasks are easier with them. Moreover, tasks such as managing dynamic storage are impractical without pointers. C++ offers quite a number of these pointers, including the null pointer.

    Furthermore, you can use up to four arithmetic operators on the pointers and relationships between pointers and arrays. For instance, you can define arrays to hold specified numbers of pointers. You can also do pointer-to-pointer coding as well as pass and return pointers to and from functions.
  • Speed: Companies that hire C++ developers often have to forgo other programming languages that lend themselves to faster development cycles overall. And since a C++ developer typically has to see to more programming aspects that, say, a JavaScript  programmer doesn’t bother with, C++ may seem like the slower option for development. However, because the latter deals more directly with machine hardware, code execution proceeds much faster than for higher-level languages. C++ code gets compiled directly into machine-executable binaries, thus saving time that an interpreter would have otherwise swallowed up. Thus, even if interpreted languages may offer faster development cycles, C++ outdoes them in code execution speed.
  • Solid Library Support: While it doesn’t have the most expansive library among programming languages, C++ offers excellent library support to enable its performance-oriented function. Its Standard Template Library offers an array of functions to enable speedy coding, including ones for containers like maps and hash tables. It also has some functions that are not present in other programming languages. For instance, it has the ‘is_permutation()’ functions, which are useful in testing and allow developers to determine whether or not one of two code sequences is a permutation of the other.
  • Huge Pool of Developers: If you’re looking to hire dedicated C++ developers, you’ve got a sizable pool of passive and active candidates to dive into. Currently, there are up to 7.4 million C++ developers worldwide, and StackOverflow indicates up to 30% of survey respondents are learning the language. The fact that so many people are learning and coding in this language has at least two benefits. The first is, as we already know, the vast pool of C++ developers for hire. The other is that if your developer runs into a stubborn problem, there is practically a small nation’s worth of fellow developers in whose brains and work they can find every good solution that has ever been used.

Roles and responsibilities of a C++ developer

We've seen how ubiquitous C++ is in various industries and how that translates to practical job security for C++ developers. If you're running a company that offers some kind of digital service or requires digital operations, you'll need to hire a dedicated C++ developer for some task or the other. So, before you go out on the search, you should know what the roles and responsibilities your potential employee(s) will be taking on, beginning with the most obvious:

  • Developing Software: A C+ + developer in your employ will spend quite a bit of their time developing C++ programs and software for any number of uses. Generally, this entails a suite of activities, including setting up local or online IDEs, creating a project and source file, and setting up a compiler, especially for local IDEs, setting up a compiler. The process also includes writing code, managing integrations, and running debugging exercises.
  • Application Deployment Across Platforms: Platform deployment is an essential aspect of releasing software or programs, and it's a task that naturally falls to the C++ developer. For deployment, they will also have to choose between several options. For example, manual or scripted installations, server cloning or provisioning, etc. Ultimately, the C++ developer has the best understanding of what kind of deployment will be the most efficient for the software application or program.
  • Diagnostic Testing and Debugging Operations Whether during or after the development process, diagnostics are a vital part of developing and keeping software functioning optimally. The development process, especially, will require comprehensive testing at every stage to reduce how much of a bug infestation there is to fix later. The types of tests that a C++ programmer will run include unit, acceptance, regression, performance, and integration tests. Moreover, each level of software testing brings its own challenge, which a C++ programmer must rise to with any combination of different available testing tools. Such tools include Parasoft, Embunit, Cantata, CppUTest, and the portable and easily deployable Template Unit Test.
  • Optimizing, Maintaining, and Upscaling Software You may recall that C++ is excellent for building software applications and programs constrained by hardware power. In such applications (technically, in every application), there is a need to find new ways to optimize performance regularly, and that's one more thing firms hire C++ developers to do. Optimization often involves compilers like GNU and techniques like loop unrolling, tail call optimization, and vectorization, which are not tasks for just anyone. Moreover, it is also the C++ developer's job to maintain and upscale the software to suit the growing demands of an expanding business.
  • Collaborating with a Software Development Team: Software development, especially with programming languages like C++, ideally requires more than one brain on the job. As such, companies often hire C++ developers to function as part of a team. This makes it part of the developer's job to collaborate with their colleagues, engaging in brainstorming sessions to generate new concepts, development approaches, and project designs. They must contribute to a general effort on any development project.

What skills should a C++ developer have?

C++ development requires a fair bit of skill, and companies will not hire a C++ developer without much of that. Correspondingly, the average C++ programmer carries home quite a sizable paycheck. In the US, for instance, the average pay for a C++ programmer is about $80,000.

Granted, it might cost you less than that to hire dedicated C++ developers for your company, depending on what skill level you want. However, no matter the cost, we must clarify what skills you should look for. It will help you avoid blowing a budget to hire a C++ developer who ultimately turns out ill-suited for the job, no matter how brief their stay.

  • High Proficiency with C++: All the best-performing digital tech companies hire C++ engineers with at least a basic professional-level command of the programming language, and so should you. However, it may not be enough just to know C++. Development activities and even working with legacy software will often present the developer with code in other scripts. As such, when interviewing C++ developers for hire, you should confirm that they are also proficient in C, C#, and any number of other interpreted programming languages. With sufficient knowledge of other codes, they will know their way around any other programming script that they encounter in their work.
  • Familiarity with C++ Standards and Specifications There is technically only one C++ standard: the ANSI-prepared ISO standard. However, this standard gets constant updates, which makes it a moving target as far as knowing the C++ standard is concerned. Yet, you must confirm that your candidate understands and is up to date on the ISO standards.
  • Good Experience with Software Deployment: We've mentioned the importance of software deployment and how it poses challenges a developer must rise to. When hiring C++ developers for your business, you want to ensure they have experience with software deployment across various platforms. They must also have experience with the methods of deploying software, especially automated deployment, which seems to be all the rage for many IT companies in 2023.
  • Good Understanding of Memory Management: The companies that hire C++ engineers of the highest caliber are often those whose operations benefit the most from adequate computer memory management, such as gaming companies. Especially if your company happens to be in this kind of niche or industry, you should check to see that your candidate understands memory. So long as they are working with C++, they must have a solid grasp of computer memory, how it works, and how to manage and marshall it effectively.
  • Good Analytical and Problem-solving Skills: Working with C++ calls for excellent analytical thinking skills, and businesses are ever ready to scoop up and hire C++ developers who display this capacity to the max. The ability to understand a problem and develop a creative solution quickly is also crucial. As much as possible, you should always be on the lookout for such cognitive talent.

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