Application Programming Interfaces are essential to how we build and interact with the applications we use every day. Set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% up to 2024, the API industry is booming with no slowdown in sight. Facing a market like this, you may rightly feel that your professional prospects as an API developer are secure.

However, there is no end to the advancements and improvements you can bring to the design and maintenance of your APIs. Advancing your skillset with a future-focused approach will allow you to adapt and grow, finding new niches and the opportunities they bring.

With the rapid growth of the API industry, securing your abilities against future competition can only offer greater opportunities. From streamlining your design approach to advancing the skills that ensure your flexibility, these tips can help you build a better career — now and in the future.

Why Planning for Longevity is Essential for API Pros

First, it is important to establish why longevity is essential, whether you’re freshly on an API career path or have been in the business a long time. Despite rapid and ongoing growth, tech changes fast. Without the right skills and accommodations, you stand to lose out on potential that could drive your career to new heights.

For example, when the digital world shifted to the Web 2.0 suite of software tools and devices, APIs had to keep up to maximize the value they offered. This meant a shift from APIs as merely assistive tools to models of real-world functions, complete with automation and analytical potential. As a result, API developers adopted the Representational State Transfer (REST) architecture en masse, which allows them to visualize and implement functionality more efficiently.

With developments like this happening all the time, API professionals must be ready to adapt to paradigm changes in the industry. From programming languages to architectural frameworks, innovation leads to opportunity. Advance your API career by focusing on the long-term flexibility of your platform.

Tips for Advancing Your API Career Long-Term

When it comes to developing your skills and toolsets in building and maintaining APIs, there is no one route nor a singular correct solution. Whether you decide to commit to ongoing education, learn a new language, or change the way you think about APIs, advancing your API career can ensure that you’ll remain at the forefront of lucrative application design.

Utilize these tips for developing a career that grows with the larger API industry:

1. Focus Your Approach on User Needs

When software engineer Flavia Sequeira joined a major multinational banking organization, she recognized the importance of API thinking that revolved around user needs. By asking questions like “what do our users want to build?” or “how do they want to engage with our services?,” API developers can build a culture of empathy that surrounds and informs the interface. Sequeira understood the usefulness of this approach and how it can help a business track its customer journeys and improve its offerings.

For API professionals, the development of a thoughtful and empathetic API approach all but guarantees interface success. Looking from the outside-in, you set yourself up to understand the needs of your users even as they change so that you can innovate with the tech world.

2. Explore Needs and Niches

API thinking is essential for this strategy, which requires developers to explore the needs of a user base beyond what might be in your wheelhouse. With information systems and jobs exploding as professionals from software developers to librarians adopt new tech, the market demands functional API solutions. API pros can secure career longevity by exploring and understanding these markets.

Start with the top industries for growth. From airlines to concert promotion, the usefulness of an API has virtually no limit. Commit to keeping up with larger economic trends to secure your own ability to innovate valuable APIs.

3. Adapt a RESTful Approach to API Building

As professionals, we tend to forget the importance of simplicity and readability in all that we do. In the tech field, it is all too easy to assume the expertise of the users we are designing for and mire API architecture in too much complexity. That’s why the REST framework is such a useful tool for streamlining the accessibility of an API for software developers.

Designing a RESTful API architecture can be thought of as breaking down the functions of your interface into nouns and verbs, then extracting URLs accordingly. Your resources are your nouns; your actions — the events that alter the state of a resource — are your verbs.

While common API frameworks could change in the future, the importance of breaking down functionality in simple, language-focused terms helps you design an interface for greater user functionality. Keep REST in mind when developing your long-term career prospects.

4. Explore Diverse Information Architectures

The functionality of an API is dependent upon access and communication of information. Without the right approach and understanding of information architectures, a developer risks missing out on the needs of their target users. For example, a food delivery service will operate with different data than, say, a hospital administration system.

If you work with more data-heavy systems, such as those in healthcare, learning and using newer query languages such as GraphQL may keep you at the top of more employers’ lists. GraphQL, which was initially released in 2015, allows for higher customization of the client data in both query and result. For more analytical clients, a graph-rich database such as Neo4j is a sound management system to have in your repertoire.

The more tricks you have in the bag, the better. Learning how to implement event-driven architecture, either through your code or a broker or mesh, can boost your skillset. Because of its flexibility, event-driven architecture is becoming more popular by the minute.

By understanding the diversity of information architecture and planning to coordinate with user needs, an API developer enhances their usefulness even as industries change. You can develop future success by taking classes and exploring growth in fields like information architecture.

5. Plan for Flexibility

Tech advancements happen at a break-neck pace. From the popularity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to the 5G wireless revolution, the tools and systems you have to work with change all the time. Maintaining flexibility as an API professional amid all this change requires that you broaden your skillset. One way to do so is to maintain your knowledge of various coding conventions that govern the languages with which you regularly work. Just like a traditional language, coding languages are living things, and myriad bodies and groups gather and collate these conventions. Networking via these bodies and groups not only keeps you updated on the standards, it allows you to form relationships in the profession that can benefit your career throughout its lifetime.

Consider picking up a new programming language or learning new cloud platforms. The more experience and understanding you have under your belt, the easier it will be to adapt to rapidly improving tech.

Securing a Future of API Success

With these tips and strategies, you can build an API career that is all but guaranteed to stay relevant with advancing technology. Focus first on the user, then build the skills you need to flexibly adjust your framework and thought patterns to meet their needs. Since APIs are all about communication, this approach can bridge gaps through empathy and simplicity. As a result, APIs can successfully accommodate the needs of a world that is continuously moving towards virtual solutions for every imaginable problem.