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2021 Career Guide: Software Engineering in Hong Kong

Sam O'Shaughnessy
March 30, 2021
Last updated on
June 25, 2024

The city of Hong Kong never fails to make it into the headlines. From picturesque tourist spots to the best technological innovations, Hong Kong has got it all!

Despite being just a city, the economy of Hong Kong is larger than most countries, thanks to its impeccable government policies, culture, and lifestyle. Such attributes of the city make it an ideal place for rapidly growing startups, well-established enterprises, and other forms of trading.

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Consistently ranking among the top 15 countries in terms of innovation, this nation-like city has definitely made its mark in history for millennia to come! Read our other blog on tech careers in Hong Kong for a perspective on why Hong Kong is Asia’s largest financial hub and among the top 3 financial hubs on the entire planet!

This blog will break down everything you need to know, the good and bad, about a rock-solid and exponentially growing career in software engineering in the megacity of Hong Kong. Stay put and read on!

What is Software Engineering and What Do Software Engineers Do?

There are various skills and disciplines within software engineering. However, at its core, software engineering is all about code, and that is exactly what software engineers do, Software engineers write code to develop software.
The distinction and clarity of software engineering come when you clearly define the goals or the tools you use to meet your goals. For example, a software engineer coding in Python is completely different from a software engineer coding in JavaScript.

Read Also: Python vs Javascript: Which Language You Should Choose and Why

Off the bat, software engineers are not entitled to make decisions on what to build, at least in most cases and in most companies. Software engineers work to build, rebuild, fine-tune and debug software tools that the company executives propose.

Ironically, the job of software engineers does not start with programming. Albeit that is the crux, but that is not how it begins. So how software engineering is related to UI/UX, digital marketing, growth hacking, cybersecurity and data science - software engineer jobs begin with gathering information about the project, like target audience, design requirements, and others. Hence why, a software engineer should learn UI/UX, digital marketing, data science and growth hacking to make the best out of software engineering. But more on that later.

So, let us dive deeper into the world of software engineering:

Roles in Software Engineering

The job of a software engineer is very different from other engineers. Conventionally, engineering refers to solving real-world problems through tangible products. However, the products that are built by software engineers are intangible.

As a result, software engineers are required to put on many hats during their workflow. If the software engineer works at a startup, he or she will be required to handle tasks that are way beyond the job profile of a software engineer, but if they are working at a larger company, like Apple, they have to constantly keep in touch with other teams. So, what are the roles in a software engineering team?

The first role a software engineer takes on is the role of an "architect." As a systems architect, the engineer defines rules and constraints to establish a framework.

In their next role, software engineers create algorithms that adhere to UI/UX requirements to function properly. Then they need to decide on what web developer language to use nowadays to develop their application and what other software tools they need for documentation and deployment.

Finally, software engineers should test, debug, retest, and debug again until everything runs as expected. After deploying the software, they should constantly be on the lookout for any unprecedented errors.

Of course, taking on so many tasks and roles is not a piece of cake. So, you can choose to define your own career path. You can choose to be one of the following:

1. Front-end Software Engineer

2. Back-end Software Engineer

3. Full-stack Software Engineer

4. Application Testers

5. Development Operations

If you are confused amongst the first three and do not know what to choose, then read on as we explain in detail about each role. However, if you have already made up your mind, then why wait for more? Get started with Xccelerate today!

Read Also: Role of Software Engineers in Startups

Front-End, Back-End, and Full-Stack Software Engineering - What is the Difference?

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Front-End Software Engineering

What do front-end developers do? When clients use an application/ software, they will typically access it through their browser, on their computer, tablet or smartphone. The interactions and inputs are sent to the application server were their interaction can be persisted, or handled by another function.

So, when you become a front-end engineer, you would be working on the user-side of things, like what is displayed on the browser and how it is displayed. As well as handling any user interaction and processing the correct response.

You might wonder what language do web developers use - as a front-end engineer, you should be well-versed with front-end developer languages:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

In essence, a front-end software engineer develops the software (application or web page) with which the end-user directly interacts with.

The top skills required to be a front-end developer are:

  • Front-end developer languages and frameworks
  • Product testing
  • Code debugging
  • Design thinking
  • Pre-processing

Front-end developers salaries in Hong Kong area around HKD 318,000 per year as a mid-tier front-end developer. The salary is bound to increase with experience and seniority.

Check out the ‘Web Development course for beginners’ if you aspire to become a front-end developer.

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Back-End Software Engineering

What do back-end developers do? Back-end developers, on the other hand, deal with the server-side of the application– actions, functionalities, and tasks that the end-user is unaware of. For example, storing data in a database or fetching data from a server's database are actions that happen on the back-end, for which back-end software engineers are responsible.

Albeit the user is completely disconnected from the back-end, the actions that take place are not. The back-end and front-end engineers need to work together to develop a successful application.

Wondering what language do web developers use? Some back-end developer languages that are rising in demand are:

  • PHP
  • JavaScript

To secure a high-paying job in Hong Kong as a back-end software engineer, you need to have the following skills:

  • Server interaction and administration
  • In-depth software engineering knowledge
  • Application scaling
  • Strategic thinking
  • Code debugging

On average, a back-end developers salary in Hong Kong is about HKD 374,000 every year, slightly more than front-end developers.

One of the fastest-growing programming languages is Python because of its intuitive syntax and powerful functionalities. To get started with back-end development and Python, check out Xccelerate's Python courses for beginners.

Full-Stack Software Engineering

Software development is a lot of fun, and it is understandable that some of you do not want to restrict yourself to only back-end or front-end software development. You want it all!

So what do full-stack web developers do? Simply put, a full-stack developer is a front-end developer and back-end developer in one. It can seem extremely overwhelming at first, but a full-stack developer does not have to be extremely well-versed with front-end and back-end developers; they simply have to be proficient enough to deal with both the user-end and the server-end. They will usually work in collaboration with front-end and back-end developers and bridge the two systems together.

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What languages do web developers use? Some important developer languages for full-stack developers are:

  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • HTML
  • CSS
  • SCSS

Full-stack engineers are like the jacks of all trades. To grow successfully as a full-stack software engineer, you should hone the following skills:

  • Web architecture
  • Basic UX skills
  • Front-end languages like JavaScript
  • Back-end frameworks like NodeJS
  • Server administration
  • Database knowledge

On average, full-stack developers salary in Hong Kong is about HKD 394,000 annually, which is slightly higher than back-end developers.

Xccelerate offers full-stack web development course and web development for beginners course for all ages and expertise.

Front-End vs Back-End vs Full-Stack – What to Choose?

Now that you have a crystal-clear picture of each, how do you choose what is the right role for you? Certainly, salary is not the single most important factor to help you boil down on a decision. Each role demands different personality traits.

For Creative People

If you are somebody who is creative and outspoken, then front-end developer is a good choice. Front-end software developers deal with the user-side of things, and design thinking is an essential skill.

Furthermore, if you are inclined to learn more than just one language, it would be an added advantage!

For Analytical People

If you are a person whose mindset is extremely analytical and mathematical but loves software engineering, then the role of a back-end software developer is the way to go. Back-end developers are required to think strategically and critically to solve problems rapidly and to run programs swiftly.

Additionally, back-end engineering will be well-suited for people who would rather go knee-deep into a single software developing language rather than simply testing the waters of many.

For Beginner Software Developers

If you love coding but are not sure which side to lean on or if you do not want to pick a side without testing everything, then full-stack web development will be the right choice. Full-stack web development gives you a taste of front-end as well as back-end developer languages. You can later diverge into either front-end or back-end once as per your interests.

Based on Company Size

If you are looking to work at a large enterprise like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, or Google, you are better off becoming a front-end or back-end engineer as the teams and software engineering projects in these companies are much larger and require a bigger and more specialized workforce.

However, demand for software engineers in startups is growing since the startup market is growing in Hong Kong and around the world.  

Based on Work Experience

If you are a fresher or you are shifting career to software engineering and have no software engineer work experience, it would be better to take up courses on full-stack web development and software engineering because the chances of finding a job would increase. How? Well, as a full-stack developer, you will be able to apply for front-end developer as well as back-end developer jobs and full-stack developer jobs.

Read Also: How to get a software developer job without a CS degree

Based on Salary

Finally, if the salary is a big influencing factor in choosing a software engineering career, then see the table below with the salary breakdown as per experience level:

Software Engineer Career

Annual Salary

Entry Level

HKD 242,019

Early Career

HKD 312,767


HKD 359,187

Early Career (Senior)

HKD 409,326

Mid-Career (Senior)

HKD 410,182

Late Career (Senior)

HKD 468,715

Read Also: How to become a Software Engineer in Hong Kong

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Career Paths for a Software Engineer

Software engineering is an exciting realm and there are various career paths options. Nevertheless, it is always good to know the exit points to be able to tackle whatever life throws at you. So, will you be stuck as a software engineer your whole life? The answer is “No!”

There are vast career progression paths for a front-end developer, back-end developer, and full-stack developer! Once you become a software engineer, a whole new universe opens up and you can gradually progress into any of the following jobs:

  • Systems Engineer
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Analyst
  • Usability Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Database Admin
  • Sales Engineer
  • Business Analyst
  • No-Code Developer
  • Trainer
  • Technical Writer
  • Project Manager
  • Security Analyst
  • Ethical Hacker
  • Penetration Tester

Read Also: Which Tech Career Is Right for Me?

Demand for Software Engineers in Hong Kong

Being a megacity with an almost 90% internet penetration rate in 2021, Asia’s largest financial hub, Hong Kong, has a rising demand for talented software engineers from all over the world!

Since the city is a center for innovation and finance, the fintech industry is on a rapid rise, calling for more software developers from all walks of life.
Check out this blog to learn more about why software engineers are so important to Hong Kong.

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Other Skills for Software Engineers

Contrary to popular belief, software engineers in Hong Kong or anywhere else need to know more than just coding to excel in their careers. Since software engineering and development encompasses several interdisciplinary attributes such as User Interface (UI) design, User Experience (UX) optimization, data science, digital marketing and growth hacking.

Another reason for developers to learn UI/UX, growth hacking and digital marketing, and data science is because software engineers work with the design team, marketing team, sales team, and executive team to develop the software that is in the common ground of all. Therefore, touching upon those skill sets is critical. Here are some courses to help you do just that:

Moreover, soft skills play an important role in being a great software developer. As much as technical skills are essential for software developers, however, collaboration and communication are also necessary. While communication skills are crucial for personal development, they can also help in making or breaking your career. Soft skills such as communication skills, collaboration skills, emotional intelligence (EQ), time management are only some of the examples. Like any other hard skill or technical skill, soft skills also need to be practiced regularly to improve.


All in all, with the rising demand for software engineers and handsome remuneration, the future of software engineering is certainly very exciting for both beginners and experienced professionals who are seeking a career change. Enroll in Xccelerate's software engineering course today and kickstart your software engineering career!

Related Software Engineering courses

Need More Advice?

If you are at a choice point in your career and need someone to help you navigate professional challenges. You can make an appointment to our complimentary 1-on-1 Career Consultation and receive personalised career advice.

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