API Engineer: Job Description, Salary & Training

May 12, 2019

For those considering a career as an API engineer, the following article explores the job description, educational requirements, annual median salary, and job outlook for API engineers.

What Does an API Engineer Do?

API engineers design, develop, implement, oversee, and adapt APIs - application programming interfaces - for a number of different types of organizations in business, education, science, and other fields in which data queries are made via internet and cloud platforms. These engineers usually develop APIs using a technology called REST. REST is an acronym for 'representational state technology.' Applications created using this technology are referred to as RESTful APIs. API engineers use RESTful APIs to create any number of individual applications and products for an organization. API engineers code in a number of different computer languages that are portable or non-platform dependent, such as Java, Ruby, Scala, JavaScript, as well as hypertext protocol markup language (HTML) for web pages. An API engineer will write code and incorporate existing APIs into that code, or the engineer may write an original API specific to the organization's needs.

Because APIs serve a number of different organization types, API engineers also consult with the organization's experts. For example, an API engineer working for a large retail chain will consult with marketing and sales to develop APIs that are specific to those fields and that particular organization. Engineers are also involved in data security and work closely with data security measures and protocols, such as user access control and token management, to protect both the organization from threats and exploits and the end users from experiencing any type of cyber attack. With cloud services rapidly rising on the internet, API engineers work to make cloud data transfers and tasks more efficient by overseeing the data warehouse as well as ensuring that background tasks perform as expected.

Educational Requirements Bachelor's degree
Job Skills Expert coding ability in a number of computer languages, knowledge of cloud platforms, expert knowledge of data management and security, strong problem-solving, strong written and oral communication skills
Median Salary (2018)* $103,620 (software developers, applications)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 31% (much faster than average for software developers, applications)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A bachelor's degree is commonly preferred for API engineers. Prospective employers also favor candidates with practical experience writing code and developing applications. Work experience in API testing, cloud protocols, and data management/query are also highly desirable.

Required Skills

API engineers require strong coding skills in a number of different languages, including Ruby, Java, JavaScript, Scala, and Node.js, because APIs are developed for web and cloud integration. As such, APIs differ from more conventional software applications in that they are platform independent and must be adaptable to an organization's needs and able to run in any web or cloud-based application. As more and more users avail themselves of cloud services such as data storage and retrieval, data security management is imperative and the engineer must have considerable expertise in data and server security to guard against possible exploits that could adversely affect the organization or end user. API engineers must possess strong oral and written communication skills because they collaborate and consult with other engineers as well as organizational experts in various fields that are part of the organization.

Career Outlook and Salary

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the annual median salary for software developers in applications was $103,620. The BLS reports that the job outlook for software developers in applications from 2016 to 2026 is expected to grow 31 percent. The BLS reports that this percentage is much faster compared to all other occupations.

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