Essential Chatbot Developer Skills: Breaking Into the AI Industry

If you want to create something magical and make it possible to converse with computers, then being a chatbot developer is the perfect job type.

Using conversational AI (artificial intelligence), chatbots are like virtual assistants at your beck and call 24/7. 

They can book flights, translate essays, create stories, and even crack jokes. With instant replies and natural language, it is no wonder that chatbots are popping up more frequently. 

But who put them there? Where do these chatbots come from? The answer could be you! 

If you want to pursue a career as a chatbot developer, here is everything you should know before you get stuck in the job hunt. 

What does a chatbot developer do exactly?

Since you know more or less what a chatbot is, you have insight into what a chatbot developer is. But, if you are going to dedicate hours of your life to this new path in life, there is much you should know. 

Within the field of software engineering, chatbot developers require an extensive background in programming as they are responsible for designing, building, and setting up chatbots to function correctly. 

Chatbots interact with the IoT (Internet of Things) to do many different things, such as task automation, user experience improvement, and answer FAQs (frequently asked questions). 

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This career is both challenging and rewarding. An average day in this role varies depending on the company, stage of development, and coding practices, but here is what you can expect as an outline.

Meetings

When you first rock up to the office or sit at your desk at home, you’ll likely be expected to attend a few meetings. The designers, product managers, and stakeholders will all have a place at the table to talk about chatbot functionality requirements. 

If you are already in the development process, you will be asked for updates to ensure it’s progressing well. These meetings also allow all parties to ask questions and give feedback. Communication skills are key! 

Coding

This is where all of your coding experience will come in handy. As expected, you will spend most of the day coding, debugging, testing, and developing chatbots. Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms are two AI components you will be working with regularly. 

To be more efficient, many chatbot developers use chatbot frameworks for structured templates, guidelines, and tools that get the ball moving in projects. Think of frameworks as a library of building blocks that build the house whilst you paint it and add the furniture.

Quality assurance testing

Now that you’ve coded and developed a chatbot from the ground up – it’s time to see if it works and does everything you promised it would in the morning meeting. 

Below is a diagram showing a roadmap of how many chatbots are tested. 

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Unfortunately, testing a chatbot is not as simple as pressing ‘go’ and hoping no errors appear. Many different aspects of a chatbot need to be tested and given the thumbs up before it moves to the next stage of development. 

  • Functional testing: Starting from the basics, the chatbot must execute the correct functions. This involves understanding and responding correctly to user inputs by testing hundreds of instances. And, if something were to go wrong, the chatbot should be able to recover from it. 
  • Usability testing: Having a user-friendly interface can make or break your chatbot. It should be easy to use, clear, and intuitive. If the chatbot falls short in these areas, it’s back to the drawing board. The quality of the language should be up to scratch and sound as natural as possible. 
  • Security testing: Every second, chatbots are given huge amounts of user data, including addresses, phone numbers, and bank details. It is key that the chatbot can guard this information perfectly. To ensure this, the chatbot’s authentication and authorization features are tested for handling sensitive data and hacking prevention. 
  • Performance testing: To put the chatbot to the test, they are put up against large volumes of traffic. They are also tested with different conditions to see if response times are efficient and accurate even under pressure. 
  • Regression testing: This is the final stage in the quality assurance testing of a chatbot. If any updates or modifications are made to the chatbot, it is at risk of developing bugs. So, with regression testing, automated tests are run for specific functions and features. 

Documentation

After the chatbot has been tested and emerged victorious, it’s time to move on to the documentation stage. It’s important for everyone on the team to understand how the chatbot was made and what it is capable of. To do this, documentation and training material are created in a way that everyone can comprehend. 

Research and learning

Finally, when the chatbot you have developed is completed, it is up to you as a member of a quickly evolving industry to research in your downtime. Attending conferences, taking online courses, and simply talking to other chatbot developers will keep you up to date with technology, processes, and standards. 

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When you put your feet up at the end of the day, you can look back and see how dynamic the role of a chatbot developer is. It can be safely said that you won’t be bored in this line of work, but it’s not for everyone.

Technical skills

As with all software engineer roles, you will need a lot of technical skills. You don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to be a chatbot developer. However, having one in software engineering or computer science will provide you with the technical and soft skills required for developing chatbot platforms. 

Coding

As we mentioned earlier, the most important skill you will need in a role as a chatbot developer is coding. You will be working with numerous programming languages to develop the backend of the chatbot, aka the brain, including: 

  • JavaScript 
  • Node.js 
  • SQL 
  • Python

Web development

Many chatbots are built using web technologies such as Javascript, HTML, and CSS. Therefore knowing these programming languages will give you a huge advantage in being a flexible chatbot developer. To be even more desirable, learning how to be a full-stack developer will encase both the backend and front-end aspects of chatbot development. 

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Cloud computing

Cloud computing is the perfect way to improve chatbot functionality. It’s cost-effective, has plenty of storage options, has secure encryption, and provides tools for monitoring chatbot performance. 

Cloud computing platforms such as AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure, Botpress, Google Dialogflow, and Rasa are used when developing chatbots.

However, dont get too comfortable because this industry is always changing, so the best program last week may not be the following week. Keeping up to date with the best practices will ensure you’re not left behind. 

Application programming interfaces (API) integration

For a chatbot to work seamlessly, you must know how to make all the software connect to one another. This is what API is for and is an essential part of all modern software development jobs. 

It involves writing code for at least two APIs to transfer data between one another in a consistent format. The tools you should know about include software development kits (SDKs), libraries, and middleware. 

Customer relationship managers (CRMs) like WordPress or Salesforce provide a set of APIs that developers can use to build custom integrations and functionality into their chatbots. 

Soft skills

Knowing about programming and APIs is very important as a chatbot developer, but they will only be valuable if you have the soft skills to back them up. This refers to attitude, personality, and behavior qualities that are essential for success in the workplace. 

Communication

With this role, it’s common to talk to many different team members with various levels of understanding of what you actually do. The term DevOps is given to the practice of improving the collaboration between development and operations teams. 

You also need a crystal clear idea of what clients and users want from their chatbot. And, if they have unreasonable expectations, knowing how to steer them away whilst meeting their needs is essential for happy customers. 

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Problem-solving

Like it or not, you will run into many problems as a chatbot developer. Solving these problems makes this career rewarding and necessary for making intuitive, user-friendly chatbots and providing a great customer experience. 

Due to a lot of technical work going into them, chatbots can experience quite a few bugs and performance issues in all stages of development. It is up to you to solve them quickly and prevent them from happening again. 

Teamwork

Software development is generally a very collaborative industry involving project managers, designers, and stakeholders. If you find it hard to work with others, you won’t be able to share ideas and grow as a chatbot developer. Communication skills are essential.

Good teamwork skills make you more pleasurable to work with, and building relationships with co-workers will increase your chances of climbing the career ladder. As well as this, by forming friendships at work, you can join the 70% of employees who say it plays the most important part in their happiness.

After all, the key behind any good chatbot is good human conversations!

Creativity

Finally, it might be surprising to hear that being creative will get you far as a chatbot developer. This is for several reasons. First of all, with the inevitable problems you will come up against, you will need to apply creative solutions to get around them. 

Strong creativity skills allow you to think of innovative ideas and develop chatbots with engaging and interactive conversations for users. As well as this, expressing your creative side makes you stand out from the crowd of other hopeful chatbot developers. Embrace your uniqueness, and dont be scared to challenge the norm. 

Final thoughts

Even with the flexibility, demand, and salary of being a chatbot developer, it would only mean something if the job was exciting. Nothing is more sole-destroying than dedicating most of your time and effort to a job you are not passionate about. 

By being part of a movement so dynamic and innovative, your days won’t all roll into one, and you will definitely have some fascinating stories to tell your loved ones at the weekends. 

Do you have your eye on any chatbot developer jobs? If you’re interested in this industry, explore further at Top Apps