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10 Best Tech Skills To Master

by Gwenn Smith
fact checked by Rachel Jones

Information technology or IT remains one of the most versatile, fast-growing fields, and research shows that being skilled in high demand tech boosts compensation. If you’re looking to shift or advance in your career with new tech certifications and expertise, consider mastering the following tech skills. 

Employers are headhunting for the latest, in-demand skills. Tech has taken on more varied and significant roles in day-to-day business operations and there are valuable opportunities you can use in the workforce. Impress your boss by mastering the right combination of practical expertise, technical experience, and software skills.

10 Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity: Crash Course Computer Science #31

Before the fourth quarter of 2020, there were at least 2,935 security breaches publicly reported, making it the worst year yet recorded in terms of cybersecurity. To circumvent further intrusions, executives have increased budgets for cyberspace security in 2021 by at least 55%, while others are seeking to hire extra full-time security specialists.

But where do you specialize your tech mastering efforts in the wide tiered online security niche? While every discipline in cybersecurity, cloud security, and application development security are impressive, cloud security and app integrity are projected to grow by 115% and 164%. The most wanted skills for app development include app security code review, secure container, and micro-services security.

DevSecOps is a big winner here, earning premiums that equal 19% of your base pay, and you’ll be integrating app security into the cycle of development. Cloud security specialists can delve into Google cloud security, Azure security, public cloud security, cloud security architecture, and infrastructure. 

Beyond 2021, cybersecurity certifications will remain formidable, garner premium salaries, and buck the overall trend. Many IT employers offer a base salary bump for these Credentials:

  • CEH or Certified Ethical Hacker
  • CCSP or Certified Cloud Security Professional
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP
  • Advanced Security Practitioner from CompTIA

9 Full Stack Development

What Is a Full Stack Developer & How To Become a Full Stack Developer in 1 Year

Although not a new skill in the tech space, developers are always in demand, particularly front-end, back-end, and full-stack professionals with top-notch coding skills.

Indeed’s ranking of best tech skills for 2020 showed that full-stack software development ranks 2nd while also being in the top growth ranks with a rate of 161.9%. Full-stack engineer’s hiring rates have been growing steadily in the US since 2005 at about 35% per year. These coding skills are in-demand around the world right now:

  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • Go
  • Swift
  • React
  • Angular
  • Spring
  • Django

JavaScript and its many coding variances continue to lead the pack as the most used programming language, while Go is in high demand due to a lack of developers who’ve mastered it. Angular and React top the list for valuable front-end development skills while spring and Django are in-demand for back-end frameworks.

8 Blockchain

How does a blockchain work – Simply Explained

Despite the unprecedented decline of cryptocurrencies in the last year, blockchain remains relevant for crowdfunding, identity management, peer-to-peer payment platforms, digital voting, and file storage.

With such versatility, many employers are seeking developers that have mastered blockchain for building decentralized apps and smart contracts. The most sought-after blockchain skills include database design, networking, and all the applicable programming languages like JavaScript, Java, Solidity, Python, Go, and C++.  

Blockchain engineers are commanding similar salaries as those paid to Machine Learning specialists, currently an average of $162,000. Blockchain is being used by financial institutions and major banks, while tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, and Amazon are developing blockchain services.

7 Cloud Computing

As more and more enterprises switch from traditional physical server infrastructures to cloud-based solutions, cloud computing skills are becoming highly marketable. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligent services are now hosted by cloud platforms, and job openings between 2017 and 2020 have increased by 107% in the US alone.

The leading cloud-based service provider is AWS or Amazon Web Services, and gaining skills in this tech will improve your demand as a professional. Being certified in AWS will see you earn more than your non-qualified colleagues, as cloud computing skills will earn you an average of $130,272.

AWS cloud solution architects have the highest US and Canada tech certifications, while other cloud computing skills include DevOps, Microsoft, Kubernetes, Docker, and Azure. Cloud engineering has long term demand in the tech sector as more IT solutions are being shifted to cloud-based platforms.

6 Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

What Is Artificial Intelligence? Crash Course AI #1

AI or artificial intelligence, and its counterpart ML (or machine learning) are buzzwords synonymous with an increasingly innovative business environment. A significant number of tools and services are today based on ML and AI, and the hiring rate for artificial intelligence specialists has grown by 74% in the past couple of years.

A 2019 study of the best tech jobs by Indeed found that Machine learning engineers openings had increased by 344% for the past 4 years. These ML and AI specialists with skills such as python, natural language processing, java, TensorFlow, and R command an average salary of up to $140,000 annually in the US.

Mastering these tech skills will including building Chatbots, one of the most wanted specializations under ML and AI. Several major organizations are relying on AI operated customer service interactions for website queries, and being a master earns you the highest IT salaries in 2021 and beyond.  As an AI specialist, you’ll benefit from accessing a wide variety of tech jobs for your portfolio, including data sciences, product management, and software engineering.

Machine learning covers statistical pattern recognition, neural networks, unsupervised learning, deep learning, recommender systems, and anomaly detection.

5 Virtual, Augmented, and Extended Reality

XR – The Future of VR, AR & MR in One Extended Reality

The collaboration of Augmented Reality (AR )and Virtual Reality (VR); called Extended Reality (XR) and many industries are adopting XR tech, including education, manufacturing, entertainment, advertising, and health. Software specialists in this tech segment are bound to be in very high demand and the growth rate for hiring VR/AR engineers has increased to 1400%.

While the full impact of XR technology is to get seen in the next couple of years, there is a need for additional specialists who’ve mastered this tech. Expert projection placed the market size for AR/VR at $6.1 billion by 2017 but increased to a whopping $215 billion in 2021.

XR is being used by top enterprises like NVIDIA, Facebook, Google, HTV, and Snapchat, companies that have seen unprecedented growth as a result of the pandemic. There is also a scarcity of XR quality assurance specialists that can troubleshoot algorithms and make sense of the output for use by other tech departments.

4 Analytics and Data Science

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Data analytics and data science are two highly sought after tech skills that are consistently hand-in-hand with big data, whose revenues are now projected to grow by 14.1% in 2026. Big data initiatives and advanced analytics are being launched by 84% of tech enterprises to create greater accuracy and accelerate decision-making processes.

According to LinkedIn’s report on emerging jobs, data science emerges at the top for the last three years. While the two tech careers are closely related, analysis is an entry-level tech skill. On the other hand, data science becomes more advanced.  

Industries that require data specialists include finance, software development, health, education, and e-retail. Data scientists command an average salary of $101,000 and get voted as having the third-best jobs in the US by Glassdoor’s annual Best Jobs in America report.

Data analysis and science specialists help drive better decision making by providing an overview of the organization, analysis, and interpretation of big data. On mastering this tech skill, you’ll be able to build projects with an understanding of neural networks, classifiers, and ML algorithms.

3 IoT or Internet of Things and Big Data

Internet of Things and Big Data: How they work

Internet of Things (IoT) is a broad term. It covers everything that’s connected to the internet and, more specifically, devices that communicate with each other. Defined as objects that talk, IoT (or edge computing) includes smartphones, wearable tech, and other smart sensors.

One of the major concerns with connected devices is data security, and that’s why techies who’ve mastered IoT tech are taught after. The average salary of an Internet of Things professional is $101,000, with the segment poised to become the next technology career boom.

By 2025, IoT will impact the economy by up to $11 trillion according to predictions by the McKinsey Global Institute. Currently, 94% of business is investing in IoT preparedness initiatives, and mastering this tech requires you to identify solutions and network components with security risks and data management for prototype production.

2 Robotics

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Robotics covers hardware and software engineering, which means you’ll be working with physical and virtual bots. Robotics encompasses specializations like automated manufacturing, exploration robots, medical equipment, and entertainment animatronics. Automated tasks like virtual assistance and customer care use software that acts as virtual bots.

According to LinkedIn, the robotics industry, comprising both virtual and physical bots has grown by 40% every year, emerging as a part of the $1.2 trillion AI sector. Coupled with AI certification, you can earn a salary of up to $181,430.

As a robotic engineer, you’ll be able to operate and adjust robotic real-world functions such as moving across terrains in disaster recovery or healthcare. Mastering this tech skill means that you can program a physical or virtual robot to provide movement or flight solutions using languages like SQL, python, visual basic, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

To qualify as an RPA or robotics process automation engineer, you’ll need diverse technical skills for development, architecture, and analysis for providing solutions. You should be well-versed in Microsoft .NET Framework for building RPA platforms coupled with experience in business processes, communication, and process mapping.

1 User Experience and User Interface Designer

UX Design vs UI Design | What’s the Difference? Which one is right for me?

User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) belong to the same family of tech skills. But there are fundamental differences. Masters in UI have skills to design user interfaces for apps and websites, making them more appealing, easy to navigate, and free-flowing.

For a UX specialist, a lot of testing and research gets performed for an elemental consideration of how the users interact with a website or company app. This expert coordinates with UI designers and web or app developers and has the type of career where analytics meets creativity. UI designers focus on layout, visuals, and the general feel and appearance of a page of a virtual product, while UX professionals use testing and analysis to meet their client’s needs.

According to Adobe, 87% of managers disclosed that their organization’s number one priority is to hire more UX specialists, and there are more than 14,000 job openings in the US alone. Mastering skills as UI/UX designers require that you’re proficient with design tools and platforms like AI, VR/AR, and wearables.

fact checked by Rachel Jones