Employment in the IT industry is highly competitive, and opportunities are growing faster than other areas as business reliance on technology continues to increase. Of course, some tech jobs are more in demand than others. If you’re looking for the best chance at a great career in IT, here are the top IT skills you should brush up on to boost your employability.
Programming and application development
A perennial in-demand skill for companies across every industry, 49 percent of companies plan to hire for programming and application development in the near future. This skill has remained at the top of IT jobs website Dice.com’s annual Forecast survey for several years running, and demand continues to hold steady.
Employers also find programming and application development positions to be the most difficult to fill. The stiff competition surrounding this skill set often translates to higher salaries and better benefits for developers, as employers are constantly seeking top talent in this area.
Help desk and technical support
Elevated demand for these skills is good news for the IT job market outlook and the economy overall — it means that more companies are adding employees and expanding their IT infrastructures. Around 37 percent of companies plan to hire for technical support skills in the near future.
In addition to expansion, more organizations are hiring for this skill as previously outsourced help desk and technical support services are moved back in-house. IT services have become more complex with the explosion of mobile devices, and employers are looking to have experts on hand who truly understand what the specific company is doing, and are able to help end users quickly and efficiently.
With a nine percent year-on-year increase, networking skills are being sought by 31 percent of employers. Network administration and database management are the most in-demand skills in this category, fueled by a need for wireless connectivity and the proliferation of big data platforms.
Mobile apps and device management
As both personal and business mobile usage continues to increase, it’s not surprising that 27 percent of employers plan to hire IT pros with these skills in the near future. These positions are also difficult for employers to fill, since mobile is a relatively new technology compared to more established skills.
Companies are seeking expertise in mobile apps as more businesses increase their investments in mobile marketing. Device management skills are in demand for companies looking to implement Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies and manage their corporate mobile networks.
Continued improvements in the overall economy have led more companies to invest in strategic projects, and 25 percent of hiring managers are seeking IT pros with these skills. While demand is slightly down from last year, IT project managers currently enjoy strong prospects for employment. Project management requires a balanced blend of hard skills and soft skills, as these professionals must be able to communicate equally well with team members and non-tech key personnel.
As late as 2013, database skills had been lingering near the bottom for in-demand skills. But with the explosion of interest in capitalizing on big data, this skill set is now one of the hottest, with 24 percent of employers seeking database administrators.
As a subset of database skills, there is increased demand for tech pros with cloud experience. Demand for cloud skills has risen 32 percent in the past year, and is expected to continue climbing.
Wherever there is technology, there is a need for pros skilled in security. Increased pressure from malware and cyber attacks, along with an alarming number of high-profile breaches, has made security a top priority for most companies. In the current market, 21 percent of employers plan to hire for security expertise — which is also among the most difficult positions to fill.
Business intelligence and analytics
Another area that has experienced increased demand due to big data, business intelligence and analytics skills are the third-fastest growing sought-after skill set, with a 100 percent increase in demand from 2013 to 2014. Currently, 18 percent of companies plan to hire for these skills — and the number will rise as more businesses seek a competitive edge through sophisticated analysis of global data.