Technology related jobs will continue to be in high demand in 2020. According to data from CompTIA, the global information technology (IT) industry will grow at a rate of 3.7% in 2020, while an optimistic upside forecast puts the growth at 5.4%, with a downside of 1.9%. Growth expectations in the United States are also in line with those global projections.
While no one type of tech skill will outshine all the others, there are certain skill sets expected to grow at a faster rate than others. ClearanceJobs spoke with several technology experts on what skills might just be in highest demand in 2020.
“The most sought after skills are in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, and I don’t see that changing in the next five years at least,” Jim McGregor, founder and principal analyst at TIRIAS Research, told ClearanceJobs.
Hot skills: cybersecurity
The shortage of cybersecurity professionals will continue in 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth for jobs in information security is projected to increase 37% from 2012 to 2022. Seasoned cyber pros can also typically earn $95,000 or more a year, and given the continuing shortfall, one can expect salaries to increase.
“Universities and colleges now have a large availability of cybersecurity degrees, whether it’s a two or four year program, which will decrease the gap,” said James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4. “For others, they may consider other professionals to leverage their skills and teach them the ropes in cybersecurity.”
With IT threats and data breaches going nowhere but up, cybersecurity skills will remain in demand – and not just among those who work 24/7 in cybersecurity.
“Some [with] tech skills from other industries who have networking, communication and analytical skills can help in a Security Operations Center (SOC) or on a Security Incident Response Team (SIRT),” explained McQuiggan. “People who work in marketing or communications can become excellent team members for a security awareness program. They can be taught the necessary security skill sets needed, but having other skills supports the team in a much bigger way versus having all cybersecurity professionals.”
Hot skills: Devops
New hardware is just one part of the world of tech. For each new gizmo and gadget there needs to be someone to write the code to make it work. This is true with consumer devices, but is also true with government and military hardware as well.
“DevOps continues to be a hot market, though it’s wise for job seekers to pay close attention to research regarding the usage of tools and programming languages,” said technology industry analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.
Those working in DevOps will need to know a plethora of tech skills as well as soft skills, and these include not only coding, but also the ability to be flexible, as coding remains an ongoing process that is ever changing and always needs updating. In addition, DevOps is one that requires infrastructure knowledge, decision-making, scripting, collaborative and, of course, security skills.
“On the business IT side, hybrid cloud integration skills continue to be in demand as well,” King told ClearanceJobs. “Finding work as a data scientist typically requires considerable college time but the growth in related areas, including advanced analytics and visualization make it an interesting and potentially lucrative career path. The same can be said for the machine learning and predictive modeling skills required for AI projects.”
Moreover, automation – including those driven by AI – will also require new hardware, but also new systems. 2020 could be the year that robots come into their own.
“Robotics is an area that I expect will continue to grow in importance and relevance, making it an option of interest to engineering and computer science students,” added King.
Hot Skills: big data
Thanks to emerging technologies, massive amounts of data are created each and every day. It is crucial to keep it safe, to archive it, and to manage it.
“We can’t overstate this: ‘big data’ is here to stay,” said Jim Purtilo, associate professor of computer science at the University of Maryland.
“Anyone intent on moving to emerging tech areas should plan on honing skill sets for acquiring and curating data, but even more important is understanding its limits and challenges,” he told ClearanceJobs. “Data volume is not a replacement for illumination, since predictions based on modeling noise will still just give you noise. Often, wisdom is found in knowing what not to try to read into the tea leaves. Successful professionals will be the ones who advise clients what not to take away.”
No amount of training can replace critical thinking, which could be among the most important “tech skills” in 2020.
“I always speak first to enduring skills,” said Purtilo. “Critical thinking will win in the marketplace no matter what is the year. We call these different things depending on what sector of the tech economy we work in. The title might be software engineer, it might be information assurance specialist or it might be cybersecurity operator, but a demonstrated ability to efficiently translate goals and observations into action is always in demand. It isn’t just about the tech, it’s about what you know how to do with it.”