15 IT Skills That Employers Need in 2017 and Beyond

07/13/2017 by: Jaime Spector

Technicians smiling while standing in front of servers in data center.jpeg

Despite global shifts in hiring and radical changes to how businesses approach traditional IT, the job market for the Information Technology (IT) looks bright. The demand for smart and capable software developers, engineers, support operators, network and security administrators, etc., is expected to increase as CIOs look to expand their hiring efforts and fill out their teams.

That said, in today’s competitive job market, IT professionals and developers need to wear many hats and have rich skillsets that show a variety of core competencies; setting their resumes apart from their peers when reaching out to prospective employers.

Let’s take a deeper look at the 15 hottest IT skills and job roles that employers are looking for when hiring for their organization.

1. Network Management

Network management and administrative roles have changed drastically in the last ten years or so. Not too long ago, networking dealt mostly with IT configuration, operating systems and hardware. Now with the rise of cloud, SaaS, automation, mobile networks, streaming video, security, and demanding web applications – the job responsibilities and knowledge requirements of a typical network professional have become more broad and complex than ever before. Now, a network admin must not only know how to manage and maintain the local network, configure equipment and lay cable, but he or she must also deal with virtual environments, cloud provisioning, or even sometimes writing code.

While the everyday job may have changed, the fundamental reasoning for hiring competent networking people hasn’t. No organization can risk infrastructure failure, and IT still heavily relies on dependable networking teams to keep things running.

2. Applications Development

The bread and butter of any business with a vested interest in bringing new software platforms or solutions to the market; good app developers are very much in demand at the moment. Whether it’s for enterprise, consumer, cloud, wearables, mobile, or traditional on-premise, there has never been more avenues for a capable app developer to be successful in the job market.

Mobile development is the hot commodity right now. According to Robert Half Technology, more than 70% of organizations are implementing some kind of mobile strategy, and they all need tech professionals who can get the job done. Furthermore, CNN Money listed Mobile App Developer as the number one profession on their Best Jobs in America list. With so much demand in this space, now is the best time to start sharpening up those coding skills.

3. DevOps

The popularity of DevOps and its cultural impacts on the organization continues to grow as development becomes more agile and collaborative. Hiring managers will be in need of people to act as a liaison between executive management and IT; ensuring that service delivery is met while maintaining the overall health of the organization. The DevOps Manager must be deeply familiar with things like the organization’s core infrastructure, process framework, server side maintenance, system configurations and more.

In addition to technical expertise, the DevOps manager must be a champion of communications, as it’s their responsibility to maintain the ebb and flow of collaboration across departments. Employers will certainly be looking for jack of all trades type people to spearhead their DevOps initiatives.

4. Database Administration

Database management is still very much in demand as digital organizations often live or die based on their user data, and how that data is stored, maintained and recovered. Despite the notion that the cloud could kill off the classic DBA career, the general consensus among the community is that this simply isn’t a reality at the moment. The Database Administrator role is one that, like the network admin, has evolved into a hybrid between traditional on-site database management (backup and recovery, patching, upgrades, security, etc.) and cloud automation to transform the job for the modern IT environment.

While it’s true that some organizations are shifting away from SQL and toward integrated cloud services, the DBA is one that many organizations still heavily depend on.

5. Compliance Management

While this role is not as broad and adaptable as some of the others on this list, managing and maintaining compliance is still heavily needed in many IT organizations. This is especially true for those that are associated with healthcare, finance and government services. This person must be highly regimented, thorough, and technically-minded when it comes to understanding all the intricacies that are connected to compliance regulations such as SOX, HIPAA and others.

Many CIOs and hiring managers will look to someone with a sharp mind that can proactively comb technical documents and workflows and point out compliance issues or misalignments before they happen. And as long as IT continues to serve industry segments associated with high risk and sensitive data, these roles will be much needed in the organization.

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6. Help Desk and Technical Support

And so we’ve arrived at the help desk. The support technician’s role is one that is seemingly taken for granted these days, as it has been synonymous with IT for almost as long as modern computing has existed in the enterprise. These jobs typically deal in direct support to end users to work out technical problems, incident management and ticketing. However, with outsourcing, automation and advanced self-service alternatives, many are left wondering if there will be a seat at the table for the traditional help desk staff associate.

Rest assured, the help desk and support technician roles are two that many organizations still sorely need. In fact, many speculate that AI and automated self-service only benefits these roles, eliminating common low-level issues and freeing them up to work on more complex incidents and provide better overall customer service.

7. Back-End Web Development

As with software developers, there’s practically no shortage of good development jobs out there. And while front-end is more commonly known to the layman, it’s the back-end; the servers, databases, applications, etc., that make the inner workings of a website tick. These roles are reserved for professionals that have a deep knowledge of tools like MySQL and SQL Server with experience in PHP and frameworks like Symfony and Zend. There’s also considerations for version control, server management, Linux, code documentation, and more.

The back-end developer is the unsung hero for websites that require a clean, portable and properly managed codebase. And with new tools and methodologies popping up every day, this is a role that organizations are clamoring to fill.

8. Front-End Web Development

If back-end is the foundation, think of the front-end as interior design. It is the code, colors, navigation, and every interactive element that a user interfaces with when loading up a given website. This is one of the hottest job roles available in the digital space today, and requires key competencies in programming languages like HTML, CSS and Javascript – most notably. There’s also frameworks like Bootstrap and EmberJS, libraries like jQuery and LESS and so on. These mighty developers must be quick to learn new techniques, languages, and be up on the latest in design trends if they want to stay competitive in a hiring scenario.

Front-end design is heavily tied to many organizations’ ROI, as user experience and navigation can directly affect a business’s bottom line if their business model depends on things like conversion or e-commerce. The demand for these jobs is quite high, and the more hats a developer wears, the better. 

9. Full-stack Development

And this brings us to the full-stack development role. As organizations have become more lean, the demand for a do it all style of development has become a disruptive force in the modern organization. Popularized by Facebook’s engineering methodologies, full-stack developers are renaissance men and women that have mastered all parts of the development cycle. From back-end roles like server side maintenance, database creation and API integration, to being fluent in front-end programming languages and design/UX work, these users are can do everything.

In a time where organizations must do more with less and move faster than ever before, it’s their jack-of-all-trades quality that makes full-stack professionals the cream of the crop in the eyes of an employer.

10. Machine Learning/AI

In our brave new world of chatbots, smart machines and predictive analytics, the future of programming requires doing more than writing if…then…else statements. Writing and coding artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms require a different perspective; one that uses cognitive analysis and is able to draw insights from real-time datasets.

Engineers and programmers are already being recruited in droves to help solve the challenges that stem from the development of these innovative technologies. And as the enterprise incorporates more business processes that leverage AI, the more specialists will be needed sooner rather than later.

11. Cloud Engineers

The cloud is arguably the single biggest disruptive force to modern computing and IT in the last decade. As more organizations have shifted toward the adoption of both public and hybrid cloud models, the need for professional engineers has skyrocketed. Skills required for these roles include: cloud integration, securing and provisioning cloud deployments, migrating data, working with cloud vendors and consultants, and more.

Like many technologies in this space, the cloud is dynamic. Services are constantly changing, and those directly interfacing with those services must be able to quickly adapt to stay on top of their responsibilities. Employers will be keen to hire knowledgeable, reliable and adaptable people in these roles.

12. IT Change Management

Something most organizations know all too well at this point is that you shouldn’t take change management for granted. The IT Change Manager’s job is to ensure the coordination of IT and system changes across the organization’s many application environments. He or she should oversee that changes are properly managed, logged, and controlled in order to mitigate risk and meet any necessary compliance requirements.

We’ve all seen the aftermath of when large companies have faced disastrous results due to poor change management, and so you can imagine that this job role has become much more relevant in the modern digital age. Hiring managers and CIOs will look for professionals that are meticulously organized, good communicators, and technically savvy to take on these critical IT change management responsibilities.

13. Operations Management

In IT, there are many defined roles that speak directly to a department or functional aspect of the organization such as development, infrastructure, networking, etc. However, in most organizations, there is usually a broader role that works across departments to make sure things are running smoothly. This is the IT Operations Manager, and it’s his or her job to oversee and facilitate all aspects of production within the organization.

An Operations Manager is mostly reserved to a senior level role, and that person must not only have a deep technical background and knowledge of the inner-workings of organization itself, but he or she must have tremendous leadership and communication skills as well. Employers will most likely favor prior experience during the hiring process.

14. System Engineers

Every IT organization needs a watchful eye looking out for its overall health and infrastructure. Enter the IT Systems Engineer, the all-around maintenance and monitoring professional who is constantly managing and maintaining all installed systems, configurations, hardware, and other areas related to daily system operations.

Generally, qualified systems people will have extensive backgrounds in IT, computer engineering and/or IT systems administration. It’s their responsibility to constantly monitor critical system applications and their dependencies, identify and eliminate bottlenecks, increase system efficiency, provide support for system-related incidents, and collaborate with developers to create fixes when needed. For all intents and purposes, system engineers and administrators have a very large responsibility for maintaining the overall organizational infrastructure, and employers will make sure that the person they hire is smart, proactive and really knows his or her stuff.

15. Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a hot button issue, and has become a huge priority for businesses that have a vested in safeguarding their users’ valuable data. As more high-profile stories come to light regarding security breaches and data hacks, companies are scrambling to fill their organizations with teams of experts working around to clock to keep the organization safe from risk and vulnerabilities.

The professionals who fill these security positions range from engineers who develop sophisticated solutions to combat malicious code and data hacking, to specialists that provide advisement on security tools, compliance measures and general security recommendations, to administrators who are on the front-lines installing patches, and providing user support. As previously stated, this is a job field in very high demand and employers will be on the lookout for smart, talented people who are interested in IT security.

This is just quick look at some of the many jobs and skillsets that IT organizations are hiring for. Keep an eye on industry blogs and news feeds to spot new trends and positions that will inevitably pop up as IT evolves in the future.

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