Jul 19 2017

The 5 Hottest IT Jobs in 2017— and What It Takes to Get Them

Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Big Data and virtual reality are booming areas for those with the right skills.

The days of the mainframe computer are fading fast, as are jobs taking care of mainframes and many other systems that existed before the advent of the cloud. What are the most promising technology jobs right now that will be hot for years to come?

While there is no definitive list, several industry rankings provide a snapshot of IT jobs currently in demand. Unsurprisingly, they are clustered around the biggest trends in tech: artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, data security, virtual and augmented reality and more.

The skills needed to succeed in the IT jobs of tomorrow revolve around security certifications, programming and applications development, proficiency with cloud and mobile technologies, and other specialized skill sets.

So, what are those jobs, and what will it take to get them?

SIGN UP: Get more news from the BizTech newsletter in your inbox every two weeks!

The Hottest IT Jobs Right Now

Earlier this year, Randstad USA, which offers human resources and staffing services, issued a report that examined current workforce trends, including the number of qualified candidates and types of positions available, market growth, salary range and employer needs for specific skill sets. On Randstad’s list of the five hottest IT jobs: Big Data engineer, full-stack developer, security engineer, IoT architect and VR/AR engineer.

That largely jibed with a recent report from CIO magazine, which named AI and deep learning engineers, VR/AR engineers, security analysts, cloud integrators, full-stack engineers, data scientists and IoT engineers as the seven most promising IT jobs.

Here is a breakdown of five key IT job categories:

1. Big Data/AI engineers: Data processing skills feed into jobs in the AI and machine learning fields, which largely focus on taking all of the data companies collect and using predictive analytics to affect business outcomes.

“With the intense focus on predictive analytics, deep learning, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, these positions should remain relevant for years to come,” said Flavio Villanustre, head of High-Performance Computing Cluster systems at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, in an interview with CIO about AI jobs.

2. Full-stack developers: Engineers and developers who can combine front-end and back-end development skills will be in high demand, as web services become more akin to mobile app-like experiences for customers, CIO notes.

Developers who are familiar with open-source platforms will also likely win out. “While .Net and Java will continue their dominance in 2017, larger trends in open source development are growing,” Candace Murphy, IT recruiting manager at staffing agency Addison Group, tells CIO. “We’re seeing uptick in requests for IT professionals with PHP, Python, Node.JS, and HTML/CSS experience. This trend is driven by companies moving away from the traditional platforms that require licensing fees.”

3. IoT engineers: The Internet of Things is not going away; it’s only going to get bigger. According to Gartner, there will be 8.4 billion connected devices in use this year, 3.1 billion of those in businesses. By 2020, there will be 20.4 billion connected devices worldwide, Gartner estimates, and businesses are going to need engineers who know how to connect, deploy, manage, analyze and secure them.

While Randstad notes that IoT architects are “a relatively new role in the IT space,” they are “quickly becoming among the most popular hot jobs in technologies,” with postings for IoT architects jumping 41 percent in just one year. “These professionals assist with the development and execution of applications and information across a wide variety of technical devices,” Randstad notes.

IoT devices flood companies with data, and they need engineers who can make sense of that information and help them turn it into business insights. The importance of leveraging data is not diminishing, Adebayo Onigbanjo, director of marketing for IoT at Zebra Technologies, tells CIO. “Companies need more data to have better visibility into their assets, people, and transactions,” he says.

4. VR/AR engineers: Virtual reality and augmented reality may be popular technologies in the gaming and entertainment industries, but, as Google has shown with its latest iteration of Google Glass, there are potential enterprise applications for these technologies as well, especially in factories and industrial settings.

“The integration of the next wave of apps requires immense coordination and security across systems, data centers, and applications,” Aymen Sayed, chief product officer for CA Technologies, told CIO. “Companies will begin to realize incredible efficiencies and cost savings by leveraging immersive enterprise apps. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality immersive solutions will be a part of 20 percent of enterprise’s digital transformation strategy.”

5. Security architects/engineers: Digital security is a paramount concern for all businesses, especially given recent malware attacks, so it’s no surprise that security engineers and architects are in high demand.

Security analysts need to have a wide range of skills and certifications and need to be adaptable to work in various parts of a company, Jeff Friess, practice leader of cybersecurity for recruiting firm Global Executive Solutions Group, told CIO. “They should be able to think strategically and see the big picture regarding information security, and have the necessary interpersonal skills to deal with stakeholders and speak to board members,” he says.

The Skills Needed for the IT Jobs of the Future

What skills and training are needed to land these jobs and succeed at them? The skill sets vary from job to job, but here are some essentials:

  • Development and programming knowledge (and certifications) are critical, “with hiring managers citing programming and application development as the top skills they will be seeking” in 2017 according to Computerworld’s Forecast 2017 survey.
  • Those who want to analyze and interpret data need to build up experience “using business intelligence tools, data-related programming languages like SQL, and database tools like Hadoop and Oracle,” all of which are in high demand, according to CompTIA. “Those who can interpret the data and translate it in a way that helps inform senior leaders about business needs, competition and opportunities are even more valuable,” the trade group notes.
  • Security-focused professionals need to build up experience with infrastructure and data security. Certifications can go a long way to landing a well-paying job. Karsten Scherer, global analyst relations lead at IT recruiting firm TEKsystems, told Computerworld that even with security pros in high demand, some firms cannot find those with recognized credentials, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). “There are far fewer people in the market than there are jobs for them,” he said.
  • Don’t forget so-called soft skills such as effective communications and the ability to foster good working relationships, CompTIA notes: “With every department and every staff member relying on technology to do their job better, smarter and faster, IT pros collaborate with everyone from entry level to the C-suite. And when you have an idea about how to implement or improve technology in your organization, you need to convince decision makers to understand its importance and get on board.”

Become an Insider

Unlock white papers, personalized recommendations and other premium content for an in-depth look at evolving IT