Unemployment rates in the IT industry are still hovering at historic lows, and some roles — like network and security engineers and software developers — are showing unemployment rates of around 1 percent. A recent survey from Robert Half Technology showed that the majority of CIOs will either expand their IT teams or focus on filling out vacant roles, while the 2017 IT Forecast from TEKsystems shows that confidence is high and IT budgets are rebounding. Overall, it’s a fairly rosy outlook for IT professionals this year, especially those with specific skill sets. Here, our experts tell us which skills will be hottest in 2017.
1: Full-stack software developers
Software developers can’t get away with expertise in only one language or platform, says Gene Richardson, COO of Experts Exchange. “They also must understand and have experience with the devops role, design, QA, DBA, analytics, and thus wear multiple hats. Having full-stack developers on staff improves time to market, minimizes costs and provides the team with a better understanding of the business problems and how to solve them,” Richardson says.
2: Project managers
With IT leaders’ confidence high and IT budgets rebounding, organizations need project managers to help keep projects on track, within budget and on schedule, says Stephen Zafarino, director of recruiting at IT staffing and recruiting firm Mondo. Project managers with vertical-specific experience, such as in IT, health care, finance or other areas of specialty, will be in even higher demand in 2017, he says.
“Cybersecurity has become a No. 1 priority for many of our clients, and we don’t see that abating anytime soon. There’s nowhere near enough available talent to fill the demand for these roles,” says Zafarino. And with high-profile breaches making headlines, forward-thinking businesses are looking to secure data and information before they’re targeted, he says.
4: Networking professionals
Though demand for networking professionals stalled in 2016, that demand has come roaring back, says Zafarino. “Network administration professionals and network engineers are some of the hottest skills our clients are looking for. The web, collaboration, streaming video, and security — competent networking professionals will continue to be hot this year to make sure that digital businesses can continue to thrive and grow,” he says.
5: UI/UX designers/developers
Consumers won’t settle for anything less than a quick, seamless, and painless user experience, whether they’re using an enterprise software solution, shopping, or gaming. User interface and user experience designers are going to be in high demand to help make software interfaces as intuitive as possible, says Zafarino.
Hand-in-hand with UI/UX goes back-end quality assurance testing. A gorgeous, seamless front end won’t do an organization much good if the software behind it is not robust. The 2017 TEKsystems IT forecast research shows that QA and testing roles have risen in importance over the last year as companies application stacks mature and applications are increasingly seen as mission-critical.
7: Cloud engineers
With the continued shift toward public cloud infrastructure and hybrid cloud adoption, IT pros skilled at setting up, performing integration, and securing cloud deployments will be even hotter in 2017. “We’re seeing an evolution in the cloud skills companies need; from architects and infrastructure specialists toward engineers and developers. We think that’s because most organizations already have planned and strategized their cloud solutions and now they’re beginning to further implement these and build onto them,” Zafarino says.
8: Big data
Companies are currently struggling to handle the overflow of data they’re generating; everything from user data, customer behavior data, purchasing data and sales leads, marketing data, and the like, says Zafarino. Professionals who can develop solutions to capture, process, analyze, and interpret data will continue to be necessary for an organization’s success in 2017. “Every industry, from IT to marketing to finance to policy makers and more are hiring for data analysts that can help them make informed, quantitative decisions,” Richardson says.
9: Machine learning/ artificial intelligence
Instead of a programmer writing “if/then/else” scenarios, decision systems and algorithms are used now to make deterministic decisions based on real-time data, Richardson says. “Technologists specializing in building AI and machine learning products as well as algorithm creation will do well in the years to come,” he says.
Devops will continue to play a huge role in IT hiring in 2017, as companies find they need a liaison between the IT department and the executive suite to ensure IT projects are meeting business needs and strategic goals, says Zafarino. “This will be a melding of what used to be separate tech roles in systems administration, business analysis, software, and engineering, as well as figuring out how to strategically integrate technology into business initiatives,” he says.