What IT Skills Are Most In Demand for 2016?

What IT Skills Are Most In Demand for 2016?

January 22

With wages on the rise and IT unemployment rates around 1%, it’s a very good time to be in the IT field. New technology is opening up new jobs, but that also means that demand for specific skills change to some degree. In other words, opportunities are plentiful for those who want to move into jobs with more responsibility, better advancement opportunities, and better pay. Or all three.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen demand soar for software developers and security experts. And while Silicon Valley garners the lion’s share of attention, opportunities abound across the country for those with in-demand skills. I spent a few days in Seattle last month, and was shocked to see so many changes to the technology landscape of the city I called home for 18 years

Microsoft has been the main attraction in the Seattle area for those with technical skills for several decades, but I noticed Facebook, Google, and even Apple have a presence there today which increases demand for developers while driving salaries into the stratosphere. And I left out one of the biggest employers in the area: Amazon. I’ve lost track of how many friends have left Microsoft to work for Amazon over the past couple of years.

Photo courtesy of NEC @Flickr

This week I’d like to take a look at some of the skills that are in the most demand. I could list twice as many, but here are those I found the most interesting while remaining in high demand.

Mobile Engineers

Mobile devices have now surpassed desktop PCs as the most used platform, and we’ll continue to see strong demand for cross-platform mobile development professionals across many industries. Microsoft is still pushing Windows 10 on both desktop and mobile, but the mobile skills most in demand are iOS and Android development. Android has the largest market share of mobile devices while iOS is generally considered to be the most profitable mobile platform.

My neighbor recently told me how he switched from a bank he’d been with for over 20 years to a local credit union because it had a better Android app that allowed him to make mobile deposits and pays bills from his phone. I assumed all large banks had such apps, but this omission shows that customers will vote with their wallets. That’s great news for mobile engineers.

US Salary Range*: $115k-$175k
% change from 2015: +8.2%

Business Analysts

Dilbert and Wally love to make fun of the clueless business analyst roaming the halls in search even the smallest cost savings. But in all seriousness, a skilled business analyst can bridge the gap between IT and company executives which allows IT staff to remain focused on project. An experienced business analyst can be a IT professional’s best friend by helping executives understand the technology constraints under which IT is working.

The business analyst has developed a reputation for recommending staff reductions when the business hits a rough patch. That’s unfortunate, because there’s so much more to the job. As technology grows in complexity, having a savvy business analyst there to help both IT and management understand each other can make projects run smoothly and save a lot of time and confusion that often surrounds projects with many moving parts.

US Salary Range: $84k-$122k
% change from 2015: +5.2%

IT Project Managers

Do you see the trend here? Complex projects need experienced leaders and that’s where the IT project manager proves his value. Increased IT spending means more money will be allocated to IT projects, and each project needs a project manager. That translates to increased demand for this position in 2016. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you may want to specialize in one industry, such as healthcare or the financial industry.

This position may not require a PMP Certification, but it certainly helps. And it will most certainly help increase your salary once you get it.

US Salary Range: $95k-$146k
% change from 2015: +4.9%

Cloud Architects

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see this position on the list. As companies move towards public and hybrid cloud adoption, demand for those performing cloud integration will continue to increase. This is one position where executives understand the risk involved in moving even small segments of their business to the cloud, and will spend what’s needed to do it correctly.

The cloud architect does a lot more than move operations from one location to the cloud. The cloud architect also oversees the company’s cloud strategy, adoption plans, cloud management and monitoring. Going back a couple of years ago, there seemed to be an over-riding assumption that most businesses would move as much of their operation as possible to the cloud, and as quickly as possible. Today, the cloud architect may help a company decide what shouldn’t be moved to the cloud as much as what should.

US Salary Range: $127k-$175k
% change from 2015: 6.4%

Data Scientists

Last week, I sat in a meeting where the managers discussed how much additional data we’d captured in 2015 about our customers. When we began to run SQL queries against this data we realized how much we’d underestimated our ability to analyze and make sense of the data. It was both frustrating and exciting that we had so much new data, but it wasn’t very useful and certainly wasn’t actionable.

What we needed was a data scientist to create data models and then interpret the data into actions items for our business. Businesses are capturing more data each year which requires more storage, more analysis and more ways to access the data across the company. Do you value job security? The data scientist has it in spades.

The best data scientists can basically cherry pick the position and company at which they want to work.

US Salary Range: $109k-$154k
% change from 2015: 8.9%

Network Engineers

It’s not as sexy as some of the positions listed here, but it’s a solid skill to possess in 2016. As new applications and services place increasing demands on the network, engineers make sure content travels smoothly and securely to its destination. If you take a look at the amount of video companies are producing and pushing out to employees and customers, you gain an appreciation for the engineers making it all happen.

The network is still the foundation of all the jobs listed above and the foundation on which new products, services, and technologies are built. Network engineers aren’t going anywhere and remain one of the most sought after skill sets of 2016.

US Salary Range: $96k-$139k
% change from 2015: 5.7%

*Salary ranges provided by Robert Half Technology