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The Most Popular IT Career Skills in the US

Published on 06 December 18

Even the most gifted IT practitioner simply can’t be an expert in everything! There are now just far too many techniques and technologies in use within the modern world to make any such idea feasible.

That diversity of IT in the 21st century means employers’ IT skills requirements differ from one to another. Add to that the fast-moving evolutionary nature of IT and the picture relating to required expertise is one of endemic and dynamic change. That, in turn, indicates that skills training and development is an ongoing need.

However, it is possible to identify certain trends in demand, how they’re affecting the marketplace and what salaries they attract.

What Skills Are In Demand?

The above background can be something of a challenge for IT professionals seeking to position themselves to stand out from the crowd.

The first stage in reviewing your skills inventory is to look at where the current market demand peaks are. That’s because typically the more demand there is in the marketplace for a given skill set, then the higher the pay and benefits are likely to be – if all other things are equal.

The top 8 generic IT roles most in demand right now (based upon numbers of positions open and unemployment rate) in the US are as follows:

  • Software Developers – with a median salary of over $100,000
  • Information Security Analysts - $92,000
  • IT Management - $135,000
  • Computer Systems Analysts - $87,000
  • Network Architects - $101,000
  • Systems Administrators $79,700
  • Database Administrators $84,950
  • Web Developers $66,000*

*Source: - US News

Many other skills categories follow close-up behind including miscellaneous Technical Support Staff, Help Desk Operatives and so on.

These categories segment across various generic areas of application including categories such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Data Science, Cloud Computing and of course, general Software Development.

Analysis - Individual Skills Sets

When employers are looking for gifted practitioners in, say, Big Data or Artificial Intelligence, they will typically be looking closely at resumes for evidence of related and certified specific skills. Generally speaking, employing companies are not likely to just accept your word that you are, for example, a Data Architect.

In the case of a resume submitted in response to an ad for skills in Big Data, employers might be looking for certified skills in:

  • Data Architecture
  • Data Analysis
  • RDBMS methodologies
  • SQL or NoSQL
  • Blockchain

If they are pushing the boundaries within Artificial Intelligence, they might be seeking specific certifications in:

  • R
  • LISP
  • Python
  • Pop-11

How important are skills in these areas? Let’s consider two examples.

  • Employers requiring skill sets coming under the category of Big Data showed a nearly 4% increase p.a. in demand over recent years, and that shows no signs of abating (source: Forbes).
  • Some sources indicate that the market for NoSQL Skills has shown a compound annual growth rate of 35 percent between 2014 and the projected end of 2020 (Source: Allied Market Research).
  • Demand for Blockchain experience exploded by over 6000% between Q1 2017 and the same period in 2018 (Source: Upwork)
  • Looking at AI, positions advertised have increased by 4.5 times since 2013. Sources indicate that venture capital investment grew to $49.3billion in the first three months of 2018 – with much of that coming from investments into AI development (Source: The Actuary).
  • Reuters has reported another explosion of demand, this time for graduates with AI skills (source: Reuters)

What That Means for Pay and Certification Strategies

To be clear, adopting a do nothing strategy towards diversifying and updating your skills portfolio would be, at best, risky. The longer you leave things, the higher the risk becomes that your skills drift into being out-of-date and no longer top of employers’ wish lists.

Ideally, the approach should be to align your skills development to mirror the highest levels of demand. That involves getting certifications.

Does that matter?

A survey in the US has shown that certified IT professionals earn on average $8,400 or 11.7% more than those without certifications (Source: CIO).

If you, therefore, align your certification strategy with some of the peak demand areas and individual skills requirements outlined above, your career and income expectations should soar.

Of course, it isn’t just a case of taking any certification based upon market demand. Your existing experience will need to be taken into account, as will, most importantly, your career interests.

For example, if you have a natural inclination towards database administration then getting certification in a related Big Data discipline might be sensible. By contrast, suddenly studying an application development language might seem a discontinuity with your existing career specialization – unless you wish to diversify into application development.

This is where a career development strategy is important. This is about you thinking about yourself and your aspirations holistically and feeding that into an understanding of where the market is going in terms of skills demands.


Based on some of the above survey information, it’s possible to see that a number of certifications in various high demand areas could result in a significant boost to your career and/or income.

Here is just a sample of some of the key courses that are hot right now, as a reflection of employer demand:

  • Learning Data Science with Python: Demand for skilled Data Scientists and Python has evolved as the most preferred programming languagehow to manipulate data, and it’s a skill set that crosses many demand areas such as Big Data and AI.
  • AWS Solutions Architect. Amazon Web Services is a huge growth area in the general domain of Cloud Computing. Here you’ll learn how to define solutions in that environment.
  • Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Certification. Here you’ll learn the essentials of Microsoft’s Azure environment as the basis of delivering solutions within it. This covers disciplines such as server optimization and IaaS.
  • Tableau Certification Training Course. Dashboard design and data handling are covered here.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker Training Course. This is about learning how hackers try to penetrate systems. It’s imperative if solutions are to be developed to stop them and refers to the fact that security skills currently rank number 2 in terms of roles looked for by employers.
  • Blockchain Certification Training Course. This covers the basics right up to advanced concepts. It’s one of the most sought-after skills areas right now, and these techniques involve not just cryptocurrencies but also other fundamental AI applications.
  • PMP® Certification Training Course. IT Management salaries are consistently amongst the highest in the industry, and that includes Project Managers. This course will provide the fundamental foundations and advanced methodologies associated with Project Management.


The above certification studies indicate the wide range of options open to you in terms of reshaping and redirecting your skills portfolio so that it’s more appealing to potential employers. There are many others like them.

Understanding how to construct a learning and certification strategy that’s aligned with market demand isn’t always easy. This is where our core expertise can make the difference - and it’s at your disposal.

If you would like to take the next steps towards getting the accreditations that matter to employers in today’s market, why not contact us now for a first discussion?

It’s obligation free. It might help you to see your existing resume in a new light and much more importantly, what can be done to make it even more compelling!

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  1. 28 January 22

    Nice blog, Thanks for sharing.

  2. 22 December 21

    Nice article, Thanks for sharing.

  3. 22 December 21

    Nice article, Thanks for sharing.

  4. 18 November 19

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