Looking to change fields and get into tech, but don’t know what skills you need to launch your career? Maximize your marketability by pursuing tech skills in demand for the future!
Tech is a broad field, and there are a lot of interesting directions you can go in. In this article, we'll look at the various areas of tech, how much demand exists for each skill, and where to go to start your learning journey.
Without further ado, here are 8 tech skills in demand in 2018–plus where to get the online technical training you need to become a pro.
Disclosure: I’m a proud affiliate for some of the platforms mentioned in this post. If you buy a course through my links on this page, I may get a small commission for referring you. Thanks!
1. Machine Learning
Machine learning and artificial intelligence is one of the most innovative and exciting fields moving into the future, making it one of the most profitable skills you can learn. From Siri and Alexa to chatbots to predictive analysis to self-driving cars, there are a ton of uses for this futuristic tech.
Those who begin taking online courses in machine learning now will still be getting in relatively early, as demand is only increasing from here. “We expect a 60% increase in demand for AI and machine learning specialists in 2018,” said BN Thammaiah, Managing Director at Kelly Services India.
Machine learning can be applied to every industry, including healthcare, education, finance, etc. Translation? The possibilities are endless, and you can apply your machine learning skills to a role that suits your personality and interests.
Quick facts about machine learning as a career:
- Average salary: $135K+ (Machine Learning Engineer)
- 550 AI/machine learning startups received $5 billion in funding in 2016
- Netflix uses machine learning to make recommendations to its users
- There are 1,829 open positions listed on LinkedIn alone (a 10x increase from 5 years ago)
Where to learn it: Machine Learning on Coursera
What the course covers: broad intro to entire machine learning workflow, including neural networks, statistical pattern recognition, deep learning, unsupervised learning, anomaly detection, recommender systems, and more.
- Course Name: Machine Learning
- Platform: Coursera
- Course URL: https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning
- Instructed by: Andrew Ng (cofounder of Coursera)
- Price: Free! (for the audit option, no graded items) or $79 (with certificate & graded assignments)
- Skill level: Beginner/Intermediate (requires basic understanding of linear algebra)
Why this course? It has a 4.9-star rating (out of over 62,000 ratings), was created by Stanford University, touches on the theories behind machine learning as well as its practical applications, and is taught by the cofounder of Coursera!
2. Mobile Development
In 2018, it's estimated that there will be over 2.5 billion smartphone users in the world. This means that companies who want to stay relevant don't just need websites; they need apps. Having mobile development skills also comes with the perk that if you can build apps for others, you can build and sell your own as well–so it's an ideal career path for aspiring entrepreneurs.
One interesting direction that mobile apps are headed in is augmented reality. Apps like Pokémon Go and the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game engage with the real world, blending technology and reality.
If you want to start learning mobile development without committing to the Team Treehouse tech degree spotlighted below, check out these 21 mobile app development courses.
Quick facts about mobile development as a career:
- Average salary: $97K (with starting salaries as high as $75K)
- It's one of LinkedIn’s skills that companies need the most in 2018 (ranked #9).
- At the time of writing there are 48,215 mobile developer jobs posted on Glassdoor.
- The global app economy is predicted to be worth $6.3 trillion by 2021, up from $1.3 trillion in 2016.
- The future of mobile development goes beyond phones: wearable technologies, the Internet of Things, beacon technology, increase in use of VR/AR, and more.
Where to learn it: iOS development Team Treehouse tech degree
What the course covers: build 12 real-world projects to showcase to potential employers (including full Objective-C app, diary app, movie night app), learn Swift & Objective-C to build apps for iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Apple TV
- Course Name: Treehouse Techdegree – Become an iOS Developer.
- Platform: Treehouse
- Course URL: https://teamtreehouse.com/techdegree/ios-development
- Instructed by: Pasan Premaratne + guest teachers
- Price: $199/month
- Skill level: Beginner
Why this course? Collaborate with others in an exclusive Slack channel, build real-world apps, and receive expert project reviews and feedback.
3. SEO/SEM Marketing
Employers are looking for people with digital marketing skills to improve their company’s web presence and visibility. This is one of the tech skills in demand for obvious reasons: more site visits mean more conversions, customers, and revenue.
If you’re data-minded, SEO/SEM may be a great fit, since the role involves constant testing, measuring, and experimenting to see what works and make changes based on observations/metrics/KPIs.
Digital marketing is another skill that can benefit you if you decide to start your own business in the future. You can leverage SEO skills to market yourself, find freelancing clients, start a tech/personal blog, and build a brand.
Quick facts about SEO/SEM as a career:
- It's one of LinkedIn’s skills companies need the most (ranks #8 on their list of most in-demand jobs for 2018).
- The top five organic search results get over 75% of the clicks.
- Only 22% of businesses report being satisfied with their conversion rates.
- Web developers who learn SEO/SEM can offer bundled services: not only building the websites, but optimizing and marketing them.
Where to learn it: SEO Training Course by Moz on Udemy
What the course covers: SEO strategy development, keyword research basics, on-page SEO fundamentals, link building.
- Course Name: SEO Training Course by Moz
- Platform: Udemy
- Course URL: https://www.udemy.com/whiteboard-seo/
- Instructed by: Moz.com
- Price: Free
- Skill level: Beginner
Why this course? Moz.com specializes in SEO/SEM training, and it’s a comprehensive introduction to SEO giving everything you need to know to get started.
For even more information about SEO, check out SEO: The Movie.
4. Data Visualization
Data visualization is a way to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context (turn spreadsheets or reports into charts and graphs that can be easily understood).
Think of this career as a bridge between technical and non-technical roles. You're taking the data collected by analysts and transforming it into a form anyone can understand.
Quick facts about data visualization as a career:
- Average salary: $101,736 per year for Data Visualization Engineers
- It’s in demand because employers can make sense of large amounts of data to drive real business results. For example, predict sales volume, understand what factors influence human behavior, identify areas in the business that can be improved, identify trends, relationships, patterns, etc.
- It’s a blend of science and art: raw information meeting visually appealing mediums.
- Data visualization is the key to “bringing the power of Big Data to the mainstream.“
Where to learn it: Data Visualization for All on edX
What the course covers: learn how to design interactive charts and customized maps for your website using Google Sheets, Tableau, Highcharts, Carto, Leaflet, GitHub
- Course Name: Data Visualization for All
- Platform: edX
- Course URL: https://www.edx.org/course/data-visualization-all-trinityx-t005x
- Instructed by: Jack Dougherty, Stacy Lam, David Tatem
- Price: Free
- Skill level: Beginner
Why this course? The course is taught by Trinity College faculty, and real-world examples are drawn from their students working with community organizations in Hartford, Connecticut.
5. Data Engineering
Data engineering is separate from data science, but the former is what enables the latter to exist. Data engineers build the infrastructure and tools that data scientists rely on to conduct their own work.
There's no better time for U.S. citizens to enter the field, due to changes in immigration laws. “Following recent government policy changes in the H1-B Visa application process, demand for US citizen data engineers has increased drastically and shows no signs of easing,” writes Sam Brown.
Quick facts about data engineering as a career:
- Average salary: $90,286 per year
- In some ways, data engineering is more closely related to software engineering than to other data roles.
- Growth of data engineering roles has historically outpaced growth for data scientist jobs.
- Apache Kafka–a type of data engineering software–is Udemy's 4th hotest tech skill for 2018, with a 40% increase in demand. Twitter & Airbnb both use it to analyze customer behavior.
Where to learn it: An Introduction to Google Cloud Platform for Data Engineers on Udemy
What the course covers: All the core services you’ll need to know for the Google Cloud Data Engineer test, the basics of how to use Google Cloud Platform
- Course Name: An Introduction to Google Cloud Platform for Data Engineers
- Platform: Udemy
- Course URL: https://www.udemy.com/an-introduction-to-google-cloud-platform-for-data-engineers
- Instructed by: Mike West
- Price: $99.99 (but Udemy often has sales, especially around holidays)
- Skill level: Intermediate (you'll need a basic understanding of cloud technologies and SQL)
Why this course? It’s the first course in a series geared at helping you get the Google Cloud Professional Data Engineer Certificate.
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6. UI/UX Design
While they're in the same family, UI and UX are different. UI (user interface) specialists design interfaces for websites and apps to be visually appealing, flow well, and be easy for users to navigate. UX (user experience) specialists do a lot of research and testing to consider every element of how the user will interact with the company and website, coordinating with developers and UI designers.
This type of career is perfect for those who want a creative-meets-analytical type of role (graphic design meets A/B testing and so on).
Ultimately, UI is better for those who want to focus on the visuals, layout, and general look and feel of a page or product. UX is better for those who want to use analysis and testing to help a business seamlessly meet their users' needs.
Quick facts about UI/UX as a career:
- 87% of managers surveyed by Adobe said hiring more UX designers is the #1 priority for their organization.
- There are 14,000 UX designer jobs in the United States alone (and 24,000 in Europe).
- UX and UI designers have many specific tools of the trade–like these design programs.
- Demand for UX/UI skills is mostly in mobile platforms, but demand for innovative design in VR, AR, AI, and wearables is growing
Where to learn it: User Experience Design Fundamentals on Udemy
What the course covers: The critical elements of user experience–strategy, scope, structure, skeleton, and surface. Learn the basics (e.g. what UX design is and why it’s important), strategy/theory (e.g. use of color and typography), and implementation (e.g. how to create wireframes).
- Course Name: User Experience Design Fundamentals
- Course URL: https://www.udemy.com/user-experience-design-fundamentals/
- Instructed by: Joe Natoli
- Price: $94.99 (but Udemy often has sales, especially around holidays)
- Skill level: Beginner
Why this course? It has a 4.3-star rating from 3,418 ratings, with 51,398 students enrolled. The instructor has been helping Fortune 100, Fortune 500, and various government organizations with UX design for nearly three decades.
BONUS – UI bootcamp option: Career Foundry, The UI Design Course That Gets You Hired.
If you're sure UI is what you want to do as a career, this Career Foundry bootcamp will get you there. The interactive program is taught by leading UI designers, takes you through every element of UI design, and comes with mentorship plus career services to help you refine your portfolio and personal brand. It boasts a 95% job placement rate, with some graduates ending up at companies like Google, Apple, and eBay. The program costs $4,000, so you should be really certain this is your goal!
7. Network and Information Security (Cybersecurity)
For any company that collects customer information or deals with sensitive data of their own, keeping networks secure is paramount.
When data breaches do happen, they can be big, newsworthy, and costly for the company to recover from. 2017 had its fair share of cybersecurity disasters, and companies famously hacked in the past include Sony, LinkedIn, Chipotle, and others.
These situations underscore just how critical it is for companies to keep their network security up to par, and make cybersecurity one of the most-needed jobs and one of the tech skills in demand in 2018. Unfortunately for those companies, right now there is a shortage of people trained in network security. Fortunately for you, that means there's a gap in the market you can fill.
Quick facts about cybersecurity as a career:
- Average salary: $82,768/yr
- 6 of the 15 top-paying IT certifications are focused on security.
- Demand for security professionals is far outpacing supply: the talent gap in this field expected to reach 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2022–tripling from 2017.
- In part due to such a massive shortage, damage from cyber crimes are anticipated to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. This is a career where you can truly make an impact.
Where to learn it: Essentials of Cybersecurity on edX
What the program covers: the fundamentals of networks, systems administration, how to mitigate vulnerabilities, how to perform digital forensic analysis, risk assessment, etc.
- Program Name: Essentials of Cybersecurity
- Platform: edX
- Program URL: https://www.edx.org/professional-certificate/uwashingtonx-essentials-cybersecurity
- Instructed by: University of Washington
- Price: Free to try, or pursue the MicroMasters credential for $1200
- Skill level: Intermediate (must have a STEM Bachelor’s degree or 5 years of work experience in a technical environment)
Why this program? It’s a MicroMasters Program made up of five courses. Micromasters on edX were born from Master's programs of leading universities and are recognized by companies for real job relevancy.
8. Amazon Web Services
Cloud computing jobs are on the rise because more and more companies are switching from the classical server infrastructure to cloud solutions. Amazon Web Services is one of these cloud platforms, featuring content delivery, database storage, networking, and more–over 50 services in total.
AWS specialists are usually engineers, cloud architects, and system administrators. IT professionals who are AWS-certified earn more than their non-certified counterparts. It's one of the most profitable skills they can learn to level up their tech career.
Quick facts about AWS specialization as a career:
- Average salary: $114,000 (in the top 5 highest-paying certifications in the United States and Canada)
- The average salary of AWS-certified IT professionals is 27.5% higher than the norm.
- Big companies using AWS include Intuit, Netflix, GE Oil & Gas, and Time, Inc.
- They have the dominant market share of the cloud computing industry worldwide, with an active customer base in 190+ countries.
What the course covers: core AWS skills and concepts needed to begin working with AWS and to achieve AWS certification.
- Course Name: Amazon Web Services (AWS) Fundamentals for System Administrators
- Platform: Pluralsight
- Course URL: https://www.pluralsight.com/courses/aws-system-admin-fundamentals
- Instructed by: Elias Khnaser
- Price: Free
- Skill level: Intermediate (requires working knowledge of virtualization, networking essentials, and general systems administration)
Why this course? You’ll have a solid understanding of how various AWS services are architected and how you can use them.
Any of these profitable technical skills will set you well on your way to a successful new tech career in 2018 and beyond. Now it just comes down to which is best suited for your personality and interests–and that one's up to you :)
What technical skills are you most excited to learn in 2018? Leave a comment below and let me know!