Technology is so fast-paced these days, even the most knowledgeable experts cannot predict what’s on the horizon. In this ever-evolving industry, it’s virtually impossible to know what will happen in the tech market in the next six months, let alone in a year.
With all of these ongoing advances in technology, IT careers are skyrocketing. Across the globe, the tech industry has seen surging demand for DevOps, Data Scientists, ML and AI Engineers, IoT Specialists, VR/AR Developers, Blockchain Developers and programmers across all profiles.
If any of these career titles confuse or interest you, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about each of these tech jobs and what skills you’ll need to land the gig.
Machine Learning (ML) Engineer
By now, you’ve probably heard the buzzwords Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science. These three IT areas overlap quite a bit, but there are differences in the way they use that data.
Machine Learning Engineers use collected data to develop computer algorithms and systems that can learn and apply knowledge independently either on human or other intervention.
Take Facebook's News Feed for example. This is a perfect instance of how an algorithm can independently adjust feed content to match a user’s interests based on the posts they comment on, like and read. With machine learning on the rise, the need for this type of engineer will continue to grow.
So what skills do you need to qualify for this job - to create software components that can run autonomously with minimal human supervision? Strong software engineering skills, computer science fundamentals and programming knowledge, an understanding of statistics and data modeling experience.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Engineer
These are the IT professionals who handle the development of artificial intelligence (AI), also known as “smart systems.” In modern times, artificial intelligence is defined as “the study and construction of intelligent agents.” An intelligent agent is a system that perceives its surroundings and can communicate with them in a certain form. AI engineers are the professionals who program artificial intelligence to create a “smart system” that can function without a human’s influence.
An AI engineer's career generally takes one of two routes: They can either join the academic community, where scientists and engineers deal with theory and research; or they can work in the “applied AI” industry.
Today, AI is used for facial recognition in public areas (such as airports), voice recognition (Siri, Alexa and other personal assistants) and behavioural pattern recognition. However, these systems are also used in much simpler ways, such as filtering spam emails, sales forecasting based on current data and controlling lights in buildings.
Skills you need for this type of career include strong computer programming skills, expertise in mathematics, working knowledge of computer languages and excellent analytical skills.
Data Scientist was the most sought-after job on Glassdoor for three years in a row! With so many new advances in technology, this job has evolved quite a bit in the last couple of years.
The term “data scientist” first appeared in 2008/2009, when certain companies realized they lacked professional workers who can handle, organize and interpret massive amounts of data. Modern-day companies must analyze collected data before they can make smart, educated business decisions. This is where a data scientist comes into play. They understand the correlation between data, can interpret it and determine what is wrong in the company’s processes (based on the collected data) and make adjustments to solve the issue.
Data Scientists also work with stakeholders throughout the organization to identify opportunities for leveraging company data to drive business solutions. They may also mine and analyze data from company databases to optimize processes, improve product development, develop custom data models and algorithms to apply to data sets, develop company A/B testing framework and test model quality.
In short, this career is all about applied statistics, data optimization and the use of advanced algorithms for data analysis. Data Scientists usually hold an advanced degree in computer science and have in-depth knowledge of coding, experience working on cloud tools, the ability to understand unstructured data, strong communication, and analytical skills and intellectual curiosity.
If you were to ask a random person in the street what “DevOps” means, you would probably get a blank stare. In fact, you might get the same reaction from many IT professionals.
The DevOps role is still a big mystery in this field, although it shouldn’t be. DevOps professionals are a combination of a developer (Dev) and operations (Ops). Pretty simple, right? According to JobHero.com, DevOps Engineers are “IT professionals who collaborate with software developers, system operators and other IT staff members to manage code releases. They cross and merge the barriers that exist between software development, testing and operations teams and keep existing networks in mind as they design, plan and test.”
DevOps Engineers break down the walls and connect these two important roles. Not only do they take care of the IT infrastructure, but they also help organizations deliver a quality code in a shorter amount of time. To qualify for a DevOps career, you need to have excellent technical capabilities and strategizing techniques, strong communication skills, experience with creating custom codes and a degree in computer science, engineering, math or a similar field.
Internet of Things (IoT) Specialist
Broadly speaking, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the act of connecting “usual” objects to the Internet so that they can communicate and share data with each other. For instance, thanks to the IoT, you can use an app on your smartphone to remotely adjust the temperature in your home, lock the front door or activate your alarm system. However, IoT doesn’t just benefit customers. It also allows manufacturers to track the performance of their product or device so they can make repairs or future improvements.
By 2020, more than 30 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things, according to a CISCO study. This is precisely why IoT specialists are in such high demand. These professionals must have strong knowledge of cloud-based solutions and machine-to-machine communications, database experience and the ability to code bots of all types. You’ll also need to know technologies such as OpenStack and other software-defined networking based automation systems.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you have probably heard about the blockchain revolution, as well as a few cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple or Litecoin. The technology on which they are based is called Blockchain.
It’s a decentralized data storage solution that can be used by the public. What’s unique about this technology is that data sent over blockchain is not stored in a central location or by a third party. The technology was originally used for the creation of Bitcoin, the digital currency.
But blockchain is no longer only used for financial transactions; it is now applied in a variety of industries. Smart contracts are another example of a blockchain innovation. Blockchain also can be used to track goods in a supply chain, award customers for their loyalty, protect copyrights, buy and sell property, and even to share data.
Blockchain developers are responsible for the full life cycles of blockchain applications, from research and analysis to design and execution. They use various programming languages to create interfaces, features, and architecture for different purposes, such as payment processing. As a blockchain developer, you may be responsible for building infrastructure, setting up security measures to protect against cyber attacks, educating sales personnel on company technology and establishing best work practices. These professionals often collaborate with engineers or other IT employees personnel during the design process.
Blockchain developers typically hold a degree in information security, computer science or a related field. To be considered for this kind of career, you’ll need excellent programming skills, knowledge of various programming languages, such as C++, Java, and Python, and strong analytical abilities. If you have experience with cryptography and specific blockchain protocols, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, that will be a huge bonus.
In today's business world, especially in the IT sector, data security is becoming a top priority for many companies. This is why cybersecurity engineers are incredibly high in-demand. These engineers specialize in computer network protection. In other words, they help companies protect their information from potential cyber-attacks.
But don't be fooled – this job is not like a scene out of a hacker movie. Data does not fly all over the screen, people do not type 250 words a minute and there are no special matrix effects or high-speed chases. The cybersecurity engineer has a job similar to many others in the IT industry, although this position does have some special characteristics.
Cybersecurity engineers are tasked with planning and constructing security measures, troubleshooting security and network problems, responding to security breaches, testing and identifying potential network failures and protecting the organization’s data and servers.
Unfortunately, there is no formal education for this job, although some universities offer courses that can prepare you for a career in this field. Cybersecurity engineers generally have a degree in computer science, IT, systems engineering or a related field. You’ll also need experience with firewalls, proficiency in Python, C++, Java, Ruby, Node, Go and/or Power Shell, awesome problem-solving skills and an awareness of cybersecurity trends and hacking techniques.
Also, there are some excellent industry certificates in the market that can help you get on this career path. Some of them are CISCO CCNA/CCNP/CCIE, CEH, CISSP, Network+ (CompTIA), WCNA, JNCIE-ENT and many others.
Although virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR respectively) are nothing new, this technology is still in the early stages of development. Only a very small percentage of people have a VR headset at home, and most haven’t even had a chance to try VR or AR. Similarly, there are even fewer developers who specialize in this technology available on the market. But judging by the number of job ads, more and more companies need these type of programmers.
It all started with the huge success of the Pokémon Go game, and many gaming companies decided to follow suit with similar games. These gaming companies are now joined by other non-gaming organizations who are creating interactive VR/AR experiences.
To qualify for a VR/AR Developer position, you will need experience or knowledge in software engineering, 3D tools, platform specific SDKs, sound design and VR UX principles.
Business Transformation Consultant
While this is a fairly unusual role in the IT sector, the need for business transformation consultants has been on the rise in the last couple of years. Many companies do not know how to scale their development on their own, so they employ people who have the knowledge and expertise to handle this task.
Business transformation consultants are hired to help companies define future business goals and determine how to successfully reach those goals. This type of consultant helps the company integrate strategy, processes and information to improve the organization’s efficiency, reduce business costs and increase profit through the use of technology. These professionals often have specific expertise in the specific industry they work in, but they also offer knowledge in many other disciplines that are interconnected in their job.
For this role, you’ll need a degree in business administration as well as strong analytical skills, communication skills, problem-solving and management experience.
For now, it is not likely that this need for programmers and software engineers will decline any time soon. On the contrary, in the next couple of years, the business world will need even more of these professionals, even with more and more people are entering this field. According to Evans Data Corporation, the total number of software developers worldwide reached 23 million in 2018 and is predicted to reach 27.7 million by 2023.
Marijana Šimag is the brains behind this blog post's cover illustration.