Top IT Skills to Further Your Career or Land Your Dream Job

IT Skills

Having the right IT skills can help you be more valuable in your current role or help you land your dream job in information technology, opening the door for a rewarding and high-paying career. The key is to align your skills with an IT job that meets your income and lifestyle goals, then highlight those aptitudes so your resume stands out to hiring managers. This guide offers an overview of the top IT skills to help land your dream job, plus lists places you can earn certifications to propel your career forward.

High-Paying Jobs That Require IT Skills

The outlook is good for job seekers with IT skills, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that information technology occupations are projected to grow 13% by 2030. The median annual wage for IT jobs is $97,430, more than double the median wage for all other jobs ($45,760). According to BLS, here are some of the highest-paying jobs that require IT skills. 

Median Pay for IT Jobs

  • Computer and Information Research Scientist: $131,490
  • Computer Network Architect: $120,520
  • Software Developer: $110,140
  • Information Security Analyst: $102,600
  • Computer Systems Analyst: $99.270
  • Database Administrator and Architect: $98,860
  • Computer Programmer: $93,000
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrator: $80,600
  • Web Designer and Developer: $77,200
  • Computer Support Specialist: $57,910

Of course, money isn’t the only benefit of learning IT skills. Having an information technology skill set lends job satisfaction, security, and lifestyle flexibility, whether you’re seeking an in-house position, a work-at-home opportunity, or want to live the digital nomad life.

In-Demand IT Skills

Information technology encompasses many disciplines, so it’s essential to develop the right skills for an IT job that offers satisfaction, security, and flexibility. Employers often reward a blend of IT technical skills (e.g., programming and database analysis) and soft skills (e.g., communication and collaboration) that help employees perform their jobs more effectively. Here are in-demand IT skills that can help you land your dream job. 

IT Technical Skills

Technical skills, or “hard” skills, represent the aptitudes required to fulfill one’s job duties. These skills typically involve some level of programming or knowledge of programming languages, the use of development tools, data visualization tools, or another technical skill.

1. Software Development and Programming

Software development and programming are currently among two of the top IT skills. That makes sense, given that SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms are revolutionizing both B2B and B2C industries. You can be a full-stack web developer who does it all or specialize in a programming language such as Go, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, C++, Java, Perl, or SQL. In addition, emerging technologies such as no-code development platforms (e.g., Bubble) create new opportunities for IT specialists to differentiate themselves with valuable emerging skills.

2. Mobile Development

It’s a mobile-first world, and mobile developers can secure lucrative jobs developing applications for Android, iOS, and other platforms. That includes public-facing apps such as App Store games as well as internal applications such as CRM software. Mobile development isn’t limited to apps, either. Google’s mobile-first indexing policy places mobile developers in high demand for SEO (search engine optimization). Some of the top mobile app development frameworks to know are Swiftic, one of the top mobile app development frameworks, React Native, built and supported by Facebook, Flutter, an open-source framework from Google, Apache Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) uses HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for cross-platform apps, and jQuery Mobile, which is a cross-platform mobile app development framework that makes use of the HTML5-based foundation.

3. UX Design

UX design plays an integral role in the customer experience, so customer-focused companies value UX design experts who can help them improve customer relationships. Opportunities are practically boundless, as websites, SaaS dashboards, mobile applications, and eCommerce stores all need attractive and intuitive user interfaces. UX design also bleeds over into SEO and marketing because UX influences metrics such as time-on-page and customer conversion rates. Historically, UX Designers did not necessarily need to know how to code, but possessing the skills necessary to also perform the front-end development is a huge plus in today’s market. The skills needed to be able to execute front-end development for UX design are the mastery of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery, but also experience with RESTful APIs and other restful services, as well as front-end frameworks, and JavaScript libraries like Vue.js, React, Bootstrap, and Modernizr.

4. Cloud Computing

Everything is migrating to the cloud, from photo storage and document sharing applications to omnichannel communication platforms and entire virtual servers. Job opportunities are plentiful for IT pros with the skills to plan, maintain and manage cloud infrastructure, security and applications. The top skills to learn when in a cloud computing role are Python, Golang, Ruby, Java, Node.js, and ASP.NET.

5. Artificial Intelligence

AI and machine learning skills are destined for increased demand as these technologies become increasingly capable. The landscape includes advanced automation such as deep-learning chatbots, self-driving cars, and natural language processing (NLP), and job opportunities exist in nearly every industry, from automotive and fintech to marketing and customer service. While some of the programming languages necessary to create and manage AI programs and platforms remain the same as in other IT industries, such as Python, C++, JavaScript, and Java, it is also a plus to have experience with more AI focussed technologies. These include LISP, which is the oldest AI language used for AI processes, R which is known for statistical processes in programming, Prolog (Programming In Logic), which is approaching a great AI solution, and Haskell, which is one of the safest programming languages used for AI processes.

6. Blockchain

The rise of cryptocurrency popularized blockchain technology for secure transactions, creating employment opportunities for those skilled in programming languages, cryptography, data structures, and blockchain architectures. Though it’s often associated with cryptocurrency, more and more industries are utilizing blockchain technology, so there’s no shortage of opportunities for those with the right IT skills. Golang, C#, JavaScript, Solidity, Python, Ruby, C++ (what Bitcoin was originally built on), and Java are some of the most popular programming languages for blockchain development.

7. Data Mining and Analysis

Big data is big business, and there is significant demand for skilled IT employees who can analyze patterns, identify trends and visualize data. Companies hire them to predict outcomes and help guide business decisions. Relevant capabilities include statistical analysis and familiarity with SQL, NoSQL, Apache, Tableau, and related technologies. 

8. Network and Cybersecurity

Security is paramount for organizations that must safeguard sensitive data, including intellectual property and medical records protected by HIPAA laws. Network and cybersecurity professionals are skilled in hardware, software, and cloud security, which has become a critical concern as more employees use their personal devices when working from home. While not all roles in Network and Cybersecurity will require programming skills, having excellent knowledge of IP spoofing, VPNs, ransomware, DDoS (denial-of-service attacks), SASE (secure access service edge), an emerging cybersecurity concept. Understanding programming languages can also be very valuable in this role since Python SQL, C, C++, JavaScript, and Ruby are used by hackers to create malicious software and mount an attack, so deep knowledge of these languages is an added plus.

9. Network and Systems Administration

Network and system administrators oversee internal networks and computer systems. They’re responsible for designing network infrastructure, maintaining and securing hardware and software, and troubleshooting technical issues. Network and system administrators often work with third-party vendors, so it’s helpful to have good interpersonal skills. Skills in network and systems administration will also overlap with network and Cybersecurity, as having a safe and secure network is the top priority. As network virtualization becomes more common, knowledge of things such as SD-WAN (software-defined wide area), which encrypts communications between multiple locations, vLAN (virtual local area network), and SD-branch, a branch network architecture that replaces or can supplement an already existing branch network system.

10. IT Support Engineer

IT technical support has become critical as technology underlies nearly every facet of daily life and business operations. Customer support issues and tickets may be escalated to a member of the IT support team if it is more technical. Individuals in an IT support engineer role typically spend their days solving support tickets from a technical point of view, whether that means fixing bugs, creating a custom feature for a client, or pulling advanced reports through SQL, Python, or a data visualization software like Tableau.

Soft IT Skills

Soft skills can bolster your IT resume and help you stand out. Everything else being equal, companies often favor candidates who exhibit the following soft skills. 

1. Communication

Great communication fosters success. IT professionals who effectively communicate with directors, colleagues, and employees make it easier for everyone to understand a given situation and what needs to be done. Communication skills are critical for customer support agents who need to interact with people who have many different communication styles

2. Collaboration

Many companies value collaboration skills, so it’s easier to land that dream job if you work well with others. Collaboration comes in many forms, from working with an agent on an IT support ticket to participating in a high-performing team tasked with improving the customer experience. 

3. Problem Solving

It’s no secret that IT professionals put out a lot of fires, so strong problem-solving skills are attractive to employers. However, problem-solving isn’t limited to troubleshooting. It’s also crucial for developing new and innovative solutions, products, and services. 

4. Research

Research skills can differentiate one candidate from the next, especially when they are well-versed in researching technical solutions that can benefit their employers. Familiarity with advanced search operators and niche online databases, as well as a willingness to contact subject matter experts, are vital assets.

5. Leadership

Leadership skills can put you on the fast track to IT management and director positions. Leadership encompasses many qualities, including seeing the big picture, delegating tasks, managing projects, and motivating employees. 

IT Skills Certifications

IT skills certifications can bridge the gap between current capabilities and the job of your dreams. Here are ten places to get certified.  

1. Amazon Web Services

Amazon offers a range of AWS certificates for:

  • Cloud Practitioner
  • Solutions Architect
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Developer
  • SysOps Administrator
  • Advanced Networking
  • Data Analytics
  • Machine Learning
  • Database
  • Security

2. Google Certification

IT certificates in Google’s lineup include: 

  • IT Support
  • IT Automation with Python
  • Data Analytics
  • Project Management
  • UX Design
  • Android Development

3. Cisco Certification

Cisco offers multiple certifications for both entry-level IT skills and continuing education, including: 

  • Certified Technician (CCT)
  • Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Enterprise Network Core Technologies (CCNP and CCIE)
  • Cyber Ops
  • DevNet

4. Microsoft Certification

Microsoft provides training for Azure, 365, Office, and other platforms. Certification paths include:

  • Developer
  • Administrator
  • Data Engineer
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Data Scientist
  • Security Engineer
  • Solution Architect
  • AI Engineer

5. CompTIA Certification

Well-known in the information technology industry, CompTIA certifies for disciplines such as:

  • IT fundamentals
  • Network Administration
  • IT and Operational Security
  • Cloud Technologies
  • Linux Administration
  • Server Administration
  • Data Analytics

6. ISACA Credentials

Globally-recognized credentials include: 

  • CISA: IT audit, security, and control
  • CRISC: IT risk management
  • CISM: IT Management
  • CGEIT: IT Governance
  • CSX-P: Cybersecurity
  • CDPSE: Privacy
  • ITCA: IT Associate
  • CET: Emerging Technology

7. ICCP Certification

ICCP certifies for IT skills such as: 

  • Blockchain
  • Big Data Professional (CBDP)
  • Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP)
  • Computing Professional (CCP)
  • Data Professional (CDP)
  • Cybersecurity Professional (CSP)
  • Data Governance & stewardship (DGSP)
  • Data Scientist (CDS)
  • Information Systems Analyst
  • IT Consultant

8. Oracle Certification

Oracle offers training for its cloud, software, and hardware products. Available certifications include: 

  • Database Administration
  • MySQL Development
  • APEX Cloud Development
  • Database Security
  • Java and Web Services
  • Data Relationship Management
  • Server Administration
  • Linux Administration
  • Cloud Infrastructure

9. ISC Certification

ISC specializes in security training and offers the following certifications: 

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • IT/ICT Security Administration (SSCP)
  • Cloud Security (CCSP)
  • Security Assessment and Authorization (CAP)
  • Secure Software Development (CSSLP)
  • Healthcare Security & Privacy (HCISPP)

10. EC-Council Certification

Famous for its ethical hacker certification, EC-Council also offers certificates in fields such as: 

  • Application Security
  • Computer Forensics
  • Encryption
  • Data Protection
  • Blockchain
  • Cloud Security
  • Disaster Recovery

Demand for jobs that require IT skills continues to increase, creating lucrative opportunities for well-trained information technology professionals. Companies prefer candidates who have both technical skills (such as programming and development) and soft skills (such as communication and leadership). Online certifications provide opportunities to hone your IT skills so you can leverage them to move up in your career or land your dream job.

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