Pick up these 4 skills to start or advance your IT career

  • While many foundational business process applications are mature, enterprises still need specialized code.

  • Employees interested in project management can pursue training to achieve a certification.

  • There is a shortage of skilled people to direct, manage and execute big data strategies.

Whether you’re just starting your IT career or have experience and are looking to advance, you’re sitting pretty these days. That’s because the need for skilled professionals is outpacing the number available.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll land the first job for which you apply. Some skills are in higher demand than others. Having that coveted expertise can move you to the top of companies’ must-hire lists. Here are the four most sought-after IT skills according to Computerworld‘s Tech Forecast 2016, and the ones IT professionals should concentrate on attaining.

1. IT architecture. While most IT professionals have some understanding of how different segments of computing environments are connected, the details are important and far from generic. Businesses are looking for specific skills that match their current and future IT goals. Areas of concentration can range from full enterprise systems architecture to advanced cloud deployment, with several specialties in specific plans.

2. Application development. Programming is not going away. While many foundational business process applications like enterprise resource management and customer relationship management are mature, companies still need specialized coders. Every business has its own specific functions, and many use applications to differentiate their offerings. The proliferation of mobile technology and the demand for apps also calls for certain skills and an understanding of the platforms. The emergence of the Internet of Things is creating a new specialty area that calls for innovative thinking and a strategic approach that may not be inherent to all programmers.

3. Project management. Tasks never exist in vacuums; they’re part of bigger issues and larger contexts driven by business imperatives. The skills needed to shepherd a collection of tasks requires a strong understanding of the business, as well as a grasp of the concepts and work required by each of the segments involved in the whole project. All of those skills are generally brought together under the umbrella of a project manager. If you’re interested in this kind of career, you can pursue specialized training to achieve a Project Management Professional certification.

4. Big data. Computerworld‘s research shows big data and analytics as the No. 1 technology currently being beta tested or piloted. While there is great interest, there is a shortage of skilled people to direct, manage, and execute big data strategies. Data is being accumulated, but it’s not necessarily in the best format and may not even contain much value. Data architects are accustomed to structured data and traditional query and reporting functions, but may not have a good understanding of unstructured data and techniques to extract meaningful, actionable insights. Specific skills needed in this area include the ability to translate highly technical findings into understandable results. The ability to use presentation tools to build executive dashboards and interactive presentations also is valuable for those seeking to lead big data initiatives for their companies.

Overall, 2016 looks to be a promising year for current and prospective tech employees, especially those with skills that are in demand. Enterprises are changing how they use technology, and they’re seeking people with the right combination of skills to help them do it.

Scott Koegler is a technology journalist with a specialization on the intersection of business and technology. All opinions are his own. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.

Scott Koegler Writer Sponsored Post About Scott