The New Year is on the horizon, and the lists recapping the year gone by are already doing the rounds. But after an unpredictable 2016, the lists forecasting the year ahead are a lot more cautious. One thing that’s still certain, however, is that the tech sector is thriving. It’s a bright spot in the global economy and the industry is inventing products and innovating processes every day. Here is a list of our best estimates for the 5 hottest tech jobs of 2017. They may change places on the list and one or two may be replaced by some unforeseen trend or technical breakthrough, but these tech jobs will definitely be among the top 10 in technology.
#1 Virtual Reality Engineer
Virtual Reality is progressing at a much faster rate than the only affordable VR toolkit, Google Cardboard, would have you believe. While Oculus Rift headsets have not yet become as pervasive as smartphones, it’s only a matter of time, and 2017 looks like the year in which the breakthrough will happen. Video game companies are at the forefront of this technology, but mainstream companies like Google and The New York Times also have big virtual reality projects in the works.
Even bigger than VR, however, is AR. AR is Augmented Reality, defined as the science of integrating the real world into software programs. Pokemon Go is one example of an AR product, and judging by its success, there will be many more to come.
According to Fast Company, the VR and AR segments together will bring in over $150 billion in revenue by 2020.
Software professionals with experience building VR platforms will see a steep increase in demand for their skills as budgets go up and the technology becomes more widespread.
#2 Data Scientist
According to Forbes, Data Scientist salaries are expected to range from $116,000 to $163,500 in 2017, increasing by more than 6.4% over 2016 levels. LinkedIn says that statistical data mining is one the most sought-after skills around the world, and Big Data developers are in-demand in every company in every sector of business.
This is because companies are overrun with data of all kinds; data about customer preferences and behaviour, pay-per-click data, and data about business trends. Skilled Data Scientists are a huge asset in this environment as they can extract insights from the trove of raw data that organizations have sitting on their servers.
Big Data technologies that will thrive in 2016 include Hadoop and the Apache Suite. Engineers with a familiarity in both Big Data architecture as well as development languages like Scala will be coveted by everyone, and thus, highly paid.
#3 Cloud Computing
LinkedIn has listed Cloud Computing skills like Cloud storage and administration as one of the most in-demand in 2017, and Forbes magazine concurs. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all have flagship Cloud software programs that require specialized training to use.
It is worth getting this specialized training, however, as Cloud Computing professionals are among the highest paid in the business, at $131,845 per year, according to Pay Scale.
While people purchased software with one-time-payments in the past, in the past decade, the business model has moved to software-as-a-service. With SaaS, all the software your company needs are hosted on an external server, and Cloud technology is used to manage it. SaaS companies manage everything from ongoing tech support to large-scale upgrades for specialized projects.
#4 Network Security
According to Business Insider, Information Security Analysts are set to earn over $90,120 in 2017.
As the US elections have shown, computers and networked devices store our most valuable and sensitive information. It would be disastrous for this information to fall into the wrong hands, whether through a typo by an insider or via a malicious hacking attack. Business insider predicts that the demand for this skill is expected to rise by 18% through 2024.
Network Security is a field that requires aspirants to go through a lengthy certification process that includes technical, ethical, and even background verification tests. The CompTIA A+ 220-801 is a good certification for beginners to acquire.
#5 Mobile App Development
Last but not least is Mobile App development. According to Payscale, mobile developers earn a median salary of $72,000. The iPhone store has been in existence since 2008, and Android for almost as long. The once burgeoning market is now fully open for business, and tens of thousands of apps are downloaded daily. Unlike web development, mobile development requires programmers to understand many layers of architecture from the kernel and shell levels, to mobile UI and UX. Experienced app developers are in great demand both as freelancers and as fulltime employees.
There are the tech skills that are going to be highly valued in the year ahead. Pick them up through training programs and certifications if you want to catch the gravy train too!
The author is founder and CEO of Simplilearn
Disclaimer: This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the contributing authors and not of IDG Media and its editor(s).