The Hottest Jobs in Tech in 2021 - Education & Certification Requirements

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Become an Information Security Analyst/Manager

The more that tech proliferates into every aspect of society, the more information security professionals are needed to defend it from attack.

Information security analysts and managers work along every point in the cybersecurity spectrum: from development, to prevention, to response, to recovery. After the most widespread cyberattack to ever occur in the US was uncovered in December 2020, the need for better cybersecurity infrastructure has only intensified. And, with more post-pandemic businesses adopting a hybrid workplace split between in-person and remote workers, cybersecurity is now everyone’s concern.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for information security analysts is set to grow 31 percent nationally between 2019 and 2029, making it one of the hottest jobs in the US.

Information security analysts and managers will generally need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. Some employers may look for candidates with a master’s degree, but professional certifications (CEH, CISSP, CompTIA Security+, CISM) are more commonly sought after. Expertise around common security management frameworks (ISO/IEC 27001, ITIL, COBILT, NIST) is key. Some roles that interface with the public sector may also require secret or top secret clearance.

Top employers currently hiring information security managers include Apple, Bank of America, Deloitte, FireEye, and SpaceX.

Become a Data Scientist

Data scientists run data through rigorous statistical models in order to draw out problem-solving insights and make process-improving recommendations. In a world of data-driven decision making, data scientists are kings: banks, businesses, and governments are all racing to recruit the best and the brightest.

The number one job on Glassdoor’s annual rankings for four years running, it experienced a slight dip to third in 2020, but it won’t be leaving the top spots any time soon. According to PwC, the average data scientist’s skill set is finally catching up to the rigorous demands of top employers. The BLS projects the need for data scientists to grow 31 percent nationally in the decade preceding 2029, making it one of the fastest growing jobs in the nation.

A bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum for a data scientist; over a third of employers require that their data scientists have master’s or doctoral degrees in a quantitative discipline. Experience with statistical software (R, Python, MATLAB) and database languages (SQL, Hadoop) is a must. Data scientists will also need to be collaborative, analytical, and capable of working a problem from beginning to end.

Top employers currently hiring data scientists include Cisco, Facebook, McKinsey, Tesla, and JPMorgan Chase.

Become a Blockchain Developer

The average person’s interest in blockchain ebbs and flows with the price of Bitcoin, but for the world’s most forward-thinking companies, blockchain is about far more than just cryptocurrency. Secure and transparent digital records have applications in practically every sector, and they’re already making waves in finance, healthcare, and supply chain.

Blockchain developers can work on existing blockchains, or maintain and innovate on ones already in place. Blockchain developer was LinkedIn’s top emerging job in 2018, and, with renewed interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications, it may be near the top again in 2021. According to an IBM survey, a third of C-suite executives are either already actively engaged in blockchain or seriously considering blockchain.

Blockchain developers will usually have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field; seasoned developers will be competent with several programming languages and processes (SQL, .NET, Javascript, C#).

But blockchain is a relatively new and rapidly evolving technology, so higher education often takes the form of self-learning around peer-to-peer networks, consensus algorithms, cryptography, and smart contracts. Blockchain developers also must be able to quickly develop a solid understanding of new tech (SOAP, JQuery, Node.js, Agile Scrum).

Top employers currently hiring blockchain developers include Deloitte, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Visa.

Become an AI Specialist

AI specialists program computers that can simulate aspects of human thinking, and the applications are practically endless: everything can theoretically be done quicker, and more efficiently, with the right AI, and the right AI specialists.

AI has been the hottest ticket in tech for years, with hirings for AI specialists growing 74 percent annually between 2016 and 2020, according to LinkedIn. The trend is unlikely to reverse any time soon: global AI spending is expected to double by 2024.

AI specialists will need, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field; master’s or even doctoral degrees may be required for more complex positions. Strong mathematical, analytical, and programming skills are key. This is a quickly evolving field that rewards continued education; AI developers will often be expected to stay abreast of new discoveries and updated processes.

Top employers currently hiring AI developers include Apple, Amazon, Intel, and Lockheed Martin.

Become a GIS Analyst

GIS analysts bring big data to life by mapping it over space and time. Whether tracking the spread of a pandemic or measuring the flow of refugees on the other side of the world, their work helps us understand the present and plan for the future. As more and more geospatial data becomes available—through IoT, through Google Maps APIs—the world needs GIS analysts to put it into a visual context. The global GIS market is expected to grow from $8.1 billion in 2020 to $14.5 billion by 2025.

GIS analysts will have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in a GIS-related field, while a master’s degree in GIS can lead to a higher salary and greater levels of responsibility. Proficiency in ESRI’s ArcGIS software, AutoCAD, and high-end GPS units is often required; additional IT skills are a bonus. GIS analysts will also need to blend their technical expertise with soft skills such as strategy, communication, and interdisciplinary thinking.

Top employers currently hiring GIS analysts include Microsoft, Motorola, ESRI, and several state and local governments.

Become a Robotics Engineer

Robotics engineers bring tech to life. Sitting at the intersection of hardware and software, robotics engineers design, build, and test machines whose movements are dictated by computer vision and advanced programming.

Once limited to the domain of manufacturing, robotics is now at the forefront of one of the most promising advances in modern technology: self-driving vehicles. Further advances in AI bode well for the field of robotics, which has major applications in healthcare, mining, construction, and defense. Those who are just beginning their education in robotics engineering will find themselves in-demand upon graduation.

Robotics engineers will need at least a bachelor’s degree in either computer science or engineering; more competitive positions will require a graduate degree. Strong programming skills are a must, as experience in hardware testing. Expertise in any of the following areas is a plus: machine learning, image processing, semantic scene understanding, and/or probabilistic sensor fusion.

Top employers currently hiring robotics engineers include Google X, Nasa, and Nvidia.

Become a UX Researcher

User experience (UX) researchers study the way people interact with technology, and use those lessons to improve the relationship between the two. Working closely with product teams, data scientists, end users, and other researchers, UX researchers make products easier for people to use, paying thought to efficiency as well as accessibility. This isn’t about just the form factor of your smartphone; in recent years, UX researchers have driven the shift to touchless interactions and one-click log-ins, and now they’re experimenting with collaborative virtual workplaces.

UX researchers will need a bachelor’s degree in a field related to human behavior, such as psychology, sociology, human-computer interaction, or media studies; a master’s or doctoral degree may be required for more complex roles. Competitive candidates will need strong communication skills, as well as a deep understanding of UX strategy, process, and design.

Top employers currently hiring UX researchers include Adobe, Boston Dynamics, Facebook, and Google.

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