Want a career in tech? You’ll need to hone your niche

A new study by Reed Technology finds that while certain tech roles have boomed in recent years, candidates need specialized skills.
5 November 2018

Microsoft founder Bill Gates (R) and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim (L) attend the “reinvented toilet expo” in Beijing on November 6, 2018. (Source: Nicolas ASFOURI / AFP)

Blockchain jobs might be some of the most lucrative in software development this year, but a look back on the last decade in hiring among leading tech companies reveals some of the more consistent trends when it comes to skills and specialisms in most demand.

For its interactive State of Skills tool, Reed Technology scraped ten years’ worth of data from Google and O*NET to chart the development in of the roles, skills, and software most fundamental to the technology sector in this last decade.

The upshot: data has become the ‘new oil’, and companies are sourcing the niche specialists that will tap into its full benefit for their business.

That focus has seen a 428 percent rise in demand for data scientists in the last five years. For DevOps roles, combining software development with IT operations, that figure sat at 986 percent.

While these more specialist roles are on the rise, though, demand for candidates fronting more ‘general’ roles, such as web developer, have dropped by around 52 percent since 2008, suggesting that it pays to carve out a niche early on.

“By its nature the technology sector is constantly evolving and as such employer requirements and candidate aspirations have to be kept under constant review,” explained Andrew Gardner, Director at Reed Technology.

“Companies want talent that keeps them ahead of the game, and many are turning to niche specialists to achieve this. Candidates are always searching for the role that makes them indispensable for the next decade – as such, specialist roles are the way to go.”  

In other words, even if you are packing the skills and knowledge to collect, analyze and interpret vast amounts of information, don’t expect to be walking into a data scientist role.

While problem-solving and deductive-reason skills are paramount among employers, you’ll also be deft at explaining what you actually do to the rest of the company— particularly at board level— with an aptitude for ‘education and training’ ranked the third-most-important trait.

Those specialists don’t work alone though; the same study also revealed some of the most popular tools in use, finding an emphasis on tools that help to analyze and visualize on the rise. For data scientists, for instance, Power Bi has seen a 600 percent growth in interest since 2015.

Meanwhile, a need to keep pace with the latest tools in development means tech works are constantly on the hunt for the latest advancements. Among DevOps engineers, interest in Amazon Web Services (AWS) spike by 2000 percent from 2008 to present.

“The constant evolution of tools to support technology workers means that keeping up to date with these tools is essential to giving employees the best chance of excelling in their role,” said Gardner.   

“Data collection, visualization, storage and interrogation will only increase in importance as digitalization gathers pace.

“Data is now viewed by companies as the new ‘oil’, and businesses want to be able to harvest the benefits it can deliver. Organizations will be on the hunt for technology specialists who can translate data into commercial gain.”