20 In-Demand Skills of 2017 - Tech Workers and Freelancers Take Note!

Upwork is the world’s largest freelance platform with 12 million registered freelancers and five million clients. This makes it quite an authority in the freelance world and so it makes complete sense for freelancers and tech workers to take their quarterly list of in-demand skills seriously. If you already have these amazing skills, market them, use them and earn the early worms. On the other hand, if you’ve been fishing around to learn a new skill or gain expertise in a new tech niche (yep, we’re going there, AI all the way!) this is the perfect time to do so.

So what exactly are these skills and how are they in demand? Let’s find out.

1. Virtual Reality

VR is the new boss in town, ruling all other tech fields with its promise for immersive experiences, diluting the line between virtual and reality. If you happen to have to have skills in deep learning, algorithm development, code development or program development to do with VR, you’re just the person companies need.

2. Natural Language Processing

AI is dependent upon natural language processing. AI bots like Microsoft’s TAY, iOS’s SIRI etc pick up natural human language in order to communicate with humans. This removes the language barrier between machine and humans. If you’ve been working in human-computer interaction specializing as a linguist, an AI analyst, an NLP solution provider or have experience in data mining, then you’re in for a great ride in the years to come.

3. Econometrics

In layman terms, econometrics uses the tools, findings, and data of economic theories and studies to create economic policies. It goes into the specifics of economic data and defines the relationship between variables. As the world is becoming data-driven, the demand for econometricians is on the rise.

4. Learning Management System

Although online education has been around for quite some time now, it was only from 2016 onwards that it has picked rapid momentum. Almost every other person is now trying to take an online certificate, degree or course. So if you have experience working as an LMS developer, LMS engineer, LMS QA specialist or an LMS framework specialist, you are very much needed to manage LMS systems at a very good pay rate.

5. Neural Networks

Neural networks are computer systems modeled on the human brain, which means it is one of the crucial elements of creating an AI system. They are a variety of deep learning, a subject that is being taken very seriously by giants as Google and Facebook as they take the first step on revolutionizing AI.

6. Penetration Testing

With an increase in data, is an increase in data exploitation by the hands of smart hackers. Software and applications developers have to be a step ahead and ensure that their systems are not only bug-free but also safe from vulnerabilities. The process of testing for vulnerabilities or exploitable areas is known as penetration testing or in short terms pen testing. This skill is a gap that software QA specialists can fill in and earn good money simply being pen testers.

7. SEO Auditing

Oh yes! SEO is still in demand, but not so much in SEO optimization as in SEO auditing. It is no longer about best keywords or best backlinks, rather it’s a lot about how a website can attract organic traffic through multiple sources. With search engines and social media channels emphasizing on organic linking and building relationships with the audience, SEO today is much more different than it was previously. As an SEO auditor, you now need to look beyond technicalities and focus more on branding.

8. Image Processing

The University of Tartu describes image processing as, ‘a method to perform some operations on an image, in order to get an enhanced image or to extract some useful information from it. It is a type of signal processing in which input is an image and output may be image or characteristics/features associated with that image.’ As an image processor, your main job would be to creating and enhancing vision algorithmic programs, rules and formulas for semi device equipment and assessing and installing vision system operation particularities.

9. Asana Work Tracking

Asana is one of the most popular projects management program this year. Running, managing and tracking projects on project management platforms like Asana and Atlassian are pretty much in demand and anyone who works on these well can earn extra bucks.

10. Facebook API Development

This skill doesn’t grow old. In fact, as Facebook steps into VR and AI, it is all the more necessary to have expert Facebook API developers who can help businesses grow and monetize through Facebook. With bots, live-messaging tools, ads etc, Facebook API developers are a niche class of developers who enjoy many benefits of the tech world.

11. Swift Development

Wikipedia defines Swift as, ‘Swift is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language developed by Apple Inc. for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux. Swift is designed to work with Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks and the large body of extant Objective-C (ObjC) code written for Apple products.’ Do we need to say more?

12. Marketing Analytics

Marketing specialists are now all the more in demand especially since businesses have finally accepted the online world as an inevitable platform. If they want to grow and expand their business, they need to do their internet marketing well. And who can help them do that best? Of course marketing analysts!

13. Geographic Information System

If you have a knack for geography and even specialize as a geographic analyst, then your skill as a geographic information system specialist is very much in need as location enabled services abound. Yep, with services like Uber and Lyft changing the landscape, your skill is needed to ensure that maps and geographic elements are developed exceptionally well.

14. Machine Learning

Again to do with AI (yeah it is taking the lead here), machine learning is not specifically defined, yet it has been used over the years to give us self-driving cars, speech recognition programs and other technology that learns from human behavior. Machine learning is a growing skill in terms of research, data-analytics, and creation of computer models that can perform human tasks without being explicitly programmed to do so.

15. Video Advertising

Video is taking on the lead as there is a rising trend of engaging people using vlogs. Video advertisers are needed to promote these vlogs on multiple social platforms, especially on YouTube where competition is sky-high. If you’ve achieved great results in being able to create viral videos, you are the freelance superstar Upwork clients are looking for.

16-20 The Rest

The remaining skills are platform-based and although they make the top list of 2017, they are not very consistent in terms of a rewarding career. You may choose to have these skills, but you can do without them. Those who already have them can increase their billing rates. These skills include Docker Development (using the Docker platform), Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Angular JS Development, Shopify Development and Pardot Development.

The release of this list points towards AI as the next revolution in tech, however, other fields are gaining precedence as there is a growing need of connecting people to businesses through immersive experiences, relationship building, and one-on-one interactions. If you have the skill to transition business objectives into achievable goals using the Internet as the main platform, you will be in demand for the many years to come.

Farah tries to keep up with the fast-paced tech world by writing about it. She covers latest tech news and writes informative pieces to help her readers make informed decisions about their tech preferences.