Tech professionals choose their field for a variety of reasons, ranging from the challenging and creative aspects of the work to the ability to play a role in improving the ways people live and work. Money may not be the primary factor in a fulfilling career in the tech industry, but it’s not an unimportant consideration, either.
It’s smart for newcomers in any field to pay attention to the skills that are and will soon be in high demand—and which often come with generous compensation. Below, 13 industry experts from Forbes Technology Council share some of the IT skills that will be yielding high salaries in the next five years.
Cybersecurity will be commanding high-yield salaries over the next five years. As more companies move critical legacy workloads to the cloud, security will be a focus. The cloud security and data encryption disciplines are currently very hot, and they will remain so. – Chetan Mathur, Next Pathway
2. Customer Empathy
It is rarely considered an IT skill, but customer empathy will be key for those looking to advance financially and technically in the software development world. Innovation will be measured by how well technologists and companies solve real-world problems, which comes naturally to those with great customer empathy. – Ayman Shoukry, Specright Inc.
3. Software Testing
Covid-19 has made the workplace more flexible and has increased remote working opportunities. Software testing is playing a central role in the tech revolution. It can involve developing new product testing processes and procedures, rethinking testing strategy and identifying software product weaknesses to address the value for customers we’re all working to achieve. – Niranjan Limbachiya, KiwiQA Services
4. Being ‘Bilingual’
The skill of being “bilingual”—that is, talking tech to tech people and talking business to business people, and doing each well—can put tech professionals closer to and into leadership positions, and that’s where the higher salaries are. – Peter Gregory, GCI Communications
The next generation of security will be built with artificial intelligence and machine learning at its core. In an already booming sector, developers and IT staff who have strong AI/ML skills will be in especially high demand and will command premium salaries. – David Canellos, Ericom Software
6. Business Architecture
Business architecture bridges technology and business. The success of digital transformation programs primarily depends on the business architecture. A business architect is a technologist who has in-depth technical knowledge and domain knowledge about the company and can provide domain-driven design and value-stream maps to create seamless digital experiences. – Asanka Abeysinghe, WSO2, Inc.
7. Communication And Collaboration
One important skill for IT professionals to hone in the next five years will be the ability to communicate, lead and collaborate cross-functionally, specifically with the sales and marketing functions. As companies prioritize interdepartmental unification in the wake of permanently altered buying and selling processes, IT employees with this ability will be invaluable. – Mike Dickerson, ClickDimensions
8. Collaboration Platform Management
With the rise of the hybrid workplace, employees who are skilled in collaboration platform management will soon become essential for successful enterprises. This includes creating, implementing and managing collaboration security and governance policies; deploying and optimizing unified communications systems; and many more components of the evolving “work from anywhere” landscape. – John Case, Unify Square
9. Data Engineering
As companies continue to collect mass amounts of data, machine learning skills will be increasingly valuable in the next five years. Data engineers who are well-versed in machine learning skills such as deep learning techniques, parametric and nonparametric algorithms, kernels, and clustering will be highly sought after. These tools will be key for companies to manage and utilize their data. – David Finkelstein, BDEX
10. Bot Design
Our mobile apps have reached a tipping point. The human aspect is essential in creating intelligent apps with real empathy and emotion. By reducing the cost and friction of trying out new services, conversational interfaces bring forward an entirely new era of lightweight experimentation. Building bots on established platforms lets developers focus on delivering value. – Ranghan Venkatraman, Rezilyens LLC
11. Operational Technology
IT professionals who can take on operational technology (industrial floor-level work) and understand how IT/OT systems not only coexist but interact (and in some cases merge) will be invaluable. Industry 4.0 changes the shop floor from “dumb to smart,” and IT professionals who have the skills to make that happen in a scalable and sustainable manner can provide digital acceleration at all levels of a business. – Alexander Hill, Senseye
The ability to run standalone DevOps programs is invaluable. Tools such as Jenkins and DevOps pipelines are becoming increasingly popular. With so many companies moving to the cloud, it’s more important than ever to be able to deploy and test your work continuously. The ability to quickly adapt using cloud-based tests and deployments will determine if tech companies can succeed. – Nicholas Domnisch, EE Solutions
13. Full Stack Development
Anyone who comes into the industry with full stack capabilities is going to be highly compensated. The complexity of legacy systems combined with new builds requires full stack tech to efficiently manage integrations. – Susan Lang, XIL Health, LLC