Want a Tech Career? 7 Core Skills You’ll Need

Jan 07, 2013 -
There was a time when basic computer skills like "email" and "Excel" were rare and in demand. You could even list "typing" or "telephony" on your resume and expect it to get some attention. Not anymore. The bad news is that computer use is now ubiquitous in the workplace, and many of the traditional tech skills, like hardware support and even Web development, are declining in relevance. The good news is that as the tech landscape shifts, demand for certain emerging tech skills is exploding. If you're looking to switch jobs or get into a career in technology, now is a great time to do it. And here are a few skills that will make you stand out:

1. Cloud Computing

Listed as one of the fastest-growing tech skills in 2012, “cloud computing” is a broad term for the distribution of software and computing resources over a network, usually through a Web interface. As mobile devices and laptops become more common, easily syncing data across multiple devices has become a necessity, and end users are now less reliant on platform-specific software. Companies are looking for cloud developers, administrators and integration specialists to bring their office environments into the new century.

2. Social Media

While social media managers sometimes get a bad rap in tech circles, demand for social media job skills are still up 216 percent over 2010. Twitter and Facebook alone account for an enormous slice of online traffic and attention, and every company wants a piece of the pie. Employers who want to leverage social media are looking for people with skills in reputation management and online customer engagement. You'll need to know more than how to post a status update on Facebook, though; a good social media manager has a solid skill set.

3. Information Security

Are you one of those people who always seems to have their computer security under control? Do you know how to perform a regular system checkup and keep your personal machine running smoothly? You might be able to transition some of those skills. Information security is poised to be one of the best-paying IT jobs in 2013, especially in the federal government market. Employers are looking for people who can secure mobile apps and cloud computing environments on a corporate scale.

4. jQuery

Web development as a generalized skill might be on the decline, but demand for JQuery, a JavaScript library used for client-side scripting, is booming. Used by more than half of all sites worldwide, jQuery powers the Web. JQuery is used by IBM, Netflix, Microsoft and Google, and its already formidable popularity has nowhere to go but up.

5. Mobile App Development

With smartphones rapidly taking the place of traditional desktop machines, demand for mobile apps continues to increase. Job postings for mobile app development are up 94 percent over the past year. While iOS currently holds the lion's share of the mobile apps market, Android is catching up quickly—meaning that if Apple development isn't your thing, there's an emerging Android market that's primed to explode.

6. HTML5

Flash is dead. Long live HTML5. The latest iteration of the venerable markup language has a wealth of exciting and sophisticated new features, including audio and video playback elements and the integration of scalable vector graphics (SVG). What's more, Adobe announced that they’re killing Flash Player for their mobile devices, while undisputed video titan YouTube is implementing HTML5 support for its online videos. In short, HTML5 is poised to take the place of Flash in the not-too-distant future. So it should come as no surprise that HTML5 topped the charts of trending skills in 2011 and is likely to see even more demand in 2013.

7. Database Management

While database management skills are nothing new to the IT world, demand for database administration skills is still up 31 percent in the last year alone. Businesses need certified DBAs to organize and secure the vast amounts of data a modern IT business generates. It might not be sexy money, but database administration was still one of the top five skills in demand for 2012. Liz King is an independent marketing consultant with AOL who is interested in how technology affects our daily lives. She tries (and often fails) to disconnect on weekends.