What It's Really Like to Have One of the 3 Hottest Skills in the World

October 25, 2016

What life is like with the top three skills in the world.

In October, we announced the top skills of 2016, and paired them with LinkedIn Learning courses that teach them.

But there’s more to a job than just knowing it’s highly sought after or what courses you need to take to get it. There’s also the day-to-day experience to consider – what characteristics are needed to excel in that role? Why is it so in demand? And what specific skills are trending within that broader skillset?

To answer those questions, we consulted with LinkedIn Learning content managers who are responsible for producing classes on these top skills – i.e. experts in their respective fields. From that, we were able to paint a clearer picture of what jobs you can get after learning those skills, and what your day might be like if you had them.

A deeper dive into what a career built around the top three skills looks like

The top three skills right now are web architecture and development frameworks, statistical analysis and data mining and, at the top of the pack, cloud and distributed computing. Here’s a deep dive into each one:

3. Web Architecture and Development Frameworks

The third-hottest skill in the world – meaning, the third-most skill organizations are seeking the most – is web architecture and development frameworks. The most common jobs within this skill are full-stack developers, as well as front-end, back-end, mobile, desktop and enterprise developers, according to Shira Gotshalk, LinkedIn Learning’s web content manager.

Why is web architecture and development frameworks such a hot skill?

Web developers build and maintain web applications and integrate with databases. The web is often the gateway to everything people do with computers, and the technologies used in this field are often the default approach for people who want to quickly prototype and build things to run across multiple devices.

Most web developers begin their journey by learning to use HTML in a web browser and go on from there.

What are the characteristics you need to excel at that skill?

Web development is usually broken into two segments: front-end developers create the parts of websites we interact with in the browser (i.e. user interface elements), and back-end developers work on building the functionality we don’t see (i.e. database integration). Full-stack developers span both sides of that divide. The tools, technologies and practices used in this field are numerous and highly fragmented.

An expert in web architecture and development frameworks thrives on challenges and is energized by solving problems. It’s rare that web developers work alone (it is often a team sport), so it’s critical to be able to work with others. Great developers are team players, have good communication skills and are able to raise issues without being confrontational.

What are the trending skills within that broader skill?

On the front-end, agile development, security, advanced CSS chops, and frameworks like React and Angular are driving a lot of growth in the industry. JavaScript is a really important language to master, and it’s also important to learn how to work with databases and data structures. Test-driven development is a critical skill for enterprise developers. A couple of other important topics are accessibility and learning to design with the User Experience (UX) in mind.

One the back-end, you need to know at least one language (primarily PHP or Python), how to work with databases with MySQL, and how to use authentication to keep data secure. You also have to be familiar with building and consuming APIs, and how to deploy, monitor, and maintain apps. With the popularity of MVC frameworks, developers rarely build web apps from scratch, but instead rely on the built-in functionality of these frameworks, like ASP.NET (.NET), Spring (Java), Django (Python), Laravel (PHP), and Meteor (Node.js) to efficiently and securely build apps. While the scope of responsibility depends on the size of the organization or team you’re working on, you must have working knowledge of all areas to be effective.

Of course, if you’re a full-stack developer, you’ll know enough of these skills to handle both front-end and back-end work.

What is the day-to-day life like if you're an expert in web architecture and development frameworks?

While it varies based on each organization, you’d be using an agile workflow to produce/update websites or applications quickly—and revisit those projects often, continuously iterating on and improving them. You'd be primarily working with a text editor or IDE, a server, and a database.

The LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill

They include:

2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining

The second-hottest skill in the world is statistical analysis and data mining. The most common jobs for people with this skill are data scientist, data engineer or data analyst, according to Steve Weiss, LinkedIn Learning’s content manager for data science.

Why is statistical analysis and data mining such a hot skill?

The biggest reasons? Organizations are collecting far more data than ever before, data is easier to access than ever before, and companies believe the data they collect can be their competitive advantage. The Internet of Things, which will translate to 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020, fuels much of this data collection, only furthering this phenomenon to reach even more industries, namely manufacturing (think Fitbit, Amazon Echo, Nest thermostats, etc). Hence, there’s a growing demand for data scientists to make sense of all that data—to the point the Harvard Business Review has named it the “sexiest job in the world.”

What are the characteristics you need to excel at that skill?

There are a few characteristics needed to be a great data scientist. Chief among them: curiosity and the ability to detect patterns within data. Data scientists also require business acumen to know how to find the most critical (i.e. meaningful) answers from the data, have a keen sense of detail, and are logical thinkers.

Another surprising skill data scientists need to excel? Humbleness. You have to be ready to admit when the data shows that your hypothesis is wrong, and it also means being humble enough to effectively collaborate with others and tackle large business challenges together.

What are the trending skills within that broader skill?

Within the broader skill of statistical analysis and data mining, specific trending skills include data visualization, Python, R, DevOps for data scientists, TensorFlow and Spark.

What does a day in the life of a data scientist look like?

The day-to-day life of a data scientist is a technical one, composed of either building data analysis tools or using those tools to gain meaningful insights. It also involves collaborating with others and presenting findings to stakeholders (often at the executive level) in an easy-to-digest way.

One facet of day-to-day life that is likely to change is specialization. While demand for data scientists is currently high, data science generalists can fill many roles. As the supply of data scientists increases, specialization by industry and/or function will probably become more common.

The LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill

They are:

1. Cloud and Distributed Computing

The hottest skill in the world is (drum roll)…. cloud and distributed computing. The most common job titles of people who master this skill are cloud engineer, cloud administrator, cloud developer and cloud architect, according to Heather Hurley, LinkedIn Learning’s content manager for IT networking.

Why is cloud and distributed computing such a hot skill?

Cloud migration and governance remains a top priority for IT leaders. For evidence, look no further than the SalesForce 2016 State of IT Report, which states: "IT leaders across all performance levels list cloud migration as their top priority."

As companies' cloud business plans continue to evolve, companies are looking for IT professionals whose skills go beyond a general understanding of what the cloud is and the benefits cloud migration holds. They need cloud professionals who can stay on top of trending and emerging technology, understand how to leverage these technologies to fit the unique needs of their business and can integrate cloud technologies successfully into their existing IT environment.

The 2016 RightScale State of the Cloud report said that security is no longer the number-one challenge related to cloud computing. Now, the number-one challenge is a lack of resources and expertise, as the demand for cloud professionals far exceeds the current supply.

What are the characteristics you need to excel at that skill?

IT professionals looking for a career in cloud computing need to have an ability to constantly monitor trending and emerging technologies and the innovation skills to understand how to integrate these technologies into existing IT environments. While it's important for cloud professionals to understand the services offered by the top platform vendors, as more companies complete their migration to the cloud they are increasingly searching for job candidates with specialized cloud skills.

Cloud architects specifically need a mix of technology acumen and business skills. IT teams are increasingly gaining more responsibility for not only implementing their organization's cloud migration and administration, but also for making recommendations regarding the organization's cloud path. This requires an ability to not only stay on top of emerging technologies, but also to understand the corresponding business and financial implications.

Cloud migration is not a one-size-fits-all solution. IT professionals at cloud-first companies need to have a strong understanding of the top cloud platform vendors, the services they offer, and how those services can best meet the needs of their particular organization. Along the same lines, the ability to negotiate provider service level agreements is also a desirable skill.

What are the trending skills within that broader skill?

While the exact skillset depends on a cloud professional's role, some of the key skills include  networking, storage, security, virtualization, open-source technology, programming languages and databases. Cloud DevOps skills are new, but growing rapidly.

What is the day-to-day life like if you're an expert in cloud and distributed computing?

The daily responsibilities of cloud experts will vary depending on the expert’s role as well as a number of environmental factors, including the size of the organization, the size of the IT team, and the stage of cloud adoption within their environment.

Responsibilities can include anything from developing the overarching cloud path recommendations for the organization if you’re a cloud architect, to server administration and networking if you’re a cloud administrator, or building and deploying applications if you’re a cloud developer.

Regardless of the role, an expert in cloud computing can count on the daily challenges of staying on top of ever-evolving technology, an environment of continual learning and development and translating this to finding new ways to increase system efficiency. Innovation is key.

The LinkedIn Learning courses that teach this skill

They are:

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