It is difficult to find a career comparison article that does not list software development and other IT jobs as being the most in-demand positions in the modern economy. There is no exaggeration whatsoever in these reports. The salaries, benefits, and opportunities to work on challenging projects are incredible in the world of IT, especially in tech epicenters such as Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest.
However, with such high demand for such positions and high reward for those who make the cut, the field is perhaps more competitive than it has ever been. An IT professional must not only wear many hats, he or she must stay up-to-date on the key technical areas that drive the modern market. Let us look at three of the hottest job skills in IT, but keep in mind that this list may be outdated within a year or so:
One area that is not really about specific technologies but more about the fundamentals of computer science is scalability. An education in computing is not really complete without an understanding of algorithmic complexity – the way in which memory and runtime performance hold up given increasing amounts of data input. However, in this day and age such familiarity is essential rather than simply nice-to-have.
In his rules of programming Rob Pike stated that “fancy algorithms are slow when n is small, and n is usually small.” However, in modern web-oriented business, n is never small – some companies routinely churn through petabytes of data with their systems. Facebook and Google reached the top of the tech world by handling scale better than other companies, and at these companies there is usually more glory for the engineers that work on the backend technologies than those that work on the customer-facing portals that millions of people use.
One reason why web companies have been able to maintain success despite taking on massive numbers of users is their adoption of Linux and its accompanying open source tools. Without the constraints of licensing costs, companies can affordably put more machines to work solving their large-scale problems. As such, pretty much any serious candidate for a technical position should have as close to an administrator-level understanding of Linux as possible.
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