If there’s one takeaway from the global technology boom in recent years, it’s that it’s important to keep up, or risk falling behind. Change happens at lightning pace and skills that were the window to the future a year ago are now as obsolete as transistor radios.

Driverless electric cars, virtual reality headsets, and robot surgeons are the talk of town. But there are two simple questions that can cut through the chatter: What IT skills are companies hiring for, and what kind of IT firms are people starting up?

This is a list of the verifiably ‘hottest’ IT skills of 2016.

1. Big Data

According to Computerworld’s 2016 Forecast report, the hype around Big Data is not hype at all, but a true phenomenon. Big Data was the number 1 skill that companies were hiring for. Robert Half Technology, the IT staffing firm, has said that companies want professionals with two distinct skills - the ability to interpret vast amounts of data, and a knack for bringing data to life, visually.

The latter is as important as the former, as the insights gained from data have to be clearly communicated to everyone in the company ecosystem. Currently, good Big Data certification training to gain project experience remains the best way to break into the $40 billion dollar industry.

2. Project Management

Tech is booming, and so it’s no surprise that project management is among the top 5 IT skills. More spending in the information tech industry = bigger, more complex projects, which means better qualified project managers to manage those projects. CIOs like Ken Grady of IDEXX Laboratories have said that while project management in not a new skill, it’s changed a lot over the years, and it’s extremely valuable because people who’ve mastered it are able to handle fast iteration. It involves coordination between teams and precise expectation management.

The ability to optimize business success in markets that require companies to launch new products and quickly pivot is vital in 2016. A certificate program in PMP, the world’s foremost project management methodology, is the quickest and surest way to success with this skill.

3. Mobile App development

Trends come and go, but your smartphone is here to stay. Well, maybe not exactly. Wearables are taking off, from sunglasses-type headsets to smartwatches. Each of these devices comes with its own platforms and APIs, and knowing how to design to the specifications of a device is a top skill of 2016.

According to market research portal Statista, global spending on mobile apps is set to cross $35 billion in 2016. Users want crisp, fluid experiences across all their products and companies want to win the attention of consumers. If you’re interested in creating mobile apps, the most useful skills are Android OS and UI knowledge, as well as fluency with Javascript and MySQL. 

It’s clear that Steve Ballmer’s infamous ‘developers, developers!’ chant is only getting louder. Add app development skills to your skillset with industry-oriented training in Android development.

4. Cloud Computing and Salesforce

You’ve probably noticed that you store less and less data on your hard disk drive, and more and more on the cloud. This is also true for most companies, from up-and-coming startups to midsized firms. Software-as-a-services like Dropbox, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce have made it more convenient than ever before to store large amounts of information in the cloud.

But organizations need in-house cloud specialists to handle all their accounts and derive the maximum impact from their systems. Spending on cloud services will grow to more than $127 billion by 2018, according to an IDC forecast report. Facility with Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, and AWS are the most sought-after skills in this space, but the overall ecosystem is also booming. Accredited training packages in Salesforce development and app building will get you ready for this sector in no time.

5. DevOps

The industry joke is that programmers either think that DevOps is the worst of both IT development and operations, or the best. Companies, however, are massively in favor, and this is reflected in the pay packages for those proficient in the skill. A survey from Puppet Labs found that DevOps engineers make $100,000 a year or more.

The DevOps methodology requires a mindset of finding the fastest ways to automate an organization’s processes. At every product launch, it’s the DevOps specialists who are the heroes. Robert Byron, principal consultant at WinterWyman Search for information technology, has said that he would like to clone DevOps professionals because of how important they are to every IT project. A specialized certificatory course in DevOps is the best substitute for experience to those looking to make it big in this field.

So if you’re looking to become a complete professional, make sure to add these skillsets to your kit. Online certification training courses offer unique advantages over conventional training, with the courses designed for busy professionals. Carrying an accredited credential in these popular skills will also distinguish you from your peers, and make your profile that much more attractive to potential recruiters.