As we put the dismal year of 2020 behind us, we cast our vision forward to the challenges of a bright new year, including figuring out what we’ll need to succeed. We are riding the high crest of the information age, and IT reigns supreme, finding its way into every area of society.

The rapid advent of new technologies coupled with the pandemic reality of 2020 has turned the job market on its head and rewritten the rules of the game. So, if you want to own the high-tech, data-centric world of 2021, you need to master the right technical skills. “But there are so many skills,” you say. “How can we tell which ones to focus on?”

Let’s dig into the top technical skills you need for 2021. We’ll start by defining technical skills and why they’re essential. Afterward, we’ll list the most desired skills and tell you how to improve your skill set.

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What are Technical Skills?

Technical skills are “hard skills,” knowledge you acquire through training or education and used to accomplish a given task. Most professionals need to have some degree of technical skill knowledge, thanks to the nature of today’s work environment.

Consider how often things like social media, email, cloud-based applications like Microsoft Office, bank cards and barcode scanners, and wireless devices pop up in our everyday lives, either at work or at home. It looks like no one can navigate through today’s high-tech working world without possessing at least some rudimentary tech skills.

The trick is to know more than just the bare minimum and become a tech skill powerhouse coveted by recruiters everywhere.

Let’s break technical skills down into some broad categories.

  • Data Analysis. We work and live in an ever-increasing data-driven world. 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, aided by popular concepts including big data and the Internet of Things (IoT). This vast volume of data needs skilled professionals who can process, manage, store, and reduce it to useful, actionable, datasets. Example skills include:

        o   Analytics

        o   Database management

        o   Mining

        o   Modeling

        o   Statistical analysis

  • Programming and Coding. Increased internet and mobile computing usage mean an increased demand for applications and software to support the end-users. This demand, in turn, requires more professionals trained in programming and coding. Example skills include:

        o   Algorithms and data structures

        o   Artificial intelligence (AI)

        o   Programming languages (e.g., C++, HTML, JavaScript, Python, SQL)

        o   Software testing

  • Project Management. In today’s high-tech environment, it’s not enough that you know how to organize and lead a project team. You now need to be familiar with accounting programs, performance tracking apps, and scheduling software. Examples include:

        o   Accounting software

        o   Certifications in office suites such as Microsoft Office

        o   Customer Relationship Management (CRM) apps

        o   Scheduling and team management software

        o   Task delegation, tracking, and management utilities

  • Social Media Expertise. There is a glut of social media platforms, which is fine since it looks like everyone’s engaged online in one way or another. Businesses use social media to strengthen customer engagement, handle customer service issues, launch marketing promotions, and maintain high market visibility. Also, social media makes it easier to gather the necessary information for data analytics. Example skills:

        o   Analytics

        o   Blogging (writing, maintaining, promoting)

        o   Content management

        o   Digital media

        o   Search engine optimization (SEO)

        o   Social media platforms

  • Technical Writing. Everyone can put words to paper (or keyboard), but not everyone can write. There is a difference. Technical writers must familiarize themselves with relevant topics, conduct research, understand the information, then render it in a form that everyone can understand. Example writing-related skills include:

        o   Data research and gathering

        o   Grammar and writing skills

        o   Writing software such as Word or Office

        o   Subject matter knowledge

The Importance of Gaining Technical Skills

As we’ve previously said, we live in a world filled with technological innovations that make inroads into every aspect of our lives, be it at work or home. So, the professional who has more technical-based skill sets is better prepared to work and thrive in this environment.

If you sharpen your technical skills, you become any corporate recruiter’s preferred choice. While there are many open positions in the IT field, there is also an army of people much like yourself, eager to sharpen their skills and get that coveted position. They are your competition, and if you want to distinguish yourself from the pack, you need to be better equipped and show that you’re the right choice.

Also, keep in mind that though there are plenty of vacancies in many IT fields, they vary depending on location. If you work and live in an area where IT people are hard to come by, then that’s fine. However, often, you’re dealing with a place where the competition is heavier. Instead of relying on luck, you can hedge your bets by boosting your technical skillset.

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A Look at Some Technical Skills Examples

Although there are many in-demand skills to choose from today, here are the most popular, sought-after technical skills for 2021.

  • Connected technologies. If you are familiar with the Internet of Things, you know what this skill is all about. Connected technologies apply to IoT-related skills, including the physical tools and network infrastructures needed to use them. Considering the rising popularity and ubiquity of IoT, it’s unsurprising that the connected technology skill is in-demand.
  • DevOps. DevOps is a widely used software and app design methodology. According to Forbes, there are over 600,000 DevOps positions open in North America alone. DevOps and additional disruptive skills are expected to grow by at least 17 percent in the new year.
  • Help desk/tech support. As long as new technologies keep getting rolled out, there will be a need for skilled help desk and tech support personnel. Help staff must be familiar with various apps such as call trackers, incident reporters, and various communication tools, including e-mail and instant messaging apps.
  • IT automation. Information technology automation jobs that require specialized skills are expected to grow almost 60 percent by 2025. IT automation is creating systems and software and systems to reduce human intervention by replacing repeatable processes. Professionals with IT automation skills are ideal for careers like DevOps engineers, Java developers, software developers, and systems engineers.
  • Parallel computing. Parallel computing involves computing architecture where several computers execute multiple, smaller calculations simultaneously, broken down into smaller parts from a larger, complex problem. This tech skill is in exceptionally high demand in the manufacturing sector.
  • Proactive security. There are two forms of cybersecurity — reactive and proactive. Reactive security uses monitoring, firewalls, and other measures to spot a breach and react to it. Proactive security entails a more holistic approach to cybersecurity, emphasizing prevention over response. Proactive security includes skills such as penetration testing, security awareness training, and threat hunting.
  • Quantum computing. If any technical skill sounds like futuristic science fiction, it’s quantum computing! According to IBM, “Universal quantum computers leverage the quantum mechanical phenomena of superposition and entanglement to create states that scale exponentially with numbers of qubits, or quantum bits.” Qubits replace traditional bits that use the 0 and 1 binary system. Experts are looking at quantum computing to expand computational power to deal with the increasingly larger and more complex problems we will deal with in 2021.

How Do You Improve Technical Skills?

A good tech professional is always growing, always seeking ways to upskill. There are four dependable methods for improving your technical skills.

  • Doing it on your own. The internet has countless tutorials and other reference materials suited for the self-motivated learner. A few Google searches will point the way to enough resources to keep any independent student busy and informed. Be warned; it does take a fair amount of self-discipline and organization.
  • Find a mentor. There’s nothing like an experienced professional imparting their wisdom to the next generation. Unfortunately, it’s not always an option, especially if there is no one available to fill that role.
  • On the job training. You learn by doing, so logically, you can acquire new tech skills by doing some hands-on work. On the job training takes technical skill learning from the theoretical to the practical. After all, book learning will only get you so far.
  • Take an online course. There are many online courses available for tech skill improvement. For instance, Simplilearn offers a wide selection of technical skill courses such as web development, Java development, Java full stack developer, and MEAN stack developer.
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About the Author


Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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