Top IT Skills to Learn in 2021

You’re looking to build out a new IT team — or perhaps reskill your existing IT team. To hire the right IT candidates or get your IT teams the proper training, you have to know: What is the most important knowledge for IT teams in 2021? 

Let’s look at the most critical technical skills and soft skills for a modern IT team in any industry.

Big data skills 

Every day, businesses are inundated with large amounts of data. Who bought what, when it shipped, abandoned carts, website performance — it’s relentless. It doesn’t matter how much data you have; you need to make sure you have teams who know how to capture, store and organize that data.

There is no single big data certification, so what tech skills should you look for? First, you want to make sure your teams are familiar with cloud computing and data warehouses. This might look like deep knowledge and/or certification in Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services.

Knowing how to analyze data is also key for any tech team working with data to be super skilled in programs like Excel and Microsoft PowerBI. A skilled tech expert will need knowledge in a programming language like Python, associated data science tools, and they’ll need to know how to build reports.

Data science skills 

Big data and data science go hand in hand. Data science encompasses processes for entire lifecycle stages, while big data is specifically about amounts of data and using them. You want someone — or a team — who can take a look at your data and create knowledge from it. Big data knowledge figures out how to get, store, and organize data, while data science turns that data into prized insights. 

Data science heavily leans on statistics, programming, engineering, and computer science. In addition to skills listed under big data, someone with data science knowledge would likely need experience in SQL, Tableau, and perhaps even a CertNexus Data Science certification.

This doesn’t mean that you must send your existing team to classes for every one of these programs and skills. Instead, it helps you understand the general skills you can provide over time to help them grow or adequately vet a candidate whose expertise you may not understand

Cloud computing skills 

94% of enterprises already use a cloud service, so ensuring your IT teams and candidates know what they’re doing is paramount to your success. Cloud computing training will provide an ROI for workers with any level of technical knowledge.

If your company is one of the many that uses Amazon Web Services (which alone holds 33.8% of the global market share), you’ll want a team with deep knowledge in AWS. The other popular cloud computing platforms include Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and SAP HANA. Your team needs to know the services and features of each cloud provider, how to integrate them, and how to design data stacks for sustainable data analysis.

Cybersecurity skills

The modern migration to cloud computing has also introduced myriad vulnerabilities for organizations of all sizes. Having a team with cybersecurity expertise and ongoing training to stay on top of evolving threats and technologies is crucial to your business functioning. Not only are customers entrusting companies with their personal information, but government organizations can impose enormous fines for data security incidents.

When you’re looking to hire cybersecurity professionals, a college degree is not required as long as they have completed relevant certifications. These are the same certifications that will help your existing teams upskill.

 CompTIA is one of the premier certifications in cybersecurity. Look at CompTIA A+ certification and CompTIA Security+ for cybersecurity specifics. The EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and ISACA Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certifications also cover how to hack and secure target systems, develop security operations, and perform risk assessments. There are many more cybersecurity certifications that can help grow expertise. 

SQL skills

Anyone who wants a piece of the data action must learn SQL or Structured Query language. It’s one of the most widely-used database management systems and, like cloud computing, is a skill you’ll want to make sure all levels of your teams are fluent in. 

Your information technology teams should know how to use SQL to query a table, retrieve information, modify table structures, join and index tables. If you want to hire someone with a history of using SQL, they should be able to implement a SQL data warehouse, develop SQL models, write reports, and more.

Businesses are using more third-party services than ever, and each service houses data in its proprietary way. As a result, data warehousing and SQL go hand-in-hand, especially when centralizing and normalizing data from disparate tables and third-party sources.

Soft skills

Though it’s at the bottom of this list, it should still be a top consideration for hiring and growing your tech teams. Soft skills encompass fundamental aspects of work like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, attitude, work ethic, adaptability, self-confidence, learning from criticism, and networking. The last thing you want is to hire a genius who doesn’t know how to problem solve! 

Soft skills can often take a back seat, especially with technical positions. Still, as tech teams evolve for the future, they must drive innovation and prove their contributions throughout the organization. It’s challenging to do that if you don’t have critical thinkers with emotional intelligence (and yes, that can be taught!).

As you grow your teams through upskilling and new hires, remember to look for people with the most up-to-date skills in all these areas and those who can relate to people and think critically. Tech teams are increasingly becoming the backbones of their organizations, so it’s essential to build a solid, knowledgeable foundation upon which your teams can grow and contribute.  

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