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The coolest IT jobs of 2018

October 26, 2017 | By Lisa Dare, TEKsystems Digital Content Strategist

neon brain with gears and fissures

Looking to the future? Some of the best-paid, fastest-growing—and most interesting—IT jobs of the next few years will be in artificial intelligence, IoT and InfoSec.

Of course, nothing worth having ever comes easy. Most of the jobs require additional training, certifications or possibly even going back to school. We've provided book and MOOC recommendations that will help you dip your toes into the water before diving in.

Artificial Intelligence Engineer

With absurd compensation packages sometimes veering into the tens of millions, AI engineers have it made. They work in meaningful jobs with the ultimate cool factor: transforming the future. They’re also doing things like curing cancer.

Gartner may have upped the feverish recruiting for AI talent during its Symposium keynote, when they strongly urged organizations to invest in AI over everything else. So while artificial intelligence requires serious skills and education, employers may be waking up to the fact that they should consider developing in-house talent. And that may mean opportunity for you.

  • Average salary: $135,000, according to Paysa (more for deep learning)
  • Baseline skills: Algorithms, statistical probability, data modeling, programming (typically Python and R)
  • Typical education: B.S., preferably an advanced degree
  • Related careers: AI researcher, developer, data scientist
  • Recommended MOOCs: Intro to Artificial Intelligence; Machine Learning
  • Recommended books: Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach

Information Security Analyst

Sure, an InfoSec analys—or even a CISO—is unlikely to inspire an NHL-like bidding war. But there’s a ton of opportunity in the field, and professionals report high job satisfaction. Plus, you don’t need a PhD in advanced mathematics.

  • Average salary: $92,600 according to the BLS
  • Growth: The BLS projects 28% growth between 2016-2026
  • Baseline skills: Certification (like CISSP), programming and scripting skill, top-notch communication, understanding of networks, vulnerability assessment
  • Typical education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Related careers: InfoSec manager, penetration tester, ethical hacker
  • Recommended MOOCs: Cybersecurity Fundamentals, Penetration Testing and Ethical Hacking
  • Recommended books: The Web Application Hacker’s Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws; Cryptography Engineering; Metasploit: The Penetration Tester’s Guide

[Read: Breaking into InfoSec: Tips for career changers and new grads]

Internet of Things Engineer

Speaking of security and machine learning…the Internet of Things will need these new skills and more. It’s almost impossible to talk about an IoT career because building and using embedded devices will take so many different skills. IoT is even more complex than most software now because of the complications of designing new hardware, integrating it with new software and managing new security concerns, not to mention storing and using the massive amount of data generated.

As always, companies are hoping to find a unicorn who possesses deep understanding of hardware, software, cloud, data, product and possibly dark magic, but more realistically, they're looking at hardware pros with some coding exposure, or software developers with a basic idea of how electronics work.

  • Average salary: $96,000, according to Glassdoor
  • Baseline skills: Wireless protocols, security, basic understanding of electrical circuits, programming (often Java, C and C#), understanding of networks and cloud, preferably domain expertise
  • Typical education: Degree in computer science
  • Related careers: Infosec analyst, business analyst, data scientist
  • Recommended MOOCs: Internet of Things: Roadmap to a Connected World
  • Recommended books: The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies; The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things; Enterprise IoT

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