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March 6, 2017
By Lisa Dare
In a year when people are starting to seriously worry about getting automated out of their jobs, this year's tech jobs share a common thread: They require the uniquely human traits of creativity and adaptability. The variety and difficult challenges that makes these jobs interesting—i.e., their coolness factor—is also what future-proofs them from being outsourced to automation.
Finding a meaningful and lasting IT career means always looking ahead to the next thing, and learning new skills and ideas. Explore some IT jobs that will stretch your abilities—and career possibilities.
I don’t have to convince techies that working in futuristic augmented reality projects would be amazing, because you’re already drooling over the idea.
How to prepare
Udacity offers an inexpensive online VR Developer Nanodegree (similar to a certification, but it also includes training). While it may help you learn some concepts related to three-dimensionality, note that it’s geared more to programming novices than experienced developers.
UX designers are having a moment. The entire business world seems to have simultaneously woken up to the criticality of user experience in technology, and suddenly UX designers’ phones are ringing off the hooks and an anthropology degree is the new MBA.
How to prepare
There’s really no standard career path into UX design yet, but it helps to have basic knowledge of visual design, wireframing, front-end development, usability and information architecture. The profile for a successful UX designer is someone who understands technology (especially the fundamentals of code) and visual design, has empathy, communicates exceptionally well and loves research.
User experience practitioners tend to be community-minded, and you can likely find a friendly group on Meetup or LinkedIn. General Assembly has a well-regarded 10-week immersive program, and many graduates find jobs right after graduating, especially in hot tech markets like Seattle. Contract positions are a great way to get your foot in the door.
It’s a job description! It’s a discipline! It’s Agile on steroids!
Despite legitimate debate that DevOps isn’t a real job—or is just a fancy new title for sysadmin—demand for DevOps engineers is growing quickly. DevOps engineers tend to work at larger, innovative companies, with a goal of speeding up code deployment by integrating it with operations from the beginning.
Preparing for a DevOps career
A person who will thrive in DevOpos gets excited about reengineering processes, is an enthusiastic collaborated and skilled communicator, and tolerates ambiguity well. It helps to have experience on both the operations and development sides of the house, with a healthy dose of QA familiarity. You must also enjoy the intellectual challenge of automating tasks.
To prepare for a DevOps career, you’ll need to learn how to script with Python, Ruby, C#, PowerShell or Java, and how to use source control.
An exciting buzzword a few years ago, IoT and embedded technology are beginning to pass through hot-then-disappointing trend status into a real thing that will affect most IT workers and projects, and finally start to live up to its Jetsons potential. If you enjoy investigating new technologies and ideas, proposing new methodologies and best practices, you might consider a career as an IoT developer or architect.
More: Read about last year’s coolest IT jobs (they’re all still pretty awesome).