7 Hottest Skills For IT Freelancers - InformationWeek
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7 Hottest Skills For IT Freelancers

Freelance job posting site Upwork, lists the top 20 most requested freelance skills, 7 of which are IT skills.

8 Hot Tech Jobs Getting Big Salary Bumps In 2016
8 Hot Tech Jobs Getting Big Salary Bumps In 2016
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If you're an IT professional looking to freelance, you'll need to know which skills are most in demand. If you're a CIO or other IT leader looking to bring in some contract workers, you'll want to know which are the hottest skills so you can be prepared to fight for talent.

Freelance job-posting site Upwork has compiled a list of the 20 skills most commonly sought by the hiring companies worldwide that use the site to recruit talent.

Seven of these are IT related. In addition to listing the hottest IT freelance skills now, Upwork also offers insights into which talents will be in demand in the years ahead.

[ Freelancing is hot right now, too. Read IT Freelancing: 11 Signs Its Hot Right Now. ]

Upwork created its list by compiling the skill requirements from every freelance job posting on its site from January 1 through June 30 of this year. (Upwork has more than 3 million job postings per year.)

While Upwork doesn't share the total number of times each skill was required in a job posting, the list should give you a good idea of the skills you need to stand out in the freelance market. Upwork's community lists more than 3,000 potential skills that hiring companies are looking for, so to qualify for inclusion in the top 20 the skill has to be in demand.

Check out the list of the top IT skills, and how they rank in Upwork's overall top 20.

Table 1: Upwork's Top Freelance Skills For IT Pros

Skill IT Ranking Overall Ranking
PHP Development 1 1
Javascript Development 2 6
HTML 5 Development 3 8
MySQL Administration 4 14
Android App Development 5 15
iQuery Development 6 16
iOS App Development 7 17

You'll notice that the skill-sets don't necessarily always match up to the same hot skills you'd expect to need for full-time work. For instance, you won't see a lot of big data or security skills on the list.

According to Mateo Bueno, category director for Upwork's Web, Mobile, and Software Development category, "Freelance work is usually for solving a more specific problem, whereas full-time workers need to have a broader, more general set of skills. Freelance work is easier when you don't have to understand the full stack or the full setup to do the work."

You'll also notice the list is full of developer skills. Mateo says, "It is definitely more common to see developers hired on our platform. For companies, it is easier to experiment with developers without taking their eyes off their core projects."

Looking for the skills of the future?

To create the list of trending skills, Upwork looked at skills listed in the job requirements of the posts on the site from November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015 and compared those results to the same dates the previous 12 months to find the skills with the biggest increases (and decreases) in job listings.

According to UpWork, the top five growing skills are:

1. PSD to Wordpress

2. Wordpress plugin

3. Excel VBA

4. Usability testing

5. Shopify

Mateo also says, "We are seeing some growth in setting up Amazon cloud. For now we see more smaller things, but we expect we'll see more growth in the development stack. And Angular JavaScript is the fastest growing development language."

Worried about which of your skills are declining in demand? These are the five skills trending down, according to Upwork:

1. Joomla

2. XML

3. Drupal

4. API development

5. Magento

What do you think? Do these match up with your experience? What skills do you think will be hot for freelancers in the year ahead? Tell us in the comments section below.

**New deadline of Dec. 18, 2015** Be a part of the prestigious InformationWeek Elite 100! Time is running out to submit your company's application by Dec. 18, 2015. Go to our 2016 registration page: InformationWeek's Elite 100 list for 2016.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
12/6/2015 | 12:43:39 AM
Re: specialized skills
@impactnow, I would say not always as many factors in play...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
12/6/2015 | 12:42:36 AM
Re: specialized skills
@Technocrati, yes as sometimes things get overlooked as per human nature of the dealing with information...
batye
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batye,
User Rank: Ninja
12/6/2015 | 12:41:28 AM
Re: specialized skills
@Li Tan, agree but with market you never know... as everthying changing too rapidly this days...
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
12/5/2015 | 12:08:25 AM
Re: specialized skills
I think the market trend somehow becomes more and more favor to PHP.:-) Being an IT freelancer, you need to have stronger skill and holistic skill set - you are the one who need to get project done.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2015 | 7:35:07 PM
Re: specialized skills

"....The scary part is PHP can get you into a world of hurt from a security point of view, you really have to know your stuff to lock server down. How many of these PHP development freelance guys know squat about that? And what do they care about security, it's not their company or data. That is one scary trend we are seeing here."

 

@TerryB    Some great points,  I have been hearing about and learning PHP for a couple of years now, but I didn't see a real use case connection until I read some of your reasons behind it.

You bring up another important point about the security issues and you are right - few freelancers will be able to handle this part of it or even care to for that matter.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2015 | 7:28:28 PM
Re: specialized skills

"....Since they're their own managers, they need to have good organization skills, good written and oral communication skills as well as the good selling skills in some cases." 

 

@tzubair    Great point.  It is not enough to be just to have the expertise in the subject area, one needs to have these "soft skills" in great supply.  

I also happen to think, as you mention - the marketing aspect does not receive as much attention as it should either.`

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2015 | 7:24:14 PM
The Lexicon of AWS

"We are seeing some growth in setting up Amazon cloud."

 

I am surprise the Amazon cloud is not catching on that fast.  It is a great solution for SMB's but it does take a bit of effort to learn the language of Amazon and just how they do things.

I am working on a potential S3 solution for my current employer and it just amazes me how much I have to learn about how Amazon phrases things.  

I guess this is the reason a freelancer might be needed.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
12/1/2015 | 7:17:19 PM
Re: specialized skills

This was a very interesting list of skills needed for freelancers.  I am surprised yet not so surprised that PHP is the number one listed skill sought after.

I have seen PHP listed in my local area, but I am not sure what companies think they need PHP for.   It is nice to want this skill but do companies really understand what they are asking for ?

tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2015 | 10:08:29 PM
Re: specialized skills
@kstarton: I agree. I think apart from the technical skills, all freelancers need to have certain other skills which are essential. Since they're their own managers, they need to have good organization skills, good written and oral communication skills as well as the good selling skills in some cases. Technical skills can only result in so much success without these being there.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
11/30/2015 | 7:12:38 PM
Re: specialized skills
The jobs that are best for freelancers may be different than the jobs that are best for corporate positions to Dave's point. Certain assignments that utilize alot of cross functional integration are not a good fit for freelance talent. Freelancers can add a lot of bandwidth to the right project and expedite deliverables. The list of skills represent this well --more tactical than strategic skill sets.
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