CXO

Here are the 20 most in-demand skills for freelance workers

As more workers turn to the gig economy, it's important to know what skills will help you land a job. Hint: Most of them are in tech.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Blockchain, Tensorflow, and Amazon DynamoDB were the fastest-growing and most in-demand freelance skills in Q1 2018. — Upwork, 2018
  • The 20 fastest-growing freelance skills experienced more than 130% year-over-year growth in demand. — Upwork, 2018

Freelance work has exploded in recent years, thanks to talent shortages faced by many enterprises and the rise of the gig economy. More than half (53%) of hiring managers cite access to skills as their biggest hiring challenge, and the majority (59%) are already tapping flexible talent, according to a recent report from freelancing website Upwork.

"As skills become more specialized, companies either need to invest in reskilling to prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow or leverage freelance professionals who are nearly twice as likely as traditional employees to proactively take reskilling upon themselves," Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum's Council on the Future of Gender, Education and Work, said in a press release. "Many of today's Fortune 500 companies are already doing this, and adoption of flexible workers will increase as hiring gets harder."

But what skills are most in-demand when it comes to freelance work? On Tuesday, Upwork released its Q1 2018 Skills Index, ranking the 20 fastest-growing skills for freelancers. The 20 fastest-growing freelance skills experienced more than 130% year-over-year growth in demand, the report found. Demand for the top 10 skills grew more than 400% compared to the same time last year.

SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)

Here are the 20 fastest-growing skills for freelancers in Q1 2018.

1. Blockchain

Blockchain's growth puts it on the path to become what the cloud was back in the mid-2000s, the report found. In Q1, blockchain saw 6,000% year-over-year growth, making it the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 skills on Upwork.

While initially hyped up, several major enterprises including IBM and Samsung are already leveraging the technology. "As more executives try to navigate this technology, there is soaring demand for talented experts familiar with it who can help demystify it and explore potential uses," the report stated.

2. Tensorflow

Google's Tensorflow is being used in machine learning to solve challenging problems worldwide.

3. Amazon DynamoDB

Companies are seeking talent that can work with Amazon's NoSQL database service.

4. Voice over

As 67% of CMOs say they are planning to increase their digital advertising spend in 2018, according to Gartner, demand for voice over talent has risen as companies shift away from traditional agencies and towards freelance talent, the report noted.

5. Subtitling

Similar to voice over, companies are turning to freelancers for subtitling work in marketing content.

6. Art direction

Core marketing functions like art direction were also in demand in Q1, as companies seek experts to ensure consistency for their brand's look and feel across all platforms, the report found.

7. Content strategy

As with art direction, marketing departments are seeking professionals who can plan, develop, and manage content across all of their channels.

8. Computer vision

Increasing demand for AI-related skills like computer vision, augmented reality, chatbot development, and machine learning (all found lower in the list) suggests that companies are embracing freelancers to find emerging skills, but also that freelancers are preparing themselves for work in a future with more automation, the report noted.

9. Microsoft Power BI

Companies are looking for people skilled in Microsoft's suite of business analytics tools to better glean insights from their data.

10. Augmented reality

Augmented reality is beginning to infiltrate the enterprise, with some companies using the technology for training or demonstration purposes.

11. Chatbot development

Organizations must know how to properly implement chatbot APIs through text or voice if they want to succeed in today's customer service landscape.

12. React native

React native is a development framework used to build native apps using React. This is the second consecutive quarter that the skill has landed on the list, demonstrating companies' desire to build mobile apps that use the same UI for iOS and Android.

13. Media buying

Companies are looking for freelancers who can help them purchase advertising from websites, newspapers, magazines, and other outlets.

14. Go development

Go is a programming language created by Google in 2009. It also appeared on the list for the second consecutive quarter. Go is the No. 1 language that developers said they plan to learn, according to HackerRank.

15. Information security

With the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming later in May, companies are seeking information security specialists to provide guidance on how to retrofit privacy policies to comply.

SEE: Cheat sheet: How to become a cybersecurity pro

16. Scala development

Scala development combines object-oriented and functional programming in one high-level language. It appears on the list for the first time this quarter. Scala developers in the US are among the highest-paid, according to Stack Overflow.

17. Instagram API

Instagram recently deployed changes to its API, in efforts to better protect people's information after the Facebook data breach, leading to a spike in freelance demand, the report noted.

18. Adobe Premiere

Many companies are turning to Adobe's video editing software for marketing materials, training videos, and other purposes.

19. Machine learning

From Apple to Google to Toyota, companies worldwide are pouring resources into developing AI systems with machine learning. Google is also offering a free 15-hour machine learning crash course for those interested in picking up some skills in the area.

20. AngularJS development

AngularJS development has been included on the fastest-growing skills list for seven consecutive quarters, more than any other skill in the index's history.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/SeanZeroThree

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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