The top 20 tech skills of the past 5 years

Python and AWS saw the biggest growth over the past five years, while Oracle saw a significant decline, Indeed found.

5 most in-demand tech jobs and skills The ever-changing tech industry is always seeking top talent, but these jobs are in the greatest need for employees, according to Hired.

Indeed Hiring Lab released a report on Tuesday identifying the top tech skills of the past five years. SQL and Java reigned as the top two tech skills employers look for, but Python and AWS saw the most significant growth overall, the report found. 

Indeed's Today's top tech skills report studied millions of US tech jobs posted on Indeed over the past five years, using a list of 571 tech skill terms to query the job descriptions. The report focused on the past five years specifically because Indeed has a rich set of data on tech job postings in that time period, said Andrew Flowers, economist at Indeed Hiring Lab and author of the report. 

SEE: Six in-demand programming languages: getting started (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The past five years unveil telling trends about the changes in tech jobs and technologies. These trends are evident in the way various tech skills rise and fall, Flowers said. 

The top 20 tech skills from 2014 to 2019 

The report identified the following 20 most popular tech skills from the past five years, along with the percent change in popularity over that course of time: 

  1. SQL (-5%)
  2. Java (8%)
  3. Python (125%)
  4. Linux (3%)
  5. Javascript (21%)
  6. AWS (434%)
  7. C++ (4%)
  8. C (13%) 
  9. C# (17%)
  10. .net (-12%)
  11. Oracle (-37%)
  12. Html (-13%)
  13. Scrum (67%)
  14. Git (157%)
  15. CSS (-1%)
  16. Machine learning (433%)
  17. Azure (1112%)
  18. Unix (-31%)
  19. SQL server (-13%)
  20. Docker (4237%)

On the rise

Two skills that standout on the list are Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Python, which both saw significant growth and landed in the top 10. 

For the case of AWS, this growth represents the booming popularity in cloud computing and cloud tools over the past five years. The explosive growth in cloud tools is also supported by Azure's increased popularity, Flowers said, as AWS and Microsoft Azure are two of the most popular cloud providers to date

Python's popularity can be attributed to the growth in data scientists and data engineers in the past few years. "The explosive amount of data that companies produce and the rise of data scientists and data engineers has really helped fuel Python's rise," Flowers said. 

TechRepublic contributor Lance Whitney, wrote that "one reason for Python's popularity is its strong support in the area of artificial intelligence (AI), according to the IEEE. Python also offers a healthy number of libraries and packages that programmers can use so they're not building certain code from scratch," in his article Why Python is considered the top programming language ahead of JavaScript and C++.

Despite Python's growth in popularity, SQL came out on top of the list. "[This skill] is useful because all types of tech jobs use it. It's like a database querying language, so if you're a software developer writing code, and you need to access the database, you will probably use SQL to get the data out or put the data in. All types of tech workers use SQL—that's part of why it's popular," Flowers said. 

The reason SQL has maintained its popularity over the past five years is because it comes in many different forms. "SQL is not just one thing. There's Microsoft SQL server, there's open source SQL, client interfaces, etc. There's all types of different ways that you can use SQL and plug it into a proprietary system. For instance, I use SQL with Google Cloud platform. It's adaptable to different platforms, which is a big reason why it has staying power," Flowers said. 

On the decline

While SQL is No. 1 and does have staying power, the list revealed a slight decline over the past five years. 

This decline is because "there's been a rise of other database querying tools like NoSQL that have kind of taken its place. And the reason for that is because with this digital world we live in, there's lots of data being produced that does not fit into our boxed understanding of it," Flowers said. "SQL is a relational database, which uses tabular data, like a spreadsheet."

Tech skills rise and fall because of the demand for given tech jobs, which require different skills, or the development of new tech jobs that require new skills, Flowers continued. 

Oracle is a good example of a previously popular skill that saw significant decline over the past five years. "The database administrators who use Oracle are probably still using Oracle today as they were five years ago. It's just that there's so many new tech jobs, like data scientists, full stack developer, and front end developer—these new tech jobs have grown over the last five or 10 years, and they rarely have a use for Oracle," Flowers said.  
 
While many familiar names are on the list of top tech skills, the fluctuation in popularity reveals a correlation between the demand for tech jobs and the demand for certain skills, the report found. 

For more, check out the current 5 most in-demand tech jobs and skills on TechRepublic. 

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