Demand for freelance developers who can build web apps and backend infrastructure to support online services is rising rapidly.
During 2018, postings seeking developers to build and integrate APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) were the second fastest-growing job category on online freelance marketplace Freelance.com.
Not too far behind were adverts seeking a range of skills related to web development and e-commerce, ranging from Express JS, the Node.js web framework used to help create backend services for web and mobile apps, to developers who create templates for the ecommerce platform Shopify.
Web development in general was also popular, as the 12th fastest-growing job category on Freelancer.com in 2018.
SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)
During last year, web development postings grew by 92.3%, with 9,632 jobs being posted in 2018, while related technologies such as the Python web framework Django rose 68.3% year-on-year, with more than 4,500 jobs posted, and Express JS was up 128.4% over the same period to more than 2,600 jobs. Meanwhile React.js, the software framework used to streamline the creation of UIs for web apps, grew by 81.4%, with 7,604 jobs posted during the year and Shopify Templates postings grew by 110.7% year-on-year, with over 6,300 jobs.
Jobs linked to Blockchain, the distributed digital ledger that underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and which has applications in streamlining supply chains, also saw substantial growth in 2018, with job postings rising by 300.8% to more than 5,400 jobs.
However, there was a striking decline in other types of software development skills being sought, with postings in the "Software Development" job category, falling 70.7% to 9,212 jobs in 2018.
The rise of machine learning
The nature of tech-related jobs being sought on Freelancer.com shifted significantly in the final quarter of 2018.
Overall machine learning-related jobs grew by 71.7% in 2018, to more than 7,400 jobs.
And during the final period of the year, some of the fastest growing types of jobs were related to machine learning and data science.
Statistical analysis was the second fastest growing job category in Q4, up 34.33% quarter-on-quarter to 1616 jobs, with the next fastest risers being jobs related to mathematics, statistics and report writing.
The booming demand for machine learning and data science expertise echoes trends elsewhere. A recent report from LinkedIn named data scientist as the most promising job in America for 2019 and data scientist topped Glassdoor's list of Best Jobs in America for the past three years.
The field of data mining, the practice and process of deciphering and extracting patterns from data, is also on the up, as the 15th fastest-growing category of Q4, up 13.75% to 2,845 jobs, while the fastest-growing category during the quarter were posts seeking skills in Matlab, a programming language commonly used in scientific research, and working with the technical computing platform Mathematica.
Here are the 10 fastest growing tech-related freelance jobs of 2018 according to Freelancer.com.
Job postings in 2018: 4691
Percent growth year-on-year: 352.36%
Job postings in 2018: 5,455
Percent growth year-on-year: 300.81%
3. Express JS
Job postings in 2018: 2,616
Percent growth year-on-year: 128.67%
4. Shopify templates
Job postings in 2018: 6,352
Percent growth year-on-year: 110.68%
5. Excel VBA
Percent growth year-on-year: 2,353
Percent growth over Q2: 95.76%
6. Web development
Job postings in 2018: 9,632
Percent growth year-on-year: 92.9%
Job postings in 2018: 7,604
Percent growth year-on-year: 81.44%
Job postings in 2018: 4,753
Percent growth year-on-year: 73.72%
9. Machine learning
Job postings in 2018: 7,452
Percent growth year-on-year: 71.71%
Job postings in 2018: 4,560
Percent growth year-on-year: 68.27%
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- Skills creating and integrating APIs were the most sought after tech skill among freelance developers. — Freelancer.com, 2019
- There has been a rapid rise in demand for skills related to machine learning and blockchain. — Freelancer.com, 2019
- Special report: IT jobs in 2020: A leader's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- The need for automation skills is exploding, freelance survey finds (ZDNet)
- How to become a developer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Freelance workers targeted in new malware campaign (ZDNet)
- The 20 fastest-growing skills for freelancers (TechRepublic)
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.