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Mastering the Industry: Top Information Technology Skills

February 16, 2024
High angle view of software developer writing code while using computer and data systems in office.

Technology has become integral to the daily operations of many organizations. A company may use social media to connect with customers or artificial intelligence to optimize its supply chains, for example. As the reliance on information technology grows, so does the need for skilled professionals to develop and maintain it.

Between 2022 and 2032, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that approximately 377,500 computer and IT jobs will open annually.1 However, many people lack the necessary skills to fill these roles, leading to a hiring crisis. According to a recent survey by Statista, 54% of tech organizations experienced a skills shortage that held back their progress in 2023.2 This article covers essential skills and developments in the IT industry that can help you advance your career and meet the demands of this rapidly growing field.

Essential skills for IT industry professionals

The sprawling IT industry encompasses a broad range of specialties, such as cybersecurity, analytics, project management, and software development. As a result, the skills required for IT professionals vary by role and employer. You can read postings for job opportunities to get an idea of the specific qualifications you’ll need but there are a number of in-demand skills that you can rely on to give you a strong foundation for any career in the tech industry.

Technical skills

Many IT positions require technical proficiency in programming languages and software development. Professionals use these tools to write the code for computer programs, improve systems, and troubleshoot technical issues.3

According to the Stack Overflow 2023 Developer Study, 66% of professional developers use JavaScript, making it the most commonly used programming language. Other popular languages include HTML/CSS (53%), SQL (52%), and Python (45%).4

These programming languages have different applications in the tech industry. For instance, you can use R to create data visualizations and JavaScript to write machine learning models.5 It’s best to research the requirements for your career path to target your skills development.

Tech professionals also use software tools to perform tasks. For example, the Tableau platform generates visualizations from datasets, while SPSS Statistics performs statistical analysis.6

Cybersecurity awareness

Every IT professional should understand how to implement cybersecurity measures to protect data and systems from leaks and cyberattacks. Cybersecurity best practices include:7

  • Installing firewalls to protect networks
  • Encrypting sensitive data
  • Educating employees about cyber threats
  • Backing up data to secure locations


Critical analysis and problem-solving skills help IT professionals overcome challenges in the workplace. For example, you may need to find new ways to optimize software or troubleshoot technical glitches.8 A graduate program can help you enhance these skills through coursework and hands-on projects.

Team collaboration

IT workers often need to work closely with other specialists to complete projects that require multiple types of expertise.8 Graduate courses with group projects can strengthen your team collaboration abilities.

Communication skills

Strong communication skills allow you to communicate your technical knowledge with diverse audiences in the workplace.8 A graduate program can provide many opportunities to improve these abilities as you write papers, deliver presentations, and interact with peers.

Project management

Many tech professionals oversee projects of varying complexity.8 You might spearhead a cybersecurity education program or develop a software update. Many experts improve their project management skills in graduate school by completing group assignments and capstone projects. You can also earn certificates in Agile, Scrum, and other project development methodologies.

The latest technology trends in IT

Mastering the latest technology trends can help you adapt to the changing job market and make a strong impression on potential employers.

Artificial intelligence

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, 42% of surveyed companies plan to train workers to use artificial intelligence (AI) in the next five years.9 Get a head start by developing AI skills such as creating algorithms and machine learning models.10 You can gain these abilities by enrolling in a graduate program with AI courses, attending professional development workshops, or watching online tutorials.

Cloud computing and virtualization

Cloud computing distributes data, software, and other resources across remote servers. Virtualization creates multiple versions of these resources on a single device so various users can access them on demand.11

Cloud computing and virtualization work together to ensure multiple users can access the same resources on different devices. Taking a course or completing a certificate in cloud computing can help you learn how to use this technology to scale operations effectively.11

Data analytics

Data analytics use statistics to interpret information and gain new insights. In the past decade, many advancements have emerged in this field, such as using Internet of Things devices to gather data and create smart cities.12 IT professionals can learn about these technology trends by attending data analytics workshops, earning certificates, and taking online courses.

Continuous learning and professional development

The tech industry evolves quickly, so it’s essential to keep learning throughout your career. Attend industry events and network with other IT professionals to exchange knowledge and learn about new trends. You can also gain new skills and build your network through graduate education.

Many graduate programs allow students to expand their knowledge with specializations. At Marquette University, computer science students can choose from concentrations in analytics/AI, solution architecture/software and systems development, IT management, or, an information assurance and cyber defense specialization. Developing expertise in one of these in-demand areas could help you transition into a new role or pursue new IT job opportunities.

Unlock new career opportunities in the IT industry

Transform your career with Marquette’s online M.S. in Computer and Information Science (CIS) program. Whether you’re a career-changer or a seasoned IT professional, you’ll gain the new technical skills you need to achieve your professional goals. You’ll study the latest technological innovations in flexible online courses, such as Introduction to Cybersecurity, Data Mining, and Advanced Machine Learning. You’ll also receive personalized support from our accomplished faculty and build connections with our extensive alumni network. Schedule a call with an admissions outreach advisor today to learn more.