5 Technology Jobs That Didn't Exist 5 Years Ago

My firstborn turned five earlier this year, and this rite of passage prompted me to think of how technology – and the world – has changed in the past five years.

There were no iPads (gasp!), smartphones had just hit the scene, and while social media was around, it wasn’t nearly the life force it is today.

Of course technology constantly changes the world we live in, but it’s also driving the creation of new technology jobs every day. Many of today’s most in-demand positions, such as mobile applications developer, were just a twinkle in someone’s motherboard five years ago. And in the past year, entry-level salaries for mobile app devs grew 7.8 percent, according to the 2014 Salary Guide by Robert Half Technology.

I recently turned to my IT recruiter colleagues to get insight on five new technology jobs that didn’t exist five years ago. (A caveat here: Some of the programming languages or technologies required for these jobs may have existed five years ago, but they weren’t scalable or reliable enough at that time to generate demand for the positions listed below.)

Here’s what we found and what’s driving demand for these skill sets:

1. DevOps Engineer / DevOps Manager – DevOps allows emerging companies to save money and headcount on engineers who can maximize system uptime and application performance, according to David Knapp, metro market manager of Robert Half Technology in San Francisco. Having a dedicated DevOps manager on staff helps ensure that applications are continually improving on the systems. Also, the emergence of Linux as an accepted enterprise technology for scalability over windows has helped drive demand for DevOps.

“The rise of DevOps reflects the continuous deployment strategy of fast-paced environments,” added Phil Gates, division director of Robert Half Technology in Seattle.

2. JavaScript EngineerJavaScript engineers work with scripting languages that enhance the interactivity of web pages. These professionals focus on simplicity and developing cutting-edge, beautiful user interfaces and user experiences (UI/UX). “JavaScript is hot because it’s the foremost language in UI development for its simplicity, easy of use, customization and creating interactive UIs,” said Knapp. “The creation of customized JavaScript libraries (such as Bootstrap or Backbone) has heavily added to its growth potential.”

3. Ruby Developer – Ruby is a popular open-source language which lends itself especially well to object-oriented programming for the web. “Ruby provides a large open-source community to bounce ideas off of,” said Knapp. “Also, the framework of Ruby on Rails has created an ability to launch it in web apps, instead of a stand-alone, PC-based software /scripting language.

At Robert Half Technology, we’re finding increased demand for Ruby developers across the board, due to Ruby’s simple syntax and ability to run on any system, which makes it a no-brainer for most start-ups.

4. Big Data Engineer – A big data engineer combines the skills of computer science, IT, design and cognitive psychology to store, study and analyze the enormous amounts of complex data available to companies today. “It’s the result of a larger web footprint and ever-increasing amounts of data created by users via sites such as Facebook, Google and Twitter,” said Dakin Gunn, Director of Permanent Placement Services at Robert Half Technology in San Francisco. A big data engineer works with databases such as Hadoop and NoSQL to collect and store this data, and later study it to gain insights that can drive growth and revenue.

5. API Platform Engineer – The platform engineer bridges both hardware and software, writing code and ensuring the hardware is doing what it’s supposed to do. Many companies now have platforms they run their applications on, or other companies can use to run their business. “A good example is Zynga using Facebook’s platform to catapult itself towards popularity and an eventual IPO,” said Gunn. “Platform engineers are responsible for creating usable application suites that other developers can use to plug and play.

In addition, platform engineers allow companies to integrate heavily with each other, as well as share data and code.

As with any IT career, the key to landing one of these hot technology jobs is to specialize, specialize, specialize. Identify your direction and then do everything you can to become an expert in the field, including reading industry publications/blogs, attending conferences and local user groups and mastering the skill sets involved.

This is good advice for all technology jobs, in fact. As the pace of technology accelerates, IT professionals must be nimble and innovative in order to maintain a competitive edge.

For more information on technology jobs in demand, check out the 2014 Salary Guide by Robert Half Technology.

Tags: Career RX