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AI, Data Science, and DevOps: Opportunities for IT Careers in 2023

IT hiring experts predict strong demand for IT workers with expertise in cloud, AI/data science, and especially cybersecurity in 2023.

Organizations large and small are still barreling through digital transformation efforts, while burgeoning technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and more sophisticated applications for data analytics are providing new opportunities for IT professionals.

Despite concerns over a potential recession and persistent inflation, the outlook for IT careers in 2023 is promising, as technology companies added workers for the 24th consecutive month, led by IT services and custom software development, according to November data from CompTIA.

In addition, more than three-quarters of businesses surveyed by Battery Ventures in November say they plan to increase tech spending in the next five years, with a focus on enterprise security and data operations.

Related: ITPro Today's 2022 Salary Survey Report

When it comes to IT hiring trends, there was good news in the report for those seeking a career as a full-stack engineer, DevOps specialist, or security and data engineer.

Other IT hiring experts have noted enterprise customers that rely on cloud infrastructure, application development, data services, and cybersecurity are typically not going to cut off that spending — and accompanying staff — because the technology underpins so much of their business operations.

Demand Strong for Multiple IT Roles

Dan Finnigan, CEO of tech hiring platform Filtered, said some of the fastest growing roles right now include those in cybersecurity, DevOps, data science, and AI/ML — but demand for front-end, back-end, and full-stack engineers remains strong, too.

"The bigger question may be which companies will be hiring for these in-demand roles in 2023," he said. "It's likely that technology companies will continue to slow their hiring, and we may see engineers fleeing early-stage startups that are struggling to raise money for the safety of established, larger companies."

Finnigan pointed out that those larger companies will now be able to compete more aggressively for top tech talent than they've been able to in the past.

"Additionally, the continued importance of the cloud and digital transformation initiatives means that engineers who can not only code but support the full cycle of software development — from writing test cases to pushing code to production — will be in demand, too," Finnigan said.

Need for Security and Data Protection Pros as Compliance Needs Grow

Deepak Mohan, executive vice president of engineering at Veritas Technologies, added that employers will be looking to make IT hires in cloud architecture, security, data protection and privacy, and compliance in 2023.

"Today, each of these roles is responsible for a wide array of tasks, and moving forward, those will need to be broken down between different roles to shore up vulnerabilities and threats, from cyberattacks to privacy regulations," he said.

Mohan predicts that not only will employers be looking to hire in these areas, but they'll also place an added focus on learning and development for employees across their organizations as more business lines are responsible for adhering to cybersecurity, privacy, and compliance best practices.

In addition, as cyberattacks and ransomware threats increase at an alarming rate, organizations continue to see cybersecurity and data protection at the top of their priorities list.

Related: Ransomware Defense a Top 2022 Cybersecurity Trend, Challenge

According to a 2021 Veritas study, respondents believe their organization would need to hire 27 full-time employees to address growing vulnerabilities.

"With millions of new job openings in cybersecurity expected next year, cybersecurity, data management, and protection skills will continue to be in top demand," Mohan said. "This includes an added focus on privacy and compliance as laws and regulations are quickly changing around the world."

Demand for Data — and Data Pros — Front and Center  

IT remains one of the most consistently hired segments even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Patricia Frost, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Seagate Technology.

"Many companies are undergoing digital transformations across industries, and the demand for skilled IT professionals is very high," she said.

One of the sought-after positions will be big data analysts and data scientists due to their ability to translate raw data into critical insights and enable innovation and efficiency across an organization, she said.

"When employees have unrestricted access to data and the rich insights that deep customer data analysis offers, they are empowered to make more informed decisions," Frost said. "This competitive edge is more important than ever as companies face an economic downturn."

The data analytics specialists who can provide employees with key insights will help companies innovate faster, better solve customer pain points, achieve higher customer satisfaction, and drive better business outcomes.

"Data bytes are growing rapidly and will continue to grow," Frost explained. "The trend will continue to exceed the device capacity growth rate of all existing commercial-scale media types."

This leads to a gap between growth rates and implies that our footprint for storage will double every few years.

"It is clear that if companies do not want to stunt data growth, they will need a shift in storage technology," she said. "This results in a shift in the skill sets that companies hire and train for future technology."

In addition to the need for big data and data science/analytics professionals, there will be an increase in demand for cloud architects, cloud and cloud security engineering, product security engineering, software engineering, and DevOps software engineering specialists.

Carter Busse, CIO of Workato, said when it comes to being numbers- and data-driven, there's going to be a need for data analysts and team members who can drive efficiencies across the business.

"Data will be front and center for businesses, helping to forecast for quarters to come and influencing business decisions," he said. "Roles that work directly with AI will also be big in 2023."

According to Workato's recent State of Business Technology Report, AI is a priority for companies right now, with 92% of respondents declaring AI is a priority for them, while 75% have already implemented AI/ML solutions.

"Especially when it comes to the employee experience, which is going to gain momentum during this economic hard time, more and more companies are going to be implementing AI to help field employee questions, address needs across the business, and create more unified teams," Busse said.

Cloud, Cybersecurity, and Data Science Expertise Expected

Chris Plescia, chief technology evangelist at Aware, said his prediction for the top three most in-demand IT roles are those focused on cloud, cybersecurity, and AI/data science.

"We talk to many customers who have 'transition to the cloud' as their No. 1 priority, and on par with that is cybersecurity," he said. "With the complexity of our environments expanding comes more risk opportunity and exposure. We have to stay on top of this as a focus."

He added that with the volumes of data growing, especially across the collaboration ecosystem, companies need skilled technicians to analyze, manage, and understand what is in data.

"This drives the need to create the intelligence to better understand, monitor, and get the insights, with the help of AI, out of the data," Plescia said.

Busse added that with hiring freezes and pauses on the rise, it's interesting to consider what roles are going to break through those freezes.

"Right now, there's a huge need for security operations professionals, since security threats do not decline in a recession," he explained. "Year over year, cybersecurity is the No. 1 area where budgets are increased and allowed room to grow, and companies are facing increased cyber threat risk in 2023."

Busse predicted there will also be an emphasis on business technology professionals with leadership skills.

"Skills like communication, collaboration, and time management are critical to success not only on an IT team, but in any modern workplace," Busse noted.

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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