Special Report

22 Jobs With the Fastest-Changing Skill Requirements

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Certain jobs evolve with time — sometimes the nature of the job changes, and sometimes the necessary knowledge does. The demands from workers therefore can shift as well, in some cases quite rapidly, requiring workers to update their skills fairly frequently in response to the changing environment. Workers in such jobs often develop expertise in new areas — be it through pursuit of new tasks at work or through additional learning.

“Day by day, skill by skill, the basic building blocks of a job are repositioned, until the role looks much different than it did just five years ago,” said a recent report from The Burning Glass Institute, a Boston-based research group. “Yet the job title — and the worker in the job — may remain the same.”

These days, this is especially true of jobs directly involved with the digital environment, from coding to social media. (Also see, these are the highest paying jobs you can get without a college degree.)

A computer scientist might need to learn a new programming language that did not exist just a few years earlier. Data engineers might want to pursue new advances in the related area of data science, making them more valuable to employers for having skill sets in two closely aligned fields. Advertising managers a decade ago needed less experience in online marketing, such as through websites and video streams, than they do today.

Jobs whose skill expectations change rapidly over a short period of time are considered to have a high rate of so-called skill disruption. This rate of disruption varies by job type. For instance, the skill disruptions for a music recording artist is lower than for a website administrator.

To identify the jobs at greatest risk of skill disruption, 24/7 Wall st. reviewed the skills disruption index for 678 occupations from the May 2022 report “Shifting Skills, Moving Targets, and Remaking the Workforce,” published by The Burning Glass Institute, a research organization focused on labor in the United States. The report, which covered 2016 through the third quarter of 2021, measures the amount of skill change in an occupation on a scale from 0-100, with 0 being the least amount of disruption and 100 being the greatest.

About 37% of the top 20 skills requested by employers have changed from 2016 to 2021, according to the report. Jobs with the highest level of skill disruption include industrial psychologist, industrial designer, financial quantitative analyst, and robotic engineer. As thes job titles suggest, jobs with high rates of skill disruption tend to pay better than those with lower rates of disruption. (Here are 65 jobs with six figure salaries.)

For data engineers, the occupation that scores 100 on the index, close to 75% of the top skills often required for that occupation have changed over the five-year review period.

Here are the occupations with the highest rates of skill disruption.

22. Data warehousing specialist
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 80

Data storage has become an integral part of many organizations, and the required skills have changed as well. One reason is that the demands for data security and internal policies on how data is handled has evolved. The skills for this position have changed along with new methods and tools for the management of increasingly massive amounts of data that companies collect, organize, and store.

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21. Webmaster/administrator
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 81

Maintaining a website involves constantly assessing new ways to administer, maintain, and protect company web presences. The webmastering skills requested by companies have changed as new software in content management, cybersecurity, and data collection emerge to streamline, protect, and improve a company’s online presence.

20. Computer scientist
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 81

Computer scientists must remain on top of the constantly changing field as programming language theory, algorithm development, software engineering, computer graphics, and related skills all advance. Computer scientists work closely with other professions on this list like computer programmers and software engineers.

19. Data/data mining analyst
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 81

A data mining specialist looks for relationships and patterns in data that can help businesses in their decision-making processes. As specialists in data collection and cleaning (weeding out superfluous information from datasets, for example), these professionals must stay on top of the latest developments in their field to keep their skills up to date.

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18. Financial quantitative analyst
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 82

“Quants,” as they are informally known, are financial analysts who rely on computer modeling and algorithms to identify opportunities in the frenetic world of electronic trading. These experts not only need to harbor the traditional financial analytical skills, but also how to create algorithms to rapidly execute multiple buy and sell orders that generate positive returns.

17. Database administrator
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 82

The database administrator is responsible for efficiently maintaining an organization’s database and often works closely with another profession on this list: the data warehousing specialist. Because of the evolving nature of applications used to keep databases operating efficiently and securely, the database administrator’s skill requirements can change quickly.

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16. Industrial-organizational psychologist
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 82

An industrial psychologist is a human-behavior specialist who focuses on organizational and individual behaviors to make companies run more smoothly with content and productive workers. Unlike many other professions on this list, the skills here are not as directly linked to emerging technologies. Instead, the changing demands expected from an industrial psychologist have more to do with how technologies have changed the workplace and the impact they have on employee satisfaction and productivity.

15. Mobile applications developer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 82

As mobile applications have risen quickly to become an important part of many business operations, demand for app developers has risen too. These specialized software engineers are often at the vanguard of internal company software development, and their skill sets have evolved along with the increasing sophistication of these apps, such as new methods of securing the movement of data from hand-portable apps to the internet.

14. UI/UX designer/developer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 83

The field of user interface and user experience relates to how people interact with apps and websites. In short, UI refers to the buttons, toggles, and overall look for a website, software, or app, while UX focuses on how well the software works. A website can be intuitive (good UI), but if it takes too long to load (poor UX) then businesses can lose customers. Staying on top of the evolving UI and UX practices is vital to success in this profession.

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13. Robotics engineer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 83

Automation has been around for a long time, and the demands from robotics engineers have evolved considerably since the earliest industrial robots emerged in the 1950s. Today’s robotic engineers require more skills in data analytics and computer science as robots have become more articulated and autonomous.

12. Computer programmer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 83

Software, the digital ones and zeros without which a computer would be useless, is a constant moving target. The demand of the engineers who create software to make hardware work changes as new challenges or opportunities emerge, whether it is creating updates and patches to fix vulnerabilities in existing apps or creating the newest software, these engineers must remain on top of industry trends and new demands.

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11. Advertising/promotions manager
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 83

Advertising used to be an industry where managers would oversee the creation of national TV campaigns or splashy presentations in high-profile glossy magazines. Those advertising jobs still exist, but the rise of digital ads has created demand for new analytical skills related to identifying the best online programmatic advertising space to purchase, which online videos are effective targets for embedded ads, or which popular podcasts would reach the intended audience.

10. Computer systems engineer/architect
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 83

Most of the jobs that have seen the biggest disruption in the kinds of skills needed to succeed are computer and software related, and the computer systems engineer is one that demands constant updating of skill sets. These employees are responsible for solving complicated problems that can arise in computer networks, from identifying security risks to finding or creating products or processes to improve the overall performance of these complex systems.

9. Software developer/engineer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 86

As the technology field continues to evolve, so too are the demands put on software developers. Software developers are expected to be on top of their game, whether it is utilizing the latest programming languages like F# or Julia or specializing in the most in-demand skills like cybersecurity and cloud-computing.

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8. Industrial designer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 87

Industrial design is an important part of the production of manufactured goods. It is the part of the process that makes products appealing by their look and functionality. The iPhone is a classic example of how industrial design can add value to a product. The industrial designer must not only be a creative talent, but also have an intimate understanding of larger manufacturing trends. For example, the rise of smart devices means industrial engineers need more IT and software skills.

7. Database architect
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 88

Database architects create the infrastructure that allows people to easily access massive amounts of data within an organization. They need to have database-building skills to create these systems and must work quickly to identify and fix problems. Like software engineers, database architects have to stay on top of their skills, especially in the areas of cybersecurity and cloud-based computing.

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6. Business intelligence architect/developer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 88

As is apparent from this list, jobs with the most skill disruptions are largely ones that utilize or create software and hardware, which are constantly changing and evolving. A business intelligence architect is the point person for an organization’s databases and data storage infrastructure. Like database architects and software developers, BI architects must stay on top of new methods, products, and skills to make these data systems more secure and efficient.

5. Network engineer/architect
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 88

Network engineers must be up to date with the latest technologies for an organization’s computer networks that provide video and wireless network services. Notably, these specialists must be able to work with older networks and at times incorporate the newer software and hardware into legacy networks. A successful network engineer knows how to handle older systems as well as have expertise in how to upgrade them seamlessly.

4. Validation engineer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 90

A validation engineer is essentially someone who tests systems used to manufacture products to ensure a safe and consistent production line. The validation engineer also plans and implements strategies for obtaining approval in highly regulated industries like pharmaceuticals and medical device production. The skill disruption is high in this profession because manufacturing technologies are constantly changing.

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3. Web developer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 94

Web developers come in many forms. They can create a simple static web page or they can be full-stack developers, experts who can write code for both the customer-facing website and the backbone software that lives on the server. Successful web developers stay on top of the latest programming languages and enterprise software used to maintain a user-friendly, smoothly operating, and secure website.

2. Data scientist
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 95

The jobs with the most skill disruptions are intricately linked. A data scientist weeds out unnecessary data from a database and organizes it in a way that software can utilize it and analyze it, at the direction of the data scientist. In some cases, a data scientist is also the data engineer. Both jobs require constant career maintenance as the skills required to handle data change often as new methods of data management are regularly introduced.

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1. Data engineer
> Skills disruption index (0-100): 100

The data engineer develops and maintains the pipelines of data within an organization and must be adept at both hardware and software used to maintain an effective and secure database. A data engineer is sometimes also the workplace’s data scientist. Employees in either position benefit from learning the latest skills of the other.

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