Contractors looking for work in the IT sector will need to make sure they are keeping their IT skills as up-to-date as possible to meet the industry demand.

IT contracting is perhaps one of the most diverse sectors around. Even taking one subset of it, such as programming, there are numerous languages and skill-sets to take into account. You might have the perfect set of skills to build an e-commerce app, for example, but not a mobile game.

It’s for this reason that just listing yourself as an ‘IT contractor‘ isn’t enough. You need to highlight to potential clients exactly what you can do for them, and which areas of the industry you specialise in. In order to give yourself the best shot at success, you should try to develop your talents towards the areas that are the most in-demand to ensure you have the IT skills required.

So, which areas should you be focusing on? The answer to that changes all the time, but in 2018 there are several trends that are definitely more desirable than others. Here are the most in-demand IT skills for contractors in 2018:

Programming

This is a bit of a cheat option, because programming is such a general term that it’s always going to be in demand. However, certain languages are more popular than others. For example, anyone looking to work in web design will want to become familiar with JavaScript, backed up with knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Anyone looking to get involved with machine learning – more on that later – will likely want to become as familiar as possible with Python. This is also a good language to focus on if you want to get involved with any kind of back-end programming, and it’s also notoriously easy to learn.

One language you might not think to get involved with is Swift, which is used to programme apps for iOS. If you have experience with this one, it’s worth describing that it’s used with Apple products, as it is not very well-known. However, with iOS apps generally being more profitable than those for Android, it’s a good one to learn if you’re interested in developing for mobile.

Data science and machine learning

We’re increasingly living in a world of big data, and firms are often involved with collecting as much information as possible. This could be for anything from research to marketing, but either way it requires top IT talent in order to turn thousands of entries in a database into something valuable.

One branch along this path involves programming computers to sift through the data to perform a specific task, becoming more efficient at it as time goes on. This is called machine learning, and is one of the big trends of 2018.

As we’ve already mentioned, Python is the most common language for developing machine learning programs. You can also experiment with existing neural networks in order to build up your skills and learn how to develop these exciting AIs. However, bear in mind many clients will be less impressed by the methods you use to sort through their data as they will be by the results.

AR and VR

Pokemon Go has been one of the biggest gaming hits of the past few years, and one of the reasons for this is its exciting use of augmented reality (AR) technology. This can be seen everywhere from museum exhibitions to Snapchat filters, and brands are opening their eyes to the potential for this feature.

Of course, that doesn’t mean virtual reality is going anywhere. While owning a VR headset is out of the price range of many consumers, major companies are making use of the technology to market their brands and provide exciting events for potential customers.

Both of these areas will require talented professionals with specific IT skills to develop apps that can make use of the technology. While these jobs might not be as common as others, there is a shortage of contractors with the right skills to undertake them, which means demand is still high.

If you’re still not sure which direction you should take your IT contracting business, you can always talk to us here at Brookson. We have years of experience dealing with self-employed people working in tech, and can offer you a free consultation to help you find the right option for your financial situation.