If you promised yourself you were going to beef up your tech skills in 2013, now is the time to get moving.
But where to start? With so many languages, platforms, protocols and other technologies, it's hard to know what's worth spending your limited free time to learn. Based on surveys and data from a variety of sources, ReadWrite has put together a list of seven of the most sought-after tech skills for this year.
7. All Things "Cloud"
The cloud computing craze is still going strong, if tech job hiring trends are any indication. Specifically, companies are looking for software developers who specialize in things like virtualization and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) development, with familiarity with Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technologies.
According to one survey of IT execs, 25% of companies are planning on hiring people with SaaS and related cloud-computing expertise in 2013. In general, SaaS and virtualization are both buzzwords often cited as being on-the-rise on job search sites.
Of course, SaaS and PaaS (not to mention whatever-else-as-a-service) can utilize any number of specific programming languages and technologies (more on those below). Suffice it to say that if a given skill helps companies utilize cloud infrastructure or virtualize any aspect of their computing needs, it's in high demand.
6. IT Project Management
One of the most sought-after tech job skills isn't all that technical. Slinging code, maintaining infrastructure and designing software are all really important, but they're kind of useless without somebody to see the project through to completion. That's why certified project managers can pull in six figure incomes and why 40% of IT executives are looking to hire project managers in 2013.
4. Java / J2EE
Java and the J2EE development platform are popping up more and more on job hiring boards. Indeed, Java/J2EE developers are going to be in high demand throughout 2013, according to a survey from Dice.
Unlike hot new technologies like Android development and HTML5, demand for Java skills has been fairly consistent over time, although it has been on the rise in the last few years.
3. PHP / MySQL
It may lack the sexiness of mobile development or newer Web programming technologies, but PHP is still very important. The open source scripting language runs on more than 20 million websites and powers high-profile sites we deal with every day, including Facebook and Wikipedia. Any blog, news site or other website built using Wordpress or Drupal is making use of PHP as well. It's all over the Web, even if you can't see it by clicking "view source."
PHP is currently ranked as the most sought-after skill on Elance, with MySQL and Wordpress also cracking the top ten. There are more than a quarter of a million PHP programming gigs listed on Elance alone.
2. iOS Development
It comes as no surprise that iOS developers are sought after. Most sources that track job talent demand rank iOS development or related skills like Xcode and Objective-C programming very highly. As Apple's sales in both tablets and smartphones has exploded, so too has the demand for developers who can build apps for the iOS ecosystem.
iPhone and iPad development have been trendy for a few years now, but it's actually accelerated pretty dramatically in the last two years. After years of slow but steady growth, demand for iOS development skyrocketed over the course of 2011 and 2012, according to data from the job aggregator site Indeed. If you've been meaning to try your hand at building apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, now is a good time to get into it.
1. HTML5 / CSS
It's only natural that the language at the heart of the Web would be in high demand, even as native mobile app development and back-end cloud technologies command bigger ad bigger chunks of IT budgets. In fact, as tablets, smartphones and cloud-hosted services proliferate, the importance of the Web grows along with it. Consumers still need to access their cloud-hosted SaaS services via their Web browser. And studies show that tablet owners still love the Web.
HTML5 makes a 23-year-old markup language cool again - and back in high demand. Elance and Indeed both rank HTML as one of their most sought-after job skills, while other studies routinely point to it being in strong demand.
As a bonus, it's relatively easy to learn compared to the other skills on our list.
PHP photo by Robert Agthe.