Main image of article 16 Top Programming Skills Show Focusing on Data is Key for Jobs

If you’re a software developer on the hunt for a new gig (or you’re merely curious about what programming skills employers are looking for these days), one thing is clear: employers really, really, really want technologists who know how to build, maintain, and scale everything database- (and data-) related.

We’ve come to that conclusion after analyzing data about programming skills from Burning Glass, which collects and organizes millions of job postings from across the country. As you can see from the chart below (which pulled data from the past 30 days), it’s clear that, when it comes to programming skills, employers are hungriest for SQL:

For those who are just getting into tech and learning about key programming skills for the first time, SQL (a.k.a. Structured Query Language) has been around forever—in 1974, the year it rolled out, Abba won the Eurovision song contest with “Waterloo,” and Richard Nixon stepped down from the U.S. Presidency. Having a standardized language for relational database management (such as querying) was a revolutionary concept, although it would take some years before necessary, major features were added.

Databases have been a thing for companies and governments for as long as many of us have been alive, but the rise of the cloud, the decline in storage costs, and the rise of sophisticated analytics platforms have all contributed to the importance and complexity of data storage/analysis over the past decade or so. As a developer, if you’ve mastered database and data-analytics skills, that makes you insanely valuable to a whole range of companies out there.

Given all that, it’s no surprise that SQL and SQL Server are high up on this particular list of programming skills. It’s also interesting to note that many of the other technologies that ranked highly, such as Java, Python, and Linux, are also very old (especially by technology standards). This is for a number of reasons: For starters, many companies have built their legacy applications using these languages and tools, and thus must keep using them.

Second, these specific programming skills are popular to the point of ubiquity, which means there’s always talent that knows how to use them—an important consideration for companies, which don’t want to spend months searching for the one developer who knows how to use a relatively-unknown platform for building specialized apps or managing databases. Companies like building their latest products and infrastructure in battle-tested languages that they know will work. R is a great language for data analytics, for example, but Python, which millions of technologists know how to code in, has become much more of a go-to language for data-related tasks.  

If you’re on the hunt for a new job, this is all good news; chances are good that you learned some of these fundamental programming skills and languages in school (and hopefully you’ve kept your knowledge up-to-date). As we head into the New Year, make a point of studying up on the latest and greatest when it comes to database building and management—there’s clearly a lot of employer demand in that arena.